As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they've worked to bring 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! Want to share your family's story? Email us at email@example.com.
On Father's Day 2015, writer Shawna Wingert wrote lovingly on HuffPost about how her husband Mick has wholeheartedly embraced the role of stepdad to her sons.
"Mick chose to be with [my] children," she wrote. "Unlike their biological parents, who just got what we got, he knew these kids and chose to be a part of their lives anyway. He tells them that, all the time."
Wingert's blog was so touching, we asked if she'd share more of her story. See what she had to say below.
Hi Shawna. Please introduce us to your family.
I brought two sons into my marriage with Mick. Our boys are 12 and 9.
How long have you and Mick been married?
We have been married for almost five years.
(Photo courtesy of Shawna Wingert)
Mick was a single guy with no kids when you met him. What were those early days like? What's one problem you faced?
What's the best thing about being part of a blended family? What makes you proudest of your family?
Mick has been telling our boys since before we were married that he is the lucky one because he got to choose who his sons would be and most dads just have to take what they get. This kind of acceptance and love from their "bonus dad" has made a tremendous impact on them. For Mick and I, the best thing is feeling like we are in it together, trying to make the most of the people and time we have been given.
At the end of the day, even when it has been tough, we all really like each other and are happy that we get to be a family.
What advice do you have for parents and stepparents who are struggling to create a peaceful family dynamic?
In addition to seeking marriage and family counseling if you feel stuck (which we have done and will continue do -- this life is not for the faint of heart and there is no shame in getting some outside counsel when you need it!), we would say try to pick your battles.
So often the stress level and anger in our home is high because Mick and I are reacting to all the things we see that are wrong. When we stop overreacting to all the things and actually talk, we try to pick the one or two things we really want to see change and agree to just let the other stuff go for a while. For example, our bedtime routine was chaotic and crazy for a few months. This caused tons of stress, every night. Finally, we sat down and said, "What is one thing I can do, and one thing you can do to make it easier?" We both agreed to just do our one thing and let the other issues slide. It helped immensely and we both felt like we were equally contributing to the solution.
And our last bit of advice: If all else fails, load everyone in the car and go for ice cream. We have learned it is really hard to be upset when there is ice cream on the table.
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