Family-Sized Blender: The Slog

November 14, 2011

Strap in for Jason’s ongoing story. Once a tech obsessed writer/photographer/speaker, he thought he had it all under control – until his family grew six sizes. Now he’s trying to fuse everyone together into a single family. This is Family Sized Blender.

There are a lot of disagreements.

“You left the towel on the floor, again.” “You signed your own kids’ form before my kids’ form.” “I got up with the baby last night.

Any newly blended family anywhere at anytime has some issue on the table that’s bound to ruffle a feather or two. Imagine that family includes six kids (like mine), including a newborn and stuff them all in a smaller-than-required-house, and the sparks are inevitably going to fly in the first few months.

Blending a family is about more than putting people in the same physical space, it’s about combining processes, attitudes and expectations. We’ve both had our own ways to guide our kids and now we’re learning that we have to adjust those approaches to accommodate more kids and to help each other.

One of those approaches is the way we disagree. In fact, we seem to disagree about the way we disagree most often. Mom likes to put all the emotion on the table at the beginning of the conversation, shedding the stress build up in the process. My approach is different. With two marriages behind me and two decades of running a small business practice, I tend to truncate my emotion to get to a solution.

Who is right here? Both of us and neither of us. Our approaches to disagreeing (we even tussled over the use of “disagreement” vs. “fight” for this post) served our former lives, but we don’t live those lives anymore. What we have to do is understand how to work through stuff in this weird, wonderful new world. I need to understand that emotion is part of the figh…er disagreement. Mom is looking at ways to be a little less pointed in her feedback during these things.

Setting the rules of engagement is a big part of these early months – whether it’s creating systems for the kids to follow or figuring out how to deal with the fact that dad forgot to wash the celery before it went into lunchboxes. Honest mistake or middling parental failing?

Depends on who you ask.

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    { 2 comments }

    Lisa November 18, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    “Mom likes to put all the emotion on the table at the beginning of the conversation, shedding the stress build up in the process. My approach is different. With two marriages behind me and two decades of running a small business practice, I tend to truncate my emotion to get to a solution.”

    I notice that you give a long explanation as to why you do things but offer none for Mom. I think we all do that – give ourselves credit for our well-thought out reasons but don’t give the same to our sparring partner.

    And on the celery – that’s one of those times someone needs to ask if the danger – oh, no, dirt! – is really worth even mentioning or better filed under E for “Eh.”

    Jason Thomson November 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Hey Lisa! I hear your points — and thanks for commenting. I really appreciate the insight. It truly is easier to present my own rationale because I’ve lived it for so long. What I do a lot of the time with my partner is to learn the how and the why she processes so that I can better communicate with and to her. It is, as you’d guess, no short process for anyone in a relationship.

    The celery seemed to more of an emblem than an actual “thing.” It symbolized something much larger in our parenting approach. We stuffed five of the six kids under one (medium sized) roof in July and are experiencing the same growing pains any blended family does — just compounded by space and numbers (i.e. lots of kids).

    It’s been a few weeks since I wrote this initial post and I’m already finding that we’re learning the dance of disagreement. We know that when Dad says this, he means this — and why. And when Mom expresses that, she’s really trying to call attention to something else. It’s a fascinating (if not always easy) process and we’re a better family for it every day.

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