Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blending Families

This past Wednesday, Brother and Sister Williams talked to us about their experience in blending families and it caused me to reflect on my own family and on families in general. First off, as I have mentioned before, my family came together in an unconventional way, primarily through adoption - but it technically started out as a blended family. Just for a little refresher, I will explain the initial formation of my family. My parents both got pregnant in college by different people. When I was about two and my mom's daughter (not biologically) had been born, my parents (that I have now) were married. I lived with my biological mom, her husband and her mother. My biological mother struggled with an alcohol and heroin addiction throughout my entire life, and she died from an overdose when I was almost four. My biological grandma wanted to adopt me, but when my dad and his wife (my mom) found out what was going on, they fought for custody of me. It was a pretty messy situation, but it resulted in court ordered monthly supervised visitations and bi-weekly telephone calls with my biological grandmother until I was 18 and my mom and dad were awarded full custody and my mom adopted me. My dad adopted Katarina (my mom's daughter). I know its hard to follow, but that is how our family started (or at least how I came to be in it). I don't really remember how it all worked when it first happened, but I know that as my sister and I got older, sometimes things got tricky. Basically, I was a brat when I was a kid and I remember telling my mom that she loved Katarina more because she was her biological daughter. I also remember my sister saying similar things to my dad. We overcame all of these things and at this point in my life, I know that my mom loves me just as much as she does my sister, especially since she chose me. I also know that they did the best they could, and better than most. Putting two families together is no easy task and I think, if it is done properly, it can even make the family stronger because it is different and has had to overcome more than a traditional family.

Parenting (Not to be Confused With "Peerenting")

If I have learned one thing about parenting in this class, it would be that parenting is a tricky thing. It is so tricky because it is such a serious thing! The way an individual was parented not only has tremendous impact on the individual, but on other people that person comes in contact with. For example, if someone was parented in a really strict home, that individual is likely to be bossy and could even alienate themselves from others or hurt other people's feelings more frequently. Parenting is also difficult because each child is different. When I was growing up I didn't really appreciate this - I would just get upset that my sister and I had done the same thing, yet our punishments were completely different.  In preparation for class we watched several videos demonstrating ineffective and effective parenting styles (particularly in regard to parenting teenagers). The main thing I took away from the videos and class discussion is that both communication and love needs to be high. This may seem like an obvious conclusion, but I think it goes deeper than what one might initially infer. Teens are going through all kinds of crazy changes, all to prepare them for adulthood. As we as parents recognize the developmental changes going on in the brains of teens, we can better understand and empathize with them. For example, most teenagers go through a period of egocentrism in which they think everyone around them perceives things how they perceive them (like everyone noticing their acne because its the first thing they notice about themselves). As we take things like this into consideration and make sure to validate and consider our teens feelings and reasoning, we will be able to be more effective parents. It is also extremely important to set realistic and loving rules and boundaries. Teenagers will never admit this and may not realize it themselves, but they want and need these rules. In short, being a parent honestly scares me, but I know that if I keep these things in mind, rely on the Lord and my future spouse and do my very best, everything will turn out ok!