A blended family is a family with children from different relationships. The woman you are with has children from a different relationship, you have children from a different relationship, and finally the children from the current relationship. These situations are naturally a nightmare for people to deal with. The children are often insecure with things and often fight between themselves. The couple struggles to show all of the children that there are no favorites. Finally, the absent parent struggles to deal with their child being in the middle of all your mess.
It has been my experience that you can only do what YOU feel is right. Jealously and pent up anger will make dealing with the absent parent impossible. A woman's inherent need to protect her child will prevent your woman from understanding your compaints about the treatment of her "step children."
You never want to hide anything from your mate, but sometimes you have to pick your fights. As a man, you don't want to be so petty as to keep a balance sheet on how you interact with the children. But to keep track of your time, you have to be aware of how you are spending it with all children involved. Remeber that if you did such a thing as make a balance sheet, I promise you that it won't matter to any of the mothers involved. I can also garauntee that the children won't care about a balance sheet. You have to approach it with a good heart and be totally honest with yourself.
Some of the things I find myself being aware of making sure that I can spend one on one time with the children individually. It may be hard because of distance or age of the child but it is necessary whenever possible. This type of thing embeds deep memories in your child. This is important because as they get older they can reflect on those special times and understand that Daddy does love them and he has done things in the past to prove it.
Another thing that I have done in the past is to have unique nicknames for all of the kids. To me, this lets my kids know that when I address them by their nickname that I am in a playful or relaxed mood and if they want to discuss something important with me, I will be receptive without judgment. It is just another one of those things that lets my babies know that they are important to me.
Whether you want to admit it or not, prejudice exists. For the most part, there will always be struggle to be as fair to your biological children as you are to your step children. Hell, sometimes you struggle to be even handed to the biological children of the current relationship as you are to your biological children of a previous relationship. It is so hard keep everyone happy and once again, this is where being honest with yourself and just doing what you feel is best comes into play.
You have to be sure you don't over compensate. I found myself being so impossibly tough on my oldest son. The expectations I put on him in comparison to my step children and other biological children were just illogical. Looking at it now, I know I was wrong and have since apologized to my oldest. Only time will tell if the damage done is reversible. Yeah, I'm nowhere close to being perfect.
Over compensation is also harmful when you are too lenient on the children. Letting your step children get away with things because you want to score points with mom or because you don't want them to hate you does noone any good. If the children hate you because you are enforcing already established rules, then so be it because they will understand that after it was all said and done, you were always consistent.
As I re-read this article before I post it, I see that I am treading on dangerous ground. Most of my kids are old enough to read, understand, and possilby refute the claims I make in this article. Also, I open myself to a barrage of headaches from the mothers of all my children. This cannot be avoided as the sole purpose of this blog is to share my experiences hoping that they will help someone else, while at the same time hoping that someone may have an experience to share that will help me. I hope you like this article. Stay tuned for updates.