I’ve had a blended family since I was a toddler. All I’ve known is having 4 parents. I like to think that I was lucky enough to have two sets of parents growing up, as it definitely made my upbringing better. This is more than having two Christmases (although that was definitely a perk). I had 4 adults who were proud to call me their daughter.
I lived with my mom and my step-dad but I went to stay with my dad and my step-mom every other weekend. This blended family made my immediate family quite large, with 2 half-sisters and 4 stepbrothers. All of us except my baby sister had a stepparent involved in some capacity.
Here are 7 things I liked about growing up in a blended family:
1. No Baby-mama or Baby-daddy drama
What I liked about my upbringing is that there was very little baby-mama or baby-daddy drama. The adults in my family were just that: adults. With the exception of a few mishaps, there wasn’t constant interference in regards to parenting the child, whether it be me or one of my siblings.
2. Everyone was Involved
If you’re a parent whose child has a stepparent, one thing to keep in mind is that this is of benefit to your child, not in their detriment. Another parent who cares about your child’s well-being is amazing. All of my parents were involved in my schooling, whether it was transportation, homework assistance, praise or discipline. Every parent involved should know the status of the child’s academic progress. Report cards and school events should be shared so that every parent has an opportunity to weigh in and participate.
3. New Celebrations
Celebrations are equally important. I spent most birthdays with my mom and step-dad but other holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas were split. My parents were all present for my prom and my graduation. Games and competitions were attended by whoever could make it out.
4. Discipline took a village
Discipline should be a group effort too. While I didn’t get into too much trouble growing up, you can bet my brothers did. One punishment would be effective at one house, and wouldn’t make it over to another. Restrictions placed by one parent wouldn’t be enforced by another. This is crucial, as a child shouldn’t see this as an opportunity to take advantage or use it as ammunition to put parents against each other.
5. More Love to Go Around
Step-parents can and do love just as hard as biological parents. I know many parents are sensitive about their child calling someone else “mom” or “dad”. I called my parents Mommy & Daddy (occasionally I still do but they’ve been promoted to Mamacita & Daddy-O) and called my stepparents Pop & Mom (most of the time I called my stepmom by her name, which was fine with her). Try to come up with this solution in a mature manner, as statements such as “that’s not your mom/dad” can hurt and confuse the child.
6. There was cooperation
Last but not least, work together. Raising a child is a team effort, and when you have more than two people involved, it can make things a lot easier if you collaborate. Maybe someone can have the child(ren) while the other side enjoys a date night, or if someone can’t make a basketball game, it’s arranged for at least one parent to be present. Don’t withhold access to a child to hurt another parent because it only ends up hurting the child.
7. Challenges you to love more
Parenting is hard enough when you’re doing it alone or have help with your spouse. While it takes on another level of difficulty when there’s a stepparent involved or a stepchild in the house, I think it actually challenges you to love at a greater capacity. It’s not easy by any stretch, but I wouldn’t trade my experience growing up in a blended family for anything.
BMWK – how will your kids look back on their blended family experience?
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