When Families Blend

when families blend

When families blend from two broken families (or one outsider into a broken family) to create one new family unit, is a process, not an event. It doesn’t happen overnight and you can’t force it to happen. It will happen when it happens. Sometimes it happens quickly and sometimes it takes years. Sadly, sometimes, it never happens.

 

Things to Think About, When Families Blend

You need to take a few things into consideration when blending families. The most important thing to remember is that all blended families come about because of some type of loss. Be it divorce, abandonment or death, there was loss. How deep and how fresh the wounds of this loss are at the time, has a great deal to do with how quickly and smoothly this new family becomes established. Other factors to consider that will impact the dynamics of this new family unit include but are not limited to: are there his and hers children involved, does only one spouse bring children to this family, what are the ages of the children involved, how do the children feel about this new family, what is the attitude of the other parent concerning the new step-parent, what is the relationship of the children with the biological parents?

 

I became a step-mom when I was 25 years old. I didn’t know very many other blended families, so I was not quite sure what to expect. To say that I was totally unprepared for this blessing/challenge is an understatement. Over the last 12 years, I have probably made mistakes more often than I have done things right. I am not claiming to be some expert on blending families. And I am quite sure the reason mine has turned out as well as it has, had much more to do with the children than it did with my husband and I . We have both been blessed with caring kids who have forgiving hearts. But, I would like to share with you a few things that I think helped us during our process of becoming a family.

 

Don’t expect the kids to be as happy as you are about the new marriage. Don’t expect them to love you just because you are married to one of their parents. They may not even like you at first. They may blame you for their parents splitting up. They may see you as a threat to their relationship with their parent. They may resent the time their parent spends with you. They may have still been holding onto the idea that their parents would get back together, until you showed up. They may feel like they are betraying the other parent if they like you.

 

Be yourself. You know that suspicious and distrustful feeling you get when people try too hard and act fake around you? Kids get that same feeling when you behave like that around them. They can spot a faker a mile away. Relax and be genuine. If you are the kind of person their parent loves, they will almost always end up accepting you exactly the way you are.

 

Require your step-children to treat you with respect, even if they don’t like you at first. Ideally your spouse will foster this also. The beginning of any good relationship starts with respect. To assist the children in extending you this respect, act in a manner that is respectable. And always remember that respect is a two way street. You must give it to get it.

 

Support your step-children’s relationships with both of their parents. Never talk down about or try and undermine them. If the step-child talks negatively about a parent they are in a tiff with listen, but never agree with the child and only offer responses that will calm the discord. Except in a case of abuse or neglect, it’s best to stay out of any dispute between parent and child. And never try and compete with their biological parents, because you can’t. There is no comparison.  Don’t take it personally when you have to take a back seat to the biological parents. You often will, so you might as well get used to it. No matter what you do or don’t do and no matter what the bio-parent does or doesn’t do: You are NOT their parent. It’s just the way it is.

 

 

Make sure you spend time with your step-children. Get to know them over a bowl of ice cream. Go to the movies together, ride bikes, take walks, go swimming. Just be together, because togetherness and memory making goes a long way towards getting to know each other and coming together as a family.

 

If you have children of your own, do everything in your power not to show favoritism. Not on Birthday’s, not on Holiday’s and not on a regular Saturday night. Try to keep things as fair as possible. Go out of your way to include all of the children (that are still at home) in family activities like vacations, trips to an amusement park, a night of bowling or a Thanksgiving meal. Will that always be possible? No! But I can tell you, nothing hurts a child’s feelings and creates resentments faster than feeling like all the fun stuff happens when you’re not around.

 

One particularly hot button in many blended families is discipline. You and your spouse need to get on the same page from day one on this issue. What has worked out the best for our family has been leaving any major discipline to the biological parent. That doesn’t mean we didn’t raise our voice, take away a privilege for the day or send each other’s children to their rooms in an attempt to bring a stop to unacceptable behavior in the short term. I am speaking about more serious issues that may warrant a long period of grounding or restriction such as removal of driving privileges or withholding the right to attend a school dance. And weather we agreed with the decisions or not, my husband and I backed each other up. The best case scenario is for all parents, step or otherwise, to form a united front when it comes to enforcing consequences. But that doesn’t often happen.

 

Note: I know every situation is different. This is just what worked for our unique situation in regards to discipline.

 

What happens if you and your spouse have a biological child together? For us it only drew our family closer. It just meant there was one more person in common, whom we now all love. I have learned that all types of reaction from joy to jealously and everything in between can be expected in situations like these.

 

Finally step-parents, don’t get hung up on what a step-parent/step-child relationship should look like. Each of them are different and will evolve with time. I like to think I have a good relationship with all of my step-children. And I like to think my husband and my son have a good one too.

 

My step sons are about the same age as me. One is older and one is younger. Both of them were married when I met them. One had a child already and the other one ended up getting a new baby brother 30 days after welcoming his own daughter into the world. My relationship with them does not resemble a parent/child relationship in any way. But that’s OK. I care for and respect these two fine men immensely. Dare I even say I love them? Though not as a mother loves a child she nurtured and watched grow. I am so thankful that my two biological sons have such outstanding fellows to look up to and call brother.

 

My relationship with my step-daughter is different because she came into my life when she was just 11 years old. She spent more time with me than her brothers. I watched her grow up. We went on family vacations together. She grew up playing with my oldest son. I was there when she got her first car, when she graduated high school and when she got married. We have spent more time together than her brothers and I. And while we enjoy a relationship that more closely resembles that of a parent and child with her, I am not her mother. She already has a wonderful mother. I am thankful for that. Every girl needs her mom. I would like to think that my involvement in her upbringing had some small part in shaping her into the woman, wife and mother she is today. And I have to say when she talks about me to others and refers to me as her step-mom (instead of just “my dad’s wife) my heart fills with Joy. I love you Mickie.

 

My husband and my son met when he was 8 years old. They spent many nights together while I was working third shift. They played cowboys and Indians, lit fireworks and enjoyed target practice. My husband worked two jobs to support him and never complained when he had to pay for doctor bills or sports equipment. I don’t pretend to know how they feel about each other, but from the outside looking in, it appears they share a strong bond.

 

It’s not perfect (what family is) but I am so thankful for the way our blended family has stuck together during the last twelve years. I know I have been blessed so far beyond what I deserve.

Check out my About page to see photo’s of my family.

Being in a blended family can be tough! If you have a blended family (or know one), I’d love it if you would share some helpful and encouraging words in the comments.

 

Follow on Bloglovin   or    
                                                   by email

Comments

  1. This is an excellent conversation with excellent points. You can’t get much more blended than our family is! Your first point was very interesting, this blended family came about because of some type of loss. Wise words! Great advice here!
    Shirley Wood recently posted…Scott’s Liquid Gold Wood Cleaner & Preservative GiveawayMy Profile

  2. Sounds like a hard journey but it’s great that you have allowed the relationships to grow and you seem to have a really good perspective on it. It’s very sweet how you talk about your step-daughter!

  3. wow! This is a very informative post about blended family. Will pass this post on the people who will need it.

  4. Thanks for sharing this post. I don’t have a blended family but I have several friends that do. I see the struggles and the triumphs and these are great pointers for anyone approaching that situation.

  5. Your story is so touching and inspiring! My family was blended for a short period of time when my mother got re-married, but it didn’t work out in the end. I don’t think that my step-father really knew what he was getting into–especially with a teenage female going through puberty. Though this blended family didn’t work out too well, I’m happy to hear that yours did and I’m happy knowing that many others also do very well.

  6. Great post! It’s awesome that you all are so connected! Thank you for sharing! :)

  7. Thank you for sharing this inspiring article regarding your blended family. Why it can at times be a struggle, it seems that you managed very well for being so very young when you married your husband. I’m wish you much continued success.

  8. Great advice!

    I’m technically from a blended family, but I was so young that I didn’t really know any different. My mom remarried when I was 5. We had no contact with my biological father after we left, so that did not create a difficult situation for our family. My (step-)dad adopted me and as far as I am concerned, he is my dad. Most people don’t even know that he’s not my biological parent.

    I have seen blended families that did not go as smoothly as mine did. These tips are very good advice for people trying to make two families one. I think if some of my friends’ parents had seen this post when we were kids, they would have had a much easier time of it.

    • Than you Angela. My mother was adopted by her step-dad because her bio-dad abandoned her. I never knew my grandpa wasn’t my grandpa until I was about 13 years old. And as far as I am concerned he is my real Grandpa.

  9. I’ve never been a part of a blended family, but what great advice and encouragement, I’m going to pass this on to my girlfriend who is experiencing this now…thank you!

  10. I have no experience with blended families but your post made a lot of sense. It’s obvious you love your family and have worked hard to promote family. Keep up the good work.

  11. Hi Busy Mama. Thanks for sharing this very personal post. I come from more than one blended family. How’s that for confusing. My parents divorced when I was very young, probably 3 or 4. My father wasn’t in the picture again for many years (I was 36 when I found him), and my mother remarried. She was married a total of 4 times. I have lost touch with any step-brothers and step-sisters.

    When I found my father again, he was also re-married and was on his 5th marriage. He had one biological son from his current wife, and 2 children from a previous wife, as well as step-children. I got to meet all of them after I located him. I have a good bond with most all of them. In fact, I got to go see them last week and spend a few hours with them. It was the first time some of us had been together in 8 years, and at least double that amount of time for some of the others. We had a wonderful time together and I am hoping we don’t wait that long again to see one another.

    There are many challenges to raising or living in a blended family. I think you did a great job of addressing many of them here. Thanks so much.

    • Wow! Talk about blended. It must have been difficult for you. I am glad you have a bond with some of your siblings, step or otherwise. Thank you for sharing your story here. I think it will encourage others who have lost touch with a parent.

  12. What a detailed post! I have no experience with blended families, and hope I never do, but it’s great to know there is so much useful advice and support out there. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think there is still relevance to how you deal with your own kids in there.

    • Hi Narelle, I hope you never have to experience a blended family either. I would not trade mine for the world, but having a family never break up and need to blend in the first place is best. Blessings to you and your family.

  13. Blending families can be so difficult. I was the child that had to be “blended”. It didn’t go well on either side. It sounds like you have the right attitude though and I’m glad that you have built those relationships instead of expected them.

  14. We do not have a blended family but a family that is very close to us does. From the outside looking in, I see alot of conflicts regarding different parenting styles and kids who are striving to please everyone and failing miserably. There is still alot of animosity created by one parent that affects everyone involved. I think they really want to make things work but haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet. Your words are very insightful. Thanks for sharing.

    • It is really difficult Stephanie. We made a lot of mistakes at first and we still make some now. My husband and I would argue about punishments (not in front of the kids) and it really tested our marriage sometimes. I’ll pray for the family. Thank’s for stopping by.

  15. Great advice – I LOVE “its a process” – perfect way to describe it.

  16. Really enjoyed your pictures and your great post. I think you’ve probably done a lot more right than wrong.

  17. What an amazing post and you’re an amazing person. Being single at 46 with grown kids, I met a guy my age with a teenager. It was very hard for me to step in as a step-parent.

    My days of raising kids were over and I didn’t want to go there especially since I didn’t agree on how he was raising his son. We had different values regarding that issue and his pissed me off because his wasn’t involved in any activities, education was enforced and at the age of 13 yr the child should have some chores to do along with other things I felt were a problem.

    So I commend step parents and you…It’s not easy at all!

    Kimberly Ann Hawes
    http://over40andkillingit.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/lets-get-it-achieve-the-over-40-and-killing-it-lifestyle-today/

  18. I, too, did not come from a blended family, my extended family, however does. Great article for someone fixing to transition to that, or that is having difficulty.

  19. I wish every step-parent took their roles so seriously. I know several I wish would follow in your wise footsteps. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Wow. I cannot imagine having a step son who was actually older than I was! While I do no have experience with a blended family, I am grateful for your insights. I think there are more than a few tips that are important for any family, regardless of their dynamic. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Thanks Andrea. It was definitely an adjustment. More so on the kids part than mine. I am so thankful they have accepted me, respect me for loving their dad and trust me to be a part of their children’s lives.

  21. I dont have personal expereince with blended families but I have definitely witnessed some amazing blended families. Sounds like yours is one of them.

  22. Coming from a split family I thought it would be easier for me to be a stepmom but it wasn’t at all because our situation looked nothing like what I grew up in.

    • Every blended family situation is truly unique. Being a step-mom is definitely difficult at times. I hope things are going well for you Lisa. If you ever need to talk just email me @ busymama911 at gmail dot com

  23. Beautiful family! We’ve all made mistakes as parents but I can imagine being young and coming into a family was very hard for you and your son. Sounds like you all have a good relationship and that’s all you can ask for!

  24. Being yourself and asking for help is so important. Starting at 25 is very impressive!

  25. Wow, you’ve had some unique challenges,but it looks like you’ve been pretty realistic in your outlook and achieved some positive results. Good for you!

  26. You have so many words of wisdom in this post. I have been apart of a blended family and seen the good and the bad. I’ve also seen the wonderful results when a blended family works together! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  27. I have no personal experience with blended families but I know of others who have had to deal with this. I think you have a lot of great advice and you seem very sensitive to what your stepchildren need. As a music therapist, I have dealt with children from blended families and your post has given me some ideas for helping them to cope with new stepparents.

  28. I love this post! The information is right on and so needed! I agree with Wren. When I was growing up, blended families were handled completely differently. I think the children of those families had a great impact on shifting how they were viewed and respected. I can see a huge difference in the relationships between the parents now versus my parents and my siblings’ mothers growing up.

  29. This is a wonderful post! As a Marriage and Family Therapist I know how hard establishing a blended family is. You have written so honestly and wisely about your personal experience. Everything you have suggested is spot on! Thank you for sharing your perspective and what you’ve learned. This post will help so many new step-parents as they start to navigate the blended family waters. ~ Bobbi

  30. Unfortunately I don’t have any wisdom of my own to share but I just wanted to say you spoke on this issue fabulously. You have learned many things over the years and I know a lot of people will take advantage of this post you wrote!

    craftingafairytale.blogspot.com

  31. Bless you for taking the role of step mom seriously! More blended families should read this! I have a relative who married and became a blended family. She loves her husbands kids just like they are her own. In face she doesn’t even like to use the term step-kids with them. They are one big happy family! :)

  32. Thank you for sharing your personal story. No family is perfect, blended or non-blended, and all have challenges; just different ones. I’m sure you and your husband have had to deal with many challenges along the way, but it sounds like you’ve managed to keep it together and have successfully overcame obstacles together…and that’s so very important for any family unit. From the tone of your article it sounds as if you’ve kept God in your marriage and family too, and that always helps!

  33. Very good post! You have a lot of good information that I hope people in a “blended family” situation take to heart. Definitely being yourself is the only way to be; that along with total honesty will go a long way in building the relationships.

  34. Hi Amanda :) I have not personally lived through any situation similar to yours, but I think you’ve beautifully summed up the nuts and bolts of how to cope and live peaceably together, building a close family bond.
    With so many different ages and varieties of relationships in your family life must be very interesting at times, but what a special gift! I love that your step-son’s daughter and half-brother are practically the same age.
    Your advice for parents to keep up a united front is so important, for all of us. The children know instinctively when Mom and Dad (or step parent) are not on the same page.
    Thank you for sharing this very personal post. It will bless many!

  35. We’ve been a family so long that I rarely think of us as blended. The only “steps” we’ve ever referred to are the ones that lead to the basement. I also know that not all families feel that way. As you pointed out everyone’s situation is different and they have to do what’s best for them. I give thanks everyday for my the beautiful gift of my family. You covered so many important issues here, very well done.

  36. Although we do not have a blended family (my hubby and I have been married for 23+ years after being basically high school sweethearts), I realize we are not the norm. It was truly inspiring to read your post about how to make a blended family really work. I hope it helps others!

  37. If only this kind of information had been available when I was growing up! I think our parents’ generations were sadly lacking in how to blend families. I know many people will be blessed by your thoughtful post. Thank you!
    –Wren

  38. This is a sound post, with some good advice and some things to think about. My brothers each have blended families and though rocky at times, it seems as if time helps it work out.

  39. How true! My family is blended, and it takes work, tenacity, and research to make it successful. It isn’t a process that just “happens” on its own.

  40. What a beautiful, heartfelt post! Your advice is humble and sound…and I bet that you are an awesome Mom…and friend…to all of your kids.

  41. Your open and honest words about your experiences will help many others struggling with the same blended family issues. Thank you for sharing.

  42. This post is so needed as there are so many blended families today. I love how you handled the topic with kindness and grace and encouraged all those involved to love and be respectful of everyone involved.

  43. Lots of great suggestions! As a child from a blended family (I was 13 when my mom met my stepdad, 15 when they moved in together, and 16 when they got married) all I can say is it is such a hard transition. I was happy my mother found someone to love but it turned my world upside down and I became a bit of an outsider after being my mother’s one and only my whole life. It took two years but I did come around. So to add my advice, have patience with the kids, it’s a hard transition from their end too.

  44. I have no experience with blended families but I think you have wise words. I think Cinderella does an ugly job at painting step moms and that’s a shame because real life isn’t quite so awful.

  45. What an insightful posting. If more blended families followed half of your ideas, they would be much happier.

  46. I can really relate to your post! I was a product of a blended family. The dynamics can be so challenging. Now at 34, they are still challenging with favoritism. If the children are young, I agree that setting the tone from the beginning is so important! You teach people how to treat you. If there is no discipline, this can make the situation so much more difficult! Respect on both ends is key. It is definitely a journey and not a destination! Great tips and insights Amanda! Beautiful family too!(:

    • Thank You Kelly. I really don’t want to make any of them feel like there is favoritism, but I am sure I have. Each relationship I have with each of them is so different because of the age differences. I am just so blessed that they are all such forgiving and kind individuals.

  47. This is wonderful, practical advice for those in this situation but also for those of us that have blended families in our extended family. It affects all the relatives at some level. Great advice. I like the encouragement idea behind your blog. Something I strive for too. Thanks

  48. Thank You for your sweet words. I think all blended families are full of issues. God Bless you and your family.

  49. What a beautiful post! We are a blended family, and it hasn’t always been easy and still isn’t! The photos of us as are wedding include my step daughter standing with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face (she was 13). My step kids have been raised completely different than my own children. Their mom is a heavy spender, and I am very frugal. This has created many issues along the way.
    My step son and I have been close almost from the beginning. He does resent my sons a little for being able to be around his dad more than he is. I completely understand that. It’s gotten a lot better the older he’s gotten (he’ll be 16 soon).
    My step daughter and I have had a very convoluted relationship. I would have LOVED to have had a more mother/daughter relationship with her and mourned not having that. Now that she’s 19, I’m glad to say that we’re friends. I do love her. She is a sweet girl with a good head on her shoulders.
    My oldest son has a strained relationship with my husband. They both have a controlling nature and butt heads often. My other two sons get along with him just fine.
    We also have a son together. He is a joy to both sides of our blended family, especially my step son who always wanted a little brother.
    I think your most important point was to forget how the relationships are supposed to look like. Trying to create a certain relationship will most certainly damage the one you may already have (that doesn’t appear perfect).

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge