May 24, 2021
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus – Galatians 3:28
When John and I got married, I became a bonus mom to two amazing boys who are now grown men. I didn’t bring them into the world physically, but they became my children too.
There was no manual on having a blended family. I freely admit that I had no clue how to be a mother to children who had already had a mother. I didn’t want to cross lines or be offensive. I didn’t want to look like I was trying to take their mother’s place while still ensuring they saw me as a mother figure and their dad’s wife.
It was hard, but I finally found the secret sauce.
It was love.
That sounds overly simplistic, but I believe it is what made the challenge doable. I determined that I was going to love them like I loved their dad. I simply loved them and followed their lead. I want to offer you some strategies to demonstrate your love for your bonus babies as well:
1) Move at their pace. This is a challenging situation for the children. They have to adjust to a new person with rules that may be quite different from the rules with their biological parent. Allow them the time to adjust to you. Don’t make them spend time with you or force your traditions and culture on them. Don’t make them call you mom. It can be confusing to them and offensive to their biological mother. Ensure they are respectful to you, but allow them to call you the name that is comfortable for you both.
2) Respect their mother. I respected my boys’ mom, and never made them question my respect of her even though she and I did not get along at the time (we get along great now!). This can be hard to do, especially when there is friction in the relationship between the biological parent and the “step” parent, but it is vital. The children should not have to choose between loving either of you, and when we create hostile conditions that is what we are asking them to do.
3) Don’t compare the children. John and I didn’t have children together until years after the boys were born. Somehow, the birth of our children made me start comparing them to the sons he had first. This created so much tension for John, and it even created situations in which I was making him choose between them all. It was selfish and led by emotions, and it was totally wrong. I watched John’s treatment of them all and scrutinized each interaction careful to point out if there were any discrepancies. I made it so hard for John to parent well. My comparison created a toxic situation for all involved. I encourage you not to go down this path.
It’s been over 22 years, but now my boys call me mom. People who see us together (these 2 and the remaining 5) can’t tell that I’m not their biological mother. We think it is hilarious!
Blended families aren’t easy. I know it firsthand, but I believe that love breaks down walls and softens hearts. If you are struggling to be a bonus mom, my encouragement for you is to keep loving. Fill yourself with God’s love, and then genuinely give that love away.
Are you a bonus parent? How have you adjusted? What tips would you offer? I’d love to hear them, and if I can be of any help to you simply reach out to me by responding to this blog or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help!