Blending Family Parenting Styles

When they got married, Tom and Megan’s kids ranged from teens to mid-twenties. Megan had three kids, and Tom had three. And now they are grandparents to three . . . and counting.

“We’ve had it relatively easy when it comes to our kids, I think,” Tom says. “Two of my children love and honor Megan. But one of my children has stronger loyalties to her mom.”

“I think she felt that her closeness to her dad was being invaded when I entered the picture,” Megan says. “To be honest, I was a little jealous because she and Tom were so close. But I needed to get over it and respect their relationship. As time passed, the tension lessened. My relationship with Tom’s youngest daughter, Christy, was very different from my relationship with his other daughter. Christy lived with us for our first year of marriage. People suggested we wait and marry after Christy graduated from high school, but we chose to go ahead and marry then. Because we did, Christy and I have a very special bond, so it was a good thing!”

“Megan’s taught me a lot,” Tom says. “I’ve learned to put my foot down when I need to, back off when it’s important, and let the kids fail when they need to learn a lesson. Megan has also helped me set healthy boundaries.”

“We’ve had to figure out how to manage Tom’s authoritarian parenting style with the more relaxed parenting style that I have,” Megan says.

“We parented very differently,” Tom says. “I was a rescuer, so if anyone needed anything, I’d drop everything to ‘save’ them.”

“I’m the tough guy when it comes to the kids,” Megan says. “I always tried to guide them so they’d be able to do it on their own—I’d let them fail and learn by it.”

“Megan is the best mom I’ve ever seen,” Tom says. “She was so wise, right from the start, to make sure her children knew that she really loved me and she expected them to respect me. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that, and that made things harder.”

“Tom’s children could be disrespectful to him at times, and they expected more because they had always gotten more. So they often put him in a position of choosing between them or me,” Megan says. “It was an adjustment for all of us.”

“Even though they were older and already out of the house when we married, Megan’s kids truly love me as a dad, and I feel the same way about them,” Tom says. “My children have a stronger loyalty toward their mother, as they should, but this has gotten in the way of them accepting my relationship with Megan.”

“And of course, our former spouses factor into our relationships with the kids,” Megan says. “One of our exes is more laid back and fine with the children spending time with Tom and me. But the other ex doesn’t feel that way and often makes the kids feel guilty for spending time or enjoying their time with us, so that causes tension all the way around.”

For Megan and Tom, the different parenting styles and the differences in their adult children’s views of their relationship as a couple have had a long-lasting affect on their ability to blend their family. Though they love all of their kids, it isn’t easy to work through the exes’ influences, the individual mindsets of their adult children, and the complexities of blending a family. As Tom says, “We’re still a work in progress.”

Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved. Visit for more.


Susan and Dale Mathis are passionate about helping couples prepare for marriage and for remarriage, since they are a remarried couple themselves. Dale has two master's degrees in counseling and has worked in counseling and human resources for over 30 years. Susan, the founding editor of Thriving Family magazine, has written prolifically for magazines and newspapers and continues to serve as a consultant, freelance editor and writer, and speaker. As a couple they enjoy camping, hiking, biking, and visiting family and friends around the world. Their blended family includes five adult children and three granddaughters. For more information about Susan or Dale, visit their website.

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