A dear friend of mine called with advice for managing a blended family. Most people who know me don't realize that my oldest son is from a previous marriage. We have successfully managed to smooth out things to the point where there is no difference and no separation. We are one family, the Artis Clan
1. Respect is a must! There is no compromising when it comes to this. It was never an option for my son to disrespect my husband or my husband to disrespect my son.
2. Establish roles. Because I was bringing a son into the marriage it was important for me to establish with my son that my husband is the head of the household. I got alot of grief on this issue. Women have a tendency to feel like we're being forced to choose either our husbands or our children. If you are in a relationship that is healthy for both you and your child then there is no reason to choose. While it is very important to make sure your child understands and feels the love that you have for them as their mother, It is also important to help your child understand that you are married to your husband. Help your child understand that you have enough love to have a child and a husband. I think sometimes it is hard for a child to adjust to the changes because we don't always establish clear roles when we are single mothers. At times we may allow those children to also fill the role of friend and take active roles in making decisions. But now that you are a married, you and your husband will make the decisions best for the family. In our household this includes decisions about my son. My husband and I make decisions together about my son, which brings up another important area that must be addressed.
3. Your spouse is first. I had to establish with my son's father that my husband is the head of my household and we make decisions on what takes place in our house. My son's father has no authority or dominion when it comes to my house. He understands and respects this. Now it hasn't always been this easy. There were times when my son would talk to his father and make plans then come and tell my husband and I what the plans were. At first I did not realize what he was doing, because it didn't interfere with any plans I had already made. But eventually I saw what was taking place. My husband and I made it clear to my son that he needs to discuss with us plans before making them. Since my son is older now things are simpler. Early on, my son's father and I could not communicate with one another responsibly , which brings me to my next point.
4. Don't be afraid to bring in third parties for communication reasons. My son's father and I agreed to communicate through my father and his mother. In the beginning there was alot of anger and frustration between us. Until we could agree to let go of the anger and move past the wrongs we had committed against one another, I would drop my son off with my father or his mother and he would then visit him or pick him up from there. In the ideal situation, adults would just be adults and let go of their differences, but that is rarely the reality in these situations. Understand what your triggers are and find a civil way to deal with one another. This will also reduce the amount of tension between the ex-spouse and the current spouse.
5. Your spouse should love and care for all children in the family the same. I think the key component in all of this was the way my wonderful, wonderful husband accepted and loved my son as his own. Even during the times when my son acted in ways that made me want to disown him, my husband never did. He loves him, supports him financially and emotionally, corrects him, jokes and plays with him just like he does the children that are his biological children. He has never referred to him as his step-son but always his son. From the angle that I am viewing things, he is his son. This wonderful attitude from my husband has also gained the respect of my son's father. It is not uncommon for all of us to be at one of my son's sporting events both fathers and grandfather. There is no tension because we all want what is best for our son. Not too long ago I heard my son telling one of his friends that its almost like he has 3 dads because he has Derreck (his biological father), Daddy Isaac (my husband), and Papa (my father). I think this learning process has helped them all grow closer to my son. It is very true that it takes much more than genetics to create a parent/child bond and we are living proof of this. We are a well-blended family.