Everything Will Be Easier … and other myths about blending your family

Illustration of a tired, disappointed woman sitting on a pile of luggage
When expectations are realistic, a difficult reality becomes a lot less difficult. Overcoming blended-family myths.

When my husband, Roger, and I got married, we wanted to take our blended family for a familymoon a few weeks after the wedding ceremony. During our engagement, organizing activities with both sets of kids had been difficult, but we figured that planning a trip would become easier once we were married.

We quickly learned how naïve that thought was. Just because we were no longer married to our children’s other parents didn’t mean they were out of the picture. Since one of the stops on our trip was Mexico, we needed to work with the other parents to coordinate paperwork for medical releases, travel documents, and so on.

Land wars have taken less planning.

Like our naïve belief that everything will be easier once we get married, there were many other blended-family myths we had to overcome. We needed to take off our rose-colored glasses so that we could fully embrace the messy reality of blended-family life. As we adjusted our unrealistic expectations, difficult situations became a lot easier to deal with.

Here are a few of the myths that blended families often have to dispel:

Myth No. 1: “I do everything their bio mom does, and I love them just as much. It’s just like being their parent.”

Truth: You may never feel like your stepchild’s parent. And that’s OK. My relationship with my stepkids is much the same as my relationship with my favorite niece — I’m not their parent, but I get to fill a big role in their life.

Myth No. 2: “We love each other. Of course we’ll love each other’s kids — and vice versa.”

Truth: For most blended families, the love for each other’s kids doesn’t come right away. With my stepkids, I desperately wanted them to love me, but it turned out, they needed to respect me first. Love came later.

Myth No. 3: “His kids are only here part time. That will make it so much easier.”

Truth: Just because a child splits his time between two households doesn’t mean his parents halve the workload. With clothing, homework and schoolbooks going back and forth, plus the extra scheduling between two households, I would guess the workload about doubles. But, just like every tough situation, you will eventually find your rhythm.

Kathi Lipp is the author of  The Husband Project  and  The Get Yourself Organized Project.

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