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I'm a divorcee and Bennifer gave me unrealistic expectations about blended families

 JLo, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner make blended families look easy, but Rosie Green knows this is not always the case

 Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are seen out and about on March 30, 2024 in New York, New York.
By: Rosie Green
19 April 2024
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When I see the paparazzi shots of JLo and Ben Affleck and their blended family at the mall, going for their first anniversary lunch in Beverley Hills or attending their kids' school plays it makes me feel a whirl of emotions.  Mostly inadequate, incredulous, and inquisitive.  

My mind masticates over how these movie stars - whose beauty, talent and power seem to make them superhuman - have managed such a smooth path through what the majority of mere mortals find a notoriously tricky situation. 

This is until my rational brain kicks in and I remember the above moments are a PR photo opp and offer but a brief, optimised snapshot into family life. 

Samuel Garner Affleck, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez at a basketball game© Getty
JLo with Ben and his son, Samuel

JLo has two children, Emme and Max Muñiz, from her marriage to Marc Anthony.  Ben has Violet, Fin and Samuel from his with Jennifer Garner. I know, because I’m both a mother and a realist, that it can’t be all harmonious behind the scenes. 

There will undoubtedly be both good and bad. Laughter and love yes, but also squabbling, friction and fighting over household rules. The children will have grown up with different values and experiences and will bear scars from their parents’ separation. 

I haven’t tried to blend families, but I know from friends who have that it is both challenging and rewarding with so many emotions at play. 

Making me feel much better is Gwyneth Paltrow. People may chide Gwyneth for her ‘vagina’ candles and 10k plus backgammon set on Goop, but generally, I think her parenting advice is sound.  

 READ: What I wish someone had told me about being a step-parent 

People (including me) sniggered at her ‘conscious uncoupling’  in 2014, but a decade and a divorce on I can see a separation that is courteous and respectful and means the children don’t feel conflicted in their love for each parent is the best way. 

But back to blending families, speaking at a Woman’s Day summit Gwyneth said she had found harmony with hers but ‘the path to here was really rough.’

brunette woman smiling with her daughter
Rosie with her daughter

She talks openly about the process and how she thoughtfully navigated it. Gwyneth and her new husband Brad Falchuk got married in 2018, but waited a whole year before they moved in together to minimise the impact on the children.

“It’s hard, and it’s not intuitive, and nobody tells you how to do it,’ said Paltrow. ‘You just stick with it. Now it’s one of the things that brings me the most happiness in my life.”

 ROSIE'S COLUMN: What divorce taught me about keeping desire alive 

On Instagram she said: “I did find it really hard at first. You know? There’s no book on this. Nobody tells us what to do. And in fact, all of the existing media around what a stepmother is casts us in this evil, villainous light. It’s kind of like trying to avoid landmines. You’re going into a family with dynamics, and there’s all kinds of fear around loss and what does this new person mean.” 

She also said: “The minute I decided and fully embodied the idea that my step-kids were my kids and I loved them just as much, and I gave them the same rules and boundaries and just kind of wholeheartedly went for it, the easier the whole thing got.”

Gwyneth and Brad© Instagram
Gwyneth and Brad blended their families

The learning for me? Celebrity does not immunise you from human travails. Parenting advice says you’ll need open communication with your partner, thoughtfulness, kindness and a lot of patience. And to prioritise self-care. 

FYI Gwyneth has a 5K+ infrared sauna on her website for that. 

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