I’ve got to be honest. Today is a bit bittersweet for me. Today is my son’s birthday. As most of you know he is my bonus child; I am not a fan of the Stepford label. When he came to live with Harold and me in 2003 I officially became a mother. I thank him for that.

But today is bittersweet. A not so happy birthday. And I’ve got to be honest. It’s bittersweet because I haven’t spoken more than 20 words to him in over a year. Yes. Nearly 18 months to be exact. And I hear you thinking Ms. #ParentingThatWorks hasn’t spoken to her son in that long? Let me explain.

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Every male has an intrinsic need for respect. I truly believe that men equate love with respect. That need rises with age. When a teenaged boy begins to openly express this needs it often conflicts with the same need of the adult male figure in his life. And that’s what happened in our family.

ALSO RELATED: A Message to Moms on Tough Love

When he was 16 years old, he decided that after 12 years our rules, our home, our parenting style and his wishes, his desires, his life choices didn’t mix. Sadly, his mother encouraged and facilitated his departure, without consulting Harold or me.

I wish I could tell you that we have a Jada Pinkett Smith/Sheree Fletcher relationship, but we don’t. And as much as I would love to personally wish him a Happy Birthday it’s not worth the fallout and animosity it will cause.

You see, my Love Language is Words of Affirmation. In the days that passed after we learned of his plan to leave, things were said—hurtful things that had been evidently pinned up since the day we learned that Trevone was actually Harold’s son—that I haven’t processed completely. Things that no child should ever be allowed to say to an adult. Falsehoods that have apparently shaped his thoughts and feelings about how our family came to be.

Managing blended family dynamics is a tricky and sensitive process. One that changes and evolves over time. Balancing the needs and emotions of everyone involved takes intention, selflessness and the will and cooperation of all parties involved.  Especially once the child is old enough to make decisions and have opinions of their own.

ALSO RELATED: Effective Communication with Your Entire Family

I share more thoughts on the process of becoming a Beautifully Blended family in the podcast produced by Toni Ellis, The Soul Sparker. The process of blending families should never be taken lightly. I share my tips for how to manage through the tough times and celebrate the good ones.

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What normal everyday interactions do you find incredibly difficult when family dynamics become challenging? How do you handle it? Share with us below so we can all become more beautifully blended.