6 Degrees of Love

http://www.6degreeslove.com/

Finding the beauty in the big things: raising an unexpectedly large blended family; loving someone else's kids; and adjusting our very normal kids to a very A-typical life. Parenting a blended family of 5 boys and 1girl with humor and wine since...

Her is a winner of Top 25 Moms with Blended Families - 2012

What aspect of being in a blended family has surprised you?

Almost everything about being a blended family has surprised me. I didn't expect to have six children growing up, and if my 28 year old self knew I would, it would die of shock. I didn't realize how organized I could be and how well I related to children until I had this mish-mash blended bunch. I am constantly shocked at how well I can handle it all--how in control and together I can keep everything--and I'm constantly shocked at how badly I can loose it in times of stress. I'm surprised at how hard it has all been. Of course, I expected it to be hard. But just like anything that is hard but worth it, you could never have prepared me for just how hard it would be. Nor could you have prepared me for how WORTH it it can be! Just like child birth, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. But it is also the most amazing thing I have ever done and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am most surprised with just how much we have bonded as a family, how much all these children fill my heart.

What's a good tip for preventing sibling rivalry?

Sibling rivalry in a blended family is extremely difficult. He and I read books and books about how to best address gaining trust in each others' kids, how to love our own kids in the same space as loving someone else's kids, and how to deal with sibling and parent rivalry. Believe it or not, rivaling with one another over our kids is a much harder thing to deal with than having the children rival with one another. The best advice I can give on sibling rivalry is to make sure that all the kids have equal time with their bio parents, equal time with their step parents, equal say (LISTEN! ASK QUESTIONS! Don't let them get away without explanations!), and the knowledge that they are all loved the same--and in the same breath are expected to give an equal amount of understanding to their family.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to moms who are about to become part of a blended family?

-Get a therapist.

Seriously.

-Never, ever EVER let anyone off without demanding they talk talk TALK about their feelings. It takes a huge amount of understanding and ownership out of the kids for a blended family to work, and we spend 90% of our time with our children talking to them, explaining things to them, and not being afraid to punish them for bad behavior.

-Don't let kids get away with running your home. His kids, your kids. They all have a responsibility to act appropriately in the family home, and if they aren't called out on that behavior, they will run rampant.

-Remember, you are the adult. You are the parent. BOTH of you are. Remember that someday, these children are going to have to leave and go into the world to socialize and be responsible for other humans. In the end, they won't have you to make sure their feelings are cushioned. They have to be held accountable for their actions and you, as the adult, have to do that.

-Finally, don't forget that in the end, it will be just you and your husband. If you don't work on keeping that communication, respect and trust with him over everything else, then you will falter. Your children will learn more from seeing the two of you get along and love one another in a kind, caring, communicative relationship than they will anything else you could possibly teach them in your home.