Our family came together eighteen years ago. It was with much love that we came together. I had my two girls and my husband also had two children,a boy and a girl. We were together a year before we had our son together. We say he is the link that brings us all together. We didn't say words in our home as step, half, or mine. When we became a family, thats exactly what we were, a family. We no longer had his, mine and ours. We looked at all our children as our children that made our family special. During the first years our lives were pretty easy. The children were small when we got married. Before we took that step we shared with our kids, and asked them what they thought. We thought it was important to allow them to share their feelings. Their thoughts and feelings are just as important as ours. As our family grew not only in age, but with each other, our kids were always very close. They shared many things together. Having a blended family is not easy, being a "step" parent was at times harder than being a parent to my children. Even though we didn't share those words, we knew there were boundries there. With your own children you are a parent first then a friend, with step children you are a friend first, then a step parent. It is totally backwards, and can cause stress as situations come about. For us, as my husband drove a truck across the United States I was home with our children for the most part. My step children didn't live with us, they came on the weekends and spent most of the summer with us. When we were all together it was a blessing, but it was also hard at times. Not knowing when to say something, and when to speak was very hard, and finding the right words to say. Our kids were great kids and hardly ever got in trouble. When I say they were a blessing they really were a blessing to share a life with. We did everything together, and had fun doing it. All days was not a blessing, yes we had those days where someone didn't get along with the other, and the big question that always came was "Why can't I do that if its okay for her to do it?" When you have a blended family it isn't just you and your children, its their parents also. My girls went to their fathers house on weekends, and spent time with him and his family, while my step children would do the same with their mother. Our sins carry over to our children if we are not careful, and our sins hurt our children as they see parents not getting along, or having issues with the step parent trying to take their place. That was never so in our home, but it doesn't mean those feelings didn't touch others. It is hard to see your child close to another woman, or your child close to another man other than yourself. But as a grown up, as a parent you must let go of those feelings and think of your child first. As parents its our job to raise our children with love and lead them in the right direction. We put our children before ourselves. I have to be honest and say their was alot of stress in our lives with the parents, not the children, and therefore that put our children right in the middle. You have to find a common ground, let your past go with your childrens parent, but you also have to have a relationship with them for your children. For me this was not always easy. As I said being a step parent is hard, and at times your not sure whether you should step forward or take a few steps back to keep the peace. As our children grew we grew also, we learned from mistakes, and we could move on with the grace of God. There were times I was very close to my step children, and our love for one another shined forth. I loved doing things as a family. Being together and going places were great times. If I could share any advice to make it better for another family. I would say the same, don't put labels on your children, but learn and know those boundries. Talk with the other parents and have communication with them. For whatever problems are there can be worked out, when you as the parent put the needs of your child first. When you lay your own needs down and think upon them. They need to feel the love and comfort of both parents. Never speak badly of your childs other parent. Never try to share your feelings with them and make them understand situations that as children they can't possibly understand. For a child things are simple, and should be simple. Our anger should never be placed on them just because we may not get along with their parent. Step parents get a raw deal at times. We have Cinderella and her mean step mother as an example. There are amazing step parents out there who give with all their hearts and put forth everything within them to love and grow as a family should. We were blessed when our children were young to begin our family together. We are kind of backwards, things were easy when they were young and we were very close, as to where today as they are older we are not as close. That leaves a hole in your heart, because you deep inside that you raised these children as your own, you gave them love and all they needed. They become part of your life and your life is never the same again when they enter or when they leave. For us we had God, we took our children to church and watched each one come to the Lord as their Savior. We watched as they grew with the Lord and shared a life with Him. We can begin our family with big dreams, but we also must take one day at a time. Think of that other parent and their feelings also. It is so hard for a child when they have two sets of parents telling them different views on life and teaching them in different ways, that is why coming together as adults is so very important. When you can come together as adults for the love of your children it shows great character and great love for your child. You dont always have to be right, and it doesn't always have to be your way. Having a blended family was and is a blessing, but we could not have done it without Christ. He was the source of our strength and wisdom at times when we were lost in what to do. Every decision we made was not the best, but you learn and you forgive yourself and forgive others, and you move forward. Each day can be a blessing for you and your children, but it is what you make it for them. As your family comes together you must grow with the Lord, and allow Him to lead you, not your feelings as a parent. As a parent we want the best for our children, so as to do that we must bring out the best in us..