Please, nobody stab me for that thread title.
First off, hi. I've been posting over on single parenting and other forums for a long time now, but it looks like I belong here as well.
My DS is 3, and a great little kid if I do say so myself. His dad and I got pregnant after we had only been dating a few weeks. We lived together and made the relationship work for a couple of years, and we definitely grew to care about each other very deeply. But we weren't the right people for each other and I don't think we were ever honestly in love. We loved each other, but we weren't in love, if that makes sense. We never married. We had a rocky breakup two years ago, compounded by his alcohol addiction. About a year ago, he hit rock bottom in a bad way, got into AA and he's been sober and made huge steps forward. I'm really proud of him for the hard work that he's done. He's made bad choices in the past, but he's a good person at his core and I'm so glad that he's well on the road to recovery. Especially in the last few months, we've developed a pretty healthy and friendly co-parenting relationship. We do Thanksgiving together, hang out chatting for a few minutes during pick-ups and drop-offs, that kind of thing. There's definitely no weird lost love feelings between us, and I consider my ex to be part of my family.
I'm in love with a really great guy that I've been dating for six months. It's still early in the relationship, but I'm starting to hope that it might one day move in the direction of marriage.
A few weeks ago, my ex reconnected with his high school girlfriend. They broke up when her family moved away and I think he's always carried a flame for her. They fell back in love hard and fast. Yesterday, they told me that she's pregnant and they're getting married next Saturday. It's fast, but they seem really happy and I'm happy for him.
DS seems to really like her and feel comfortable around her and her kids (he loves going to play with the "brothers and sisters"), and he's over the moon that he's going to be a big brother.
If there's anything that I can say about my ex, it's that he has good taste in women. DS's stepmother-to-be is an absolutely lovely person. I can say that without qualification. She's a widow and a mother of five, and she parents in a really similar way to me, maybe even more crunchy. AP, homebirthing, breastfeeding counselor, cosleeping, homeschooling, all that. She has a nice way with her kids and she's been really sweet to DS. She's college-educated, really pleasant and well-spoken, and just a really nice and intelligent and classy woman. Really, if I could have hand-designed a perfect stepmom for DS, it would look a lot like her. She and her kids live in a great house on a bunch of land. We've met a few times and she's made some really sweet gestures to me, like jotting down a little note thanking me for giving her the chance to get to know DS and that he's a great little boy and I've done a great job raising him. My ex has also encouraged us to meet and spoken well of each of us to the other. I've been overtly supportive of their relationship and let her know how thrilled I am that she's in my ex and DS's life. She and my boyfriend have met. We don't need to be BFFs -- I want to give them space and respect their family boundaries -- but I'm definitely glad that we're on friendly terms.
So anyway, that's a long back-story, but I really feel like my ex, his fiance and I have laid the groundwork for a healthy and positive blended family. I'm sure conflicts will inevitably arise at some point, but I feel like we could handle them in rational and respectful ways that keep DS's best interest in mind.
I did some googling, and there are soooo many horror stories out there of stepfamily and stepmom/biomom conflict. Some of it seems like there's no good solution, like where one or all parties is flat-out crazy and mean, or where the ex cheated on the spouse with the new partner, that kind of thing. But when you're starting out with good people who are all motivated to have a healthy blended family, it seems like the odds must be tons better to make it work.
So my question is, do any of you have that kind of positive blended-family experience, or manage to arrive at it? What sort of things of things did you do to ensure the relationship stayed healthy and respectful? What positive ways did you find for handling the inevitable conflicts and disagreements? Any advice you would give me?
Jen, journalist, policy wonk, and formerly a proud single mama to my sweet little man Cyrus, born at home Dec. 2007 . Now married to my Incredibly Nice Guy and new mama to baby Arthur.
I can tell you about what my divorced parents did right and what still sticks in their kids' craws.
- They were always respectful when speaking of the other person - can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. To this day, I have NEVER, EVER heard my mother, father, and step-mother speak a bad word about each other. That is an impressive amount of self-control.
- To the best of their abilities, they put the children's needs first and never had arguments about visitation or child support (my mom took a pittance thinking that if she didn't ask for help when we were kids, she'd buy us help when our dad wasn't legally obliged to support us anymore. I guess that sort of worked - see below).
- My step-sister got her college expenses (private undergrad and grad school at Berkeley, plus housing) paid for by my step-mother and dad because her own dad was unwilling to help, but my sisters and I didn't get anywhere near the amount of assistance she did. In fact, my dad flat-out refused to help my youngest sister attend a private college when it was her turn for school. Make sure you get equitable financial arrangements in place for all the kids' college/schooling.
-My dad moved really far away, so we only saw him in the summer. If you can, try to stay in the same geographical area so that your son knows both parents equally well.
No drama between x's gf of 2 years and me. we have never met nor do we have any kind of contact with each other. x and I have limited contact, he drops DS2 off and picks him up every 2 weeks and we text if necessary. I like our arrangement and see no reason for it to change.
as far as x ad I any conflict has been where his family made up crap and he and I had to talk to smooth it out. or he tried to beg me to let him have DS2 full time and I said no.
Unassisted birthing, atheist, poly, bi WOHM to 4 wonderful, smart homeschooling kids Wes (14) Seth (7) Pandora Moonlilly (2) and Nevermore Stargazer (11/2012) Married to awesome SAH DH.