8 Dos and Don’ts for blending friends and family:
- DO find opportunities for your chosen family and your genetic family to get to know each other.
- DON’T bring new guests to family traditions (like holiday celebrations) without clearing it first.
- DO invite your friends and family to meet on neutral ground (like a restaurant or your own house).
- DON’T pressure people to get along with one another. Let them find their own connection.
- DO introduce friends and family with a little bit of positive info about each: “Mom, this is Susan — she loves to read, like we do.” “Susan, this is Emily, my mother. She taught me my love of books.”
- DON’T participate in negative discussions behind someone’s back — say what you like about them instead. “Yes, I know Susie isn’t Jewish (Italian, Mexican, etc.), but she loves our traditions, and she’s a good person.”
- DO prepare your friends before introducing them to your family’s quirks. “Aunt Jennie can talk your ear off, but she’s got a kind heart.” “Uncle Bob is critical, but he’s the one who helped me get through college.”
- DON’T get your expectations too high. Allow time for everyone to get to know each other, and don’t pay too much attention to first reactions.
You can create various networks of friends to bring that harmony into your life.
Your chosen family. Warm friends provide a cushion and a shield in life’s difficult times — someone to talk to when you need support or advice, and to celebrate your triumphs with you. It’s a great blessing to be surrounded by a trusted and trustworthy group of friends who make your life’s journeys with you, and know exactly how far you’ve come.
Your neighborhood family. Friendly neighbors make your neighborhood, your apartment building or condo complex, or your block safer. Their watchfulness will protect you against vandalism and other problems. Know your neighbors and they will call 911 for you, or watch your children, take package deliveries, or feed your pets.
Your family of origin. Family is the network we turn to first in times of need and to share the good times too. If your family has drifted apart, try building a partial family network with those you like or who live close by, and soon other family members could be drawn closer.
Your fun family. These people enjoy the things you like to do. Families who want to do parent/child activities or fellow single people who share your weekends and holidays. Or couples who join you for fun times. Parents of similar-age children can share car-pooling, baby-sitting, information and support.
By creating family feelings in several areas of your life, you’ll have the joy of the give-and-take of friendship anytime you want. As you look back on your life, you are likely to feel best about the good things you did for others and the positive contributions you have made to your friends and family. Perhaps life will present you with an opportunity to give back to friends. Being there in times of need, helping out in times of illness or bereavement, or just being a sympathetic listener when a friend is stressed can be more valuable to them than you imagine. You’ll create blessings for yourself when you share your rituals, holidays, laughter and information. Welcome friends who are alone into your family’s good times. With these “chosen families” you can offer comfort in life’s difficult times, and be a willing participant in celebrating successes. Everything you give will come back to you multiplied. In the spirit of peace and love, I wish you the joy of connection.