As many of you know we have a blended family, which is also known as a Step Family. A step family is defined as one in which at least one child was the biological offspring or adopted child of only one of the spouses, prior to the relationship. Step families make up 12.6% of Canadian families. They can also be labelled as simple or complex in our case we would be labelled as complex. As we each have children prior to our relationship and one together. It really is becoming the new norm for families.
All statistics aside, no one can prepare you for what you face when you enter into a blended family. When children are involved and exes, it’s almost never going to be easy in the beginning. When we first started dating Hailey and Aiden were a year and a half old and Madison was 3 and a half. The only thing that was easy about it, was my husband. He was truly amazing from the very first moment that we met. He treated Hailey just like he treated his own children. He has always shown her love and today, she is just like him. She has more of his characteristics then mine!! The kids loved each other, they got along so well. Hailey and Aiden would even hold hands in their car seats while we were driving.
I have always treated Maddy and Aiden as my own, I don’t look at them as my step children. I have always seen them as my own. In the beginning the children used to be with us during the weeks and with their other parents on the weekends. Over the time many issues would arise when the children were with the exes. Things that upset our children greatly. Visits became less and less and over the last couple years it has been maybe 4-6 visits a year, for a few hours at a time.
I have had so many stressful days and nights, angry over how the kids have been treated or just the lack of involvement from the other parents. The most upsetting thing is the heartbreak I see the children face. At such young ages, they should never have to deal with this. There was a point where I was in a constant state of anger. Not understanding how a parent could be capable of such things.
One day I realized that it doesn’t matter how the kids or I feel. It doesn’t matter what we say or how many times the children explain to them that they hurt their feelings. Nothing we do will change who they are, how they think or their actions. My heart has broken a thousand times for my sweet little babies. I decided that all I could do was help them deal with their feelings and emotions. I started with getting them to a counsellor who they have been seeing for 5 years. I have looked into all different things they can do to release their feelings of anger and hurt. Because truthfully all we can do is love our children. Let them know that we are always there for them no matter what. That we will always love them, no matter what they do. As well as equip them with the tools they need to heal themselves. These are tools they will be using for the rest of their lives.
If you are dealing with exes always be nice and kind. It is the hardest thing in the world, especially if they say and do things to get a reaction out of you. Let your kids, always witness your kindness to their other parent. Never let your child hear you speak badly about their other parent. Always encourage them to spend time with the other parent. Let it be their choice if they don’t want to go. Don’t influence their decisions. This is how I have always been with my kids. I’ve done this because I want my kids to grow up and know that I always supported their relationships with their other parent’s. If you do the opposite it will do nothing but drive a wedge between yourself and your child.
There is no manual for parenting and certainly nothing for step parenting. To all you step moms and dad’s out there. Cheers to you! It’s not easy, to be able to love and raise more children makes every second of it, more then worth it. My life would not be the same without my Maddy and Aiden.