As a parent that has a stepson, I have had many people ask me questions regarding raising a child that I did not help bring into this world. They are usually single people dating someone or thinking about dating someone who already has a child. They ask me questions that are all over the map. None of which I feel have anything to do with what they really need to be focused on when they are thinking about taking on a blended family. In my experience, the main thing they should focus on is the relationship with the person they are dating or thinking about dating. The children will follow the foundation of the relationship. The biological parents who may or may not be involved in the child’s life will also follow the foundation of the relationship. The key to it all will be the foundation.
There are a few keys to beginning a blended family on the right foundation. There are so many. Here are some of the things I have learned in my marriage and in the process of dating my wife who had a son when we met.
1) Make sure the person is truly someone you are interested in having a relationship with. Many people get caught up in the fascination of being in a relationship and forget to ask questions that matter and to be observant of everything. People are usually on their best behavior when you first meet them. If their behavior is questionable in the beginning, the end result will more often than not be something unacceptable (please know they should be looking at you this way also). Until you are sure you are going to be able to sustain a relationship, keep the children out of it.
2) What is the other person’s belief system based upon? If the foundation of what you believe is not the same, you are going to have very different priorities. Priorities are very essential in a Christian relationship. The single parent usually has a problem adjusting to the fact their spouse is supposed to be priority over their children. A lot of people I know that are in blended marriages deal with the priority. Parents that have a tendency to defend the child more than they defend their spouse, or back the spouse up cause a lot of tension in the home.
3) Make sure you meet the other side of the coin. This means make sure you meet any family members that will have influence on your future together. The best of relationships can be tested by the baby’s mama or daddy’s drama. Avoid the drama as much as possible by allowing the biological parents to deal with each other when it comes to the child. Let your thoughts be conveyed by your spouse. Only get involved if the situation calls for your assistance. Being the man that I am, I have never allowed my son’s dad to talk to me in a disrespectful manner, once I became engaged and committed to my wife. He respects me for that; and we have maintained that mutual respect.
4) Final thing I am going to talk about is the relationship with the children. Make sure you are allowed to have a relationship with the child without the biological parent being involved. This can be very difficult for the relationship if you are not allowed to do so. If your significant other does not trust you to help raise his/her child, this is not going to work out for you. I know this is difficult to hear when you care so much for the parent or spouse. But consider it a big red flag if your spouse-to-be does not trust you with his/her child.
There are a number of points I could come up with at this time that would be helpful to those contemplating a blended relationship. The four I have introduced above are more than enough to chew on right now. Ask questions and be observant when a blended relationship is a consideration. When children are involved, remember they are the most vulnerable if the relationship fails. Are you ready to move forward?
I AM JUST TRYING TO HELP.