The Dos & Don't Of Blending Friends & Family

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The Dos & Don't Of Blending Friends & Family
With "chosen families" you can offer comfort in life's difficult times and celebrate successes.

Many years ago an Edwin Markham poem inspired me, and I’ve tried to live by it:

"Outwitted"

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

As Markham says, we could see people who are distant or rejecting as upsetting, tempting us to call them bad names. But drawing them in with love works so much better. As I’ve written before, almost all of my genetic family is long gone, and I don’t have that connection to draw on to surround myself with love, but that hasn’t prevented me from drawing people in.

There are more kinds of love than birth families, romance and marriage. Relationships are a precious resource, especially if your genetic family is far away, or doesn’t get along particularly well. Not only does it take a "village" (community) to raise a child, but in our mobile and fast-paced society, a sense of community, family and connectedness helps us to function more effectively as adults in all phases of life. From ancient times, individuals, neighbors and friends who learned to take care of each other, to love each other, and to nurture relationships with each other were more likely to survive.

A sense of love and intimacy, connection and community is critical to well-being. For example, when you marry, you’re bringing strangers together to form a blended family, which can be a challenge. The most important thing is to give the various relationships time. Change is difficult for everyone, so understand that it will take a while for things to settle down. If you're consistent about caring, respect and communicating as much as possible, Most of your genetic and chosen family members will learn to get along.

Blended families and ethnic groups mean that everyone learns to honor different traditions, lifestyles and preferences. Blending and fusing goes on for years, as your relationship develops and your family grows. One family member may think being loving is exactly what others see as terribly intrusive. One friend may value sharing and intimacy, another may value respect and privacy.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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Dr. Tina Tessina

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Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.
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