When I think of divorced and newly blending families, this African proverb always comes to mind. All the parental figures come together in their own way, bringing their own strengths, to raise the child(ren) together. Of course, it is tricky to comfortably blend the various familial dynamics so that everyone (birth parents, step-parents, ex-spouses, etc) do not feel threatened and their role displaced.
Mina asked me the other night: “Mama, what does Family mean?” and “Who is our family?”
Mina is right to need some clarification because we are forming extended family tribes in many directions. Mina’s father will be marrying soon and there may be a baby in the future. Alex and I are together with his 2 girls. There is also his Ex and her boyfriend.
How do I sit down and adequately and accurately explain how cutting edge we may be as we try to develop our new family tribe?
Where all the adults may or may not get along, we do love all the girls. That, there, is the most important element in building a family tribe: Love.
It is the love for the children that move adults closer to reconciliation and collaboration with each other. It is not an easy process to go through. Ego, vanity, self-awareness, and acceptance are key factors to handle delicately. In order to move forward, you need to be open to honest conversation and extreme vulnerability to reach understanding. I know that it was a long year as Alex’s Ex, Cynthia, and I were able to a comfortable place with each other. And, we celebrated it, on Mother’s day, with Pink champagne! For the first time in months, we were a family, a tribe,friends. A new age is coming for divorce and families: children will be in the center of their family tribe, a family tribe of parents and extended family.
So, I answered Mina’s question as best as I could: “Mina, family is someone who may be related to you or maybe not. Most importantly, Family is someone you hold dear in your heart and know that you are treasured by everyone.”
…and she smiled, “We have such a big family now, Mama, don’t we?”
Yes, Mina, we do!
Article by Divorce the Talk Show Contributor- Elif Ekin