One day recently I picked up my 14-year-old daughter from her grandmother’s house with my 5-year-old son in tow. As we waited for my daughter, my son wandered into another room and returned holding something behind his back, a look of horror plastered across his face.
“Mom!” he said, “ What in the world is this!” He pulled a photo from behind his back. It was a picture of me and my daughter’s father at senior prom. “Why are you married with (‘married with’ is the term he uses to describe anything that looks like dating) my sister’s dad?”
His confusion surprised me a bit. My daughter’s father has always been an active co-parent. She splits her time between our home and his, so my son has always known that she has a different father than he does and has sisters that aren’t his sisters. So when he looked at me, frustrated and confused, I realized that maybe it didn’t make as much sense to him as I thought it had. He wanted answers from me, and I didn’t know what to say.
When we got home, I explained to him that just like his dad and I live in the same house and take care of him, a long time ago his sister’s dad and I did the same, but we broke up. The explanation satisfied his curiosity for that moment, but later he asked me whether his dad and I would break up. Another day he asked when he grew up and got married whether his wife would be already “broken up.”
The experience brought to light the fact that while he’s never known anything other than his blended family, he still has questions about how that family came to be.
I’ve tried to field his questions about our blended family structure with age-appropriate honesty. Telling him “it was a long time ago” and hoping he’ll forget about it doesn’t work. Sometimes his questions don’t have easy answers and when I truly don’t know I allow that answer to suffice. But, giving him honest responses, without going into the gory details, helps keep the communication lines open and arms him with the knowledge that his blended family is beautiful.
BMWK: Do your kids ask questions about your blended family? How do you answer them?