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Merging the Stepfamilies Without the Drama

Photograph by Getty Images

This past summer my 4-year-old stepson, Trey, was enjoying his first season of T-ball. He was a great little ball player, like we all knew he would be, and he had dozens of family members come out over the course of the season to watch him play. At one of his last games, my husband and I were there, along with Trey’s mom and her family, including her sister and brother-in-law.

Are you thinking “AWKWARD!” right now? You totally shouldn’t! Our little group has managed to get along really well, and this wasn’t awkward at all. In fact, it’s pretty standard these days. I’ve gotten to know my stepchildren’s extended family, and my husband, who was close with his brother-in-law when he was married to the kids’ mom, gets to enjoy their company again without worrying it’s going to cause a problem.

RELATED: How I Became Friends With My Stepkids' Mom

On the way home that night, my 7-year-old stepdaughter, Chloe, asked her daddy about all of us being there together. “Are you still friends with C?” She asked, referencing her uncle.

“Of course I am, baby. We’re all friends,” my husband told her. “Just because mama and I aren’t together anymore doesn’t mean we can’t all be friends.”

And really, it is that simple. When I think about all of the different ways divorces go, I’m really grateful that my husband and his kids’ mom were able to put aside their differences to make the kids happy. Because it is so much easier without all of the drama and the petty behavior.

It won’t be long until our children are adults and marveling at the huge crowd of us waiting in the stands at their college graduation.

I often think about how different it would be if we were all avoiding each other and it makes my heart hurt. Chloe and Trey would have to walk to separate sides of the bleachers to see us; they would have to celebrate with one half of their family and then celebrate with the other afterward. There would be awkward moments of standing there, waiting for them to thank their family members for coming to their awards banquet or T-ball game before going to the other side. There would be little to no communication, and our kids—instead of feeling like they have a huge family—would feel like they had two separate sides.

Because all four of us parents have put the kids first, our lives together are incredibly easy and rewarding. I’ve made friends with my stepchildren’s extended family and actually had their aunt cut my hair the other day. I’ve told them if they ever need anything to give us a call and they, in turn, have told me that if the kids are with us and an emergency happens, they would be more than willing to watch them for us.

All of our extended families have started to meet and mesh together, and I know it won’t be long until our children are adults and marveling at the huge crowd of us waiting in the stands at their college graduation. The more involved all of our families are in these kids’ lives, the easier it is to realize just how lucky we are and how, yes, we can be friends.

The night Chloe asked about her uncle and father’s relationship, her mom texted my husband and me to thank us for working so hard to keep the peace. “I’m glad it’s not awkward or weird for the kids and that we can all make everything good for them,” she told us. We thanked her and said she helped make it that way.

RELATED: The Joint Custody Juggle

Then, I turned to my husband and said, “Everyone says we work so hard for this, but the more I think about, I don’t think that’s true. Feels pretty easy and simple to me.” He agreed.

“Yeah, when your kid understands your reasoning behind it, you know it’s pretty simple,” he added.

Do you get along with your stepchildren’s extended family? Have you met any of them?

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