When I first met my now fiancé, he was a single dad raising a young daughter. He had just recently gotten sole custody and was still trying to find the right blend of work and home time. Since this was a second go-round for the both of us, we made a pact early on that we would either make it work or move on and not waste each other’s time. Seriously, who has time for games at 30?
So I became insta-mom, and let me tell you what a journey that has been! Being a (step)parent (the term I affectionately call it when one bio-parent isn’t around and you are it) has, by far, been the most rewarding yet challenging job I have ever had. Not only did I become a mama to a little girl, I also became a mama to a four-legged son named Floyd (as in Pink Floyd). I traded in traveling, professional, work long hours to enjoy happy hours single life for family dinners, bed times, and dog parks. I absolutely do not regret becoming involved with a man who had a child, but I have learned some very hard, and at time emotional, lessons along the way…
- You and bio-parent will have different parenting styles. They have been there since day one and you joined the party late. Communication and compromise are so important. Agree to disagree and be OK with it.
- Your in-laws won’t always be your friend. They are trusting you with precious cargo and that cargo will always priority #1. I’ll tell you about my relationship with my future MIL later
- it takes time. New relationships require time to learn about each others nuances. Throw a child into that it can get sticky. You have to learn about two new people and two new roles. Don’t give up when things get rough (and they will), just keep talking!
- Family time is important. Doing things together, especially new things as a party of 3, helped us bond and grow closer. Don’t think of it as adding a third wheel to a party of two – that will make someone (possibly you) feel left out.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. There will be arguments, fights, tears, hurt feelings, and wounded egos but it will get better! In time the pieces will flow together and you will feel the synergy of your newly formed family take hold. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. There are plenty of happily blended families out there making it work day after day. And we are here to support one another.