Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bridging the gap: When blending families spans space and time

I posted over at Tales of an Unlikely Mother recently about the art that is blending the American family these days.  Now, here, I'm going to throw around some ideas for bridging the gap when moves, both physical and emotional, occur.

We have just learned that the beautiful Blueberry Nights will be leaving us for the other extreme of the country in a few short months.  We were aware the move was occurring, just not that the time window had become so small.

So what now?  We've worked so hard to make a strong beginning with our ragtag little family.  It seems almost as though we're being rent asunder in this moment, as the emotions that ride high on the entire situation are as volatile as the jet fuel that will take her 12 hours from us by air.

We're not, though.  We have a strategy, a plan, and a philosophy.  And we're going to share it with you.

Like blending the family to begin with, we start with an open mind, and when we're calm we acknowledge that there may be good opportunities present for our wee Blueberry Nights when she leaves with her mother.

We set up a fund to ensure that airfare one way or the other will not be an issue.  Obviously this is something that is fluid, and a backup.  Backups are your friend, though.

We talk with the children and let them know that they're not "losing" their sister, only that we're saying "See you later!" for the time being.  Never, ever, ever, ever discourage hope in your other children.  Kinder Major is working through some serious grief over this, and it's crucial to her well being that she understand that this does not mean she will never see her sister again.  It is also an unbreakable rule that the step in question not be bashed in front of the children, whether you agree with the separation or not.

Depending on how old your children are, they may understand that there was little choice in the matter, which is where we are with Kinder Major right now.  She finds herself angry at StepMC, and while I do not contribute to her sentiments in spite of having concurrent ones, it's important for her to be able to work through that anger, and not feel like her emotions have been belittled.  It's a frighteningly delicate line to toe, and one made twice as fragile by our own emotions.

PLAN.  Involve the siblings in planning how it will go when their other sibling(s) come home.  Kinder Major has thoroughly enjoyed and found joy in planning how Blueberry Nights' side of the room will be decorated, and how she plans to cook a day of celebratory meals in her sister's honor when she comes home to us again.

Talk about the other sibling.  Don't hush hush it with the "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy, as that only leads to bitterness and resentment later.  Keep photographs, encourage laughter, allow tears, and roll with the punches.

Skype/gVideo/iPhone face time/whatever - and often!  There's nothing to say that the siblings can't do the same as they did when blending the families to begin with.  Let them talk as often as they want and time allows.  Set up those live feed at ballet recitals and plays, the soccer games and scout ceremonies.  Including the long-distance child and likewise, offer availability to be included.

As adults, decide on a family dynamic.  Ours is "seamless."  One word.  Blueberry Nights will step off that plane and into our home like she never left, with hugs and kisses from MamaAccidentally, a snack, and a good book for an afternoon story.  Pater Puerii will have his just-them time with her like he does with his other two children, and we will step in sync back into daily life as a family.

Lastly, the exact same philosophy that you took up when the family came together to begin with: Love begets love, and softens even the stoniest facades.  Love, the true love of a family, can be felt a world away, let alone a mere country.  Love hard, love freely, love often.  It can only do everyone involved good.


  1. Sending love and good thoughts for all of you as this transition becomes reality. May each step we take lead the way to Peace.

  2. We all love peace ,only gun dealer love war