For those of you that don’t know me or my situation, we have a blended family of 7 children. I have 3 from a previous marriage and my wife has 3. Then, we thought having a child together would be a brilliant idea! I obviously didn’t pay attention to those Brady Bunch episodes. At the time of our ‘merger’, my 3 were older: 10, 17 and 19, hers were 2, 4 and 5.
In the beginning everyone put on their best face and made an attempt to be one big happy family. To the older ones, the little ones were cute and sweet. To the little ones, they had someone to look up to and admire. Well the “honeymoon” lasted only a few weeks, more so by the older crew. The real eye opener for me was how I misinterpreted their version of “We just want you to be happy”. Of course, it was supposed to be on their terms and the ugly selfish truth came out.
It’s a rough situation to finally be happy with your partner, and know she is resented by your children. I keep reminding myself that what makes them resentful is not that I’m happy, but that I’m happy with someone else. They feel they have been replaced and perhaps, to some extent, their mother was also replaced. Add to the mix that every time you do something with her or her children, my kids feel they have been excluded or that was time taken away from them (even if they were busy at the time). This constantly puts me in a tough position and often I second guess many of my choices.
I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers on how best to make this type of family work. Even after 7 years it’s still a work in progress. If I was to suggest a few things, I would start with balance. Try to balance your time, love and attention equally. Everyone needs to feel the love and that they are special in your eyes. Make time for them individually but also as a family. It’s important to be all unified and truly a family. Lastly, and the biggest struggle for me, is to have patience. There will definitely be a lot of heartache and headache, but the bottom line is you must follow your heart!
Chris Burton, DCL Director