Blended Family: Stepfamily Life Through a Child’s Eyes

momparenting

When my husband, Andy, and I got engaged our children were happy and supportive. They all expressed excitement over gaining a stepparent and more siblings. My son, who was five, said “mommy, I think Andy is an angel God sent to love you.”

His comment was the icing on the cake. Andy and I loved each other and our six kids all got along. I blindly thought that blending our families wasn’t going to be as tough as it is for others.

Enter in reality. A few months into our remarriage some of our kids didn’t seem to exude that same joy they had expressed at the wedding. One day, while I was baking cookies with my nine year-old daughter I asked, “How are you liking our stepfamily?”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “You were so happy when we got married and now you seem sad. What changed?” I prodded.

“I was happy Mom. And I like Andy and all but when you said you were getting married, I didn’t know what that really meant,” she replied. “I didn’t know it meant moving, sharing a bedroom, and changing schools. That’s hard."

Moved by our conversation, I decided to talk with other stepkids to get their perspective on blended family living. Here’s how they finished my statement “I didn’t know becoming a stepfamily meant...

  • I can’t crawl in bed with my mom anymore.
  • We can’t keep our cat because my stepbrother is allergic.
  • I have to share my dad.
  • I have to share my grandparents.
  • My stepmom doesn't cook like my mom.

On the up side, I asked the children what they liked about their newly created family.  “A great thing about being in a stepfamily is...

  • I get to watch Spongebob.
  • We take road trips.
  • I got extra grandparents.
  • I have more people to love me.
  • I have a backyard to play in.
  • I learned how to fish.

Children do recognize the benefits of stepfamily life and are appreciative of the other adults who love them. However, they need time and space to grieve the losses that do come with creating a stepfamily. Not being able to cuddle in bed with mom anymore because she has a husband, having to share a room, making new friends at a new school are all challenges for kids. A parent and stepparent may have created a very stable and loving home yet a child may still be grieving losses important to that child.

I now look at our stepfamily through the eyes of each of our children. Each sees the  benefits and losses of our new family differently. Validating each of their feelings and frustrations and creating a home with my husband that is filled with grace and unconditional love is the best stepfamily gift I can give them.

Have you become a stepfamily? What challenges did you and your family face? What has helped your children overcome the challenges?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Heather Hetchler is the mom of four and custodial stepmom of two whose passion is to help stepmoms thrive in their role as the heart of their blended family. She is the Founder of www.CafeSmom.com where she brings positive resources, inspiration, and support to stepmothers. She blogs her personal story as both a wife and ex-wife; a mom and stepmom to six young children so stepmoms don’t feel alone on their journey. Her blog was named as one of the Top10 blogs for Remarrieds in 2010 by Remarriage Magazine. As a part of CafeSmom, Heather has an Eshop where she offers products made exclusively for stepmoms. Heather is the host of the StepMom Connection on www.MomTv.com. She is a contributing writer for StepMom Magazine and www.primeparentsclub.com. Heather’s Reinvention story as a stepmom has been featured on Yahoo!Shine. She resides in Cleveland with her husband and family.

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Heather Hetchler

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