I believe every family has its struggles. We all go through different stages in life that present unique challenges to overcome. I remember years ago dealing with a baby, a toddler, running a household, and working full time. There were also times in my life while staying home a few years with my children, that financial issues arose and created enormous stress and conflict. Recently, my current life phase is recently getting remarried and desperately trying to combine two families after divorce. Whatever your case may be, every family deals with growing pains.
Let me just say, getting remarried is probably one of the absolute best things that has ever happened to me! If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I recently married the love of my life. I feel blessed and grateful to share my life with a thoughtful, affectionate, fun, sexy man I’m grateful to call “my husband”. Having said that… the blending of already set-in-their-ways families, especially with older children, presents its own challenges.
I have 2 wonderful children of my own and he has 2 great boys of his own, all of which are teenagers. I could stop the post right here because as most of you know, teenagers can be difficult, so having 4 at different times or all 4 at once can make life challenging. One thing I have learned is to be very aware of unique personalities and opinions. Because our children were older at the point in which we got married, it’s not like raising small children and shaping little minds and growing together as a family. It’s coming in late in the game and trying your best to adjust and keep everybody happy. To paint a better picture, both our oldest sons are about to go off into the world. My stepson just enlisted in the army, and my son is going off to college. The 13- and 14-year-old will be with us as much as possible, yet both are on mismatched schedules with their other parent. I’ve been in the picture for almost four years, and it’s been a wonderful journey. We’ve done a lot of things together with each of our kids and sometimes we find something fun to do, all 6 of us together. However, those times are few, as each of the teens have contrasting interests and, as mentioned, are also on different schedules.
I realize it’s important to continue the special bond between a child and their birth parent, so there are many times when my husband wants to be alone with his boys and sometimes I also appreciate time alone with my kids. However, being raised with a “family is priority” mindset, my intention was to combine all of us together, most of the time. I’ve learned that being all together, all the time, is just not possible. My stepsons want to be with their mother, and there are times they want to be just with their dad. In addition, my children go to spend time with their father. There are times I feel left out. I’m also a person who wears my heart on my sleeve and get my feelings hurt pretty easily. I’m aware of that, so I work on it and I try not to make it all about me because frankly… it’s not just about me. But day-to-day, I struggle. Let me explain why…
Being in education for over 20 years, I should know better. I’ve studied child development throughout my many years of teaching and continue to do so while working on my masters in counseling. So intellectually, I know that the teenage years can be tumultuous. It’s a constant struggle of them wanting independence and freedom and time with their friends and trying to deal with the fact that they are still kids and have rules to follow. Then add to that three more people now living with you you have to cooperate with and six varying opinions and personalities. It’s a lot for anyone to adjust to. It’s important to respect and have consideration for other people. I struggle with feeling like I’m not included. And I desperately want everyone to feel loved and get along.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
It is essential to practice the following to survive these growing pains unscathed: 1) act with love, 2) have patience, 3) practice understanding others’ perspective, 4) excellent communication and 5) private married couple time. I want all of us to get along. It’s important to me that ALL the children know, without question, that we love them. There has to be a separation in my mind between my husband as my partner, and my husband as their father. I also believe it’s very beneficial for the kids to have alone time with their birth parent, just as much as family time all together. By the same token, it’s crucial to have alone time and date nights as a couple. Making each other feel like a priority and fostering our romantic relationship will enhance our bond and our friendship and make handling the ‘tough times’ a little easier. So I’m now learning that there has to be a lot of give-and-take, compromise, patience, and understanding. Families aren’t perfect nor are they all the same. This is just my story and my new family and I love them.. warts and all 😉
So, for anyone else out there having family ‘issues’. Hang in there. Keep an open mind. Family is family whether traditional, blended or otherwise. Act with love. Show kindness and understanding. Do your best. And by all means, live your best life!