How were you able to work through this process of merging the two families together?
Joyce: Honestly I really believe that the girls had the “whatever” attitude. There’s a running joke that they’re not sure we’re really married because they never saw it. We spoke about it to them, but [in hindsight] we just shouldn’t have done it that way.
Carlton: The biggest thing was that we had to learn to love each child the same. That way, they felt like they were in one family instead of ‘She’s my mother’, or ‘He’s my father’.
Joyce: I never liked the “step” title [step-mom, step-dad, step-daughter, step-son] because we just don’t feel like that. It makes such a big difference. The youngest was eight when we got married. So they had known each other for about five years by that time already. They spent time around each other but it wasn’t the same as a real family relationship. They were just friends. So the relationships got easier when we said ‘We are all family’, instead of, ‘That’s my sister but not yours’. It didn’t make sense to throw that monkey wrench in there. And we didn’t like the separation that it creates.
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