When my husband proposed to me, I was elated. He was finally going to put a ring on it after six months of dating. This was in 1999, so I realize this may seem odd. However, I knew in my heart that he was my husband and I told him this.
I knew in my heart that he was my husband and I told him this.
I was also a mom of a beautiful six-year-old daughter, Gabrielle(Gab). She was my everything. Her father wasn’t in her life and wasn’t even trying to be.
As my wedding day drew closer, I started to get nervous. I had no idea how to prepare my daughter for her new “dad” and our new family. I had several concerns that I kept me up at night. Those concerns were real. I wish I had these conversations with Don before we got married. Those conversations would have prevented some of the issues we had.
Will he love her unconditionally?
While we were dating, Don would take Gab and I out to dinner. She liked him because he was funny. I loved that he was so attentive to her. I was working full-time and attending college. There were times I needed him to pick her up from aftercare and take her to my parents’ house. By the time I got there, he helped with her homework so I wouldn’t have to. I let him know that he would be going from ‘Mr. Don’ to ‘daddy’. At first, he was freaked out by it. He even said he didn’t want her to call him that.
After we got married, that changed. She started calling him ‘daddy’ about 3 weeks later. After we brought two more children into our family, Gab started to feel excluded. The two younger ones are eight and ten years younger than her. Don began to make time just for Gab. They went to the movies together. She ran track and he was her coach. She is 25 years old now. He cried when she called last year to say she joined the Coast Guard. He was a proud father. At her boot camp graduation, he was right there, celebrating his daughter’s accomplishment.
Will she love him?
Gab was immediately attached to Don. It made him uncomfortable at first because he had never been that close to a child before. She has been an artist since she was little, so she would bring pictures home from school with the three of us in them. She wrote poems. In them, she shared how much she loved Don.
During her teen years, she rebelled and she started calling him her step-father. That was painful for me. I prayed so much during that time because I felt like I was stuck in the middle and helpless to do anything. I had to step back and allow God to do His thing. Eventually, she matured into the beautiful young woman she is now. She tells everyone that Don is her dad and father.
How will his family feel towards her?
I was so nervous about his family accepting Gab. I dated a guy whose parents didn’t want him to date me because I had a child. Don’s father passed away when Don was 19. His mother wasn’t in his life. His extended family is huge, so she fit right in. The minute Don’s family met her, they embraced her.
My fears were erased a few months after we got married. I had surgery and was on bedrest for six weeks. Don assured me his family would take care of Gab for us. Thank God this happened in the summer. She had so much fun with her new family. After those six weeks were up, she didn’t want to come home.
Would her father cause drama?
Even though Gab’s father wasn’t in her life, I was afraid that he would cause drama. I was also concerned that he would have an issue with another man raising his child. I had one conversation with him and he basically chewed me out. After that, we didn’t hear from him for two years.
I reached out to him to change Gab’s last name to Barnett. He adamantly said ‘no”. I wanted it more and more after that, but my husband asked me to leave it alone. In the seventeen years we have been married, we have had limited contact with her father. She told me that recently, they became friends on social media but have no relationship. I pray that God will place it on his heart to open his life to Gab.
Can I love both of them equally?
To be honest, I could not figure out in my mind how I was going to love the two of them equally. I was so afraid of giving too much to one and not the other. The very thing I feared, I eventually did. Initially, I gave my all to Gab and my new babies. My mindset was that he is a grown behind man and can fend for himself.
Get the answers before you get married…
Don was not happy about it at all. Once he brought his concern to me, it was up to me to ask God to help me make sure I no longer neglected him. What I didn’t realize was that the love you have for your husband is not the same love you have for your children. God places enough love in our hearts for our husbands and for our children.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Blended Family Checklist – 8 Questions Every Stepfamily Couple Should Ask
If you are engaged, I suggest you have hard conversations, NOW. As women, we often don’t ask questions because we are afraid of the answer. I say get the answers before you get married. Not only does it alleviate unwanted and unnecessary drama, but it is the responsible thing to do.
BMWK – what concerns, as a mother, did you have when you were getting married and forming a new step-family with your kids?
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