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!
Today, we'd like you to meet fiancés Susan and Peter and their four kids. After five years together -- and a lot of friendly prodding on their kids' part -- the pair will tie the knot this June. Congrats!
Hi, Susan! Please introduce us to your family.
My soon-to-be husband's name is Peter and between us, we have four kids: Maile, 20; Jake, 18; Jamie, 17; and Julia, 16. Maile and Jamie are from my first marriage, and Jake and Julia are from Peter's.
Tell us a little about your engagement. Why did you decide to marry now?
Peter and I were actually going to wait until they all graduated from college to get married. We wanted to focus on them and their needs for now. 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.
What's the best thing about being part of a blended family?
Our kids get to relax! I think each set of kids felt responsible for their single, lonely parent. It's a lot of pressure on a kid. When my daughter was leaving for college she told me she was glad I had Peter because now she wouldn't have to worry. The kids just get to be kids now.
What's the biggest challenge of blended family life?
Our kids were older when we moved in together -- 16, 14, 13 and 12. Each household had its own set of rules and they weren't always the same. The "why can she do that when I can't?" stuff was tough. Little by little, we've found common ground, but it takes a lot of compromise.
What makes you proudest of your family?
Oh, gosh, where do I begin? They are smart, funny, wonderful people, and they're mine! I love that the kids actually call and text each other just to say hi or to make fun of Peter or me.
What advice do you have for other blended families who feel like a peaceful family dynamic is out of reach?
Don't take your opinion so seriously. People raise kids in many different ways. It's OK to compromise, your kids won't suffer; in fact, they'll be better off in the long run. The ability to have respect for all opinions in your household will go a long way.
Oh, and also, love your partner. Peter and I help each other to be better parents, friends, and people. He's my rock! I can accomplish so much more with him by my side. I'm so glad our kids have this as a romantic model.
Click through the slideshow the see photos of Valerie and Brandon'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!