Being in a Blended Family: From a Child’s Perspective

BY: - 17 Nov '12 | Blended Families

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If you’re a biological parent in a blended family, you often wonder exactly what its like from the step-child’s perspective. My son and I have a very close relationship and I’m always inquiring about his feelings on just about anything, especially when it comes to our family structure. If you recall, I wrote an article talking about my feelings and how I felt when it was obvious that my husband was treating my son differently than our other two younger girls that we have together. I believe that in order for the kids to feel comfortable talking to you, you have to show them that it’s okay to express their feelings openly. Without saying too much, I told him that I felt as though his step-father was a little too hard on him sometimes and wanted to know how he felt. His perspective was very interesting and shocking.

At the time he wasn’t even 12 years old, but the way he responded made me feel bad that I didn’t give him the credit he deserved for being such an insightful young man. After all, that’s what we’re working so hard for him to be, right? My son replied nonchalantly, “Mom, my real dad is my real dad, and no one can ever replace that. Me and him…we’re like this (he crosses his first two fingers). The dad that I have here with me everyday…I know he loves me, but not like my real dad.” At this point, I was shocked to hear what he was saying, but felt somewhat perplexed that this was “an unspoken understanding”, or so it appeared. When I asked him why his step-dad didn’t love him like his his real dad. He said, “I guess because I don’t want him to.” I obviously had an astonishing look on my face, because he continued to explain that he was not very nice to my husband when we first got married and admittedly recalled the way he would act out. He jokingly went on the say,” [Step]Dad? He’s just old-fashioned and strict…I think he just wants me to be like him.”

Later on in the conversation, I learned that (according to my son), his biological father treats and talks to him the same way my husband does, if not worse! So, here I was being the protective mother, who will never understand the need to use firmness and tough love when shaping a boy into a young man and unbeknownst to me, he was being handled the same way in both of his homes. Wow! My child’s innocent and candid response confirmed what my husband was trying to tell me all along, but being a naturally protective Mommy, I just couldn’t relate. Yes, he felt like his younger sister was treated differently. He just shrugged and said, “She’s a baby.”

Blended family situations are never easy. They’re always sticky and can get a little tricky at times. You never know if you’re going to step on anybody’s toes. That’s why having open communication amongst all parties, from day one, is key. Although my husband’s role in parenting my son was not clear in the very beginning, we soon realized that it was very important to the clearly define this role and that of his biological parents. Once that was determined, things seemed to fall in line a little bit better.

Communication, even if someone’s feelings are on the line, is vital. When the expectations are laid on the table, its a win-win for everybody. Our situation, has forced my husband and I to communicate more and to discover the differences in the ways we approach parenting. I realized that my husband’s parenting style is directly related to the way he was reared and mine too. So, with or without the issues of step-parenting, we had to reach a happy medium so that we don’t confuse the kids.

When I asked my son what, if anything, we could do differently…he said that he wishes that his [biological] father and I had worked things out.  But, we know that is not an option. We do know that our current family situation is just what it is. It ours…And it helps so much that both dads communicate well with each other, even without my involvement.  And, are both showing my son that they are always on the same page when it comes to helping him become the awesome, productive young man that he is destined to become.

BMWK – have you ever asked your kids how they feel about your blended family and their step-parent? If so, how did it go?  Please share with us what you are doing to promote open communication in your blended family.

About the author

Sheree Adams wrote 117 articles on this blog.

Sheree is a wife and WAHM of three who passionately blogs about marriage, family, health tips and more as Smart & Sassy Mom. Sheree is committed to helping blended families and keeping marriages strong, healthy, fun and SPICY!


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13 WordPress comments on “Being in a Blended Family: From a Child’s Perspective

  1. Amanda P

    Such a great article. It hits close to home for me because I am the step mom to a young teenager. I felt like in the beginning I was suppose to fill the position of the mother figure that she doesn’t have. I learned the hard way that no matter how absent or neglectful her mom is, the child will choose the absent (in our case) parent over the one who is there. After much battle, I had to remove myself and go to a level that made both of us comfortable. She and I are much better on this level, but it is hard to resist giving her guidance and love when the rejection factor still comes into play. I understand that that she has a hard time trusting but it is so hard to not take it personally. I know God has me in her life for a reason and I hope that I can put something positive into her life. Thanks for the good read.

    1. Samirah

      Thank you for sharing you story. Although I am not a “step” mother at this time I will soon be a one. I can’t say that my story is very close to yours because it is not, however, I believe that I can learn from any “step” mother. I hope that because I am trying to pay attention and learn from others that I won’t have to have too many painful experiences before we find a level that works for us as a blended family. What I do understand is that blended families are adjusting for all parties involved, however I look at them as bonuses and not “step”. Best wishes to you and your bonus daughter.

  2. Kenya

    Sheree, First thank you for being so transparent about “your” house. I think that when we are not afraid to share those things that we confront on a day to day basis; then ALL are blessed by it. I also read an article that most children by the time they are 8 yrs old have already ‘become’ the person they are going to be and that is why it’s so important to instill values, good character traits, and love into a child at a tender age and ‘nip those negative things in the bud’ as they say. I appreciate that fact also that you can have such meaningful and insightful conversations with your son. To me, that means that you all are doing a wonderful job raising him to recognize his feelings, get to the root of why, and how they propel him to act a particular way. Those are truly life lessons that I can candidly say that I am conscious of now as a grown woman. I think if I would have gotten this lesson earlier in life, I would be even better than I am now. This information will truly help me in my current life. I am not yet married, but pray to be one day and I realize that having a blended family is more probable than not. I welcome the opportunity and experience and revel in the fact that I know have some good information to help me along the way. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. Shaunda

    Thanks Sheree for your blog. This situation is ruining my home! As a wife and mother it’s hard being put “in the middle”. I feel like I’m having to “take sides”. My son is 16. My husband has been there since he was 5. They have some type of problem daily. It has gotten so bad that my husband and I are separated. My kid is flunking at school. I decided something has to change. So I made my son an appointment with a counselor and they have diagnosed him with depression and are wanting to put him on medication. I feel like I’ve lost on both sides and our 4 other children are paying the price. I’m trying to stay positive and pray daily. I hope this counseling helps my son cause he is too smart to sabotage himself. I love my husband but he is unwilling to compromise ( he’s in this mode of demanding respect- which isn’t working so he blames me). Blended a family is way harder than I could have ever imagined. I’m not sure of what the next move should be. Just trying trust God to show me my role! Maybe that’s why he showed me your blog.

  4. Darin Lee Bouggess [pronounced BOE-jiss]

    Great topic and so pertinent in today’s world where divorce\separation and blended families are so common…meanwhile, I believe this is primarily a “blood is thicker than water” issue…IMO a blood relative will “naturally” love their child by default. Concerns, care, needs, feelings are pretty much automatic. Blood relatives can have differences, disagreements, conflicts, anything but at the end of the day: they’re family. While bonding between step parents and children takes a conscientious effort and may even take time. All the while, there’s no natural bond until it is established. I grew up with divorced parents who remarried. Over time, I lived with both my father and his wife and my mother and her husband. Between my sister and I, we both struggled with step-parents. Interestingly enough, my sister had issues with my step-father, while I had issues with my step-mother. What I noticed through that phase of our lives is that our bonds with our natural mother and father took hardly any effort. On the flip side, our struggles with the step-parents were obvious and took time to overcome…Especially with children, communication is crucial, like you’ve said. Nonetheless, the bonding is not automatic, again because there is no seamless, natural affection and regard between step’s, until or unless its learned or shared. And, as always, Love Conquers all. So, with effort, over time, and especially thru communication, harmony between the two can be accomplished. Unfortunately, its just not a natural bond [dlb]

  5. Janice

    What advice can you give me about my ten year old son not liking my companion, we communicate very openly about it because I am always concerned about how he feels especially something new in our lives. With this information I stepped back from the relationship because I also felt that my companion wasn’t making the effort to build a relationship with my son outside of me. We are a packaged deal and to me its important for the relationship to go any further. However I ended the relationship because my son was not comfortable which makes me uncomfortable. In the future do you have any advice for situations like this if its to come up again. I am still single and I can’t get rid of every man he dislikes.

  6. Patti

    This is nice but doesn’t touch on how very complex these issues can get. I totally agree with the overprotective mom syndrome thing where we may not realize our kids are ok so we can relax. Its different with a step dad to a young girl whose father has been neglectful though; she needs a commitment from her step-dad that he will be extra gentle and understanding b/c the first man in her life has already hurt her. Also, grandparents must be apart of the family conversation. In my situation, my mother in law had the hardest adjustment to her son’s and grandchildren’s new blended family and ultimately she caused a great divide in our family and we allowed it b/c my husband was unwilling to set a standard for her to follow from the beginning. He allowed her to draw a line in the sand, it was my husband and his kids and me and my daughter. Beware of grandparents who don’t respect the blended family.

  7. Pingback: The Thankless Job of Being a Step-Parent | Black and Married With - A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

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