Meet Other Blended Families

Meet This Is Blended

Please tell us a little about your family dynamic and how you became a blended family.

I’m Jenn, Mom to one daughter, Addison. She’s 9 going on 16, I swear! My fiancé Mark is Dad to three great kids, Justin (15), Alyssa (13), Jayden (11). We’ve been living under the same roof for a year and a half now and have most recently added another addition, a puppy named Dez. He’s a Beagle/Springer Spaniel/Labordoodle mix!

How did you and your spouse meet and how long have you been married?

Mark and I met online. Unknown to one another we both separated from our ex-spouses the same year. We both had a semi-serious dating relationship after our splits that ended at the same time, and we both joined Match.com on Thanksgiving weekend 2016! We had been living parallel lives all this time, just waiting for the right time to find each other! We moved in together the summer of 2017 and got engaged summer of 2018. We are set to marry September of this year!

Did you become an instant family?

In terms of blending together, we really couldn’t have asked for anything better. Addison was always very shy and used to having me all to herself but when she met Mark and the kids, she warmed up to them all instantly, and you’d think she’d been around them her whole life. Mark’s kids were very accepting of both Addison, and I and things have unfolded naturally for all of us, for the most part! Let’s keep it real here; it’s not a fairy tale!

What does discipline look like in your home?

Ahhh, this is one of the biggest stressors for sure! You blend two families together. Two separate households, two different parents and 4 very different children and boy oh boy is it an adventure! Mark and I luckily share very similar values, but there are things he was lax about that I had always really zoned in on with Addison so trying to compromise and not step on people’s toes has been challenging.
We agreed early on that when it comes to discipline, whatever child is needing it at the time, their bio parent would handle it.
We have both given each other full authority though to discipline if needed, and we always back each other up in front of the kids. If there’s ever something we don’t agree on, then we discuss it behind closed doors. Keeping a united front as parents is very important!

Biggest blessing in having a blended family?

More people to love and to love you in return. Getting pregnant was a struggle for me and the chances of having more children were slim to none, so it really has been a blessing to have these other 3 amazing kids as part of my family now.

The biggest challenge in having a blended family?

Having a blended family! Seriously though, there are so many aspects to blending two families together that are challenging. The biggest for me personally is letting go. There are so many things that are not in your control, schedules, finances, co-parenting with exes. Just so many factors that can be very challenging!

What does Co-parenting look like for you?

Luckily Mark and I are very much on the same page with almost everything. I’m the stricter one. Mark’s the laid back, fun dad, like dads tend to be and I’m the one running the tight ship that needs to remember to just relax and go with the flow more. Where we differ, we balance each other out, but it’s good that we always see eye to eye on the big things!

Any tips you can give other blended families?

Pick your battles. If it won’t matter in 6 months, don’t worry about it.
Compromise and communication are two of the biggest skills you will need to master.
Find support, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This life is not easy, and you’re not alone in it. There are tons of other amazing step mama’s out there, and the beautiful thing is they’re all usually very eager to help, to listen and to support! I’m one of them – Here for you any time!

 

Check out Jenn’s site @ http://thisisblended.com/

and be sure to follow her on IG @ thisisblended

 


Jenn,  Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful Blended Tribe with us! I look forward to collaborating with you in the future 😉

💗 The Blended Tribe


Meet Kim & Her Blended Fam

I truly believe that blended families are THE BEST KEPT SECRET. Yes, everyone knows about blended families and the blessings and horrors of step-parents and kids, right?! But the amount of work both physically and emotionally is astounding to me. And there’s really no way to describe it without living it. I’ve tried explaining it to my friends who are still “blissfully” in their first marriage. I try to describe being a newlywed, the pressures of having kids, jobs, dealing with ex’s and their families, and total strangers now family, not to mention someone is in a new home or everyone is in a new space along with which dishes to keep or get rid of and keeping emotional values for things in check and re-evaluated…. all bundled into one year and usually within 6 months. It’s really a hard concept to grasp.

How did you two meet and how long have you been married?

Our story begins in 1983…. for real…. 1983. My family had moved from northern Oklahoma to Southern Oklahoma my 7th-grade year of school. Andy and I were in the same church affiliation. In 1984 we ‘dated’ for about 2-3 weeks …and held hands once. Very scandalous, haha. I always knew he had a special place for me; I just didn’t know how much. Life went on after our ‘trist.’ We were always friends and just lived our lives.

Andy is 2 years older than me, and he just disappeared one day. I now know he had joined the Army. We went our separate ways living our very different lives. I remember about 10-12ish years ago when FB was becoming a thing, I found him there and asked how he was doing… he had just begun his divorce, but that was all the contact we had.

Fast forward, and I found myself divorced with four teenagers and zero help from my ex….like zero. I had been a stay at home mom and was working at providing for these kids and starting some sort of a career… I had no ‘warning shot’ from my ex…one day we were great, the next he was moving out. So it was a little like throwing a toddler into the deep end and saying “swim!”.

I had been single for about two years, and it had been my birthday and my son who is serving

a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints had sent the cutest picture saying Happy Birthday Mom on a wipe board. I had posted it on Instagram and FB. I had been on a TERRIBLE date the weekend before and I remember just being tired. You know we’ve all been there. So what do tired mommies do?! They get pizza and sit and scroll Instagram of course! Haha… I noticed Dru had liked my picture….but I had no idea who Dru was…he has always been Andy to me. I clicked on his profile and figured out it was him.

I messaged him on a whim and suggested we meet for dinner sometime (ensuring he was still single), we made a date for that Friday (it was Tuesday). We ended up texting for about four days till our date. We played ’20 questions’ to get to know one another again. He picked me up for a movie that Friday and we joke that we’re still on our first date. It all went VERY fast. That was April 21st and we married June 30th. So yea…. FAST. But we knew our foundation backgrounds and we knew we wanted the same things out of this life and decided we each felt the other was worth the work.

Our issues with blending a family can, on paper, really seem like humble bragging. But looking at it deeper, they are our own personal struggles.

How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?

My husband has two children, and I have 4. His ‘bookend’ mine. He has a 24-year-old, and then I have a 20, 19, 18, and 15-year-olds, and then his daughter is our caboose at 13 years old. They are great kids that are happy we found each other again. My stepson may have given me one of the best compliments when he told me the life we created in the last year is what he’s always wanted and hoped.

My husband had been single for eight years and had vowed never to be married again, and had not even been dating in those eight years. So his mindset was VERY independent and VERY single. His older son was already out of the house, and he had a daughter whom he shared physical custody with…so he wasn’t used to actual bodies around him all the time. He’s also an introvert, so the instant amount of people around…ALL the time was monumental for him.

I have full physical and legal custody of my children. Their dad literally doesn’t even talk to them (their choice because of his choices)… so they are with me 24/7. My husband’s ex used to have his daughter every weekend but has since moved 3 hours away, so she is with us almost all the time as well. So you can imagine the struggles of just everyday life from being the only person in the house to now sleeping with someone else every night and ALWAYS having multiple people in the house. Adjusting is an understatement of the year.

We just had our 1st anniversary on June 30th, so it’s been interesting to look back and see how we’ve stretched and grown. There’s been a lot of faking it till you make it. I wouldn’t say we were an instant family, but we functioned like one, which honestly helped. When it comes to parenting, we tend to stay in our own lane with our own kids. We’ve started going into each other’s territories very carefully always respecting what we’ve created thus far with our kids in our own ways. I do not call out my bonus daughter like I do my kids. That doesn’t work for her personality and the way my husband and his ex treat her, so I use a different approach with her and always VERY aware that I’m the odd man out when it really comes down to any choices and decisions. My husband is very respectful as well and will go through me first. My hope is that we don’t have to be so “careful”…but for now it works and is a step in adjusting to being our own kind of family.

Respect is the name of the ‘game.’ Even when we think our way is ‘right’… we each lived our lives successfully for 40 plus years, and no houses burnt down, and everyone was still alive so respecting each other is THE KEY. I always step back and look at the situation and ask how important my point REALLY is and what it might create. What sort of respect am I giving to receive it as well?

We have amazing children that have really helped this process. I must give kudos to all of them. They’ve all been aware of the struggles we have and have really worked at changing and adjusting to help us adjust and make this family work. I feel like they all want this as much as we do, for different but real reasons. But we’ve also been raising them in such a way that they already had our trust, and we were already working as a family that looks out for one another.

My kids (and myself) had been in therapy for a year after their dad left, this, in my opinion, should be a requirement for ALL children of divorce. They need someplace to figure things out WITHOUT our influence and junk. This helps them to work out their frustrations with the whole situation and not to let our stuff transfer to them. This includes the stuff that rises after re-marriage. I was shocked when things came up that I thought were a non-issue, therapy people… therapy! It can only help the blending process. If a therapist isn’t working for you… change them. You are not (or shouldn’t be) obligated to stay with them. I’ve met a terrible therapist and some that were great but just didn’t ‘speak’ to me. Do what works.

The kids each have their own struggles, but they are regular everyday struggles of growing up, nothing in the realm of some kids of divorce that I hear that rebel and are terrible to the incoming parent or their own parent. My children especially struggle with abandonment issues. They are older too, so Dru is more of a friend figure, except for my youngest… I believe she looks at him like a father, there was no need to parent them and Dru already had an older son, so he knew a little about letting go and letting them live.

We took a strengthening stepfamilies class after we had been married for about five months and it was great because we’d walk away with a better perspective to deal better…. AND realizing how good we had it. We also walked away with tools and realization of things like it’s ok to not like the bonus children all the time… I mean we don’t even like our own kids all the time, so it makes sense. Ha! The more education and direction you can get the better. There are professionals and people who have already done this ready to share and teach…thank goodness!!!

I will say this about parenting and blending a family. Multi-tasking emotions is a MUST. Deciding what sort of family I wanted was essential. So when things aren’t going necessarily the way I want or I would do or would ever think about…. I ask myself if my initial reaction is going to help my “dream” or hurt it. It has helped keep my tongue MANY MANY times. Because that’s what we’re all working towards, right? The ‘dream’ of having a healthy and happy family… I just had to decide what that could look like and just keep walking towards that hope.

Time is a beautiful enemy…that’s how I describe it. I’m not the most patient person in life. So this has been a huge stretch in letting time do what it does best… heal and create. It’s helped to heal a lot of wounds (is still helping) and is allowing us to create memories and bond little by little. Being thrown into what is meant to take decades is intense and confusing. But allowing time to be a friend and take a deep breath… priceless.

I want to note that I realize our story has minimal ex-involvement. Not like some of you that are in a constant battle of not only having to deal with the said ex but help these kids navigate two households and two ways of living and all the emotions that are involved with that dynamic. I tell my husband all the time that as angry as I get at my ex for choosing to not be in my kids’ lives, at least he’s inadvertently keeping his “junk” to himself and not making it harder for them. And my bonus daughter was VERY young when they divorced so she’s really not known life differently other than now having to share time, space, and money with us. She recognizes the benefit of having us here, so she’s been very good about the sharing…still hard but still doing it swimmingly.

Thank you for allowing me to share our story. I’m feeling even more grateful seeing our story on paper and seeing that we are getting it done.
I credit my husband and kids for sticking it out and looking for our ‘dream’ beside me. I credit my faith in a Heavenly Father that I know is watching over ALL of us and wants to see us succeed.

We still have a road ahead of us for sure… as I mentioned earlier, my oldest is serving a full-time mission for our church and hasn’t even met Dru yet! So we have that little nugget to experience coming soon (6 months!)… so we clearly have things to still figure out. I do believe though that we have the tools, love, and the desire to get it done.

Kudos to all those blended tribes out there… you’re doing better than you think you are…I’m SURE of it!!!

To read other guest blended family stories click HERE

Thanks for sharing Kim!! You have a beautiful family and an encouraging story! Keep up the good work and let me know when you start your blog!!

♥ The Blended Tribe

 

 

 

 


Meet Mr. & Mrs. P

 

•How did you two meet and how long have you been married?
We were matched on eharmony but didn’t want to pay so found him on Facebook and became friends. We lived 2 hours apart but had long daily phone conversations and met up about once a week. We started dating in February and married in October. We’ve been married a little over three months.

•How long did you date before getting married?
About eight months but it was more purposeful than dating- it was like premarital counseling that whole time, ha!

•How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
One boy is 3, and one is 8

the boys
The Boys

•Did you become an instant family?
Not really, more like roommates who (mostly) enjoy each other. The boys both started out (when we were dating) really wanting a sibling and after moving in together weren’t as excited. We have to know when and how to give each individual space.

•What does discipline look like in your home?
We try to allow the older to be disciplined mainly by dad in order for him to grow a relationship with stepmom. The younger, not having had a dad around, is disciplined by both to set clear authority guidelines for him as a toddler.

•Biggest blessing in having a blended family?
I think both boys are now able to learn what it’s like to share life with others, versus the kid world revolving around them alone before. We all benefit from learning to appreciate and cooperate with different personalities.

•The biggest challenge in having a blended family?
I think while you need to be building strength and unity as a couple, the needs of the kids often emerge and take center stage. So it’s a balancing act. Making sure the kid’s needs are addressed while also prioritizing the marriage and keeping that bond strong.

•What does Co-parenting look like for you?
In my case, I got sole custody, so I don’t co-parent. In my husband’s case, they share 50/50, and I support that process by providing rides, etc. I’m cooperative and cordial with his ex but leave most of the logistics to him/her.

•Any tips you can give other blended families?
I’d say to take advantage of resources like Weekend to Remember and Family Life Blended and their materials and conferences. We make going to church, family prayer and bible time a unifying experience. And we look for ways to put our marriage first to model for the kids what a healthy one should be. They feel loved and secure when our marriage is important.

Blended Wedding
Blended wedding

•Anything else you want us to know about your family?
We both had to understand and sort through the effects of having past marriages with narcissistic abuse. It impacted everything as far as guilt over divorce, lingering triggers related to anxiety and PTSD, and being able to date someone new in a healthy way. If anyone is trying to understand what happens in a toxic marriage and heal, I recommend The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick and Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft. If divorcing and dealing with custody with a high conflict individual, I highly recommend the book Splitting on divorcing narcissistic or borderline people, and pretty much any resource by Tina Swithin and One Mom’s Battle. I know for me, I had to come to a full understanding of what my past marriage had broken and warped in me before I could love again. Now I’m passionate about helping others understand abuse, raise healthy children despite it, and avoiding toxic relationships or dealing with disordered individuals the best ways possible. It impacts way more marriages and families than people even know.
I’m so grateful now to know what it is to have an actual partner in life and have this fresh chance to model that cooperation and sacrificial love for our kids.


→ Thank you, Mrs. P. for taking the time to share with us.  Your family is adorable and you are an inspiration, my friend!                                    ♥ The Blended Tribe

 

 

 

 

 

 


Growing Up Blended–Meet Natalie and Family

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Meet The Criner Family

 

 

Blended Family

1.  How did you two meet and how long have you been married?

We met at our church. He plays the bass on the worship team, and I sing….still do to this day actually.  We’ve been married for five year this last October.

2.  How long did you date before getting married?

We were friends for about a year before we started dating. Then we dated about two years before we got married.

3.  How old are each of your children that you brought into the marriage?

Charlie’s son, Lukas, is 18, and daughter, Ellie, is 15. My daughter, Emily, is 16.

4.  Did you become an instant family?

We are blessed with the fact that our kids have always gotten along really well. It took a little while to find our groove though. Mostly, it was me figuring out how to be a mom alongside a stepmom and how to be a new wife again.

5.  What does discipline look like in your home?

Charlie and I have very different parenting styles, but we both agree that poor behavior starts with bad parenting. Charlie is more passive/easygoing when it comes to chores, follow through, and rules, where I am much more militant with those things. It’s actually good for the kids and us, but it took a long time to find our place.

6.  Biggest blessings in having a blended family?

Definitely the “doing life together” part. I am grateful that Emily now has a sister and a brother to draw on for advice, camaraderie, and support. I think for Lukas and Ellie, having traditions and regular family time with their Dad again, is important.

7.  The biggest challenge in having a blended family?

I think for us, the biggest challenge is having our kids come and go between their parents’ houses. It’s really difficult to maintain consistency when they are only with you half or part of the time, especially if the other household isn’t cooperating or communicating with yours.  The children have to navigate through different sets of rules, expectations, etc. I have also noticed that when my husband’s children are at their mom’s house, his whole demeanor can change. He misses them and even gets slightly depressed. As his wife, this is extremely challenging and can be hard to get used to. We have my daugher more of the time, so I don’t go through these withdrawals as often.

8.  What does co-parenting look like for you?

Co-parenting is an evolving process, as your kids are constantly growing, changing, and maturing. When an issue does arise, I generally bring it to my husband’s attention first, and then we discuss a way to resolve the issue. That doesn’t always work, but that’s where we start.

9.  Any tips you can give other blended families?

The biggest, most important advice I can give other moms/stepmoms is that surrendering your “idea” of what you think a blended family “should” look like is key. For the first three to four years, I was angry and frustrated that my family wasn’t working like I thought it should.  There are so many variables in a family and having expectations that it’s all going to go as planned is setting yourself up for heartache. Second, I would highly recommend linking up with other friends that are doing “blended life” as well.  Drawing on their experiences and just having the support can make a world of difference.  Lastly, don’t lose sight of why you married your spouse. He/or she is your teammate, your ally, your greatest strength. Use each other’s talents and strengths to build your family, and focus less on the areas they lack in or are weaker. Regular/weekly date nights can be a great environment to regroup and get back on the same page. Praying together really unites a couple and helps surrender those things that are out of our control.

 

Criner Fam–Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing your story with us.  

Lots of love you all!

 

 

 

 


Meet The Burd Family

unnamed

How did you two meet and how long have you been married?
We met at church, and got to know each other better through a small group Bible Study that we both attended.

How long did you date before getting married?
We dated for almost three years before we were married.

How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
When we were married, Kylie was 16, Macie was 14 (Tony’s), Jacob was 8, Korinne was 3 (Sarah’s).

Did you become an instant family?
Yes and no. The kids all knew each other pretty well, and it didn’t take us long to learn how to deal with every person’s personality quirks and such. At the same time, it was a big adjustment to pack six people into one house, especially having 4 kids sharing one bathroom!

What does discipline look like in your home?
We have both handled discipline equally, as immediately and informed as possible. We didn’t have any discipline issues with the two older girls, even through their teenage years. They were only with us every other week, and when we had them, they were very mild-mannered and calm.
With the younger two (Sarah’s), we had started dating when they were 5 years old and 9 months old, so they had pretty much accepted Tony as a father already. This made it much easier for both of us to handle the discipline for them.

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Biggest blessing in having a blended family?
The biggest blessing for us is being able to see how God can make something so amazingly beautiful out of a tragedy like divorce. After almost 10 years of marriage, we definitely feel more like a “real” family now than ever.
Also, it’s so neat to see how our kids have grown to truly appreciate each other as siblings, and as people. We live a state away from Kylie and Macie now, and when Jacob and Korinne are down visiting their dad during their vacations, they always try to find some way to see their sisters. Also, they regularly call and text each other, and usually when Jacob or Korinne need advice, they turn to either Kylie or Macie first. We love that.

The biggest challenge in having a blended family?
Dealing with all the other people in the kids’ lives that try to take on a parenting role, primarily grandparents and biological father and his wife. It seems to be a constant power struggle (especially with grandparents) to reiterate that WE are the parents, and they are not.
Also, there will always be an element of “stepparent” in our lives. There are times where we are reminded that we are not the biological parent of our spouse’s kids, and it’s almost always hurtful.

What does Coparenting look like for you?
It’s VERY different between the two of us. Tony’s ex-wife has always been an excellent coparent. She has the same moral values as we do, and she communicates well regarding the girls.
Sarah’s ex-husband is pretty much the opposite. He avoids all possible contact with her, and will not even communicate back about the children when she has initiated contact. His moral compass is nowhere near the same, to the point that he will not allow the kids to even attend church while they are in his house. He bad-mouths her and Tony, and all of her family, to the kids, as he has for years. Thankfully, we are now a state away and the children only see him on their school breaks (which they dread). When they are there for five weeks in the summer (which Jacob now refuses to stay that long), he will not allow the kids to contact anyone from Sarah’s family, even though they live close to him. It’s pretty much a nightmare.

Any tips you can give other blended families?
Rely on God, instead of people. People will always let you down to some extent, but God never will.
Have a thick skin. Don’t get offended easily. Kids are usually well-meaning, but feelings can easily get hurt unintentionally.

Anything else you want us to know about your family?
If it weren’t for God’s guidance, we wouldn’t be where we are today. He is the One who sustains and calms our chaos.

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Burd Fam-Thanks for sharing your amazing story with us!!  Your family gives all us blended families that are starting out HOPE. Very encouraging!
Much Love,
The Blended Tribe