Well, I'm certainly not an expert at this yet because it's all very new still. We were married June 22, 2013. I know that each situation has its own set of challenges; we are still feeling out our unique "normal". Watching this whole transition unfold has so many facets to it. Here's a peek into our family and challenges thus far.
My son is 4 yrs old, whose biological father lives across the country and is involved from a far. Our relationship was never based on love, just partying and "friends with benefits". He actually just accepted the fact that he was his father when our son was 3 so he has only really been involved the past year. I left the decisions of being involved up to him, I know everyone has their own views on that and that was my personal choice. I always preferred him to be in a relationship with our son over forcing him to pay (and get rights he never wanted). Needless to say in the past year he has stepped up and told his family, visited 3 times, and in Sept my son will meet his whole side of the family at his wedding since he will be the Ring bearer. Regardless of the past we have come out on the other side friends, and my husband and I desire their relationship to grow.
On to our home life, I met my husband online last summer. We have both had multiple dead end relationships over the years, He is in his mid 30's and I'm in my late 20's so lots of "what we don 't want in a relationship" experiences. I was upfront about my son and my past (which I've learned a lot from), and this man still saw a future with me. He was able to go through my whole "what's wrong with him" questioning phase and passed with flying colors. I always found things wrong with past guys, but regardless of his imperfections I saw right past them and knew I could live with them. That was when I decided he is it!
I've seen firsthand within my family how blended families can work. There were pro's and con's in any scenario but I tried my best to learn from them, and it's already been helpful. Below I make a list of possible challenges that I've seen most blended families struggle with and coming from an objective point of view allows one to make a continues choice as to how to deal with it.
1. Discipline: A lot of it depends on the Stepdad and how involved he wants to be with child. But a lot more depends on us Mom's to allow someone else to discipline our child. I have my own personal beliefs on the topic, which consist of Teamwork and Co-parenting. When we have been the sole parent it's hard seeing your child have to answer to someone else, it's also hard to incorporate the new parent into discipline decisions, or even communicating the wrong doing of the child when they aren't around. Yes all of this forces change in our normal life, but it instills valuable lessons for the child. Even if that means the child listens better to the man...lol.
2. Sharing the Load: Letting your man be a part of your daily routine, i.e. scheduling family times, drop off/pick up from school, daily meal plans, ect. Again this really depends on your willingness to share the load and his desire to be involved. My husband has every intention of being my child’s Dad, and wants to goes above and beyond sharing the load....doesn't mean it's not a challenge for me to not take full responsibility.
3. Experience: Some Stepdads have other children and are experienced in what it means to be a dad. Others are first timers and "walking on the scene" is a whole learning curve in and of itself. In our instance, my husband never had a dad and has never been one so there is a lot of newness about being a dad for him. I tell him he's got it easy because he came in with a 4 yr old, which I think (could be wrong) will make having a baby easier to adjust to down the road. There is a lot of learning going on at our house, my husband learning how to take care of a child (he has to eat and sleep...lol), and my child learning how to have a man living with him and taking care of him. They both seem to love it even if it’s a lot of change.
4. Romance: There is something to be said about Newlywed's having a "get to know you time" before having children. In our case that time was not living together and dating, so we are faced with balancing that and parenting. We have to make continuous effort to make time for each other (usually after little man goes to bed), date nights, and family time. It's a lot to do, but well worth it.
5. Priority's: With my husband being a dad for the first time, our biggest challenge has been him knowing how to incorporate us in his schedule and doing all the things he was able to do as a bachelor. Becoming a parent is a humbling experience, we are no longer #1 and that can be difficult so being passionate with him is how I have to be but also communicating realities in a non condemning way since he doesn't really know what to expect.
I know there are many more Challenges that others face and I'm sure as time goes on I will have more to add, but these are my initial thoughts and realizations I wanted to share. Hope all those out there going through this transition can be encouraged and know there are others out here trying to figure it out as well.
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