Saturday, March 3, 2012

From the mouths of babes...

Blended Family.
Its a popular p/c phrase that is indicative of the times and the reality that so many people are having second even third marriages. And like most phrases that become popular, the term blended family can have a slightly different meaning depending on who is using the phrase. 
For example, in recent years its more accepted if much older women are coming together with younger men which a different twist to May/December blended family union.  Likewise, as is the popular trend in Hollywood to adopt children (primarily from African countries) into a family with birth children to create a sort of mini-UN blended family.   And of course now that gay and lesbian marriage is legalized, the blended family is being borne of  people who had children before and/or  in spite of being gay/lesbian, as well as adopting children into same sex marriages.  
And yet for all the ways one can approach the blended family scenario, one thing is certain - all blended families are intended to bring together - connect - blend people who are not related by blood.  And like oil and vinegar blend to create something good (delicious), the emulsion (the mixture of two liquids that usually don't combine so readily or smoothly), the blended family may not always come together so well at first either.
Case and point, I recently was recently entrusted by a child to share some insight about a possible, potential blended family union.  A rare opportunity, that children look to grown ups for answers (rather than peers, FB and the Internet), I felt privileged this young person asked for my advice.  
The child (not yet a teenager - a tween) had been alone with mom after the father died some 5 years earlier.  Now it seemed the mother had started dating a divorced man who also had a child about the same age.  In explaining the dilemma, not only was the tween bothered by the fact the mom was dating, but what if mom decided to marry the man (which would be bad enough), but if the man's child had to live with them -  the idea of the blended family would really mess a good  thing.  Perhaps the saving grace in the scenario was that the tween didn't dislike the man dating the mom. "He's okay...nice...and I want my mom to be happy...but I'm not sure I want them together with me and my mom," was the way it was put.
After hearing the problem out, two things sprang to mind:  1) lovingly let the tween know it is always a good idea to have conversations like this with a trusted adult and 2) lovingly convey that as a grown up, the mother has a right to grown up companionship (of course this should never put a child in harms way - which was not the issue here).  For the most part I think the issue for the tween was the coming together - blending of people to make a family - which would shake up the existing family of mom and tween.  
I admit, that although I was honored to be let into the inner psyche of a young person, entrusted to be the bearer of some wisdom not found on the Internet or from peers, trying to provide a loving, honest and helpful "answer" put me in the hot seat.  But answer I did and here's how it went:
I'm glad you decided to talk with me about this, that is a smart idea.  And it sounds like you respect and love your mom a lot. So that means you probably think your mom is pretty smart too. Sometimes a grown up just has to make a grown up decision. Your mom is old enough to decide if she wants a boyfriend.  And I know if he ask to marry your mom, she will know that he will treat you right before she says yes.  I also think that your mom would want you and his child to be good to each other too.   I'm sure because you say your mom is smart and her boyfriend is nice, that both grown ups will do everything possible to make it nice if you four were to become a blended family living together in one family home.  I know situations like this can turn out nice because I once dated a nice man with a teenager and I was so glad his child was nice to me.  In the end, we did not get married but if we had come together to be a blended family, I know everyone would have done their best to get along well.  The same way you love your mom and want her to be happy, I know your mom loves you and will think of your happiness.

Clearly, I'm no Dr. Spock, but I hope the tween received the message as honest, helpful and loving.

To be continued...

Loving Thought
... little child will lead them.
Isaiah 11:5-7