Blended families, also known as stepfamilies, aren't always as idyllic as they seem in pop culture. There's no way to ignore this dynamic in America, with approximately 15% of children living in blended families according to the US Census Bureau - demonstrating just how far-reaching these complex family units have become. And the following story illustrates just how difficult it can be sometimes to create and maintain a healthy stepfamily.
**This article is based on material obtained from sources pertaining to social media, family, and psychology websites, which is referenced within the narrative**
Anne Brennan Malec, author of Marriage in Modern Life: Why It Works, When It Works and stepmother to six children of her own, understands the turmoil that a stepparent-stepchild relationship can bring. She writes that trying to create a strong family bond in a blended family scenario isn't always easy since you need a combination of patience, open dialogue, and resilience.
An example of one family going through these blended family growing pains was highlighted in a Reddit post by a woman who has been married for several years. She writes that her husband has three children from another relationship, while she has a 17-year-old daughter who happens to be the oldest in the bunch.
She goes on to describe her husband and his attitude toward her daughter:
He's a dedicated man, puts God first and loves everyone. My husband always complains that my daughter doesn't spend time with her stepsiblings or him but she has reasons for that and that is school, health issues and work.
She went on to explain that her daughter is trying to hang out with her stepsiblings as often as possible. But spending time with them doesn't sound as organic as it should be because the daughter says that her stepdad basically just wants her to be the babysitter of his kids. Meanwhile, the husband doesn't think that's true and turned it around by accusing his stepdaughter of just making up reasons or excuses to avoid hanging out with his children.
To deal with this conflict, the author of the post came up with the idea for everyone to take a family vacation. Her strategy had some merit and is backed by clinical psychologist, Dr. Michael Messina, who suggests that family vacations could be an ideal opportunity to get everyone together and strengthen their family bonds.
The woman's husband was on board with her idea but with one exception: He didn't want his stepdaughter to go with them. In his wife's own words:
My husband liked the idea but said that his kids are now 'uncomfortable' around my daughter because of her 'attitude' and suggested we let her stay home and have the house all to herself since that's 'what she always wanted'.
But his wife pushed back and insisted that the only way it was going to work was if they all went on the trip. Unfortunately, the husband kept complaining until finally, his wife put her foot down and asked him to stop.
Evidently, she thought she had driven her point home and figured that her husband was okay with everyone going on the trip, so she went ahead, arranged, and paid for the vacation herself. Except, a problem arose when her daughter went searching for her passport and couldn't find it. She explained:
My husband said maybe it was a sign from God that we should let her stay home so the trip wouldn't turn into a disaster. I ignored his comment but later while I was cleaning his office I found the passport, tucked away in the 3rd drawer under a ton of papers.
She asked her husband how it got there, but he said he didn't have a clue. Apparently, they had a camera upstairs, so she looked at the footage and found that he had gone into her daughter's bedroom. She writes:
That was it for me, I screamed my head off at him then [canceled] the whole trip completely. He started arguing saying I overreacted and that he didn't want his kids to be 'miserable' on the trip and that willing to apologize to my daughter if and when I reconsider my decision regarding the cancellation of the trip, because my stepkids will be devastated but I said it was final and that it was done.
After their confrontation, the husband has grown distant and has expressed his desire to fast and seek "guidance from God" on how he is supposed to handle his wife's lack of respect and self-control.
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Thanks for reading,
Haefeli, Tricia. "Does Your Blended Family Look Like The Brady Bunch? Mine Doesn’t Either." Family Story Project
"What Is a Blended Family?" Psychology Today
u/Throwaway317515. "AITA for cancelling the entire trip after finding out that my husband hid my daughter's passport?" Reddit
Messina, Michael Dr. "Family Vacations: The Importance of Bonding & Creating Memories." Dr. Messina & Associates
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