Sunday, August 3, 2008

Stepfamilies Can Be Ridiculous

Being in a stepfamily is tough. I mean marriage between two people is hard enough, but when you add kids-of-the-bride and kids-of-the-groom to the mix, you don't necessarily get a lovely shaken-not-stirred watermelon martini with a twist of orange. If all stepfamilies were such a thing, something like 78% of the US would be happily drunk on blended-familydom. Rather, it's more like we're nursing a horrendous hangover from drinking one too many Schlitz-the-most-disgusting-excuse-for-beer-ever-made Malt Liquors (yes, I'm a beer snob).

There are a gazillion specialists out there who have written books, blogs and articles about the stepfamily myths and what in fact is reality (reality for whom?). I have looked at some of the myths floating around in cyber-space and while it looks good in writing, it is very ridiculous in reality. I'm going to take a few of the 'realities' and tell you what I have found to be, well, actual reality.

1. Successful stepfamilies will become integrated over time.
Now I can't predict the future or what will happen when all of the kids finally become mature adults (we hope), but given the track record of the past three years, I don't see the 'big-happy-Waltons family happening at our house. There may at some point be a roomful of maturity big enough to put differences and pasts aside and get along just for the sake of getting along, but I'm not going to lose sleep over something I can't control. I'm just saying.

2. Stepmothers can be wicked.
Now this depends on your definition of wicked. At times, yes, I have been the wicked (unpleasant) stepmother who has had catastrophically progressive melt-downs because of issues with my stepkids or failed to hide my radically intense irritation with them. I have also tried to do some things to help foster a relationship with them and that is wicked cool.

3. Two-thirds of children adjust in time and are satisfied with their new families.
I don't know who came up with this percentage, but personally, I think some stepfamily guru probably pulled this out of the air to lend some positive fluffage to stepfamily reality. From the blended families I know (mine included), and from the blogs, comments and articles I've read, actual percentage of kids satisfied with their new family is significantly lower.

These are just a few of the myths I've debunked and I'm not saying it's all doom and gloom. We seem to have found some semblance of balance in the house - not that it runs perfectly- but for the most part, we have learned to just hum along. Do I wish we were the Walton's? Sometimes. For now we just do the best we can with what we have. I think I hear a watermelon martini calling my name and that is wicked cool.

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