I have been thinking a lot today about family and what really makes a family.
Divorce is so prevalent today, and I think there are more blended families than there are "traditional" families. I have come to the conclusion that what ties a family together goes so much deeper than just being related by blood.
Most people do not know that in the eyes of the court, my Dad is technically my stepfather. That's because for as long as I remember and from now until the end of time, he was, is, and will continue to be Daddy. I have never thought of him as my stepfather, and never will. He has been more of a Dad to me than anyone else ever could have been. It's funny because people outside the family have often commented on things that we have in common, including things that are genetic. What's even funnier is that in the past few years, Mom and Dad have both made comments to me about how I need to get tested for medical issues that have shown up with Dad and run in the family. And I say "Ok yeah I should probably look into that" without giving it another thought. That's how much of a dad he is to me.
I think that God puts people into our lives sometimes that become more closely bonded to us than blood because He knows that we need them and they need us.
When someone decides to marry a person that already has children, they have to make a commitment to love them and cherish them and honor them like they are their own. There cannot be any discrimination between biological children and stepchildren for a family to thrive. And I think that commitment should spill over to extended family.
One of my pet peeves is grandparents who do not treat step-grandchildren like their own. I realize that they did not choose to marry the person, but they should honor and respect the choice of their child who did. I lived it, and sincerely wish that no child ever has to deal with it. I vividly remember an incident that occurred when I was young at my grandparents house. I was feeling extremely ill. I was nervous to tell them because even at that age, I could tell a difference in the way they treated my brother and me. I was not able to make it to the bathroom before I started throwing up, and one of them looked at me and said, "Maybe someone should go help her?" And then walked into another room.
No child should ever have to deal with feeling like that.
Family is complicated and hard because so many deep emotions and strong feelings are tied into the relationships. It's hard enough with the people that you have known your whole life, it's even harder when you marry someone and throw a whole other side of the family into the mix.
Sometimes, they have a completely different lifestyle and background. They can have a different way of doing things that boggle your mind. They can have different family recipes and traditions. It's important to keep in mind that it's the differences that make us unique and special, and life would be no fun if we were all exactly the same.
In my humble little opinion, it's important to respect the differences and try to find a middle ground to form a relationship. In-laws seem to be one of the most difficult relationships to foster. I have observed so many that are hostile and angry and never take the time to get to know one another for whatever reason seems important to them. I have seen a select few that are a seamless transition and just expand and embrace the new family members like they have known each other all their lives. If you have this kind of relationship, cherish it. It is precious.
I don't know that I have a point to my ramblings. It's just something I have been thinking about today. I guess my point would be that no matter what your family situation is, remember that family bonds are important. You may not get to spend time often with family, but when you do it shouldn't be about arguing or grudges, it should be about bringing out what is most special in each and every person and sharing that with each other.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!