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

If you have any questions, please check our FAQ page

23  Answers

0 0

Take the giant heart we bring into the new marriage and family and invest in reading, workshops, mentors, coaching and gathering upfront the understanding of the common issues that arise. So WHEN they do arise...a Mom can stay rock solid in her faith or ability to handle things with greater understanding and strength. The Family needs Mom to stay calm and steady.

0
0 0

Today, there are more stepfamilies than traditional families. It's really important to understand and know what makes this type of family dynamic function differently and learn to come to terms with the idea that there are more than just one set of parents involved in raising these children.
Self care and a strong support system is what is needed to build strong family relationships, especially when entering into a stepfamily. Also, knowledge is good but implement that knowledge is even better.
When we can come together as a micro community to raise happy and healthy children, I think that society as a whole will benefit.

0
0 0

The one piece of advice I would give to Mom's about blending a family is involve a child therapist in your kids life early on - preferably one that both families can agree on.

Having a neutral person in your child's life who they can safely confide their deepest secrets provides them a safe place to vent about Mom, Dad, Step Mom or Step Dad without worry that it will hurt someones feeling or worse start a war between their parents or families. It gives your child confidence and power over their life in a situation where they can often feel like they have none.

All three of our younger kids had Dr. J. in their life for the past 13 years. Dr. J's involvement evolved with the kids as their needs evolved through the years. Sometimes that meant seeing her on a regular basis for a number of months to checking in every 12 months.

All three of our older kids experienced hard times during their teenage years resulting in crisis situations. When you have a child in crisis you will move heaven and earth to find the money to give them the support they need and it doesn't always result in you getting the kid back you once knew.

The total cost of our three youngest seeing Dr. J. added together cost a mere 10% of the cost we spent on just ONE of our three older kids in crisis. It's always a hellava lot cheaper emotionally and financially to prevent a problem rather than fix one!

Another upside to involving a therapist in your child's life is you have someone on call that your child already trusts when an unexpected life challenge presents itself. I know how valuable this is to your child based upon my own experience with my daughter.

When things went horribly wrong at her other house - Dr. J. was there to help my daughter process all of her emotions in a positive way. Instead of my daughter turning to destructive ways - she found her way to the other side of the conflict more confident, strong, happy and secure in her life.

Finally, a child therapist can often times help the two parents or families manage conflict in way that doesn't lead to a costly court battle. And if relations can't be resolved with the other parent and you land in court - your child has an objective voice to speak for him or her - who can offer a long history of who your child is to the Guardian Ad Litem appointed by the court.

In my mind having a therapist involved in our children's life for the past thirteen years was the best gift we gave our children and our blended family!


0
0 0

If you feel yourself getting sucked into the drama, step back and take care of yourself. You need to worry about your career, your finances and your education. And trust your husband. He's been dealing with his ex a lot longer than you have. If he says stay and away and don't bother, listen to him. Don't think that you are super woman and things will be different for you. Let him deal with his ex. Don't expect them to be able to communicate and parent together flawlessly. After all, if they got along swell they would still be together.

0
0 0

Again Marissa and I agree that it is important to pick your battles and to realize what is really worth fighting for and what will be beneficial in the long run. It is also important to stay true to who you are and to what your values are. We would also say to be open, willin, honest, and ready to become friends with the "other mother.". Although life might not always be perfect the way that you act and the way that you treat people are crucial. Be accepting of the mm or stepmom and remember that you both have one thing in common and that's that you both want what is best for the child.

0
1 0

Most definitely - make your marriage top priority!! The kids do NOT come first or you risk another divorce! I poll families all the time. The difference between first marriage failure and second marriage failure is the reason for divorce: #1 reason for divorce in first marriages - financial; #1 reason for failure of second marriages - arguments over/about the kids! It's not because of differing parenting styles, it is because the children have been placed as top priority.

Too few people go seek professional help after a divorce and then they expect everything to be better the second time around - a fresh start. But the reality is, it is just a different set of issues. This is why second marriages have a 67% failure rate. The BEST gift you can give your children - and yourself - is to create and model a loving, intimate and respectful core relationship - your marriage. Seek the help and advice of experts - I did. Do this, and you will be like me - in the 33% that make it!

0
0 0

It's not easy. Don't believe that it is. It's hard. Hard work. The hardest work in the world. But you can do it, and you will be able to get through. Just don't believe that it's all roses in the sun :)

0
1 0

After all the difficulty in my first marriage to a man with kids, I really didn't want to marry a man with kids the second time. Yet I fell in love with my husband even though he had kids; I wasn't excited about it but I was determined to do my best. I really expected things to be significantly better the second time around because I felt I had learned so much of what not to do from my first marriage. However, my current situation is totally different than my first marriage and I had no idea how many new and different problems I would encounter that I hadn't dealt with before. I wish I could have my current husband, but swap his ex & kids for my ex's first ex & kids. :)
I would say the bottom line is: Be flexible. Things may or may not turn out like you thought they would. Even if your expectations are correct initially, things change over time and you may have to reevaluate and change your expectations.
(If I could give a second piece of advice, it'd be: If you receive well-meaning advice from anyone that just feels wrong in your gut, go with your gut. There are so many people out there who mean well but truly have no clue about stepfamily life. They haven't lived it. Smile, nod & ignore their ignorance.)

0
0 0

One piece of advice I'd give to moms starting out in a blended family is to be patient with your relationships. Don't expect bonding to occur overnight and if you have children of your own, don't expect to have the same feelings immediately for your stepchildren that you have for your biological children. Let your stepchildren set the pace in how quickly or slowly your relationships develop. Particularly with older stepchildren, give them their space and expect the relationships to take longer to develop. Stepfamily research says it takes blended families 4-7 years to bond. In our experience with five children, it took longer than that. Be patient as you learn how to love one another and come together as a family.

0
0 0

Don't try too hard, pray hard and just as you've committed to your husband in marriage for better or for worse, resolve to do that for the kids too. Roll with the challenges and be honest with the kids when you need a bit of space. I tried to be Super Step Mum for the first few months, but ended up blowing a gasket and turned into StepMonster instead. Major back-fire! Work together as a new family, after all you're not the only one who's new to this. Encourage the kids to talk openly about how they're feeling, what they're finding tough about being in the new family and listen, listen, listen, love, love, love. Oh and no matter how tempting it might be, never speak ill of their mum, even if it means just being silent - it's really not worth it and can be so damaging to the kids and the family life you're trying to build. Every now and again we go out for a family meal and review the highlights of the last few months together. We also each go round the table and pick out positive things to say about each person in the new family. It builds everyone up and creates a great atmosphere in every-day life which could otherwise be tough. This life is so rewarding and I wouldn't now swap it for the world.

0
4 0

Although all stepchildren and stepparents are to some degree uncomfortable with some aspect of their new family role, certain difficulties are more likely to affect stepmothers. Conflicting expectations of a stepmother’s role make it especially hard. As a stepparent, your best shot at happiness is to ignore the myths and negative images and to work to stay optimistic.
As a stepmother, yes, your work is cut out for you. In fact, the role of stepmother is thought by some clinicians to be more difficult than that of stepfather. One important reason is that stepmother families, more than stepfather families, may be born of difficult custody battles and/or have a history of particularly troubled family relations.
Society also seems, on the one hand, to expect romantic, almost mythical loving relationships between stepmothers and children while, at the same time, portraying stepmothers as cruel, vain, selfish, competitive, and even abusive (Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel are just a few bedtime stories we are all familiar with). Stepmothers are also often accused of giving preferential treatment to their own children. As a result, a stepmother must be much better than just okay before she is considered acceptable. No matter how skillful and patient you are, all your actions are suspect. Is it any wonder that stepmothers tend to be more stressed, anxious, and depressed than other mothers and also more stressed than stepfathers?
Some researchers have found that stepmothers behave more negatively toward stepchildren than do stepfathers, and children in stepmother families seem to do less well in terms of their behavior. In fact, the relationship between stepmother and stepdaughter is often the most difficult. Yet, other studies indicate that stepmothers can have a positive impact on stepchildren. Because stepmothers are much more likely to play an active part in the lives of children than stepfathers, perhaps there is simply more to go wrong.
Still, some step-mothering situations can make this role especially complicated -- such as a part-time or weekend stepmother if you are married to a non-custodial father who sees his children regularly. You may try with all your heart to establish a loving relationship with your husband’s children, only to be openly rejected, or you may feel left out of part of his life because of his relationship with his children. In addition, a part-time stepmother can feel left out by her husband’s relationship with his ex-wife; for example, non-custodial fathers need to spend time communicating with their ex-wives about their children’s school problems, orthodontia, illnesses, etc.
Yet, well-run by knowledgeable, confidant stepfamily adult teams (not simply couples), this modern version of an ancient family form can provide the warmth, comfort, inspiration, support, security—and often (not always) the love—that adults and kids long for.

0
0 7

Don’t expect to bond with your step kids right away and don’t jump right in as “the fixer” of all their problems. Instead, consider yourself a caring advocate for them similar to a favorite “auntie” who’s willing to listen to them and look out for their best interests. Leave the parenting and discipline up to their biological parents. Only step in when necessary and don’t offer unsolicited parenting advice that could be perceived unfavorably as interference.

0
0 0

No husband has ever walked through the door and said, "What a lovely job you've done with the house and kids today! Why don't you kick your feet up, while I take care of things for a bit." You must must must make time for yourself before your loved ones descend on you.

0
0 0

Do not critique your new spouse's parenting or interactions with his ex! Your job is to support your spouse in his parenting and co-parenting -- espcially when the ex is difficult.

0
0 0

The rewards are great, but step parenting is a great deal of work. Andrew Carnegie said “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” In fact, the work is spiritual and internal. Drop the notion of “being first” and other ego-related desires.
Understand that your job is to be a compassionate witness to this family that you are joining. Bring compassion, love and your silence. Demonstrate your desires as opposed to talking about how you want things or your children to be.

0
0 0

Be patient and don't give up!

If I had a dollar for every time I thought about giving up early on, I'd filthy rich!

I'm not going to lie, being part of a blended family is hard, it takes work and it takes the cooperation of all family members to make it successful! It doesn't happen over night so being patient while everyone (including you) gets adjusted to a new way of life, sometimes a new house, new rules, new authority figures is extremely necessary!

It's also extremely important to treat all of the children the same and not favor your own children! I can't even begin to tell you how hard it was for me to do this in the beginning, but I quickly realized that as hard as it was for me, it was even harder for my step-children! In the beginning I did small things like buying each of my children a candy bar when I went to the grocery store and forgetting to buy my step-children one, it wasn't done intentionally, it was done out of habit, but seeing how disappointed my step-children were when it happened made me realize pretty quickly how important it was that I always did the same for all of the kids!

It's been nearly six years and now I think of my step-children as my own and I haven't forgotten to buy two extra candy bars in a long, long time!

0
0 0

Patience, patience, and more patience... and excellent communication. Talk openly with your children, and answer all their questions honestly.
The thing my husband taught me, that I think makes our home run especially smoothly, is that we never say no to having the kids home. We don't get upset if their "other" parents can't take them when they are supposed to, and we let them go with their "other" parents whenever they ask for them. This way they kids never fell like we are fighting over them.

0
0 0

The best advice I could give a woman about to become part of a blended family is to know yourself very well and be comfortable and confident in who you are before you blend yourself into a pre-set family. I was still figuring out who I was when I became a stepmom and I didn't trust myself enough to set boundaries. Those boundaries could have prevented a lot of headaches and heartaches in the past eight years.

0
0 0

-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.

0
12 37

Be completely honest BEFORE becoming one family. Live with the understanding that ALL the children have been through hell and that there is not one who should be treated with "kid gloves" or with special treatment. When there are children from two different families they all need to have the assurance and recognition that they matter. Conduct Family Meetings on a regular basis. Be a united front with your partner and do NOT allow the ex-partner to dictate what is going to happen in your home. They can have rules in their own home, but the guidelines you have for your own family need to be yours and yours alone. Double standards will not create harmony and peace.

0
1 0

Just one?? Before you get married, sit down with your partner and get clear on what roles and responsibilities each member of the household will have. We often have expectations and assume our partner shares those expectations. But they usually don't, and by the time we realize this we're knee deep in stepfamily poo. The stress of not being on the same page with our partner can take its toll on our marriage. So make sure both of you are clear on what your expectations are for your stepfamily.

0
6 0

Read Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin. Changed my life.

0
0 0

The advice I give to a new stepmom is the same piece of advice my husband gave me when he gifted me with his four children. I asked him how he wanted me to play the stepmom "gig" and he said, "Just be yourself."

"Whew," I thought. "I can do that!"

Our society has a very warped view of stepmothers and it's next to impossible to live up to those expectations. It's important for soon-to-be stepmoms to have a series of conversations with their future husband about his expectations and what reality is in stepfamilies.

0

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms