Blended families are becoming quite the norm and for many couples who are committed and in lurve, they really can work.
No one goes into a relationship expecting it to fail. Even for those of us whose parents were divorced, we were overly optimistic thinking that with our own children it would be different. But, life doesn’t always work out like the movies and the happily ever after we expect can be more like messily ever after.
Some couples grow apart. Some couples go through something which cannot be forgiven. Some couples should never have been together in the first place. So, we end up as single mums, we find strength and power and the result is a bond with our children which can never be replaced.
Time goes by and you may begin to feel you are ready to move on and let someone new into your life. Dating is interesting, it can be awkward, funny and a way for you to meet a variety of people and work out what you want (and don’t want). It could take one year, it could take five, but eventually that person you are looking for will be right there in front of you.
If they pass the “meeting the kids” test it could lead to a new kind of family dynamic. When you say goodbye to that old notion of a traditional family being 2 parents and 2.5 kids, you will realise a blended family can be a beautiful thing.
A STEP PARENT IS JUST A STEP AWAY
With two children who are being raised in a blended family, I can tell you from personal experience, it does not come without its complications. However, any positives far outweigh the negatives and when a step parent genuinely cares it gives them an additional role model they otherwise wouldn’t have. They have more people to love them and their extended family suddenly gets a lot bigger.
When you learn from the lessons of your previous relationship, the second time around can be a whole lot sweeter for you too. For me, having children and the experiences I went through to get to a new phase of my life helped me to mature and find a more respectful relationship based on common interests and similar goals for the future.
With my first relationship lasting for 13 years, followed by years as a single mum it was never a case of settling but finding someone who suited the person I now was, while accepting the three of us as a package. When I asked my 9-year-old son how he feels about having a stepfather, he said “a step dad is just a step away from being a dad. He isn’t my dad, but he’s ‘like’ a dad”.
MAKE YOUR BLENDED FAMILY WORK YOUR WAY
Depending on the ages of your children, they may remember the initial breakup and the subsequent adjustment to life with two households. Another shift in their life with the introduction of a new partner is not always going to be easy, but it does teach them resilience. It can take time, perhaps even years for everyone to feel truly secure and comfortable with the new family structure. The adults in the situation need to be understanding and patient. Very patient, with a commitment to make it work. A sense of humour helps too.
Every situation is different, and it is all about getting the balance just right. Step mums, step dads, step siblings, half siblings or a mixture of all of these make every family unique. The way you make your own blended family work will be a personal thing.
In our home everyone is treated with respect. But, I am the disciplinarian of my own children, and he is the one who they turn to if they need a fresh perspective which isn’t overshadowed by their mother’s overprotective emotions. Having dedicated activities to do as a family, as well as spending one-on-one time with each child will make for a happy, balanced, yet still sometimes crazy home. Remember, those shared experiences, even something as simple as going for family walks together, or randomly turning the music up and announcing a “dance off”, will help to forge that new bond.
A blended family can be something worth celebrating, it just takes a little work to fit all of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together.
My advice: Don’t avoid taking a chance to meet someone new just for the sake of protecting your children. If you meet the person who is meant to be in your life, they will add an extra positive element to your family and will take the highs and lows of their new role in their stride.