So did you know that today is national step family day?? Yep.. it is!! So I thought I would share a older Married life post ( you can see that post in full right here ) in celebration of the day!
So lets talk about..
Many of us have been married before and have children from those relationships. Then we meet someone else who also has children from another relationship. Blending the 2 families is most of time a challenging aspect of families.
Right now the statics are about 90% of families out there are blended.. which means bleanded families are the predominant family form in the U.S. Blended families rarely mesh together easily and seamlessly, there is usually a great deal of adjustment and often a lot of conflict.
I will give you a little bit of my history about this subject.. without naming anyone specific.. I grew up living with my grandparents but still had a very active life with both of my parents who went out and married other people ( a few times ) and I got to experience the step mom and the step dad. My experience was most of the time the step parents are not always loving with open arms. I felt unliked, unloved by one particular step parent and I will never forget that feeling for the rest of my life. For me, my step fathers were always better than my step mothers. I think God knew that I was going to have a LARGE blended family and wanted me to not treat the other kids, the way I was treated. While it hurt, I learned a few lessons about what NOT to do.
So I went on with my life.. met my husband and boom.. we had a pretty large family. In the beginning, I didn't take Scott around Brittany or Jackson for the first year. I was more about me getting to know him first before having my kids around him. His kids came into the picture too.. and we have just adjusted to what life has given us.
What makes a successful blended family?
Trying to make a blended family a replica of your first family, or the ideal nuclear family, can often set family members up for confusion, frustration, and disappointment. Instead, embrace the differences and consider the basic elements that make a successful blended family:
- Solid marriage Without the marriage, there is no family. It's harder to take care of the marriage in a blended family because you don't have couple time like most first marriages do. You'll have to grow and mature into the marriage while parenting.
- Being civil. If family members can be civil with one another on a regular basis rather than ignoring, purposely trying to hurt, or completely withdrawing from each other, you're on track.
- All relationships are respectful. This is not just referring to the kids' behavior toward the adults. Respect should be given not just based on age, but based on the fact that you are all family members now.
- Compassion for everyone’s development. Members of your blended family may be at various life stages and have different needs (teens versus toddlers, for example). They may also be at different stages in accepting this new family. Family members need to understand and honor those differences.
- Room for growth. After a few years of being blended, hopefully the family will grow and members will choose to spend more time together and feel closer to one another.
Adapted from: RemarriageSuccess.com
For Scott and I we both have went into this relationship with love. When bringing all the kids together, we have been about love above all. I won't pretend it has always been easy. There have been some adjustments needed at times but we have really made the decision that any time, any where, for any reason our home is open to any and all of our kids. We don't don't turn our kids away.. ever.
I get along so good with his daughter and I love her. I think it just kinda happened naturally for us. I was kind and respectful, as was she and our relationship is growing. My kids can come anytime they want, our door is open to Zane.. and any other kids that might pop up in the future! =)
I feel kinda lucky because while we are kinda like the Brady bunch when all the kids are here at one time, we get along and love each other.
I think in a big or small blended family the parents are the ones who have to take the lead. A strong marriage is what really holds together a family. No matter what the kids need to see you as a team. You have to communicate a lot.
Let Each Child Set The Pace
Each child just wants to feel loved and valued. I also think it is very important for each child to set the pace. With my kids they know only Scott and I.. not their father and me.. just Scott. So it has been a lot easier because they were very young when Scott and I came together. He has a son the around the same age, and he really knows only Scott and I. Laura was older when we all started meeting and it was a little scary at first but I have done everything I could, to show her she is welcome in our lives and in our home. And with the grace of God we have really made a friendship that I value very very much. But she set the pace.. not I. I will never be her mom because she has only 1 of those.. and I refuse to go by step mom because I don't like that term for personal reasons. She just calls me by my name and that is what works best for us. I do not like says his kids or my kids.. I do say our kids because they are kids and they are ours. Different aged children adjust differently and that has to be considered when blending any family.
Unite as One
As you merge two families, differences in parenting, discipline, lifestyle, etc. always makes things hard. I think it is super important to be a strong couple when it comes to household living, including things like rules, chores, discipline, and allowance. Letting the kids know that you stand together is super important. With the little kids, this is very important. It takes work to make lives blend together and you need to do the work as a couple to make it as smooth for each child as possible. I think being private about your personal feelings to just your partner is fine..talking solves a lot of problems... but when around the kids, you should not be talking about issues first. I think its best when things are difficult that if you communicate with your spouse first, it gives you the chance to approach it together rather than just one step parent handling it all on their own.
* I will say here, that I never think a step parent should physically discipline another persons child.. ever *
Its just not right. Scott has never whipped my kids and I would never touch his. That's a deal breaker for us.
Above all, come into it with
Love and Kindness
Remember the kids didn't ask to be born and for their parents to split up. Treat them as you would want someone to treat your kids. I know there is so much about blending families like the ex's getting along or not, and rather the kids are younger or older, yada yada yada.. but if you just treat them with love and kindness then it will all work out.
If you find yourself struggling in this area find a counselor to sort out the issues with you. Sometimes a outside view is very helpful.
Our home is always open for the kids.. all the kids. Nothing makes me happier to see all the kids sitting around the dining room table having a meal together. I love it.. and our family just keeps growing. We already have 1 grand child and another on the way. Who would have thought!?
I dreamed the white picket fence, the one marriage, and a happy life but God had a different plan for me. Instead, we have kids coming out our ears and nothing makes me happier than watching them grow up! I can't wait till the little ones are older with their little ones sitting around the table!
There are tons of topics on this subject and I will maybe write more in a future post but like anything, blended families take work and effort. If you plan on any kind of long marriage that has kids from an outside relationship, you need to really focus on the good and make tons of memories with them that are loving and caring. Winning the trust of a step parent is not easy and does not happen over night. Its starts with one kind fun day.. and continues on.
These are just a few of my thoughts on the subject. By all means, take a second if you like, and let me know what makes it work for your blended family, along with the challenges you face.
Leave a comment below or shoot me an email to email@example.com
I feel pretty lucky that we don't have many issues regarding our kids. Its not always happy and easy for us but we both work at it. I think no matter what the struggle is, facing it with love, respect and kindness will get you through it. I was pretty nervous about Zane at first because it had been about 7 years since he was in our lives but I just held on and was loving and kind to him and it worked out really good. Love trumps it all.. and if you just make the effort, the rewards will be amazing!