About 4 years ago, my daughter, with whom I’ve always been close, came to live with me primarily. Prior to then, she lived with my former wife who moved back to her home state. When my daughter was with her mom, she always came to me whenever there was a break from school – summertime, Thanksgiving, Christmas and so on. Now that she was with me primarily, I was learning how to be a different kind of parent than I had been previously.
Now I had to deal with the daily grind of being a working single parent – getting her off to school, picking her up from school, making sure she gets her homework done, going to her school for conferences with teachers, becoming involved with the Parent Teachers Association, and the list goes on. All of this was a new experience for me. It was time-consuming but I cherished every minute of it.
|Rodrick and daughter at school after awards ceremony|
After I went through a divorce in the early 2000s, I had a few relationships over the next few years. But none were developed to the stage that I seriously contemplated marriage. As I wrote in the post, Dating 101 for the Divorced Dad, I didn’t want to bring any of these new individuals into my daughter’s life. So though she met some of them, she had no idea that we were in a relationship. To her, they were just like any other of her dad’s friends. I didn’t want her to bond with someone new, only to see that relationship end like her mom’s and mine.
|Rodrick and then fiancee|
When I told my daughter of our plans, she was not a happy camper. I remember sitting with her – just the two of us – and talking about the new family that was developing. She expressed that though she liked this new person in my life, she felt that for so many years she had me all to herself. The way that she described how she felt was almost artistic. She said, “All this time, I had your heart to myself. Now if you get married, your heart is gonna be divided in two – she gets one half and I get the other. Then if you have more children, my half is just gonna get smaller and smaller.” I was awestruck at just how she expressed such concern.
|Rodrick and family at Miami Heat game before wedding|
Then she started telling me about the nightmare scenarios she sees played out on TV. For instance, in the story of Cinderella, her father was a widower and got remarried. Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters were very cruel to her. My daughter also heard expressions like, “You get treated like a red-headed stepchild.” All of these things gave her cause for concern.
During our pre-marital counseling sessions, our pastor told me that I should schedule regular time with my daughter with just us two. So once a week, after school, we have what we call a “lunner” – a light meal between lunch and dinner. She looks forward to it, as do I. And my wife fully embraces that special bonding time. That has helped so much in us having a smooth transition into our happy blended family.
As I always say, our kids are top priority and the decisions that we make each day can have a lasting impact on them. If you’re in a blended family, I hope that this post has given you some good tips. And if you know of others who are in blended families or contemplating new relationships, do share this post with them. I believe that they will benefit.
Always shower your kids with love regardless of the situation or circumstance. They’re our top priority so let’s ensure that with the changes that we go through, the one constant should be our unchanging love for them.