As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we're spotlighting a different stepfamily to learn how they successfully blended their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we'll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!
This week, blogger Ivy Lifton is introducing us to her blended family. Ivy runs a site called Blended Ways where she chronicles her life with her husband and her kids, who range from age 9 to 19. Below, the busy mom -- and the kids themselves! -- share what they love most about being part of a blended family.
Hey, Ivy! Please introduce us to your family.
My husband and I have six children. When we came together, our youngest was 7 years old; Cove is now 19. Summer and Rocky are both 17. Dylan is 14, Rainy is almost 13 and Julian, our youngest, is 9 years old. Our family was always bonding and each day it strengthened; but the moment Julian was born, the bond was set to never break.
How long have you and your husband been together?
My husband and I will celebrate being married for 11 years this July. We joke that the driver has been driving around the block for those 11 years to assist us in our honeymoon departure, but the children keep calling us back to the house!
What has been the biggest challenge of blended family life?
If you can envision two trees so close together that their trunks and branches touch one another, you will see the connection but still see two trees. Blended families are like the two trees. The outside world sees two trees while the family strives to make it one by intertwining the roots, by nurturing it. However, the innocence of questions such as, “Which child is actually yours?” or “Which one is your real mom?” are always a reminder and a message being sent that the world sees two families joined together rather than seeing one family that came together.
What's the best thing about being a part of a blended family?
The shared love and devotion to each other and the determination to work things out, remain close and always be there for each other. You learn that anyone whom you share these things with is part of your family.
However, our children should really be the ones to answer this one. Here's what they say and I'll bring them in separately so they don't influence each other!
Summer (17): “We all have different personalities, but we are all still very close and we accept each other as who we are. Everyone always has something new to bring to the table.”
Julian (9): “Having a big variety of great siblings!”
Rocky (17): ”I like having so many siblings and have so many people to rely on.”
Dylan (14): : “I don’t know, I don’t think of us as a blended family. We are all really close and you never get lonely and there is always something to do.”
Rainy (12): “It is really cool to be so close to everyone and it is really fun and there is always someone to talk to and it is nothing like any other family.”
Cove (19): “I like having four parents and I like being able to play together.”
Very sweet. What makes you proudest of your family, Ivy?
I am so proud of their commitment to each other and the belief in our family as one, no matter the social obstacles that come their way.
When I was pregnant with Julian, all of the children felt it would be wrong for their soon-to-be sibling to have only one of the two last names that our family shares. They had a meeting of their own -- they ranged in ages 10 to 3 years old then. They then invited us into the meeting and explained and insisted that Julian’s last name be “Capton” which is a marriage of sorts of our two last names, Capodice and Lifton. Although Julian has his father’s name (Lifton), you must know that with compromise, tremendous pride and love, Julian Capton Lifton was written on his birth certificate. To this day, we are considered the Capton team. That's when I knew we'd hit our first major milestone moving forward and achieving the status of a “blended family.”
What advice do you have for other blended families who feel like a peaceful dynamic is out of reach?
It is not out of reach, it is just that on some days, you feel a little shorter than other days.
I have learned so much over the last 12 years that I have no choice but to use the overused and infamous words of, “If I knew then what I know now...” I recently started writing about the process of blending a family on blendedways.com because there are great things that can be done that make you want to keep moving forward. I can tell you that the most powerful source of our bond is letting everyone have a voice.
And on the days you feel too short and the sight of a peaceful dynamic is out of reach, don’t try. Rest and try again tomorrow, it will come.
Click through the slideshow below the see photos of this week's blended family.
If you'd like your own family to be featured on a Blended Family Friday, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're looking forward to hearing your story!
Meet Michele And Barry's Family
"Make your marriage your top priority. This is a new marriage and it needs time and energy and nurturing. If you ignore it, it will fail and you have already done that once to your children and do not want to do it again." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/blended-family-friday_n_3474262.html">Read Meet Michele and Barry's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Katie And Kurt's Family
"Do your best to be respectful to the other parent and <em>always</em> keep your word or promises to the kids. They're struggling with the loss of their family and they need to build trust with you as their stepparent." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/14/blended-family-_n_3437032.html">Read Meet Katie and Kurt's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Kara And Richard's Family
"Give it time! We have only recently arrived at a place where we all feel secure in our role in our family but it took years, tears and lots of flexibility. It might take one family a few months to have the wrinkles ironed out or it might take years." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/blended-family-friday-mee_n_3399272.html">Read Meet Kara and Richard's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Harriet And Joe's Family
"When Joe and I first blended our family, our six kids were our number-one priority. Treating our kids like individuals and not as a 'herd,' as we called it, was a key component to making each of our kids feel special and feel like an important part of the family, which they were." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/blended-family-friday-mee_5_n_3361975.html">Read Harriet and Joe's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Chelsea And Jeremy's Family
"My husband and I refuse to treat any of the children any differently. We see them all as 'ours,' which I think is very important. We try to make sure all children feel equal and included in our family and our lives." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/24/blended-family-friday-mee_4_n_3328763.html">Read Chelsea and Jeremy's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Maureen And Tom's Family
"Our children have really become true siblings. They love (and hate) one another just like regular siblings. They have taken a tough situation and made it into something beautiful." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/17/blended-family-friday-mee_3_n_3288745.html">Read Maureen and Tom's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Stacee's Family
"Both of my dad's exes and all the kids lived under one roof. My brothers and I were raised as siblings -- not half siblings but just siblings -- and we had two moms (although Goonie and Mikey call my mom auntie). On the weekends, dad only had to make one stop to pick up all his kids!" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/10/blended-family-friday-mee_2_n_3247059.html">Read Stacee's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Anessa And Keith's Family
"Do not beat yourself up for making a mistake -- after all, we are human. Just love one another and be there for the kids especially when they push away -- that is when they need and want you the most." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/03/blended-family-friday_n_3204734.html">Read Anessa and Keith's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Wendy And Arlando's Family
"Our children are all grown and out on their own, but when we get together there is no greater feeling. Sitting around a table and watching our adult children interact with each other is the best part of having a blended family. They look out for each other; in fact, sometimes we joke that they know more about each other than we do." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/26/blended-family-friday-mee_1_n_3158951.html">Read Wendy and Arlando's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Samara And Jeff's Family
"My stepkids have realized over the years how blessed they are to have a family situation where there is peace between their parents, where we all live within the same community and school district and where there is genuine love for all of the kids." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/19/blended-family-friday-mee_0_n_3113074.html">Read Samara and Jeff's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Susan And Peter's Family
"The kids are really the ones who wanted us to get married. I think they need to feel like this is forever. Recently, Jake, Peter's son, told me he wants my son Jamie to be his best man someday. I get teary thinking about it." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/12/blended-family-friday_n_3056616.html" target="_hplink">Read Susan and Peter's full Blended Family Friday profile</a>
Meet Amy And Eric's Family
"Think of a blended family as being made or 'cooked' in a crock pot, not a pressure cooker. Each person has to find their comfort level and will do so on their own time. Be willing to give your biological children your blessing to love their other parent and spouse." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/05/blended-family-friday_n_3017443.html" target="_hplink">Read Amy and Eric's full Blended Family Friday profile</a>
Meet Mimi And Stu's Family
"My advice to anyone working on blending a family is to always put the child first. Never, ever, say a negative word about your ex in front of your child. Be flexible and patient. It takes time. Always remember when the kids are acting out it's because they are hurting. Take a deep breath and think of a way to lift them up." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/blended-family-friday_n_2975161.html">Read Mimi and Stu's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Valerie And Brandon's Family
"Finding time to love and pay attention to everyone as they need is the biggest challenge. Some days there isn't enough of me, but it's fun feeding, clothing and loving all these people. They make me crazy, but I like it!" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/blended-family-friday-mee_n_2927660.html">Read Valerie and Brandon's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
Meet Jen And Ryan's Family
"The best thing about being a part of a blended family is being able to show the children what a real, loving marriage and family looks like ... The lessons that they learn though the adjustment and the tough times are good ones. They see that two people who love each other can weather the storm of life and stay together." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/15/blended-family-friday_n_2885521.html" target="_hplink">Read Jen and Ryan's full Blended Family Friday profile</a>
Meet Nicole And Nick's Family
"Let kids be kids. Don't expect too much of them. Don't push new family members on each other but work hard to find in each a common interest and build on it. Our two girls bonded over the new 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' series and spent hours collecting gear and acting out each of the characters." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/08/blended-family-friday-_n_2832153.html" target="_hplink">Read Nicole and Nick's full Blended Family Friday profile</a>
Meet Crissy And Jimmy's Family
"We feel fortunate to show [our kids] what a healthy, loving partnership looks like. No one goes into marriage thinking they will be divorced one day. It is even more painful when there are children involved. The best thing, we believe, we could do is show our children that it is possible to be in a loving, stable relationship built on mutual trust and respect." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/blended-family_n_2776391.html" target="_hplink">Read Crissy and Jimmy's full Blended Family Friday profile</a>
Karen And Shawn's Family
"Every blended family has a different make-up of people and personalities and paths they have to take to arrive at the door to success. I've chosen to take one day, (and sometimes one glass of wine) at a time and here we are six years later." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/22/blended-family-friday-mee_n_2729140.html">Read Karen and Shawn's full Blended Family Friday profile</a>
Elizabeth And Donald's Family
"We are proudest of the fact that we are a family -- blended or not. When one has an event (swimming, lacrosse, dance, band) we all show up. It's not always possible to be everywhere for everything, but we show up for each other and everyone knows they are important." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/15/blended-family-friday-mee_n_2681378.html">Read Elizabeth and Donald's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>