It all looks so easy for “The Brady Bunch.” The show first aired in 1969, but generations have watched it in syndication since then. The widowed father and either divorced or widowed mother — Carol’s status is never discussed, but there is no ex-husband hanging around — brought their families together to form a more perfect union. The kids accepted their stepparents as their parents, not their mother’s husband or that woman their father married.
In real life, of course, blended families may not make such a smooth transition. The “blending” is more than physical, more than the two families moving into the same house: It is about finding a common parenting style, aligning priorities and expectations. A lot has to happen before anyone even talks about who gets the top bunk.
The Brady kids may have had to put up with three kids in each bedroom, but they had the tremendous benefit of having another adult around to take the heat off their parents. Housekeeper Alice took care of most of the day-to-day chores that could easily have driven a wedge between Mike and Carol. Without Alice, a friend of ours once remarked, those two wouldn’t have lasted five years: “Remember, there weren’t just six kids: At some point, there would be six teenagers, more like a pack of wolves more than ‘bunch’.”
If Mike and Carol had divorced, would their relationships with each other’s children have continued? Living as they did in a generic TV community more than 40 years ago, we cannot guess. If they were transported somehow to Illinois in 2016, however, it could be a tougher transition than you’d think.
Here in Illinois, neither would have any automatic visitation rights as far as their stepchildren were concerned prior to Jan. 1, 2016. Parenting time would have been up for negotiation, and they would have had to meet a few conditions before they could even begin to convince the court that maintaining their relationships with the kids met the best interests of the child criteria.
That all changed on Jan. 1, though. We’ll explain how in our next post.
Source: West’s Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated, 750 ILCS 5/601 Jurisdiction; Commencement of Proceeding, in effect from July 27, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2015, via Westlaw