The Blended Tribe

3 Years—Happy Anniversary!

He is my partner in crime, the man that challenges me daily. We don’t have a perfect life, and we have our challenges and struggles just like everyone else. The important thing is that we are committed to one another and committed to this tribe that we have created. Some days I realize just how easy it would be to give up, but quitting in all actuality is the easy way out. We fight for what we want if we truly want it. So here’s to another year of fighting!
Happy Anniversary!

 

remarried

Guest Post: Meet The Norman Crew

 

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

Back in 2013, in our “previous lives” I used to kick my husband’s tail in the gym. I was his personal trainer and bootcamp instructor in our small town! We always knew we were “cut from the same cloth” and that allowed us to be great friends. We were each married at the time, so he stepped into a “big brother” role for me, as he is eleven years older. We lost touch when my family moved away, and unfortunately had both separated from our spouses when we reconnected. He needed help finding a new place, and I had gotten my real estate license. I don’t think we have gone a day since that phone call without speaking. He is the best man I know, and I know MANY great men! We will be married 2 years next week!

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

We ended up with two brand new sets of twins when we got married, as Jay and I’s children are the same age. Our “bigs” are 13, the “twins” are 10, and my little guy, Cash is 6. He often feels jipped that he doesn’t have a counterpart!

Did you become an instant family?

Jay and I both had blinders on and EXPECTED them to be an instant family; we didn’t want to give them any other option except to love each other. We know now that that was misguided and had to take large steps back and allow everyone to heal at their own pace. I guess we realized a forced family was not what we were looking for, but instead a union that happened organically, one that was their choice. I felt an imaginary cloud clear around the first year mark, and each weekend that we have spent as the seven of us has gotten exponentially better.

What does discipline look like in your home?

I’m very strict, and my husband is sorta strict but more so kind, good, and patient. I hated the way he parented when we first married until I saw the results he got from our children and the way they thrived. Now I strive each day to parent more and more like him. I want to be just like him when I grow up 😉

Biggest blessing in having a blended family?

There are SO many! If I had to pick my favorite, I would say the relationship between our thirteen year olds, a boy and a girl. They are extremely close, and they love each other so much. The girl is mine, and her name is Lily. She is our blended family’s biggest fan, and I am confident that there were days when she was cheering for all of us when I was not. Also, when we are together it sounds like we are having a “kegger” at our place, they are so loud and crazy. They make our life wild and hilarious!

The biggest challenge in having a blended family?

Again, there are SO many! My husband and I have a grace and humility podcast, so the challenges in our family only add amazing content for each episode! So when the Lord told us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, we ACTUALLY do! After a few moments of course! Of course, I’m totally kidding, but in a way, this IS the dynamic of our trials! We USE them!

What does Co-parenting look like for you?

My ex-husband is one of my best friends. I’m afraid it makes others feel uncomfortable, but I pray our relationship becomes the norm, and not the rare case, very soon. We speak with each other nearly everyday and work together when we see a problem arise with one of our three children. Usually, however, our calls are sharing the funny thing one of our crazy kids did/said that day. I won’t answer for my husband, but I will share that he and his ex-wife are very much the adults they are needing to be to make the kids thrive.

Any tips you can give other blended families?

Our podcast revolves around a very key principal, “Drop the Rope,” and we feel it can be a game-changer for blended families. A tug-of-war can occur so quickly in each of our relationships, and simply dropping our end of the rope can squash it in an instant. It’s taken us years to figure out, but once we got a taste of the first victory by simply dropping it, we knew that is what we wanted for our family. We saw our children THRIVE, and that as parents is our ultimate goal!

Anything else you want us to know about your family?

We mess up all of the time and are still trying to figure so many things out!! We don’t ever want anyone to feel frustrated or alone in this, as we are right here with you! We want you to know we are here too, cheering you on!!

 

 

 

Thank you Norman Crew for sharing with us!  Go check out their podcast:  https://www.movingonpodcast.com/

 

Guest Post: Co-parenting by Lauren McKinley

 

The past seven years of my life have looked a little something like this: happy marriage and sweet baby … turned affair, betrayal, and double life … skip to divorce, grief, and healing … and now, finding love again, an amazing second marriage, and blending all of the above. Successfully navigating through the past seven years has been tricky at best and now, the co-parenting dynamic in a blended family is no different. The complexities that go into the relationships that now make up our new family unit run deep. This has a lot working against us at times. We, however, are all working for one thing, our daughter. So, in my experience, here’s what has helped the most.

We Leave the Past Where it Belongs

More often than not the reason people arrive in a blended family is the product of heartache and trauma. At least two people in the co-parent foursome have experienced the pain of their divorce and that takes serious time and healing to recover from. Taking that time to grieve is crucial in how you’ll operate parenting together. Our magic number was three years. During that time, no one had re-married quite yet, allowing for some focused healing, forgiveness, and mourning the losses that came from the divorce. This time set us up to interact on a healthier level for the sake of our daughter. By the time remarriage was on the table there had been enough time and healing in place to move forward. And what to do with that extra water under the bridge? Make the choice not to drown in it. As co-parents it’s not about your former marriage, it’s about your child(ren).

We Keep the Lines Open

Aside from how we all arrived here, if there’s one thing we can all agree on present day it’s that we want to raise our daughter to be the best little human, thriving in every way possible. Talk about common interest! We could all go on and on about the funny things she says, how amazing her latest painting was, and how proud we are of who she is at only six years old.

As a parent, I will say, hands down the most lingering pain of divorce is sharing your child. From missing the major firsts to simply not getting to tuck them in every night. It gets really sad if you keep your focus there. The ways we soften the blow are a whole lot of pictures, videos, and updates in our “team sweetie” group text that the four of us have going. I missed my daughter’s first flight this past summer, but the video her bonus mom sent me was as second best as it could possibly get. I watched that video on repeat, and it made my heart so happy knowing that she was experiencing this first with a set of parents who love her as much as I do.

This solidarity doesn’t just apply to the joyful and gushy moments of parenting, it’s just as important (if not more) when dealing with the challenges. The behavior issues, the discipline, the consequences, the consistency in all of it … and if you’re a parent, you know that the list goes on. Once you’ve semi-handled one stage of your child, they throw you for a loop and it’s something brand new to deal with. We keep our rules and expectations as identical as humanly possible across the households. And with this, we are all in the know about everything that goes on. If there’s a behavior issue at one house, we all know. At school or soccer practice, we all know. She knows she’ll get the same answer, consequence, reward and so on from each one of us. She knows that we all talk and share and that between the four of us, she can’t get away with much.

We’ve found that there is an exception to the parenting rule when your child is one of a blended family. Some days, they need a little grace when going back and forth from household to household (and that’s okay). They aren’t robots and we can’t expect for them to act like ones. We notice more emotional outbursts and acting out in our daughter when she goes from house to house. She doesn’t express exactly what she’s feeling, but there’s something she’s processing internally that’s beyond us. Do we let her get away with murder? No, but we are mindful that there is an adjustment period needed at times. We give her that space to settle into one environment, family dynamic, and set of parents to the next.

We All Show Up

Softball games, parent-teacher conferences, dance recitals, school meetings, soccer practice, birthday parties, preschool graduations … We all show up, all the time. We continually show her that she is not only lucky enough to have the love, support, and encouragement from mommy and daddy, but also from her two bonus parents. She will never be short on love or support, that’s for sure. We also show her all of our different strengths and interests and see if they spark anything in her. Whether a child has two parents or four, personalities and passions will differ. Children will find that in certain seasons they’ll relate better to one than the next. We hope that she sees what each of us bring to the table separately as something that helps guide her. Parent to parent will always look a tad different, but what looks the same is the consistency of love and support our child receives. Our daily choice to all stay united and show up for our daughter trumps every reason the past has tried to divide us. We choose day after day to be the adults, to show up, and to ensure our daughter always has the loudest cheering section at the softball game.

We Respect Each Other (and our new family units)

As much as it benefits our daughter to be a united blended family, we are still big on developing and fostering each individual family unit. She has separate outings, traditions, and routines for each household. This gives life to each family unit on its own. Yes, we are blending and co-parenting, but we need each side to have its own individual foundation. We respect that in the other. It’s easy to have that sense of “I was here first” when watching an ex-spouse start over. However, this is not the hand we were dealt, nor is it the attitude we should carry. Point one on repeat. We leave the past where it belongs, and let our new families start over and grow. We keep our communication about our daughter and nothing else. We give each family unit the necessary space. If our daughter misses any one of us or wants to talk/facetime while she’s at the other household, we always allow her to, but we also try to respect the time she’s spending with each set of parents.

Her relationships look different with each one of us and we all respect that as well. No one is out to replace or compete against each other. We respect our daughter’s feelings towards each one of us and find joy in the relationship she has with each of us individually. We each take her out on solo dates, we spend time with her in our separate family units, and we spend time all together. Each facet of time spent is respected, encouraged, and important.

Divorce doesn’t end family life; it reorganizes it. The points made above are all daily choices we make FOR our daughter. Some days there are triggers of the past or painful memories that work against our choice, but we don’t let them win. All in all, we keep our heads above that water left under the bridge and focus on that greater good our child deserves.

 

LAUREN MCKINLEY is the founder of Her Soul Repair; blogger; author; and educator. She is a creative optimist who enjoys time with her husband & babies, strong coffee, sunshine, live music, and adventuring to new places. Lauren resides in Southern California with her family.


I’m in the middle of reading Lauren’s book right now, and as soon as I’m done reading it I’ll be posting a review and sharing the book with you.

Lauren-thank you for the great post!

♥ The Blended Tribe

Blended Family: From a Husband’s Point of View

**DISCLAIMER** The statements in this post are solely my opinions and are not of or directed at the character of any individual(s).  They are simply my perceptions of my own experiences as a parent/stepparent in a blended family and are in no way, shape or form associated with any past or present grievances with any person(s) involved in our family dynamic- either directly or indirectly. If you happen to be reading this and take offense to it, understand that it is about me, not you, and is intended to help other men in the same situation feel like they are not alone.

 

We all know that divorce is a bummer.  It tears at the fabric of family, destroys our perceptions of love and commitment, wounds our children and depletes our resources.

 

Fortunately, there is life after divorce.  In my case, I remarried and took on two more children than I had before. Life is not without its challenges, but at the end of the day, I feel whole.  I love being a family man, so my situation suits me.

 

When we first “blended”, I had it in my head that we were going to immediately gel- no delays, and no hiccups.  What a sucker I was.   While our life is mostly great, and our kids truly love each other, we are a far cry from the Brady Bunch. Let me break down a couple of the speed bumps I’ve experienced:

  1. My kids and I are intruders. In a nuclear family, children are raised from birth with a set of routines and customs that are formed by the combined efforts of the birth parents.  In our case, my wife has her kids 90%+, which means they are with us more than my kids at 50%.  Additionally, WE moved into the house THEY already occupied.  THEY now share rooms that were once their own.  WE have introduced routines and customs that are foreign, and seldom welcome. It often seems like half the kids feel like their home has been infiltrated, and the other half feels like they are visitors as opposed to residents.
  2. I am not Dad. I may provide a significant portion of the household income.  I may cook meals, coach teams, help with homework, teach life lessons…… you get it.  I may even raise my wife’s kids 300 days out of the year. Heck, I love them enough that I would sacrifice my life for theirs without blinking.  At the end of the day, nothing I can ever do will actually make me their Dad.  What do I mean? Well, first of all, when they went through the divorce, Mom became the one and only safe haven and authority figure the kids had.  Also, every new routine or custom I introduce only serves as a reminder that I am in no way, shape, or form one of the parents they were born with.
  3. Parents are protective. I’d wager my wife and I aren’t the only parents who get a little protective and defensive when it comes to step-parent criticism or discipline.  Some families are on the same page and take on very conventional roles, while others- like us- struggle with the way our spouses treat our kids and raise their own.
  4. Out of home parents can sometimes suck. Let’s face it, we were all hoping for the perfect situation where we get remarried, blend families and create a brand-new (and upgraded) life for ourselves, our kids and our step-kids.  Then comes the ah-s**t! moment, when we realize that there are people out there who aren’t happy for you and don’t want to see your vision come to fruition.  This topic could take up a post of its own (you know what I mean) so I’ll just move on.  

 

Over the last two years, I’ve learned some valuable lessons from all of this.  The first is that God is looking out for my wife and kids, too.  He’s not going to let me screw this up too bad for them so long I lean on Him to get through it.  Secondly, the sooner I come to terms with reality, the faster I will adjust to it, and my kids will follow suit.

 

The next thing is that I need to humble myself every day and stay flexible.  I have a new wife, two new kids, and two kids that have a life equally spent outside of our home. I have to respect that we are all navigating these waters together and while my wife and I are co-captains, the kids also need roles that make them feel significant and a part of the process.

 

As our church pastor puts it, spouses need to try and hear one another with loving ears and speak to one another with loving words.  What my wife thinks is best for my kids and what I think is best for hers can be really hurtful if shared and heard the wrong way. I used to think couples counseling was the launching pad for divorce.  But this time around, it is a Godsend.  Having a professional translate for us while we are still learning to speak each other’s languages has been pretty significant.

 

Allowing myself to get worked up over the behavior, attitude, involvement (or lack thereof) etc. of the out of home parents only drives a wedge between me and my wife, and puts our kids in the middle of situations they already don’t understand.  Don’t waste time trying to change things out of your control.  Focus on your own home, be above reproach with your custody agreement, and remember that your kids love those people too.

 

Last but not least, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to count my blessings.  I have a smokin’-hot, intelligent and talented wife who loves and supports me, four healthy children who love and laugh at me, a fulfilling career that helps to support us all, and family experiences that are piling up every day. All of that makes every humbling, frustrating and challenging moment worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 


Love you, babe!  Thanks for sharing ♥

BE GRATEFUL FOR THE CHALLENGE

Challenge

I listened to a great message yesterday. It hit me hard especially after having a very revealing week. We went to our counseling session on Tuesday, and it was a doozy for me. The counselor finally asked me a little about my past marriage, and after explaining it to her, it ended in her telling me some fascinating things about my previous relationship and what I’m suffering with now as a result of it. I’ll share more about this in another post. It hit me pretty hard though, and I’ve kept quiet for a little bit after finding out the information that I did.  Just need some time to reflect and wrap my head around it all.

Fast forward to church yesterday…….we had a guest speaker. He started talking about how the things that are crippling in our lives are in fact the things that we need to be most thankful about. He was basically saying that the people in our lives that have wronged us are the people that we are learning the most from. The most challenging people that we deal with are the people that are helping us grow and learn. My husband and I had to laugh out loud in church because right away we both know who challenges me the most right now and to start looking at this person as a blessing from God, isn’t the most natural thing to do right at the moment, I’m going to try though.

So, thinking about your past, you can probably quickly think about the people in your life that have wronged you, hurt you, challenged you. Instead of wishing you never would’ve come into contact with that person, be grateful that you did. For through that person you were taught something or are being taught something. It’s a complete shift in thinking. I challenge you to try it and see what happens in your life!

♥ The Blended Tribe


 

DON’T GET PLAYED BY YOUR KIDS!

When your step kid talks crap about the weekend with his other parent, we tell him to stop talking badly about his other parent, and he says “it’s ok because he does the same thing about us when he’s not with us.”
What’s the problem here?!?! We’ve known all along about the crap talking, but hearing him admit it is nice I guess.
DON’T GET PLAYED BY YOUR KIDS!! If they are talking crap to you about the other parent, chances are they are talking crap about you too. Kids are going to try to use any angle they can get. The best way to deal with this situation is to stop them! They have no business being disrespectful to the other parent. You need to let them know you’re not going to tolerate it. We try to turn whatever they are saying into a positive thing. That way we are letting them vent still, but trying to make the child see the positive in what the other parent was trying to do. Or you just stop them and tell them they have no business being disrespectful to another adult, especially their parent. You choose!! Whatever you do, don’t play into it and don’t get played by your kids!

Blended & Blessed 2018

→This is such a cool event!!  You can host a small group or order it for your personal viewing.  This event is live-streamed.  Check with your church to see if they are hosting this event.  

Blended and blessed event


2018 Blended & Blessed Livestream: Keys to Stepfamily Success

· Hosted by FamilyLife Blended
The link below will take you to the registration page to find out more information ↓

Details:

Blended& Blessed® is a one-day live event and livestream for stepfamily couples, single parents, dating couples with kids, and those who care about blended families.

Join thousands of sites around the globe as we unpack key successes that are crucial to healthy stepfamily marriages. With some of today’s most trusted and respected experts, Blended &
Blessed will challenge, inspire, and encourage you. Over 13,000 people from 22 countries experienced the 2017 event, and we’re coming back with new speakers and more crucial help for 2018.

You can sign up today to host the Blended & Blessed livestream in your church or your community or find a location near you to attend. You can even host an event in your home with your small group or friends, bringing together couples for one incredible day of teaching, music, and humor!
Special guests include:


Ron Deal
Dr. Rick Rigsby
Michele Cushatt
Bill Butterworth
Steve & Misty Arterburn
Andy & Heather Hetchler

If you are part of a stepfamily, or know someone who is, this is a can’t-miss opportunity!
Get more information: http://bit.ly/2FIR8sR


The Reasons Why We See a Marriage Counselor

Do we see a Marriage Counselor? Hell YES, we do!
Why? Well, Why not?!?

Marriage counselor

We started seeing one because we felt it would be beneficial for us to have a non-bias person mediating some of our concerns especially when it comes to the kiddos. We got a referral from somebody we trust and low and behold; she’s a step-mama too!! There are so many positive reasons to go to counseling with your spouse. It will improve relationship satisfaction, and you gain a better understanding of how your spouse feels, it promotes positive ways to resolve conflict, and much more.
With this being both of our second marriage, we have a lot going against us statistically. Neither of us wants to be another statistic when it comes to our marriage and our family. We’re doing everything possible to avoid it from happening again. Hopefully, our determination and love will prevent that from happening a second time, but God only knows that people can drastically change and you have no control over another person thoughts or feelings.
We’re going as a preventative, and so far I think we both are amazed at how much we’ve benefited from it. It’s important to find the right counselor for you and your spouse, so keep looking until you find the right fit. Be selective about who you take advice from; you’re not going to receive marriage advice from somebody who’s been divorced a couple of times and not married, right?!?  Be selective.
If you need a recommendation for counselors in the Five Cities, then hit me up @ brilee4@gmail.com.              ♥ The Blended Tribe

 


 

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