Blended families are a breed of their own. Not only are they completely different from the traditional family, they’re also many different kinds of blended families. You have the families in which the kids were introduced at such a young age, that they don’t know any different. There’s the families that have blessings from both side, the “your kids and my kids families”. There’s even” the yours, mine and ours families”. Blended families are vast, and they’re all very different.
Raising kids is not an easy thing. Raising a blended family is even harder!
I became a step parent when I was 23 years old. I had no idea how kids worked. but honestly the love I had for my husband just naturally flowed into those two little angels! I was excited to be a mom, I had huge plans. I truly wanted to be the best mom I can be.
I had no Idea that it was going to take as much work as it did. I thought that if my intentions were pure then this will all work out, I honestly believed that there will be no conflict, the kids would always love my ideas, i would always be in a great mood, and I would never, ever, ever want time to myself. It will all be just perfect!
Just like being a mom is hard and at the same time rewarding, being a step mom is the same, but magnified by like a thousand!
I didn’t ‘realize there would be struggles, not just the normal struggles of being a newlywed and a parent; but the internal struggles as well.
The constant questioning: Is this how I should do it? Is this how a real mom comforts? etc., etc. The overthinking as I tried to keep the balance between loving parent and step parents. Were all just some of the internal struggles I had at first. I wanted desperately for them to know that I was their advocate, but I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries.
The insecurities of step-parenting is pretty constant in the first few years (for me at least). And there’s the heartache when you’re rejected by them. This is pretty intense. But the reward of them loving you, seriously brings tears to my eyes (like literally, right now, tears-a-flowing)
it’s pretty intense!
I just wanted to share a few things that I learned in my journey as a step mom. I wish I had someone tell me these things and if they did, I wish I listened to some of them:
1)Show Them You’re a Family/ Strive for Unity.
This is so important! I had to put it first!
I’ve met a lot of blended families, I mean it’s kind of hard not to these days. I get really sad, however, when I encounter those families that seem like they’re really two families living together.
There’s a lot to be said about unity. Unity is so Underrated.
Imagine working under two bosses who have two different set of rules, who don’t communicate, and don’t acknowledge half of the team who is under them. I don’t think anyone is happy in that environment! Even more so, your family unit!
Here are some practicals:
- Make a decision to have a regular parent only meetings where you and your spouse evaluate the week or the month and make plans to talk to the kids about anything that needs to change. Don’t forget to evaluate any character issues that need to be dealt with. This is a time of unity. Strive to not get easily offended. If you feel like your kid is a target, pray about it. Even if there’s some truth to that, there more then likely is truth to what your spouse sees. Know that you are on the same team and that you both want your family to be awesome. Name one person who wants their family to be the killer of all joy…you can’t can you. Know that your spouse doesn’t either.
- Go place together; forced family fun time is the best! Do it often! No matter how your kids seem to loath this (I’m talking to you, mom and dad of teenagers), make it mandatory! Please listen to me, we didn’t do this regularly, despite the advice given to us and it’s yet another thing I guilt out on.
- Go on family vacations, we love road trips and took many. Those where some of our best moments. Even if it’s to the next city (for Houstonians, that’s actually a really long trip). There’s something about those close quarters that doesn’t allow anyone to run away and just be together.
- Take scheduled family photos (i wish we did this more… my husband and I just hate being in pictures so we didn’t push it. I wish I did). You want your kids to have something to look back on, and again it creates a family unity. It ttells them we are all in in this family so we will all be in this photo. I wish I would’ve realized how important it was.
- Have family regular meetings with the kids. Make these meetings fun. Let it be a time when you can share about good things that happened that week or month. First, build the kids up & discuss the fun things you want to do that month, then get down to the nitty gritty. Let this be the time when you introduce a new rule or address any particular issue you noticed (stay focused on just one). Be sure to have scripture to back that up so they know that it’s Gods rules and you’re just enforcing it. Make sure the rule applies to everyone, even if one kid is doing it and the others are not. Discuss a clear consequence, & hold to it. Allow for the kids to help in coming up with the consequence, that way they can own it but be sure the mom and dad have the last say. Overall, be sure not to lecture, lectures don’t get you point across!
If at all possible, try to get on the same page with the other family. I know this is impossible for most, but IF YOU CAN, try to connect regularly with your “co-parents”. It will make a world of difference for the care of your kids. We were blessed to have a good relationship, and those times we all connected helped a lot. Of course this is a rare blessing so don’t be discouraged if you can’t. As long as you’re doing the best you can with what you have, just God will work it out.
2)Stop thinking it should be easy
I just said it’s not easy and I mean it. Guess what it’s not easy for them either. Honestly in most cases it’s even harder on the kids. I made a mistake in thinking it would be easy. The problem with thinking that this step-parent thing should be a breeze, is that you will let your self down. If anything parenting your biological kids isn’t a breeze, it’s even more so in blended families. Believing that it’ll be easy and you won’t need any outside help, will unfortunately, set you up for failure. That sort of thinking can allow insecurities to set in. Guess what my friend, you’re going to express those insecurities somehow. You may become depressed or angry; lashing out on your spouse or even the kids.
DON’T GO THERE!
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Allow for mistakes. Be okay with it being hard. If it’s easy then check first if you’re not just pushing things under the rug. If it’s still an easy day, celebrate. But just know that love takes a pretty good fight. The harder we fight, the more invested we are, and isn’t that the nature of family?
3)Allow them to settle in.
This is for the families in which the kids go back and forth between homes. Just know that this is extremely hard for them! I didn’t realize how hard it was until they where teenagers. My daughter and I where having a casual conversation one day. As I listened to her I just dawned on me…wow this back and forth thing is really tough on you kids!
In that respect, one of the mistakes I made early on, was trying to quickly push my kids into our “family routine” once they were home. I must’ve read somewhere that they needed to get back on the train without any hitches, because that’s what I required of them. If I can go back in time, I would be more forgiving. I would’ve suggested to my hubby to set the days in which they got home to be “anything goes days”.
Some practicals I wish we would’ve adapted when they first got home, I hope you can benefit from them:
- sit around with them & read books, or do crafts, make it a lazy day
- go somewhere fun, they’ll have something to look forward to when they get back.
- create a bucket list together. List some things you all can do when they first get home on those days. They would look forward to it.
If your kids have to go from home to home don’t be surprised if they act out in some way. Also, don’t assume that it’s the parenting of the other home. It may be, but in our experience it was the transition more than anything else.
Between their mom’s home and ours, the rules were almost the same. Both sets of parents talked regularly, and we developed a pretty close friendship (Praises go to God). However, no matter if the rules were the same or different, one thing we came realize, was that our kiddos still needed time to acclimate.
Give them that time.
Be understanding and show them love as you guide them through it.
4) Be you as a parent, but be willing to grow
I’ve talked to many step moms and many had one thing in common: On some level, many step moms feel the need to base their parenting on the way the biological mom parenting. I don’t think this is true for dad’s but from my research is seems true for more moms than you would think.
For those who feel this way, one thing I’ve learned is God has put me in these kids life for a reason. Sure his original plan is for mom and dad to be together until death, but us humans have a way of messing with his order and it is what it is now. God will make good of the things we mess up
As a step mom I had to come to terms with the fact that God gave them to me and me to them. It was no mistake. So all the qualities that I have as a mom, they need it too! And the same goes for your family, believe it. Whether it’s your hobbies, or your free spirited personality, don’t try being another parent because you believe that’s how a parent should act. Be secure with who God created you to be and be the parent he created you to be.
In the same way, allow God to grow you in the areas in which you need growth. This is yet another reason why he blessed you with these kids. I had to grow in so many ways as a mom. I was a total free spirit, so I had no sense of time and a very small sense of responsibility. Boy did I learn parenting was not a fly by the seat of your pants kind of job real quick. We spent a lot of our days at the beach at first just hanging out, before I realized, these kids needed an eating schedule and perhaps some sun screen is in order! Huge mommy fail! However, those where the minor lessons. With my free spirit, came selfishness! It was a hard lesson for me, first to come to grips with the fact that I am selfish, and then the struggle as I tried to deny myself and not give in to my selfishness. I learned a lot about myself in that first year. Apparently, I didn’t like people (or kids) around me 24 hours a day, I had no idea. I thought I was a people person. I beat myself up about this, I felt like such a horrible person, but I didn’t realize is, like most people I just needed some time to decompress.
I also didn’t realize that God wanted to grow me in this area. Not only did He want me to learn selflessness, He also wanted me to learn who I am, what my limits where and where I needed Him to grow me. I wish I could say I got the lesson & was super mom come the next year, but nope, not this gal. I am still a work in progress. I suppose I’ll be perfect in heaver. Nevertheless, these are just a few examples, but I truly had to grow a lot spiritually. I consider it a blessing, I hope you do too.
5) Love them
The Bible says that love covers over a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). I have known that forever but in the middle of life, it’s sometimes hard to see how to apply that.
Blended families have a lot to deal with. Most (if not all) children in blended homes are going through tons. The Brady bunch, unfortunately, didn’t showcase that fact very well.
So how do we handle the seemingly unnecessary emotional breakdowns in our lives? Do we handle it head on with the intention of nipping it in the butt? Or do we stop, use kind words, give big hugs, and then deal with the situation in a patient, loving way? Do you know how easy it is to parent after a child knows that they’re loved by you? Trust me when I say, that it’s way easier than trying to discipline a child who thinks you’re against them or don’t understand them.
I tell you what. I’ve tried both ways, and all my kids and I are happier with God’s way, the loving way. If God is the creator of life, & He wrote the instructions on life, why would we not want to do it his way?
He’s the creator, we should use His manual right?
I believe that step parenting (any parenting) can be a testimony of true love
Love is an action word, it’s not an emotion.
When we strive to be patient & kind with our kids,
When we seek not to be envious or boastful in any way,
when we push down our pride, and make a decision to never dishonor them or disrespect them,
when we create an environment that is not selfish or easily angered.
When we hold no records of right or wrong
nor do we delight in evil but rejoice in the truth (even if it’s the truth about our own character & we don’t want to face it).
When we always protect, trust, hope,
Then not only are we demonstrating true love, we are teaching them how to love.
As a parent that is the greatest gift we could ever give to our kids!
Hope my experiences helped you.
I want so much to hear from you.
What helped your blended family?
What where some of the hardest things you endured in raising one?
Where you a kid in a blended family? What struggle did you have growing up? What could your parents have done differently?
Please leave a comment bellow.
I love hearing from you all