One of the biggest challenges for a blended family is managing the “return” of the children as they come back from the other house. This involves a lot of emotion for both the kids and adults. Right now, my stepdaughters are with their mom for ten days. What does that look like? Well, my house now has one child instead of three. It’s a bit quieter and honestly, less stressful. My daughter is now an only child for ten days. As much fun as that sounds, she misses them. In fact, the day we dropped them off, she cried and wanted to know why they couldn’t stay with us. As I turned around, I saw my husband crying along with her. These are the hard times, trying to find a way to comfort everyone.
My stepdaughters experience something entirely different. Right now, changing homes means they’re having a “second” Christmas and spending time with their mom, who they don’t get to see all the time. Because they live with us the majority of the time, we are the home that disciplines. This makes their mom’s home seem more like a party, with all fun and games. We do know they miss our home when they’re gone, because its what they consider “home”.
It’s different, different for everyone. After eight years, I have come to accept the times the girls are gone. I even allow myself to look forward to these times, simply because it gives me time to regroup, recharge, and gain a fresh perspective.
But let’s talk about the return home. It’s hard on my stepdaughters because the rules are different in our house and there are other people they have to interact with. This would be disruptive for anyone, let alone a child. Our biological daughter gets confused too. She is always wondering why she has to “share” her parents when her step sisters come home and why she has to “share” her step sisters with a different home when they leave. Then there’s my husband, who just feels sad when his daughters are gone. He does such a good job trying to be the glue that holds us ALL together. As the stepmom, I face different challenges. I now have two more kiddos to take into consideration and care for. My attention has to be shared between three children, not just one. I now manage the blending of my biological child with my two stepdaughters. There are many emotions involved and I have to admit, I haven’t won very many “mom of the year” awards along the way. What has helped me get through all of this? Time, patience and grace.
When your stepkids return to your home, allow for “grace space”. This allows for each family member to come back into alignment with the home they are in and the people surrounding them. You can do this by gently reminding your children that the boundaries of your home haven’t changed. Another suggestion is letting them have a little quiet time when they come home. This “grace space” will look different for each family. For ours, we have personal conversations with each of our children, explaining the grace that is needed to make changes. There are times that my husband will have a family meeting in order to reconnect and ask how everyone is doing. It’s also helpful to have a family dinner, movie night, or a game night. Anything that reminds everyone they are part of the family unit.
Remember when blending your families that time is your friend and grace is a free gift. Ask God for help every step of the way. Before you know it, you’ll be telling other stepmoms how you walked through the changing, challenging times. And, how you came out stronger and better for it. Happy blending!
Written by Melanie Anthony from Stepmoms Alive