Let me first introduce myself. My name is Alice and I am the mother of four daughters, a step-daughter, and a step-son, though we no longer use the ‘step’ any more. Family in Step was born out of thirteen years of love and struggle. To integrate two (and sometimes more!) families poses a unique set of challenges, not just for the parents but for the kids. Over a decade ago, my four daughters and I joined forces with a man and his son and daughter. We met over eHarmony and after a couple months of daily phone conversations and a few visits, Spencer and I knew this was it for both of us.
Our challenges were many. I lived in Kentucky; he lived in Sacramento and couldn’t leave because of custody issues. We decided to marry seven short months after our first conversation. A lot of elements needed to fall into place, but I think it is safe to say that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. At the time, four of our six were adolescents, one was starting college and the youngest (mine) was recovering from chronic hearing loss.
According to the books, we did it all wrong. We leaped into marriage and the first time most of our kids met was actually at the wedding. We had unrelated adolescent girls sharing a room (don’t go there). I read a couple of books of course, before the nuptials, but neither of us could predict all the ups and downs of combining six highly sensitive, highly intelligent kids (five girls, one boy) into a household.
So my daughter and I want to share the ups and downs, the current research, and even products that helped us pull together a family that, for the most part, is surprisingly affectionate and functional. As we learned the necessary boundaries and needs of the two families gradually becoming one, real relationships have developed and good memories abound.
We will be including a section for questions. After all, each family is so unique that our posts might not hit your particular need at the moment. But how to deal with exes, how to heal holiday memories, and even how to encourage relationship between resentful step-siblings will be addressed over time on this blog.
What make this blog a little different is that it is a collaboration between my second oldest daughter and me. You, the reader, will get both sides of the equation. After all, a child’s view of a step-family is quite different than the parents who have the benefit of falling in love. So now, an introduction of my beautiful, brilliant daughter, designer of our website and clever, poignant partner in this blog.
My name is Emily and for the most part, I’m the healthy, happy product of a blended family. Not unlike many of my peers, I spent a great deal of my adolescence navigating divorce, joint custody, and eventually, my mother’s second marriage and the social experiment called step family. My mother and step-dad (though I rarely include the step anymore) did just about everything wrong in the beginning. Before their wedding, we lived 2,000 miles apart which meant I had met my soon-to-be step dad only 3 times, his daughter once, and his son the day of the wedding. A short 2 weeks after that, they moved us all into one home with high hopes. At 12 and teetering on the cusp of full blown puberty, I initially experienced a lot of distress.
My parents were convinced that eventually, no matter how many times they got it wrong or how many children protested, they were going to make it work. But if we were going to be a family, we had massive hurdles to overcome. Both sets of children were carrying the inevitable wounds that come with divorce and my step-siblings already had a different step-family. On the other side, my sisters and I carried a deep distrust of father figures (maybe just men in general) and we certainly were not used to living with men, let alone a 14-year-old boy. This was not the life we were accustomed too and in the beginning, I was convinced I’d grow up, move away, and never have anything to do with the “step” side ever again. When you’re in pain, it’s hard to see change as anything but threatening.
Somehow, over the course of years, multiple family therapists, dinner table blow ups, broken curfews, mental health diagnoses, and two shared homes, we did become a family. Now, that added step doesn’t mean a thing and I feel a sense of fearless loyalty to my crazy, blended unit.
The culmination of our struggle is the heart of this blog, Family In Step. If we can do it, you can too. We are here to talk about everything from toxic blow ups to making meaningful memories. We may not have gone through the exact same thing as you, but shoot us a question anyway because talking it out is the most important part. My mother and I are here to give you a step-parent/step-child look at how we made our situation the best solution for us. There is no single right way to be a family, but there is a wrong way. Let’s talk about it.
We are not mental health professionals and do not represent ourselves as such.