I am often asked for my advice on step families, and I always have a hard time coming up with something suitable on the spot.
It’s hard to think of one thing to give as advice. Step families are complex things with so many variables, so it’s hard to know what will work for whoever is asking.
So I thought I would compile a list of things that I have learned over the years.
Be open and honest with your children; they are smarter than you think.
Never bad mouth your ex, and don’t allow other people to
Communication is key. I mean this with everyone, your children, your spouse and your ex.
You can never replace a parent, but you can be an important role model who makes rules and cares for your step children
You and your spouse need to be on the same “team” and stand behind one another’s decisions
Children will only come around when you they are ready. Be patient and be firm in your dealings with them
Love your children (all of them) unconditionally
Learn to filter what your children say happens at their “other parents” house. If they say they were forced to clean all day, chances are they cleaned for an hour.
My advice comes with a disclosure: No two blended families are the same, so not all of my advice will work for you.
Blending families is not for the faint of heart. It takes patience, effort, patience and more patience, but the rewards far out weigh the troubles.
I leave you with this quote from Be A Great Step-Parent by Suzie Hayman:
“The new family, and the new partner, will be viewed by the adults as a joy, a triumph, a beginning. The urge to introduce them will be based on a need to rejoice and the perspective that this is something to celebrate about. The difficulty may be that any children involved - and indeed, some relatives and friends too - may see it in a different way.
As far as a child is concerned, this is not a beginning but an ending - the ending of the original family and the final end of any hopes that the old family may get back together.”"
So, here I sit, the night before my first day back to work after 11 months of maternity leave.
Yes, I am going back early... partly to help out my boss, and partly to help out my bank account.
Okay, I’ll go ahead and say it... it sucks. I’m not looking forward to it, I’m not excited, and I’m am not looking forward to seeing anyone.
Please, don’t get the wrong idea. I actually have a decent job working for a great company, and my co-workers are very nice people, but given the choice of spending 8 hours with them or 8 hours with my family, I will always choose the latter.
I have spent the last 11 months trying to find ways to avoid going back at all. Alas, I have not won the lottery... yet.
For 11 months, I have been here for family dinners, I have made it to sporting events, I have spent every waking hour with my baby girl. I’ve spent more time with my parents, more time with Tom’s parents and had lunch dates with friends.
Those days are over.
Thankfully, my baby will be going to my mother-in-laws house, so I don’t have to be concerned with leaving her with a stranger. My 5-year old will be with my mom on her off days, so I know she is in good hands. My husband is wonderful with babies, so there is no issue there either.
Really, there is no reason for me to be concerned... but I will be. If you are a mother, you understand... no-one can do it as well as we can, right? (That’s what we like to think)
I don’t think that I could write a blog long enough to cover all of the emotions that go along with this event. They run the gamut from fear to sadness to even a teensy bit of liberation since I will have much more freedom to do things now.
I will let you know how this roller coaster ride ends.
Siobhan is almost 11 months old now and every day it seems she learns something new.
On the weekend, she took her first steps. She was so proud of herself, and we were proud too.
Now, she seems to be getting her own little sense of humour because her latest finding is that no means shake your head.