I have found that in a blended family, the term family becomes lost in translation at times. The word "step" seems to automatically create boundaries. Some parents go out of their way to define what family means to the kids in statements such as, "he isn't your real brother, she isn't your real grandmother, and she/he is not your parent." These statements are a defensive mechanism meant to keep us as parents right where we believe we belong, NUMBER 1 in our kids lives. When a new family is created, it is just that family. No longer can people say family is defined by mother, father, and children all living in the same home. With more blended families than traditional families we must redifine what family is in terms that do not create feelings of conflict.
It is our job as parents to make certain our children know that family can be friends, aunts and uncles, grandparents, step siblings, step parents, step grandparents. Family is those people around us who have our back. They are the people you call when you can't pay a bill or need to talk. Family are the support system we build around us to make us stronger and better people.
During and after a divorce that support system is critical! If you can't turn to your family when you are having problems who can you turn to? Your family, who can be made up of any person close to you who wants what is best for you, will always be there for you when you need a step up.
As for your children, your family will be their mentors and cheer leaders. Your family will help them grow into the adults they will become. Remembering that your children cannot have enough positive people in their life, helps you to break down the barriors that you may create simply by refusing to accept someone as part of their family. Once you realize that the people in your children's lives including your ex are there to help your child, you can stop using those phrases that only hurt and confuse your children.
Warning: The only time a child should be removed from their family is if that person has a negative effect in their lives or is abusive in any way. In most cases, those we call our family will never hurt our children.