And then there were three…

by mssinglemama on January 9, 2012

And I absolutely love them all.

The Mr. and I were talking today about blending families. From our initial digging on Amazon, it doesn’t look like there are very many books on the subject for modern single parents.

Any others out there becoming step-parents or blending families with young children? Tips or advice? Or what questions do you have about it all? Let’s start the discussion here… and see where it takes us. I’m thinking another Website entirely could be in order. Maybe with both his and my perspectives?

Related posts:

  1. Research.
  2. A dad you have to meet
  3. Getting over it.
  4. The Almost Step-Father
  5. To my readers:

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Sunny January 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I was a stepmother for 6 years and now I’m bringing a stepfather into the picture. Oh, the blended family…

I think the #1 biggest thing is consistency for all. All kids, same rules, age-appropriate consequences, either parent (regardless of biological status) backs it up and has the authority to do so.

#2 Back each other up. This means talking about rules, consequences and rewards with each other and following through.

In my years of step parenting these are the two biggest issues that have come up over and over again. It’s hard but when everyone gets along, there’s nothing better.

Good Luck!

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Sunny January 9, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Oh! Check with your local colleges and the health department to see if there are any step-parent classes in your neighborhood. There are several free options in my city for new and existing step-families.

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Brenda Lewis January 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Love the both ideas! I am a single momma about to combine households with a single man (no kids) and he’d love the step-parent perspective, I’m sure!

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Jen January 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I think respect is the big thing, and not overstepping your bounds. You may not agree with the way your new partner parents his kids, and unless he asks for your opinion about how to deal with a particular issue with his kids I think you’ve got to keep any critical comments to yourself. Good luck!

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lj January 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I think Sunny has it right. Just keep the talking/dialogue open, get on the same page, and do your best. That’s all you can do. What an exciting and fun chapter in your life. Wishing you the best!

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Anna January 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm

My bf is 17 years older than me, has a grown daughter, and I have a 10 year old with special needs. The bf has had a steep learning curve, learning about my boy, and what behaviors are typical boy behaviors, and what are the behaviors stemming from his disorder. It came to a head in August, and we actually broke up because he didn’t think he could handle it. That lasted for two weeks. Before, during and after we got back together, we talked and talked and talked some more, and in the end, the break was good for us because we were able to clearly define what exactly I needed help with in raising my boy (which came out to be a different “formula” than the one we had been working with previously). My bf is a very patient, kind man, and “my boys” are thick as thieves together. And for now, when meltdowns or poor behaviors happen, the bf says, “Let me know if you need any help,” and lets me do my thing. It’s working. I’ll get back to you when we all move into the same house in about a year and a half. : )

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Megan@TrueDaughter January 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm

It’s hard. Really, really hard. I wouldn’t say don’t do it, but please, know that it is going to be hard. I have been a stepmom for 17 years. I would say to follow Sunny’s advice TO THE LETTER, NEVER AN EXCEPTION. Not for your child, not for his. If he has a daughter, this is ever so important. For some reason, girls seem to resent the stepmom more than boys. Not trying to make a blanket statement, but seems to be the case a lot of the time.
When my husband and I met, our girls were 4 (his) and 3 (mine). They were only seven months apart in age. He was not on good terms with his ex, so things were rocky. His daughter did not appreciate anyone else being introduced to the equations, and my daughter was desperate to have a daddy. She started calling him “Dad” very quickly, and his daughter did not like it. Made things so that there was an incident of some sort every single time he left the house. They had been on their own for so long, he just believed everything she said for a while, even if I told him differently. That’s where the “back each other up” part comes in. A kid can see a chink in the armor from far away, and they will take every opportunity to get at you. I know this sounds harsh, and she was only 4, but man alive, she could manipulate. It took us a good 5 years to get to a point where we weren’t defensive of our children with each other. Adding siblings helped a lot. Just flat out, being straight with each other, and not afraid to have it out about the kids (not in front of the kids!), and always, always, always being a united front will make a huge difference! My husband and I had a couple of stumbling blocks. He had blind faith that she would never lie, and also, his first wife had lied to him so many times, it took him a while to realize I would never do that – really know it, at least. I had a hard time standing up to him because he had been so devastated. He told me that if someone rejects him, he is done, he never, ever gives them a second chance. (Wow, is that ever true!), So I was worried he would take it as some sort of rejection. We eventually grew up some, learned some, and decided to just let it all go… and we have been great ever since. Also, it helps if you are not 23 and trying to figure all that out – lol!

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BANANABREAD January 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Megan I couldn’t love you more for your honesty! I am seriously printing your reply out for my boyfriend to read! His daughter was also 4 when we met and, boy, I relate to your experiences! I have no children, but all I can say is that this is incredibly hard. So hard, at times, that I have wondered if I knew before, would I still have gone on that first date with him 4 years ago … ?
Anyway, thank you for not romanticising the step-parent role. We are incredibly underappreciated!

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Missy January 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm

This is a great idea! We will soon be a blended family in the spring and would love a resource for the “modern” blended fam. If possible i may enjoy sharing our expirence on your new site!! A chance to get and give feedback :) that would be awesome.

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Carrie Nagy January 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I just got married to a wonderful man. He has two boys ages 4 and 6, I have a daughter who is 5. i haven’t been able to find much help on blended families. I came from one and my step-parents and parents did everything the wrong way. It’s a struggle everyday. The thing that I remind myself is that parents of children that are still together struggle everyday with different parenting styles, so when my husband and I do, it’s no different.

Keeping an open mind, lots of communication and not taking things too personal are a must. Everyone’s situation is different. A lot can depend on how many kids and their ages.

For those step-moms out there I found this on FB. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/StepMomMagazine

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susan January 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm

my parents separated when i was 7 and both remarried, so i grew up in two blended families. mum and stepfather never had any more kids, dad and stepmother had two more. so i just thought it may be helpful to give the childs point of view…
my stepfather parented me. he was the one who was there when i threw up, threw a tantrum, passed an exam. he didn’t have kids and even thought it was a steep learning curve for him he took it all on. the key there was they (my parents) made the decision that he would PARENT
my stepmother was my friend…well sometimes:)…and went on about 10 years later to have two children with my Dad. I, am ashamed to admit, resented those kids…i already felt abandoned by my real father and now had to compete with two cute babies when i was a spotty teenager. She never parented me…not that i probably would have given her a chance to…but i imagine that that also was their decision…that she would be friend but not mother.
therefore I reckon the key is deciding the role the step parent will take based on WHAT IS IN THE CHILDS BEST INTERESTS.
A distrastrous recent relationship of mine, (shortlived for so many reasons), was in part problem ridden because the BF wanted to parent my children. they – or I -didn’t want him to – they have an awesome Dad. He couldn’t get a defined rule and wouldn’t listen to what the children needed or wanted.

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Heather January 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I’ve referred clients to this website as a great resource on blending families/step-parenting.

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/blended_families_stepfamilies.htm

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Juli January 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I was a stepmother for seven years and screwed it all up. I did everything wrong. Now I’m a bio-mom of two boys (8&5) about to marry the bio-dad of a boy and a girl (7&5) and it’s an incredible adventure. I don’t think I would have believed anyone about how hard it is. People complain about dealing with one ex-spouse and one set of custody exchanges. We have it on both sides but we’re lucky that we get all get along okay. Here’s the two things we’ve learned along the way that I think everything follows:

1. Focus on your relationship. Model excellent behavior with each other. Be loving and affectionate with everyone in the equation. Children learn what they see. They’ve likely already seen fighting if they’ve been through a divorce. Show them love and be in love because eventually, the kids will grow up and lead their own lives and if you haven’t been a good foundation, if you haven’t nurtured what’s between you and your partner, when the kids go, you’ll be left with nothing.

2. Have a plan for when things go badly and make that plan without the kids in earshot. Know how discipline will go, how comforting will go and make sure you’re on the same page. No surprises is a good thing. We went over every possibility we could think of, and luckily (I guess) I had a rich history of botched step-parenting to pull ideas from.

Good luck! It’s awesome to see (read?) you happy!

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Dave January 10, 2012 at 9:01 am

When my wife and I married, my biological son was 7 and her biological daughter was 5. We knew we had no idea how to blend families effectively so we sought the advice of family counselling.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from that was treating your step-child as you would a niece or nephew to start out with. They are going to resent you if you try to “replace” their mother. Stand back at first and let the relationship grow… and it will… it’s just slowly. 4 years into our marriage now and my step-daughter thinks of me as a father figure. She still loves her dad but the bond between us has grown to the level of parent/child now.

The advice about discipline already mentioned is great. My wife and I have had many discussions about how one child gets treated differently than the other by one or the other of us. Kids pick up on that RIGHT AWAY. Just be cognizant of that all the time.

Another thing that we’ve run into is extended family treating one child differently than the other. I think that’s natural for one set of grandparents to treat biological grandchildren differently than step-grandchildren however it’s something we have to deal with when the grandparents go home. Occasionally we’ll have to ask extended family to respect the children’s feelings.

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Hillary January 10, 2012 at 11:20 am

Dave has many great points. We have run into the issues of my husbands parents treating my biological son differently.

The original advice mirrors what I was going to suggest about back up and support. If you are the same page in your parenting style and you support and stand behind rules and discipline of the other it makes it much easier.

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Lori January 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

I think where you took that picture might be in my most favorite spot in SE Ohio. It is magical there! And I also think that this whole situation- you dating someone that REALLY understand what it is to be a single parent- is awesome! I’m really happy for you and Benjamin. And Mr No Name and his two little ones = )

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Brittany January 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I haven’t been through this but my favorite cousins (who lost their mom a little over two years ago) are currently going through a similar situation. Here is what we have all learned from it:

1) Get to know the kids first. It is imperative to the transition that his kids know you and your son knows him as someone they like, and more importantly, trust and respect. This will help your son see his kids as an extension of him and not some random brats trying to steal attention away.

2)Take. It. Slowly. This is probably obvious but after watching a whirlwind courtship and marriage I can’t stress just how traumatizing it is on the soon-to-be siblings. They just couldn’t understand why this was all happening and how this new person was their sister. Step-siblings can be just as close, and maybe even closer!, than blood siblings but the relationship, like any relationship, needs time to grow and each participant needs to feel comfortable with every advancement. This simply takes time. Lots of it in some cases.

3)Listen to your son. If he says he doesn’t like so-and-so then really take the time to sit down with him and understand why. Being dismissive of his feelings will only make him feel angry and that anger will be taken out on not only you but your partner’s kids as well. You know your son. You know his likes and dislikes, keep these in mind as you plan activities for the three of them. He will be more willing to open up if he is somewhere familiar and comfortable (I would warn against your home though, since that should be preserved as a “safe space” till he is comfortable inviting them into it.)

Hope this helps :) It has been a long road of healing for my cousins and the missteps taken by their father have only made it a more complicated path. I wish you the best of luck in merging your families. I’ve seen enough successful mergers to know that it *can* be done it just takes time.

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Lesha January 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I just read a really interesting article looking at blended families and how those that incorporate both new and old traditions into the new family as well as keep some of the old traditions reserved for the original members faired the best (that’s a very very basic overview). I found it really interesting because it basically showed how important it was to include all of the new siblings in creating new rituals but also carve out a spot for the “original” family to feel important by having their own special time too spend doing things that they used to do before the families were blended together.

I wish I could link to it, but I only had access to it for school.

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AnneMarie January 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

So much for taking it S L O W.

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Sarah January 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I don’t like negativity, but I have to say. AnneMarie, you’re useless. Lol

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Sarah January 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I appreciate the comments of everyone who has something positive to say about blended families! I recently introduced my kiddos to my man. Any advice on how to make the bumps less bumpy are wonderful!!

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Anna January 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Please think carefully about it all before bringing yet another man – and now two children – into Benjamin’s life.

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isabel January 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm

The very best thing you can do? Respect their mother. Not to sound negative, but I wouldn’t appreciate your putting up my children on the internet, even with their backs turned. Likely among other things. Especially when this all seems so sudden. There is a lot of negativity regarding how you’re treating this vis a vis your son, but of course that’s your own decision. But… the best thing you can do? For peace and harmony, kids best interest, etc etc? Respect their mom (not their BIO-MOM, their MOM, the one and only forever). Just my two cents. Something about this just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry..

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Anna January 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I love it when people ask you to think carefully about a major decision you’ve made in your life. As if you haven’t. People did that to me when I got divorced – colleagues who didn’t even know my ex-husband or my son, just knew “of” them. “Make sure you’ve thought about how this will impact your son,” as if that hadn’t been all I’d been thinking about for four months.

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Sparkle April 18, 2012 at 1:42 am

You couldn’t have said it better!!

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Momma Sunshine January 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm

My best advice is to take things slowly. Try not to have any expectations…just allow things to unfold at a natural pace.

Talk to your guy – A LOT – about your parenting plans and how you see things working together as a ‘family’. I agree with a previous poster who said that there needs to be some consistency there, however, chances are you will each have your own opinions on parenting and how you want your kids to be raised. There needs to be room for those differences as well.

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Cupcake January 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

Read Divorce the Sandcastles Way. There is a chapter on step families. Some of the advice is hard to read – it isn’t going to be picture perfect, and blending isn’t always the best for kids. I went through it as a kid and it was really hard. I’m close with my step-sister now but as kids it didn’t go so well. The dynamics, rules, food, etc. was different in each of my houses so I always felt like I had to be a different person at my step-mom’s house. For example, my step-mom made me sit at the table until I finished my dinner. At her house she would serve food I didn’t like so I would sit there all night. My mom would NEVER had forced that on me. It was a lot for a little kid to handle. Seems minor – but at the time it was really hard. The author says only you should discipline your kids. And not to force the kids to like each other. They aren’t siblings. Also, it is really important for kids to have time alone with you – without the step-parent.

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Momma Sunshine January 11, 2012 at 11:48 am

Another thing I’ll add is to not expect bonding to happen right away. It’s difficult to bond with someone else’s kids. CBG and I have been doing the blended family thing for three-ish years now (though granted, it’s different, since it’s also a long distance family) but really, it’s only just now that we’re each feeling strong bonds with one another’s kids. At first this concerned me but over time I have come to see that it’s just one of those things that takes time, and shouldn’t be expected to happen automatically. Just because we care very deeply for someone doesn’t mean that we’re going to feel the same way about their kids right away. And that’s ok! :-)

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joelle January 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I agree with the rule of only the parent discipliningg–at least for a very very long while. Step parent should not be taken advantage of but other than that I would defer to parent and silently back them up. My brother is a step dad and he followed this rule–even thorugh some really tumultuous times with his step daughter. It worked out really well in the end–she comes to him for advice now as a an adult because she knows he will give an honest objective view.
I would agree on don’t set expectations too high–siblings fight all the time and sometimes go through long periods of not getting along. My sister’s second husband followed the same course and it has worked out really well.
No matter how much you want it–it sometimes is true that blending is not best for the kids no matter how much wishful thinking you do.

Take it really slow if possible. THere are many stages to relationships between adults and children, they need to play out in there own time.

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brownsugr83 January 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The Smart Step Family by Ron Deal is a book that has helped me quite a bit.

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Missy January 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Yes, Please!!! I’ve been dating my bf for 1.5 years, and we are just at the stage now in which I will be meeting his daughters. I don’t have any kids, but I have so many questions about this topic. If there is a “right” way, I want to do it. I would appreciate so much learning about real life experiences.

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Amy January 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm

what a joke

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Chris R January 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Very nice blog. Great Idea my blog has been about my daughter with some tips but i’m really trying to make it more toward the single parent. Many people would benefit from it. I think you have a great site now. Very nice!!!

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Sally January 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm

What an exciting and scary place to be in your life! I wish you well as you explore this new territory. A book I’d recommend is “Step Parenting and the Blended Family,” by Dr. Scott Wooding. He doesn’t sugar coat a single thing. But better to know ahead of time the likely obstacles you’ll face. Safe journey!

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jen January 12, 2012 at 2:58 am

No there’s not much out there in the way of advice to blend families. From my own experience it’s bloody hard and if the other parent is not willing to back you up then you’re stuffed as a couple which is probably for the best anyway. I think it certainly tests a relationship. My ex decided that it was easier for him to concentrate on his own kids and not also have to worry about mine, but that says a lot more about him than anything.

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dougy-fresh January 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm

mY advice is to take it slow. There is often a tendency to make an insta-family. Nothing benefits your kids like consistency. If your first real date was only a few weeks ago then I suggest backing off on the family thing for a while. Kids learn by example and the truth is the example so far has been lets go our separate ways rather than solving the problems. It was bad enough that your son lost his dad once, don’t make him loose the replacement too. Maybe it will all work, but maybe it won’t. I wouldn’t be willing to risk the well being of my children for a maybe or for my loins.

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Honey Bee Mama January 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

i love juli’s advice on focusing on your relationship. with everything else going on, you must make sure you’re spending quality time with each other and communication is always open. dates are a must – anything that brings you together, because you have to be together, on the same page, and a united front. if you are confident about where you are taking your family, the kids will trust you!

my husband and i just got married in oct 2011, blending his 11 and 9 year old with my 5 and 4 year olds. i cannot say we did everything right in the “right” book, but it was right for us. our romantic relationship moved very fast, and we were living together about 3 months after we met. all i can say is that we were meant to be together and everything about it was right and i have no regrets. would i suggest that for anyone else? absolutely not. i agree with the suggestions to take it slow, but follow your gut.

I think we have always focused on us and our home, especially since we have to deal with the reality of two ex’s homes as well. We have just maintained consistency of the fact that this is our home and these are our rules, without badmouthing anything that happens at the other parents’ homes. He and I are very open with our own relationship, show affection for one another and for the kids, and talk often about what a blessing it is to have “more family”. More brothers and sisters, more aunts and uncles and more grandmas and grandpas.

The goal is for our home to be consistent, open, and loving. Everyone is allowed to ask questions, not like the way things are happening and share their feelings, and we walk together through it all. His children have had more difficulty with the transition since they’re older, and we have encouraged them to express their feelings and be honest with us, while also understanding that the new stepmom and stepbrothers aren’t going anywhere. We emphasize that we’re a family, have “family nights”, and family outings and just use the word family a lot!

a lot of advice we read on disciplining just didn’t work practically for us. lots of things say that step parents should just be the “camp counselor” and not disciplinarian for at least a year or something like that. i understand the mentality of that, but it just didn’t work for us. we do have boundaries and ground rules, but our whole thing was a little more of an “emersion” method. once we decided to be a family that was it. in our home, both of us are the authorities and have a place to require things of all children in the home, and we back each other up, period. there have certainly been times where each of us have overstepped our bounds, and we’ve had to discuss with each other IN PRIVATE. on several occasions one or both of us has had to go to the child who was hurt and apologize. we always apologize to our kids when we mess up. i think it helps them trust us as authorities in their lives, and helps them know that we are all allowed to make mistakes.

i could ramble on for days, but yes i think there is absolutely a need for some modern advice on blending families and have wanted to have a his and hers perspective on my own website! i think it would be good to include the forum style/comments from readers like your site is now. and it’s gonna be GOOD!

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Charismaga January 14, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Honestly I think that you are moving waaaay too fast if you just started dating this guy, and now you want to create a website with him regarding blending families? This is way too soon. You aren’t even blending families at this point, as much as introducing families. I’m glad to hear that you’re happy, but you just seem to be moving way too fast. I know the major issue in your last relationship was that you were a bit starry eyed and didn’t realize how he truly felt, or how you did, and were just so happy to have someone that you cared about. Truly look into yourself and make sure that you aren’t doing this again right now. I sincerely doubt that any relationship at this early stage is ready for a website in regards to blending families when you guys just met a few months ago.

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Vera January 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm

You asked for advice. It’s too soon. Are you guys talking about moving in together? I guess you must if you’re tlking about blending families.

I’d date and get to know each other for at least a year. What’s the hurry? There’s absolutely nothing to gain in rushing in and nothing to lose in going slowly. Then I’d want to get engaged before moving in together…you’ve been through too much to not go slowly.

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Tara January 18, 2012 at 12:12 am

Listen, its your life, and if you want to muddle yours all up chasing the constantly elusive perfect love, fine. But for once in your life can you put Benjamin first?? I’m not saying to dump the guy, but geez! Hang out for awhile first. you are both putting your kids in a brand new, raw situation, and no matter how perfect it seems now, there WILL be struggles. Being a stepmom was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, HARDER than being a single mom. Seriously, like they said above, you said you were taking this slow. What has it been, 3 months? You are really setting Benjamin up to have major mommy and daddy issues. can’t you just relax and be comfortable in your own skin, WITHOUT being so damn needy?! You have a man who loves you to the ends of the earth – your son. Revel in it, because he’ll be grown and you’ll still be left in your rainbow and butterfly world thinking if you find the right man, everyday will be simple and wonderful. AND, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Tell me again how this blog is about single parenting?? Its about your dating life. Period. I’m a single mom – I want to know how, if we don’t fall into a lucrative business we own ourselves, how do we afford child care AND rent, etc. How do we deal with deprogramming kids after a weekend at dads? How do we address questions of why doesn’t a dad live with me? etc etc.
Your blog continues to be a narcassistic display.

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Reardon January 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Oh, brother, here come the sycophantic superlatives. Best. Guy. Ever. Not even close. Just more confusion for the bastard child, and your crazy-ass horse-teeth aren’t getting any shorter. You’re like a beaver…gotta gnaw on a tree once in a while to keep those chiclets under control.

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Lisa January 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Say what you want about the author of this blog, she’s an adult and can handle herself. But kids are off limits, as far as I’m concerned. Knock off the bastard talk, he’s just a little boy.

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just me January 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

Wasn’t Ben born in wedlock, making him NOT a bastard? (i could be wrong but that was my impression) Even if is his technically a ‘B’ your being a d-bag and name calling is not nice especially behind a kid’s back. I think it is way to fast too, but I wouldn’t stoop to calling a kid names.

The myth is that children are these fragile little beings that you can mess up with out even trying but the truth is that people and especially children are incredible resilient. As long as there is open honest conversation and a truly loving connection it will be ok if they see us make mistakes, even huge ones. It is not the end of our world or theirs it is just life and anyone who thinks that our children will never find themselves in similar situations in adulthood is naive. Everyone is different we all make our choices focus on the ones YOU are making and don’t be so hard on others for the ones they have made and you will have learned to not be such a needless jerk.

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Sarah d January 21, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Thank you for writing. Just found your blog, and single mom of two since 2009 and dating the single father for a year plus. We often talk about the struggle and joy of blending.

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SSS January 22, 2012 at 9:37 am

There is no perfect family – blended or otherwise! You WILL make mistakes, there WILL be bad times and good times . . . but if you do your best, laugh together, hug often, use kind words and most importantly LOVE one another it will be OK!!!!

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SSS January 22, 2012 at 9:40 am

I also have a request . . . can the self-righteous haters STOP reading this blog . . . or at least keep your comments to yourself. What makes people think they
know more than the rest of us . . . ???? We ALL make mistakes . . . that is the beauty of life. there IS no TOO SOON, TOO RISKY etc. . . . there is only life! LIVE IT!!
If you think you have so much advice to offer go get a counselling degree . . .

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Honey Bee Mama January 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

last thing i’ll say is we did not move in together until we had discussed marriage and had made a committment to each other that that was our goal. while it was still several months before we became engaged, we knew that was our plan.

i’m so disappointed by the hateful comments here. just because a woman, a MOTHER (who is still a woman), falls in love with a man, it DOES NOT mean she isn’t putting her child first. and falling in love or looking for love does not mean you’re “needy,” as if having needs is a fault!

after going through a few less than decent relationships as a single mom, i made a decision based on the fact that i wanted a companion, someone to share my life with. i wanted love and i wanted romance, but i knew i wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best for me and for my children. so i started looking. i thought of it as a third job. mom being first, the job that pays the bills second. i got online and started lining up dates. it may sound silly to some that i was so focused on it, but i knew what i wanted, and i knew it made me no less stable as a person or as a mother to want a life partner. i was very careful about introducing him to my children, and even when i did, i had boundaries. i think it’s okay and good for children to see their single parents dating, as long as they are doing it in a mature and healthy way – in the SAME way it’s good for children to see parents disagree and work through arguments. it’s part of life and no secret. if you think you’re doing a good thing for your children by hiding your loneliness or pretending you don’t need anything in your life besides them, you’re fooling yourself.

ms. single mama, we don’t know the entire history of you and mr. new, we only know what you share and i for one am okay with that! i don’t know if it’s been 3 months or 6 months or what. what i do know is you are happy, and if there’s anything else i know you adore your son and do everything in your power to raise him well and instill security in him. we know you protect him and will continue to. and beginning a DISCUSSION or even an entire blog about the DISCUSSION of blending families and the process along the way doesn’t mean you’re getting married or moving in or moving too fast. it’s a learning process all of it; that’s why we have this community, to ask, to listen, to share, to make mistakes together and love each other along the way, and i LOVE following your blog and learning and walking with you as you learn!

much love!
missy

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mssinglemama January 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

This is so uplifting. Thank you sharing, Missy. (And it’s been 4 months).

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Honey Bee Mama January 26, 2012 at 12:07 am

you’re very welcome! and like i said, we moved fast. on calendar time anyway. we always call it magic time. we had to look at calendars to be convinced that it hadn’t been that long because we felt like we’d known each other all our lives. we joined our homes around the 3 month mark.

i just keep thinking and thinking about this post and all of the comments, love and hate combined. i keep coming back to see what others have said because it’s such an important issue! i keep thinking about people encouraging you to listen to your son, and his kids. i know brittany was specifically saying to listen to your son about what things will make him comfortable in the course of spending time with Mr’s kids, etc…so this is going in a little bit different direction – but i think we need to be careful not to listen to our children TOO much.

what i mean is they’re children, and they’re immature. they don’t completely understand what’s going on and that’s why we’re their parents, to help them. i know my husband and i got tripped up a little bit waiting to get engaged because his older children were having a really hard time transitioning. his daughter told him, “we really like missy, dad, and it’s okay if she lives here, we just don’t want her to be your girlfriend.” so we decided to wait to get engaged until his kids were okay with it. but if you look at her statement, you can see all the flawed understanding of adult relationships it implies. at some point, his mother told him, “they’re kids honey, and you guys are the parents. you tell them what’s happening and then you be there for them and help them transition with it.”

we finally reached a point where we realized that waiting for the kids to be okay with us getting married was only holding us back from moving forward with our relationship in a healthy way. when we told the bigs we were engaged, we thought we were being punk’d with the way they reacted! they both shut down, buried their heads in the table at the restaurant we were at and started sobbing. yeah, that happened in real life! but we stayed confident and steady in our plan, continued to be open with them and allow them to ask questions, and did our best to involve them in the whole process of wedding planning. by the time the wedding came around, my stepdaughter was thrilled to be a junior bridesmaid and get her hair fixed pretty, and my stepson was just psyched to stuff his face with cupcakes at the wedding and hog the photo booth! n

i think their opposition to our relationship was their way of begging us to come clean and be real with them about something. that’s why my first encouragement to you was for you and Mr. to be on the same page with each other, and be confident about where you’re going. or at least confident that you’re going to be okay on your way to WHEREVER you’re going. just like you did when you and John split up, sitting benjamin down and reminding him you two were going to be okay just like you were before.

looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts as you walk through this!

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mssinglemama February 3, 2012 at 7:28 am

Yes, it sounds like they wanted to know one way or the they what was happening! They probably wanted it to happen right away and not wait. And I love your comment about time – we feel THE same way. We feel like we’ve known each other forever and while it has only been 4 months – this is it. Thank you for the thoughts and sharing your stories and your wonderful comments. Don’t worry about the hate. I felt the same way before I met him. I was extremely skeptical of “immediately” knowing, even though several of my friends had found the same thing. I also knew exactly what/who I wanted – because I knew exactly who I was… and after several failed relationships I was even clearer on what I needed to find. Thanks again!

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datinghotlove.com January 24, 2012 at 5:23 am

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SarahK January 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

It was just what I needed to read the comments on this post by women going through the blended family experience. I am a step-mom to a 6-year-old girl and have a 7-year-old son. At the beginning, everything seemed amazing and I was looking forward to this wonderful adventure. But it has been so so so unbelievably hard. We are in love, our kids are happy and they get along, but this is still by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I agree with the person who said it is much harder than being a single parent. In fact, I sometimes grieve my single mom days, when my son and I spend hours together eating what we wanted, playing what we wanted, going where we wanted.

I think all the advice here is great, and I love reading it. I must admit, I have tried to live by, and broken, nearly every guideline in the book for blending a family! I am in no position to give advice on this one, but I really look forward to more discussions and support on this topic.

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Suzanne (Crunchy Green Mom) April 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Yes, Yes…. We are a blended family of 7 kids. Between the ages of 20 years – 4 years. It’s a task, and then add in ex’s, activities, school, mental issues and a love life… it’s a journey.

You were the one that pointed me in the direction to find him, so if you start up a new site, let me know… I’m in since the path seems to be the same for both of us now, after years of being single. :)

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