Updated: Jan 30, 2021
So Rucka, what the Hell is up with your principles?!? (I'm assuming this is being asked with indignation. I should note that I also try not to take myself too seriously. I have a very dark sense of humor, which may come out at some point. I hope that the majority of people who read this blog will laugh with me as opposed to being appalled.) Many of my bullet points stem from my experience with my blended family, and I get along with the mothers of my children (yes, I have more than one, which is another post entirely *insert face palm*). I do acknowledge that these may be difficult to apply if there is animosity between the parents. My points might even be WAY off for someone else's experience. I may even just be flat out wrong with my observations at this point in time, or I might be not be considering everything in the big picture. This forever will be an evolving process, I will always be making addendums and refining what I'm learning about my experience. Please keep my context in mind when reading. I am more than happy to flesh out these points and explain further:
There are always exceptions to the rule
Flexibility is necessary. You and your significant other will make arrangements with your child's mother (and/or her significant other) and then you will all break the rules that you, as a collective created. It just happens! It definitely drives me up the wall a little bit because I LOVE organization, but it's life! As long as you are all on the same page, these hiccups usually work themselves out.
Follow the parenting style of your child's mother
I know that this can be difficult, especially if your child's mother isn't the most communicative. A factor that instantly put me on the path to having friendly and civil relationships with my children's mothers is that right off the bat, I told them that I was there to support them with their child. If any of the mothers felt I was doing something out of line or something that she didn't want her daughter aligned with, I asked them to please let me know! (Politely and respectfully, of course.) It was important to me that I let the mothers know that they could trust me with their children. I know that a mother's biggest fear is that someone will hurt her baby when she is not around. While it can be challenging if there is a break down in the relationship between the adults, needless to say, communication is crucial.
Do not try to compete with your child's mother
This point encompasses humility and it goes hand-in-hand with the point above. As time is going by, I am gradually starting to feel like my kids are mine. However, I have no delusions of grandeur and did not even try to assume the role of "Mom". I know that I am not my kids' biological mother and I am not even trying to remotely fulfill that role. I am Back-Up Mom and I believe that by making that clear in the very beginning, it helped my relationships with the mothers. I also make an effort to respect the relationship that the mothers have with my boyfriend. If there are any issues with co-parenting, I prefer to let the mother(s) and my boyfriend troubleshoot and discuss first. I do express my concerns and suggestions to my boyfriend so he can take that to the table as our talking points. However, I feel that my physical presence in a discussion like this should be used as a last resort. Even then, I'd need to question if a conversation between the mother and I would ultimately be productive. I feel that parenting disagreements need to primarily happen between the biological parents and as a bonus parent, I need to be supportive. When the mother texts her child's father she is of course, texting both of us as a unit, but at the end of the day the conversations should primarily stay between them. I have to trust that my significant other will fill me in on what's happening and give in to the power that I cannot control this situation.
Another relationship that I need to be mindful of is the relationship between my child and his/her mother. What I keep in mind is an article I once read where a bonus mother wrote about how she had to learn to respect the relationship that her bonus daughter had with her biological mother. The example she gave was a school play that her bonus daughter was in. While she did buy her child flowers and instantaneously wanted to celebrate with her bonus daughter the minute the play was over, she realized that her biological mother also wanted to have those same moments. She felt that it was right for the biological mother to have those first moments of joy with her daughter, and if she only waited a few minutes her bonus daughter would then turn to her. There is enough love to go around and really, we're all doing this for the benefit of the child, right? What does it really matter to have your "joy moments" second? At the end of the day, the fact that you were there to show support is the most important thing. You are both on the same team and working together to raise a well-adjusted human that will contribute to society.
Boundaries with the mother(s) need to be drawn by the child's father (or secondary parental figure)
One of the elements that was already in place before I entered my blended family was that my boyfriend was already very clear on where everyone stood in his family. Everyone clearly understood that he had no romantic entanglements with any of the mothers. One could arguably say that there were really no gray areas and that the family unit was ready for me to show up. He was not allowing any of the mothers (not that any of them were necessarily doing this) to manipulate him into being in a relationship. None of them were using their children to monopolize his time. I already had one foot quasi-out the door with this relationship (because the idea of blending in with 3 children and 3 mothers was intimidating!). If any of the mothers had tried to monopolize his time or manipulate him, I would have dropped out of this relationship so quick! I am not a fan of baby mama drama. I'm over 30 and I do not have that kind of energy. Side note: If you do encounter a mother with the attitude of, "You better get used to me because I'll always be here!", I would just run. My opinion is, why bother with that energy? Especially if you have less "baggage" than your partner, why deal with that negativity? It's also a ridiculous statement because as the potential new Bonus Mom, you already know that this woman will always be around. You don't like it, but you've known about her from the get-go. To me, that energy screams, "I still have feelings for my baby daddy and I will sabotage your relationship with him every chance I get!!!" There are too many eligible men in the world to have to deal with a woman who makes your life miserable. "But that's unfair to the man!" No, it's not. He needs to grow a pair and clearly state his boundaries with her. If he cannot do so, that's his problem and therefore, deserves to stay single. And what ever you do, resist the urge to stoop to this crazy lady's level with the whole, "Well he's my man now" rhetoric because then you'll look crazy and petty. This is also not your fight. It is his. It takes two people to create a baby. He was there when it happened. Let him handle his business. Do not do your significant other's dirty work for him.
I am Pro-Choice
This is self-explanatory and I stand by what I wrote. In case it bears repeating: This is not up for debate, please do not contact me with propaganda. I function under the belief that no one loves abortion. It is not an easy, breezy walk in the park and I do not believe that women do it for a quick birth control fix. This procedure can be taxing emotionally and mentally. I am a strong advocate of birth control and believe that abortions are for the most part, unwanted and used as a last resort. It is also a decision that is made between a woman, her family and/or her doctor. It is not my place to judge someone of whom I have no knowledge of their personal circumstances. Also, let us not forget back ally abortions. Do we really need to cover that?
When it comes to bringing a baby into the world, it seems that the mother carries more of the responsibilities than the father
If you are reading this, let me say that I am so glad you've stayed with me to allow me to elaborate. I am aware of how this sounds without an explanation. If you haven't been able to tell thus far, I am very much a feminist (who also advocates for men. Actually, if you're on top of your sh*t, you would know that this is exactly what feminism means, but we live in a world where people think feminism means I'm anti-men. No, I just want things to be equal!!!). I do not believe that men should be allowed to abandon their children. They should absolutely share the responsibility of raising a child since they were 100% engaged in the activity of conceiving the child - and child support, that goes without saying, that 100% needs to happen! In an ideal world, the responsibilities should be split 50/50. In fact, I absolutely believe that many couples (together or separated) actively share the responsibilities of raising their children. However, I also believe that a lot of the responsibilities are split 60/40 with the mother carrying the greater share. My reasoning for the woman to carry 60% is based off of the fact that she is in control of the reproductive organs. It is her body, her choice. I would like to focus on the topic of unexpected pregnancies and scenarios where the parents are not together. This may be an unpopular opinion: I think in cases like these, the women bear the greater share of the responsibility. I do have some sympathy for the men on this issue. If you do not want a child but the woman who got pregnant by you wants it, you're sh*t out of luck. As a man, you will have to come to terms with having a child that you initially do not want. Please note that once the child is born, it is entirely plausible that you will love your child and that the hesitancy you experienced throughout the pregnancy will be thrown out the window. I just want to recognize that the sentiment of "not wanting" the child comes from a place of not being able to have a say or any control over the situation, it's not a reflection of your feelings for your baby. I feel that for men, their feelings are skimmed over and offered very little sympathy because everyone thinks, "You should've used protection." Sure, but your feelings of reluctance should be recognized and validated. I should also clarify that just because your feelings are warranted, it does not give you an excuse to shirk off responsibilities. Ladies, when considering to keep or terminate your pregnancy I think that the attitude of the father is a strong indication of what your parenting journey with him will be like. If he is resistant, there is a good chance that the resistance will still be there after you give birth. What does that mean for you? I am in no way condoning this behavior, but it is worth noting that this will be part of your experience with him. Also, bringing a new family member into the world involves more than just you and the father. It involves a whole tribe of people. As they say, it takes a village. What if the father is not financially sound? What if the father has valid reasons that will make his parenting journey challenging? Sure, that is his "problem" to figure out, but by proxy it is now also your problem. So who ends up picking up the slack? You, the mother. This is why I feel that minimally, women carry 60% of the responsibility and men carry 40%. I am sure there are cases where it's even more off balance, like 70/30. Reality isn't always fair. Therefore, to be responsible, it is important to acknowledge the circumstances that surround your pregnancy, so be prepared for the realities of your decisions.
If the scenario I described does not apply and the father of your child is gung-ho, ready for this baby, then you are blessed and I am truly happy for you. This is the ultimate goal for co-parenting.
Do not have a baby because you are trying to lock a man down into a relationship
It doesn't work. Sure, there are situations where a man married the woman he got pregnant (recalling my very first bullet point of exceptions to the rule), but from my experience, it doesn't work. I also have a fundamental disdain for women who do this. It's manipulative and conniving. It also cheats a woman of her potential. Women are amazing and have so many things to offer the world! This is all you have to offer for yourself? Why would you want a man who doesn't want to commit to you? What if your pregnancy doesn't make him stay? Let's add on a layer of complexity and say that you have feelings for the father of your child and despite your pregnancy, he decides he doesn't want a committed relationship with you. So this means "no" to the conventional "happy family" and "welcome" to the world of the blended family? I am not saying that there is anything wrong with blended families. There can be a lot of love in the blended formula, look at Will Smith and his family. But if your dream is to have the family unit where the two parents are together, maybe don't try to intentionally get pregnant by a man who won't commit? It's such a risky gamble. You might have to watch him date, then create the family you wanted with him with someone else, then run the risk of having him resent you which can then manifest into darker feelings, maybe he already has children with other women and now you're all fighting for his time, or maybe because of jealously you start to think that he favors one of his other children over yours? It just doesn't seem worth it! Lest we not forget, that between the two of you there's a child in the center of all of this. Is he or she going to have to bear the emotional scars and consequences of being the baby that was used in adult games?
Do not have a baby because you're trying to save your relationship
Don't do it! It won't save your relationship! A baby will achieve the exact opposite! I understand the romanticism of having a baby and the thoughts of bringing you closer to your significant other. However, babies and young children put strains on relationships. I had never experienced turbulence or difficulties due to children until I got into my current relationship. 99% of our fights are triggered by circumstances that surround our kids.
Be your own woman with your own career, ambitions and goals. Be an asset to your relationship, not a drain.
It sounds like a cliché, but it's truth! Go to school, travel the world, pursue your dreams, live your best life! Do things that bring you joy and fulfillment and live for yourself first. Take the space and time to reflect upon yourself, the freedom to see the parts of your psyche and spirituality that you wish you refine, perhaps heal unintentional traumas that were inflicted on you by your parents (because it happens!). I think that it is important to become as "whole" of a person as you can before you can give any part of yourself to anyone else. If you're drawing out of a pitcher that's only half full, you'll have less to give. Empower yourself! You are an asset to a relationship when you have something to give to your partner.
Choosing to not have a biological child is 100% an acceptable choice
You really don't have to have a baby if you don't want one. Society is slowly evolving to change the mentality that everyone has to have children. Think about it, the 40 weeks that it takes for your body to turn itself into a human incubator, then the following year of recovery after pushing something the size of a watermelon out a hole the size of a lemon ... It's a lot! I've been told that it's painful (it sounds like it)! Also you apparently poop on the table while giving birth and that sounds utterly traumatizing. If you want to be childless or only have fur babies, do you! If we have people like the Duggar Family having 19 children, I think the human race will figure itself out. Personally, I'm open to having my own child, but I don't think I'll be devastated if I don't.
Being a biological mother does not make you better than anyone else
I've seen the message boards and I don't like the tone of some women. Having a baby is not some kind of badge of honor that makes you better than anyone else! Technically, every woman can give birth. We all have this capability. Just because a woman decided to utilize this capability she is now better than those who haven't? GTFO! I have no tolerance for this attitude.
Thus are the pillars of my beliefs with building my blended family. Of course, we can't forget: There are always exceptions to the rule. Just watch, I'm probably going to be breaking my own rules. I'm certain that scenarios will show up, where I will say, "I believe in *listed bullet point* but had to make an exception because of *unnamed* extenuating circumstances." *insert face palm here* C'est la vie!