As a lot of you know, my family is a blended family. My husband and I have six children between the two of us, I came into the marriage with two children from a previous marriage and my husband came into the marriage with two children from a previous marriage and then we had two children together…lost yet? Given that I have, in the past, talked about being part of a blended family, I do occasionally get emails from readers who also have blended families, asking questions or just wondering how I handle certain situations that may (and often do) arise. Since I always find it helpful to get other people’s input when I’m dealing with my own problems and given how important it is to have a support system when you’re a part of a blended family, I thought I’d share a few of the most frequently asked questions with all of you and my answers to them.
How do you deal with the exes involved?
Honestly, it’s a true exercise in patience, mixed with an awful lot of tongue biting! Without going into too much detail (because technically I am subject to a “gag order” by my husband’s ex-wife…fun times), I will say that for the most part, with respect to my own ex, he never gives me any issues and I don’t give him any. We co-parent our daughter in every sense of the word, I respect his opinions and input where she is concerned and he respects mine. Our daughter is 12 and for the past couple of years we have allowed her to pretty much decide where she wants to spend her weekends and it’s what we’ve found that works for us. I think we’ve both just come to the realization that everyone in the situation is happier when there is no fighting, no drama and no pressure put on our daughter! As far as my husband’s situation, it is the complete opposite from my own and a very tense, unnecessarily drama-filled, not very fun time for everyone who is involved…sadly.
How do you and your husband deal with disciplining each others children?
Bad attitudes and mouthy kids are a big problem in our house…I’m just being honest! All of our children are mouthy and don’t like to listen, so there is always someone in trouble for something and the older they get, the more groundings and having things taken away there seem to be. My husband and I have always felt comfortable disciplining each others children, we are extremely laid-back in the way we discipline our children anyway, so we prefer taking things away and changing wifi passwords to spankings. On the rare occasion that something does warrant a spanking, we usually don’t spank each others child, that’s just the way I think we both prefer it and what’s worked for us.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone who is new to a blended family?
Be patient! Seriously, it’s hard enough to deal with the adjustments to having new children in the house who are used to doing things a certain way and only having to listen to their parents, but it’s a whole other thing entirely when you have to deal with exes! Honestly, I’ve found that the children seem to adjust to the situation (for the most part) so much easier and with a whole lot less drama, than the parents and that should tell us something! I know that for us, being a blended family is an ongoing learning experience, there is not necessarily one thing or one way that works for us all of the time, we have days (weeks, months) that go by smoothly and without incident, but then there are those times that make all of us wonder how we ever made it eight years with so much craziness!
While patience is definitely super important, it’s also extremely important to remember that no one gets it right, right away or all of the time. It’s totally alright to make mistake, it’s not the end of the world if you argue with one (or all) of the exes involved (trust me, it’s nearly impossible not to), you’re not the world’s worst step-mom/dad if you make an unpopular decision and you have to do what works for you and your family!
I hope me giving you some insight into what works for us has given those of you who are new to blended families a little more confidence, I promise, it gets easier with each passing day and as long as you are actively trying to make your situation work, well you’re already ahead of the game!