My first husband and I dated for 4 years before we were married and yet when we had our first child I was shocked at the differences we had in our parenting styles. I mean, I thought I knew him pretty well (4 years is a long time) but add a baby to your marriage and things can get rocky really quick!
“Let the baby cry it out” Cameron would say, and I would refuse. Insert an argument and frustration (and with a lack of sleep, oh my!).
“Our son isn’t leaving the table till he eats all of his veggies” Cameron would say, and I would refuse. Insert argument and frustration.
These kinds of arguments just happen. You and your spouse learn how to raise your children together and figure it out over time. Pretty soon you are like a well oiled machine and you each know what to expect from one another. Until your child goes through the next stage then your back to figuring it all out again. But for the most part, as a team, you know each other.
So, what happens when you no longer have that spouse (either due to death or divorce), you start over with someone new, and add kids from a previous marriage to the mix?
Its hard. It’s “I feel like I can’t do this” level of hard.
That well oiled machine you once had is gone–those days are over–and starting over feels like you are lacing up for an Iron Man Marathon.
You find yourself saying “Dang it, I’ve already done this!!”
Starting over just hurts. Having another “Day One” just wasn’t part of the plan.
Not to mention, dealing with someone else’s children is a whole different story. You are no longer parenting as the original team players: mom and dad. No, no, no, now you are a STEP parent! Different rules, different game, different title.
No one knows what they are doing. Boundaries are all over the place. Everyone’s walking on egg shells not knowing what to say, how to convey messages to one another, how to discipline each other’s children, what they are allowed to do, what to call each other, it’s just awkward.
Okay, maybe this is just my experience of a blended family?
For the first year of our marriage it reminded me of the days of being a new parent and it was exhausting. I wanted to give up because I had already been through that stage in my life. I didn’t want to have to figure out someone else’s parenting style and go through the arguments again like I did in my early twenties.
And yet here we go again…
“She’s not leaving the table till she eats her vegetables” Matt will say and I refuse. Insert argument and frustration. Part of me just wants to say “she’s my kid let me raise her the way Cameron and I did”. But now I’m co-parenting with someone new and I have to compromise. Again, different game here.
“Just let the baby cry it out” Matt would say and I refuse. Insert another argument and more frustration.
Wait a minute….I’ve already done this!!
Cameron and I had already figured these issue of vegetables and kids and babies out. Now I have to explain to another man how I parent my children and he may or may not agree (and vise versa), and we have to learn to parent together. Ughhh so hard!
And I’m not going to lie, allowing this new spouse to reprimand your child is difficult. Also, allowing them to actually be another parent by letting go of your control is very hard.
Over the last three years, Matt and I have worked on figuring out one another, how to coparent together, and most importantly we haven’t given up. Even when times have been the toughest!
Taking the time to repeat your life–even if it feels like a set back–is important and children are worth it. This process TAKES TIME just like it did with your first spouse.
How grateful I am to have found Matt and to be able to walk through this journey of co-parenting together. We are working towards becoming that well oiled machine we once had and can only pray our children will benefit from all of this hard work!