1. Exes in a mature parenting relationship work extremely hard to keep things as consistent as possible for their children. If you remarry, those spouses selflessly adopt the same mantra. They sit together at every game, discuss every punishment, and celebrate every accomplishment. They have all worked extremely hard to get to that point. There have been struggles, bitten tongues, and arguments over the years, but the collective job is to raise happy, thoughtful, well-adjusted kids. End of story.
2. You know the saying it takes a village? Some villages may have more members than originally imagined, but it doesn’t make them any less of a family. Your ex will likely remarry. This can be agonizing in the early days. Will my kids prefer her to me? Will he see how completely amazing my kids are and treat them as such? What if the kids call him/her “Mom” or “Dad” too? But as soon as you stop worrying about how it will affect you and start realizing the benefit your children will gain from having another loving parent in their lives, the fear will vanish.
3. I’ve heard people say, “It must be nice to just be a parent part of the time. What a nice break!” Parenting is a full-time job no matter what. Even on the days you do not see your children, every parent is thinking, worrying, planning, fussing, and missing them. The role of a parent does not change. We are scheduling doctor’s appointments, coordinating play dates, doing their laundry, planning meals, going to their sporting events, dropping off a forgotten school book, and talking to them every day. Every parent’s role is to make sure their child knows they are loved. Time is precious; you never know how much you have, so make it count, regardless of your family structure.
4. If, as with most blended families, other children are involved, please do not call them ‘step.’ They play, tease, bicker, fight and love each other like every other set of siblings out there. Blended families are rarely concerned with titles, so you don’t need to be either.
5. Being a step-parent, or any parent, is a thankless job. Just because they do not share DNA does not mean they are loved any less. Step-parents still make breakfast, attend mind-numbing school choir concerts, play catch and read bedtime stories. And even if, way down in their deepest parts, they feel a different love than that towards their ‘own’ child, that is okay. There are a million levels of love. Step-parents still show up, every single day, to raise their children. In most blended families, there is no favoritism, no lack of dedication and no excuses.
6. Even if you have the best possible post-divorce outcome, dropping them off with their other family doesn’t get easier. No matter how many years you’ve been doing it, you still feel that familiar pit in your stomach knowing they will not be sleeping under your roof that night. You may not spend hours sobbing like you did in the early days, because you know they are stepping into a loving home with a wonderful family. You trust that they will be adored, scolded, challenged, and supported the same way they are in your own home. And for that, all you inquiring minds, we are grateful.
Related post: How Splitting Up Made Us Better Parents