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 we're introducing you to Clarissa Laskey's family. What's so special about Clarissa's blended family? Although she has since married someone else, she and her ex, Rick, still share a special bond for the sake of their son, Reece. Below, the mom of two shares her best co-parenting advice and explains why Rick is still her best friend.
Hi Clarissa! Please introduce us to your family.
My husband, Keith and I have a daughter, Tatum, who's 3. My ex, Rick, and I have a 9-year-old son together, Reece.
Tell us a little bit about your current relationship with Rick. How are the two of you able to remain so close after your split?
We parted ways not too long after Reece's birth and at first things were not very pleasant. About a year or so after Reece's first birthday, [Rick] met someone else and so did I. I eventually got married and life went on. Reece's father and I finally talked about things in our past that we both needed to move on from and we became "friends" again as well as excellent co-parents. Reece is now 9 and I have a daughter who is almost 3 with my husband, Keith. Reece's father, his family, my family and my husband's family are all friends. We all genuinely get along, attend events together and realize that the glue that binds us together is something bigger than all of us adults: it's a special little boy named Reece. People who know our "family" always have questions and sometimes even find it odd how close we all are, but it my eyes it's easy because we all have the same common goal, to love Reece and be great parents!
What's the best thing about being part of a blended family?
The best thing about being part of a blended family, in my opinion, is having multiple people who love and care for my children at all times. I have such an amazing support system from my husband and from Rick, who I have known since I was 17 years old. Rick is by far my very best friend, and I could not be luckier to "share" our son with him.
What are some of the biggest challenges of blended family life?
Some of the biggest challenges with a blended family are dealing with all of the different emotions, personalities, schedules and constant growing pains. You have to be adaptable because the people in your family grow in different ways. It can often be a challenge to keep everyone together while also trying to satisfy and keep everyone happy (for the most part)!
What makes you proudest of your family?
Our constant selflessness. Keith, Rick and I have always made sure to go out of our way to ensure that Reece comes first. We have put aside our feelings, emotions and pride at times in order to make sure that we always get along for Reece. Rick and I make sure that we spend quality time together at least once a week with Reece, which is usually a fun night out for dinner or a movie for the three of us! I love and am very proud of Keith for being such a wonderful stepfather to Reece, and for always encouraging my relationship with Rick. I also love and am extremely proud of the special relationship that Rick has with my daughter, Tatum. She genuinely loves him and they have their own, cute special bond.
What advice do you have for other blended families who feel like a peaceful family dynamic is out of reach?
My advice would be to take a few steps back, try to think outside of the box and look at the potential for minimal drama and maximum happiness for your family, especially for the children involved. Sometimes you need to look past yourself, and be very selfless. You have to realize that the children involved did not ask to be born or brought into certain situations, and your job first and foremost as a parent is to see that they are nurtured and shown constant love and happiness. If you lead by example, they will follow.
Click through the slideshow below the see photos of Clarissa, Keith and Rick's 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!
Clarissa, Reece, Rick and Tatum at Reece's birthday party
Keith with Reece and Tatum
Rick and Tatum
Reece and Tatum
Clarissa, Reece and Tatum
Meet Ivy Lifton's Family
"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." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/blended-family-friday_n_3474262.html">Read Ivy Lifton's full Blended Family Friday profile </a>
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>