Asking if it is “worth” getting into a blended family is certainly a loaded question! Coming from a broken relationship, you probably want some kind of guarantee that THIS TIME it’s going to work out. ALL FAMILIES are difficult, but blended families certainly have their own unique challenges. Ones you need to be fully aware of when making this decision. A single parent asked my husband and I this question when considering a relationship with another single parent. Our short answer was: “YES!”
ARE Blended Families Worth it?
The longer answer may sound like: Good NIGHT this is freaking hard stuff! Again: Absolutely worth it. But also: Be prepared as much as possible, because it’s not going to be easy. Every one of us is unique. Therefore, each of your families is also unique.
Some blended families vacation together. Imagine you and your ex vacationing at the beach with your new spouses and all your kids! Or taking a ski trip with your husband’s ex and her new husband and all your kids. Some blended families have such good relationships with their exes that they attend – or are even IN – each others’ weddings!
Of course, some blended families have a lot of hurt and anger. So much so that adults may go out of their way to alienate the relationship between child and biological parent. That’s just harmful – for everyone! Our story started out somewhere in the middle of these extremes. NOW however – 13 years into it – we have pretty decent relationships with both our exes and their new families. Which means our teens feel more comfortable. And have less of an opportunity to play us against each other because we communicate better: Win-Win!
Here are 3 things to know for successful blending of step families:
#1 When you’re in a blended family, know that your “honeymoon” comes at the end rather than the beginning.
When you are married AND THEN have kids, you have time together, just the two of you. This helps you really know each other. Kind of like how God intended! It’s like gradually walking into the warm water in an island paradise. Slowly. Enjoying. Each. Moment. And then you add kids and get to know each other other again! BUT, you have that base of just you two from which to build.
However, when you come into a marriage with kids, it’s like diving head first into deep water. Sink or swim, baby! That “slow” time IS going to happen for you…once the kids grow up and launch out on their own. This is not to say that you won’t have moments alone. Making and keeping regular date nights, weekends away, and even a week once a year (that’s our goal). But STICK WITH IT – it IS worth it – your honeymoon is coming!
#2 Even in a blended family, your spouse needs to be your #1 human priority.
Not your children. Some people will tell you that your kids need to be the focus when you are blending a family. However, since God’s design is to make our spouses our #1 priority, it makes sense to follow that plan. After all, kids are going to leave your home one day and you don’t want to be left staring at a stranger. Right? So, do all you can to get on the same parenting page with your spouse. Back him up in front of the kids, and disagree in private!
You may have guilt about your failed marriage/relationship and the effect it has had on your child or children. I get it. Believe me, I really do. But permissiveness always follows guilt – and that just creates obnoxious, self-indulged, selfish children. You HAVE to work though this so that you can parent from love rather than guilt. (You can do this, I can help!)
#3 When you’re in a blended family, you NEED other couples to walk alongside you.
In the beginning of our marriage, we prayed and prayed for God to bring us “couple friends.” It took years. And even now, our closest friends are not in blended families. You may feel sad and compare your family to your “intact” family friends, mourning that loss. You may feel misunderstood when missing a kid who’s with another parent because non-blended families can’t understand that dynamic. However, it’s MOST important to have couples with whom you can do life. Whether they are blended, step, half, or intact! We weren’t made to do life outside of community!
Hopefully, you have been able to connect with families and couples in all types of situations. Just know that God has allowed you to be on this journey for His glory and your good. Even when you don’t understand – you can trust that you are right where He wants you to be.
Tell me about YOUR blended family experience – good, bad, or neutral – in the comments below!
Kate Fraiser is a Parent Coach with Connect Point Moms helping you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them. For quick and helpful parenting videos, find her on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook.