Growing up is not easy. Remember the preteen years, learning how to express your individuality while not attracting the wrong kind of attention? Examining the kids in a blended family sometimes feels like looking at a science experiment through a microscope. You can see the individual life forms wiggling around, sometimes bonding together, other times polarizing, each trying to maintain its unique identity.
Of course all kids are different. Even identical twins have unique likes and dislikes. However, most blended families bring together kids that are being raised in different households. In our family, for instance, our 5 children live in 4 different cities. If you take the college-aged boy out of the equation, you’re still looking at 4 kids between the ages of 8 and 15 being raised by 3 unique families. Yet somehow every 2nd, 4th and 5th weekend we are all “ours”. It’s really kind of weird when you think about it. Yet because so many families are doing it, kids are not expected to feel weird. They are just expected to adapt to the different households, the different parenting styles, the “new normal”. It’s no wonder so many kids nowadays feel like they don’t fit it in, even in their own homes.
What becomes of the outcasts? The ones that don’t fit the mold? Last weekend I think I found a whole bunch of them… at an animation convention. Kids and teens, and some adults, typically stereotyped as nerdy or geeky, all coming together to celebrate and in many cases dress up as their favorite comic book, cartoon or video game character. It’s quite a sight to behold!
It was something I overheard at this convention that really made me think about the shaping of identities. A boy who looked to be about 14 was telling our 11 year old son, “most of the time I feel like I don’t fit in, but here I can totally be myself”. Yes, no wonder ComicCon and A-kon, and similar conventions have been exploding in popularity. So many kids of all ages feel this way. Are they all from blended families? Certainly not. But I have to think that the blendedness of our world is contributing to the struggles kids have in figuring out who they are and where they fit in.
I long for the day when we can all accept each others differences, even celebrate them. Until then, we’ll be working on our costumes and looking forward to the next convention.
(archived from April 4, 2014)