This blog is the last in our 2014 series celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
♫ “Here’s the story…of a lovely lady…who was bringing up three very lovely girls”♫…okay – I’m dating myself here (BADLY!) but I grew up watching and wanting to be a part of the Brady Bunch. In fact, my mother tells me there were times when I insisted on being referred to as Paula Brady and would answer to nothing else. LOL!
The Brady Bunch just seemed so perfect to me: a “lovely lady” and her daughters merging perfectly with ♫ “a man named Brady who was busy with 3 boys of his own” ♫ …ahhh…domestic bliss.
But then something changed. Around that time, I met a real-life friend from a blended family – or was it a step-family? Anyway, her childhood journey was a tad bumpy with the break-up of the only family she ever knew; conflicts, power struggles and perceived favourites within the new family; and lots of other hard stuff for a 10-year-old kid to understand and endure. I felt sorry for my friend and her situation. Suddenly, the Brady Bunch idea seemed a little less attractive to my young eyes.
But then, as tends to be the case in life, things changed again. My travels afforded me the pleasure of connecting with many blended and step-families; all with their own unique challenges and amazing strengths. Those families reminded me that one of the most endearing aspects of the Brady Bunch was that they did go through growing pains, disagreements and very hard times, but they somehow made it through together.
The magic of the Brady family’s relationship was in the unconditional love, open communication, (remember the seemingly hokey but effective “Brady family meetings?”) and respect they showed for themselves and one another. The Bradys weren’t perfect, but they certainly seemed to make it work.
Given my role supporting all types of families (and a renewed love of the Brady Bunch) I decided to educate myself about blended and step-families and share the main things that I learned:
- Finding happiness through the many, unique challenges that blended and step-families face is not easy – especially in the beginning.
- Thriving in a blended or step-family can be done. There sure are lots of them out there!
- All you need is LOVE – it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true.
Love means that you:
- Listen to each other without judgment and make an effort to listen twice as much as you speak.
- Observe the situation and your own contribution to it –there’s a compromise there somewhere.
- Validate everyone’s feelings as being okay – everyone has baggage; help each other unpack.
- Enjoy each other as much as you can and make fun and special times together a family priority.
Overall, I was again reminded that a little role modeling goes a long way. The best way for kids to learn to love and respect themselves and each other, whether part of a blended or step-family or otherwise, is to see the loving adults in their lives respecting and caring for one another.
Here’s to the Year of the Family – it was a great one!
Tell us about your blended or step-family adventures…
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)