Last night I came across a People article on the wedding of Eva Amurri daughter of Susan Sarandon and Franco Amurri. The picture was of Eva's Ex Step Father Tim Robbins and Mother Susan Sarandon walking her down the aisle. The article acknowledged that her Father was present at the ceremony, but her Mother and Step Father were the hosts of the wedding event. As you may know, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon split up three years ago after spending twenty two years together.
What struck me about the whole scenario was the happiness on Eva's face as she walked with her arms intertwined with Tim and Susan down the aisle. Although her "parents" had parted ways, Eva acknowledged how important her Step Father was in her life by his intimate involvement in the ceremony and celebration.
There were no reports of Tim over stepping his "boundaries" as the Step Father. Nor the suggestion that out of respect for the Biological Dad, Tim should have simply declined his Step Daughter's request and let her Father have have honor.
I was happily surprised - often times when the roles are reversed with a Mom and Step Mom the conversation revolves around respect for the "Mom's" feelings/role and what is the appropriate role for the Step Mom. Ultimately overshadowing what the child feels and wants on a day that is supposed to revolve around them.
I take away from this small story, that we as parents in blended families need to take a step back and ask "is this about my best interest/feelings/ego or my child's best interest/feelings?" I think if we ask ourselves this question honestly we will find that there a fewer things to disagree on. When we let a child love their parents biological or step in a way that feels natural to them and share their life in a way that mirrors those feelings.
Raising children with boundaries of who and how they can love others, specifically tied to a biological connection as a standard for love - we send the absolute wrong message to our kids - LOVE IS CONDITIONAL! They don't learn to only apply conditional love to their Step Parents they learn to apply to all current and future loving relationships.
Love isn't a choice it's a feeling - teaching kids that loving someone no matter their title or biological connection blesses our children with an invaluable gift - letting them love without conditions.
I loved what the wedding photo represents to a blended family - giving "their" child the gift of unconditional love. Eva enjoyed a milestone in her life by celebrating with her entire family in a way that fit her relationships with her parents, biological and step.
My hope is that this becomes the norm rather the exception when it comes to our children from blended families.