What is a blended family versus a step family? Is there a difference? Is one term better than the other? Is it just a preference? For me, I feel the word blended, rather than step, defines my personal journey toward my family goals. Also, I feel by definition, blended has a more inclusive meaning, rather than limiting a family image to a Brady Bunch remarriage. Webster’s dictionary defines the two words as follows:
- Mix, especially: to combine or associate so that the separate constituents or the line of demarcation cannot be distinguished.
- To prepare by thoroughly intermingling different varieties or grades.
- To mingle intimately or unobtrusively: to combine into an integrated whole.
- To produce a harmonious effect.
- A movement made by lifting your foot and putting it down in a different place.
- The sound of a foot making a step
- The distance covered in one step; also: short distance.
I like the idea of mixing things up and thoroughly intermingling people together so they make a whole. To me, that’s what family is: different parts that make a whole. Traditionally speaking, being all bound together biologically is the meaning of a family unit. Our modern world includes families of all different types: bonded or not, and biological or not.
The bond of trust is implied in a biological situation, but it needs to be built in a blended family. It’s a simplification to water-down the entire blended family experience and only label love by a biological factor. Loving and bonding occur in different amounts at different times between blended family members (and biological family members), and can create bonds as strong as biological ones. If this wasn’t possible, there would never have been a married couple in history that truly “loved” each other in a selfless, bonded sense of the word.
To me, the distinction between a biological bond and loving someone is small; as is the distinction between the terms: “blended family”, and the more common, “stepfamily.” The distinctive nuances are the inclusivity and harmony inherent to the term “blended family;” rather than a focus on the one “step” or short distance between family members highlighted in the term “stepfamily.”
Most people want a harmonious place to call home. Regardless of how you’re blended family is created: each bringing children to a new home, single and marrying someone with children, a widow/widower with children remarrying, welcoming a foster child, adopting a child, same sex couples adopting children or a blending different cultures, races or generations – it’s the harmonious and inclusive aspects of the word blended that make the most important distinctions to me.