Kinda pursuant to my last post on Black-ish and divorce, I’ve been thinking about co-parenting lately.
My sister and I talk about this subject all the time. The reality is the look and components of the nuclear family has changed. A two-parent home where the there is one mommy and one daddy and two children is becoming more and more rare. What we are seeing more and more nowadays are more gay and lesbian couples, more single-parent homes and yes — more blended families.
I don’t know what life or the good Lord has in store for me, but I’ve never wanted to be a stepmother. It was not on my bucket list of things to do or be. Co-parenting always seemed like more work than just parenting — and we all know that parenting is hard enough. I wasn’t and I’m not trying to sign up for the harder road in life.
That said, my sister is a single parent. People all around me are getting divorced. Dating is not what it used to be. And I’m not in my twenties. As I get older, there is a chance that I may meet and fall in love with someone who has been married before… someone who may have children from a prior relationship.
I know life can be infinitely more beautiful than we could ever imagine if we remain open to the possibilities that it presents us. It’s for that reason that even though I don’t want to be a stepmother, I am open to it. My only thing is, I don’t want to be jumping from the frying pan that is singleness into the fiery hell that can be co-parenting.
I’ve always said (and I told my sister this) that ideally, my husband’s ex would either be 1) deceased or 2) would have moved on (married, in her own serious relationship, etc.). I don’t have the tolerance for baby mama drama or people tryna be all up in my marriage. And for a co-parenting relationship to work, I would need a husband who knows how to set boundaries and set his ex-wife/girlfriend straight if she be tripping. I would need a man who would stand up for his new family. My husband and I would have to be a united force — a team — on the same page.
And the kids? I don’t want to be the stepmother to no bad-breed kids. I would need a husband who would discipline his kids (because, depending on the age and my relationship with his kids, I may not be in the position to do so). I would also need a husband who would set his child(ren) straight if they be wildin’ and are disrespectful to me (“you’re not my mommy!!”). And ideally, I’d only want to be a stepmother to a maximum of two children (also considering that I’d like to have my own child with my husband). I don’t know if I could stomach being a stepmother to a gaggle of five plus kids…
You have to understand — as a single person, life was sometimes hard and lonely, but it was okay. So if I get married, it has to be step up from being single — not make my life a living hell.
On my end, I would try to “woman up.” I know I am capable of loving children who do not come from my womb — I’ve seen it with my students when I was a teacher and a camp counsellor and I’ve seen it with my nephew. I will love his child(ren) as my own. And by God’s grace I will die daily and crucify my ego so that there can be peace in my home and my child(ren)’s lives.
(…and it would be the same if I had to co-parent with my ex-husband’s new wife. Talk about the crucible of marriage.)
Long gone are the days of the fairy tale evil stepmother. Stepmothers don’t have to be like the ones Cinderella and Snow White had. From the videos below, blended families can actually work. But it takes two mature individuals who have put self and ego aside for the benefit of their kids and their family relationship for it all to work out.
In an ideal world, I’d love for me and my husband’s ex to be very good friends (best friends?). I’d love if we could vacation together and do stuff together as a blended family, without any jealousy, bad blood or hurt feelings. I want to parent my children and be in a marriage in an atmosphere of love and forgiveness and consistency — bygones be bygones. Thus, I’ve always said, should the Lord will that I be part of a blended family, I’ve always wanted my family to look like the ones below:
Jada and Sheree have such a great relationship:
I hope my mother-in-law is like this:
Surprisingly enough, Adrienne and Meleasa have a great relationship too…
What are your thoughts on blended families and stepmother-hood? What has worked? What doesn’t?
Photo credit: BET.com