My adorable friend Natalie grew up in a blended home. I’m always asking her questions and asking her how things worked while she was growing up. I got to sit with her the other day (she’s on bedrest, and I was hiding out from our four kids….mama needed a break) and ask her some questions about growing up blended.
1. How old were you when your parents divorced and how many kids did your parents have together?
They were legally separated when I was three years old and divorced by the time I was four years old.
My parents had three girls together; I was the youngest.
2. When did your parents get remarried?
My dad remarried when I was six years old. He started dating his high school sweetheart shortly after my parents got divorced. My mom didn’t remarry until two years ago, but she did start dating about a year after she and my dad got divorced.
3. How many stepsiblings do you have?
I have two stepsisters from my dad’s marriage that I met when I was 5 and grew up with. I also have two stepsisters from my mom’s marriage, but I’ve only met them a handful of times.
4. Did you all get along in the beginning and do you get along now?
We didn’t always get along while growing up. We fought a lot of the time, especially my two middle sisters because they were closest in age. There were five of us girls all around the same age, and we all have strong personalities. We visited my dad and stepmom’s house every other weekend, and he lived about forty-five minutes away. My Dad and stepmom had more money than my mom did, so we often compared ourselves to our stepsisters. They had a lot more material things than we did, which was frustrating at times. I see now that those things don’t matter. Despite living very different lives at each house, all three of my parents made a huge effort to create a sense of equality for us girls. They took us on a lot of family trips and kept us busy with fun activities. We all get along great now that we are adults and we have wonderful memories from growing up, even though we spent a lot of time arguing.
5. Were your mom and stepmom similar or different in raising you?
They were very different, and I think that I benefited from being raised by completely different people. I have a better appreciation and understanding for different walks of life.
6. What was the hardest thing you dealt with growing up in a blended family?
GUILT! I had a lot of guilt over not being able to make two art projects at school for each house, or only having one parent at my soccer games. I wanted them both there for everything and often blamed myself because I didn’t want it to be awkward for them. My parents never made us feel guilty about them getting a divorce; I brought it upon myself.
7. What are your thoughts on marriage?
I knew that I wanted to get married and start a family young and I continued to pray that God would provide a wonderful man for me. Most of my family thought I was crazy and should focus on my education and future career. When I was 19, God blessed me with my sweet Eric, who is the most selfless, loving person I have ever met. He came from a very stable, different upbringing than mine. We balance each other out really well because of this. We got married when I was 20, and he was 23. Because I experienced how difficult a divorce can be firsthand, I have always been adamant that the man God chooses for me to marry will be the ONE I spend the rest of my life with. We have one beautiful girl and another little lady on the way. I have loved every second of our marriage! Even the hard parts, because they have brought us closer as a couple. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ridiculously good looking 😉
8. The most important advice you can give to blended families?
Keep doing the best job you can. You may not see the fruits of your labor now, but you will when your little ones grow up. Make sure your kids know that they’re not the cause of your divorce. Keep them busy in sports and other activities, so they don’t find themselves involved with the wrong crowd. It’s easier for kids with divorced parent’s to stray because they may not have the supervision that they would if their parents were married.
***Thank you, my dear friend, for taking the time to share your story with us. I know that most people out there are a product of divorce and grow up in a nontraditional way. Seeing Natalie and hearing her story and outlook, is so encouraging to me. Sometimes I do still have guilt for my kids not being raised by both their parents, but Natalie’s story gives me hope and reminds me that everything is going to turn out fine. The kids are going to survive, and God has a plan in it all.