I’ve officially been a stepmother since August of 2008. My husband has two children, Madison and Bryce. They live over ten hours away from us, so we get to see them every other Christmas and for four weeks during the summer.
It has been a difficult journey at times, but I wouldn’t trade any of it now.
You know that movie with Julia Roberts where she’s a stepmom? Loved that movie…Yeah, I was so naive and young when I became a stepmom. I thought that co-parenting would happen naturally between all of the adults in my stepchildren’s lives. I knew nothing of court and parenting plans. I thought Ryan, the kids and I would be one big, happy family. Reality set in pretty quick…
My stepchildren had no concept of what a stepparent actually was. They knew I was “Daddy’s wife”, but didn’t really understand how I was related to them. Once my son was born in 2009, Ryan and I got a wonderful opportunity to explain how the whole “step” thing worked. It was like a light bulb went off and they finally understood that I was actually their family. It’s a moment I will never forget…
Madison and Bryce are such sweet, caring kids. They are so very much like their daddy. They were so excited to meet Caleb for the first time and have really taken him under their wing. Caleb talks about his “bubba” and “sissy” all the time. The hardest part is that they are so far away. I know they all miss each other like crazy.
Most of the time, our family feels like a family of three. In the back of our minds is always that we are a family of five. When we make major life decisions, we make it based on five people. When we look at houses, we have to consider where all three children will go instead of just one. We don’t make any decisions without thinking, “What if Madison and Bryce choose to live here full time”. Vacations are planned around all three kids’ likes and dislikes.
Ryan and I learned some things that really help the stepfamily:
- Ryan and I make joint decisions for our family.
- We believe in documented communication through email, text, or mail only. There’s no gray area that way. There’s less misunderstanding and no attitudes.
- We do not disagree, argue, or make decisions in front of the kids. If we disagree about something we wait until we can talk about it when it’s just us. It shows a united front.
- We one hundred percent do not believe in bad mouthing, criticizing, or belittling any adult in the kids’ lives despite our personal opinion of them.
- We try our best to shelter the kids from any issues concerning the blended family situation. Kids did not create this issue and they shouldn’t have to suffer through it.
- Ryan and I believe the kids should be encouraged to be comfortable in both homes. We have never tried to force the kids to consider me as family. They have done that all on their own!
- We do not try to get the kids to divulge any aspect of their lives while they are with us. Kids are not pawns in some game!
- We try our best to show what a healthy, happy marriage looks like so that one day they can model the same behaviors in their own marriages. You never know if this is the only chance they can see acceptable relationships.
- When dealing with an ex, treat it like a business transaction. Leave out any emotion, handle it in a professional manner, and only address issues that actually matter. Fighting over trivial or personal matters does not benefit the kids. It’s just not worth it and it hurts the kids.