Blended Families, Blissful Family, Blog, Communication, Relationship Management

Not So Happy Birthday: Challenging Blended Family Dynamics

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. 

12 thoughts on “Not So Happy Birthday: Challenging Blended Family Dynamics

  1. Sorry to hear you’re going through this. Blended families can definitely be a challenge. I’ve seen the good and bad play out in my on extended family. Thanks for sharing your experience as it will help others in similar situations.

  2. I’m so sorry that you have had to deal with something that affects both you and your family on so many levels. I remember when my mom got remarried when I was younger. Everything was fine until all those teenage hormones kicked in and then there was nothing that could make me happy. All I can say is stay in prayer.

  3. Sometimes just co-existing in the home is tough for blended families. My sister has a blended family and for a while I lived with them and one of the children had/has a bad ‘entitlement’ spirit and firmly believes everyone is there to service him and his wants. I think communication can help but sometimes it’s just hard. I hope he comes around and returns home!

  4. I’m sorry you had to deL with this. I understand the crazy dynamics from both ends. I came from a blended family and now I have one. It takes lots of prayer and hard work. I will say that me and my dad (step) were not great coming up but now that I’m older we are very close.

  5. Blended Families can be very hard. I’m coming from a different angle. I am the child in the situation so i don’t know how it feels to be the wife. I do know that me and my step mother have a great relationship because mother mother allowed the relationship to flourish and never said negative things about my step mother. I do hope that you are able to mend the relationship with your son. Teenagers can be so rude and disrespectful but as the adult we, have to be forgiving and some how with the help of your hubby mend the relationship to the point that you are at least on a cordial hello speaking basis. Could you have sent simple happy birthday message through email, phone, text or social media? Giving suggestions only based off the info provided as I’m sure there is more to the story.

  6. I hate this for you. It’s a shame that grown adults can’t ultimately come together for their children’s sake. I don’t think my own birthmother has spoken to my father since I was born and when I try to ask questions to piece them together, she won’t have it. Praying that it eventually improves.

  7. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. Blended family situations can be tricky for sure and I pray your situation works out for you all sooner rather than later.

  8. Awww Im so sorry…this has to be heartbreaking! I hope the relationship eventually mends itself, because even though there was a fallout we all still have a chance after things calm down to think about everything….and realize things that we shouldn’t have said or things we believed that simply aren’t true. I will be praying for you all!

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