This is a relatively new term in this country, so what does it mean? This term refers to families that are joined together by a relationship. So whilst they are not all necessarily blood relatives they are families in a broader sense of the word. I guess once upon a time they may have been referred to as a step family. The Oxford Dictionary gives this definition “a family consisting of a couple, the children they have had together, and their children from previous relationships.” I would question whether a blended family requires any or all of these elements, surely a family is anyone we choose to consider as family?
When a family is newly formed there can often be teething problems as the family adjust and settle into the new way of family life. Things that were once a given may no longer be the case as new ways of living are being introduced. For adults this can be a challenge enough but for children this can often lead to them feeling distressed, alienated or like they no longer belong.
There are, of course, lots of ways to help families settle together and begin to grow as a family. The internet is full of help from reputable organisations such as Relate through to blogs and practical tips. It does take time for a family to come together and begin to develop strong bonds and to begin to work together cohesively as a family.
A sense of belonging is very important and for each member of the family to feel they can be heard and have a valid place at the table.
So anyway these are the types of families Celebrants often refer to as blended and many Celebrants offer ceremonies to celebrate the joining of people to form a new family unit. Similarly, many offer welcoming ceremonies for adoptive families and it is for the same reason, to promote that sense of belonging and validity within the family.
In these ceremonies individuals within the family can be celebrated as well as the family as a whole. Meaningful poems or readings are often added to personalise the ceremony and families will usually have a favourite song that they all enjoy singing as part of the ceremony. These ceremonies are always very happy occasions and there are many ways in which to make then even more personalised. What about planting a family tree, or making a family memory book to commemorate the day?
Whatever families chose to include a family ceremony is a very special and memorable occasion for families and what better way to start out on a new journey together!