My wife and I had a bit of a rough time of it in the early part of our relationship. We both were single parents with custody of two children; a boy and a girl each. Often we get compared to the Brady Bunch, although they never had the added bonus of visitation and all the ‘real’ aspects of a blended family.

When we first started dating my children were very young; my son was 3 and my daughter was 5. Her children were a bit older, her son was 12 and her daughter was 10. In my eyes from the beginning there was a bit of an acceptance issue by my children and by CJ, my soon to be step-son. It’s odd to even write that, because I always refer to him as my oldest son. The “step” designation was never used on either side. Her kids called me “Britt” and my kids called her “Mom.”  To explain a bit, I have full custody of my children and my wife is the only mother they’ve ever known, whereas, her ex was an every other weekend part of our lives. Sometimes that bi-weekly transition was smooth, other times not. One aspect of the blended family is that rules differ from house to house and my older kids had to transition their behavior accordingly.

For my younger two kids there was always stability of one house, one set of parents, one set of rules. They also grew up knowing they had three siblings and two parents. But in the very early stages of our dating my daughter did not want to share me with a new girlfriend/potential wife, and I think my step-son thought that there was potential for his parents to get back together and I was a barricade to that happening. I could understand both of their feelings and we talked about those issues. At 12 he was able to understand better than my 5 year old daughter, but both ended up being fine with the way things developed. 

My youngest son was another story altogether. He was, and is, an interesting blend of loving behavior and challenges. His initial meeting of what would be his new family started with him standing naked at the top of my staircase throwing blocks at my girlfriend and her kids. He wasn’t aiming for anyone; he was just making a statement. What that statement was, we still don’t know. He makes impactful first impressions. (Luckily not literally)

Deb and I ended up looking for a house together and that was the beginning of the permanent relationship. We knew we were getting married, and wanted to have a fresh start where this was “our” house and our future and not inheriting old memories or inhabiting old abodes. The kids were a part of that process. We took them to the houses as we visited with the realtors and I think that helped them to get the feeling that we were a family and all in this thing together. That was cemented as they were a part of our marriage ceremony in the yard of our new home. We were then officially a family then, although the process started much earlier and will now continue throughout our lives.

Thanks for letting me share some of my story- Rob Britt.

I am a partner in The People Academy, Inc. We do coaching and provide support for businesses, and business framework for  business and personal coaches. <–improv comedy!

More information about Shirley Cress Dudley, step family coach