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How Do Blended Families Do It?

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One single mom investigates.

girl wondering

Single Mom Seeking: I'm fascinated by some of the celebrity moms who've blended their families, such as Kimora Lee Simmons and Demi Moore. How on earth do they juggle everything?

How do they handle the complicated schedules, challenges with exes, and these guys who've never been parents? Then, I remember that they're celebrity single moms. So, what's it like for your typical single mom who gets remarried?

For instance, take Deesha Philyaw, a recently engaged single mom and founder of She and her fiance, JB, each have two daughters. When they get married: "We are not going to live together once we marry, not for about eight years, when his youngest graduates."

Say what?

"Because JB and I live in two different states, about 250 miles apart -- and because we each have shared custody arrangements with our former spouses -- we've had to do a lot of communicating, planning, and scheduling from the very beginning. So, now that we've decided to marry and 'officially' unite our families, a lot of the groundwork has been laid."

"Groundwork," she explains, means that they've had long conversations about parenting: discipline, chores, schoolwork, housework, amount of TV and media, helping kids understand the value of money and financial priorities. "JB and I joke that we each fell in love with the way the other parented first, before all the romantic stuff kicked in," Deesha adds. "Before we even met the kids, we talked about them constantly, and our time together was scheduled around their lives."

Dr. Jann Blackstone-Ford, co-author of Ex-Etiquette for Weddings: The Blended Families' Guide to Tying the Knot, agrees that the keyword here is "BEFORE."

"Before you move in together, be honest with each other about your expectations," says Dr. Blackstone-Ford, who's also the director of Bonus Families. "Before you move in together, talk about house rules, chores, discipline (and how you will approach it). Before you move in, have an idea if marriage is on the horizon. If you are coparenting after a break-up, meet the mother or father of your partner's children and put in place the rules of good ex-etiquette BEFORE you move in together ... no one is asking permission to move in together, but do your best to start this relationship (with your partner's ex) out right with mutual respect."

Dr. Blackstone-Ford adds that a common scenario is: "Well, my ex had an affair with this person and now he or she is interacting with my kids! You want me to respect them?"

"In those cases, I say do your best to keep the history away from the kids, make your
judgments in the kids' best interest, and take one day at a time. Sometimes, in those cases, it's take one hour at a time."

In Deesha's case, she and her fiance get along so well that they have even traveled and vacationed together with all four kids, her ex, and his wife. Bravo.

Tell us: Are you a single parent who recently got engaged? Are you dating a single parent? Are you part of a blended family? Any tips to share?

next: Waste Not, Want Not
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
WeParent September 23, 2009, 6:43 AM

Thanks for featuring Deesha & JB! They are definitely an outstanding example of how to do this and a testament to the fact that it *can* be done! Personally, I’ve looked to their example as a guide for how I’m approaching my own relationship.

Dr. Leah@ September 23, 2009, 11:03 AM

There are so many great examples of blended families making it work. Thanks for highlighting these inspiring stories.

Sara November 7, 2009, 9:55 AM

But what about the es’s that don get along..Like me and m ex dont et along what so ever. I rather not know who hes dating.

K~ November 25, 2009, 2:22 PM

I don’t know even one blended family where the kids haven’t paid dearly….not one except in a Holloywood script. [ If one of the parents die, kids don’t seem to be as troubled but that is the only exception I have witnessed.]
Long term they may seem like they do OK on the surface but talk to the kids who are products of divoce and then a blended family. They all suffered in silence and have long term issues they take into their relationships.

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