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Opinion on blended families: Let relationships grow naturally

In a recent media article on stepfamilies, a stepmom refers to the courtship with her future husband that preceded their wedding and marriage.

She also refers to a tandem courtship that accompanied the progressive bonding and intimacy that she and her partner were forging, namely, the careful and unrushed development of her relationship with his teenage daughter.

"Hang in there" is the advice she gives to readers of the Huffington Post in an expose on blended families.

Most Americans know immediately what a blended family is. In fact, scores of millions of people across the country are members of such family units and can readily identify with the advice rendered by Christine Nestrick, who says that letting her relationship with her stepdaughter "evolve naturally" was key to growing and sustaining it.

Many Arkansas readers can likely relate to that as they think back to the early innings of life in a newly blended family following the divorce of their parents. Nestrick's advice to take things slowly while working toward a new normalcy in a blended family probably resonates with them.

So, too, might her counsel regarding the role that an adult suddenly interacting closely with new stepkids should play. In Nestrick's view, that is largely defined by what a new stepfather or stepmom should not be doing, namely, trying to assume the role of an already existing parent.

"She has a mother," Nestrick says in discussing her stepdaughter, adding that, "I was not looking to fill that role for her."

Taking time and letting things happen naturally is an absolute prerequisite to forging closer ties, she believes. It is unrealistic to assume that material changes will occur overnight and, indeed, they shouldn't.

Implicit in Nestrick's words is the journey involved for all newly blended families, as well as the ups and downs and need for family members to be patient, forgiving and flexible.

"[I]f you have a bad day," she says, "take a deep breath, and start over tomorrow."

Source: Huffington Post, "This stepmom has great advice for making a connection with your stepkids," Brittany Wong, Aug. 29, 2014

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