Search

Young Adults Talk about Happy Memories and give Advice to Stepfamilies



We have all had different experiences in our stepfamilies. However, there are lots of similar situations in stepfamilies too. Much has been written from an adult’s perspective on stepfamilies. So I decided to rally some young adults from stepfamilies and ask them if they had some happy memories they might like to share.


These young people (ages 18-42) were more than happy to talk about their own experiences and were even more enthusiastic about giving some advice. Lol


I might add here that the more distance there is from their childhood, the more adult children understand why their parents made the choices they made.


Below you will find the happy memory and advice I was given by each of my wonderful contributors.



#1.

In my stepfamily I have two siblings and two stepsiblings. I was only three when my dad remarried. I am now thirty-three years old. We all grew up together. It was a crazy, busy time.


A very happy memory for me was in Bermuda when we were all on vacation together. This would be about ten years ago. We went out to dinner in the downtown. Afterwards just the five of us went to a bar and we ended up on the dance floor singing and dancing together. That night sticks in my mind because it was just us siblings having a night of carefree fun all together.


My advice to Stepfamilies out there is just to have fun. Having things planned whether is it is a trip away or a board game on a Sunday. It's always nice for the kids to have something to look forward to and something for them to bond over and have some laughs while doing it.



#2.

My memory is:


I am a middle child of three siblings with one older brother and one younger sister. We were quite young when our parents split up. After some time they each remarried and we gained two step brothers, one half sister and several aunts, uncles, grandparents, and so many cousins it would be hard to count them all. Our life was FULL! Always busy moving from someone's hockey practice, to someone else's soccer practice to birthdays and BBQ's and it just took off in a flurry of fun and excitement. Joint custody schedules made things interesting with different children moving from one house to another, but we quickly became used to the new routine. The only trouble with the whole thing was trying to explain it to other people. We often heard "You're going to need to draw me a picture".

One weekend when we were all university age, my biological brother had a bike race. My biological sister, my dad, my mom and I all happened to all go to watch him. He was ripping around in the woods on his bike and between his laps we would chat away. At one point, my mom and dad were over talking to one another and my sister and I were joking around. Then she turned to me with a stark look on her face and said "EW!!! Imagine if mom and dad were still together and this was only us? And this was just our life?!?" It took a moment, but once I realized what she was saying I could picture it. A very plain, ordinary family! No extra siblings, no step aunts and uncles. None of it. Neither of us could believe how rich our life had become through what I am sure was a very difficult situation. Sometimes life offers us a different path that brings depth, challenge and chaos and on the other end, much more beauty and complexity than could have ever been imagined. I would choose my big convoluted family every time, and I am happy to draw a big picture to explain it.


My advice for children of stepfamilies:


A. Respect your stepsiblings space- enjoy family time together but respect everyone’s need for personal space. Try not to take it personally if they spend time separate.


B. Ask for help planning moves between houses- if you have after school activities or need certain clothes they are almost always at the other house so try to plan ahead by asking for support.

Advice to everyone: support commutes back and forth between homes if the kids forget something. It’s not easy for anyone, and sometimes can be overwhelming.


C. Support your siblings. Both biological and stepsiblings need support- offer your kindness where you can because you often have a lot in common and can understand one another a lot better than you think.





#3.

HI, this is what came out when I thought about it! I know it's not a memory but I thought it might be helpful to stepfamilies. I grew up in a stepfamily with two other brothers and two sisters.


One of the things I benefitted from due to growing up in a stepfamily, was the exposure I got to the way other families operate and handle day to day issues. Joining another family allows you to see how other families handle everyday challenges, differently than your own may have. You get a chance to experience the style of parenting or sibling dynamics from another family.

Learning from another family can help you find new and novel solutions to problems that you may not have been aware of. There will also be cases where you can help your new family, by teaching them how to handle an issue in a way that they may not have considered. When two families work together to solve their collective issues it helps to form a new family bond.

Learning to be open and flexible to other people’s ways of solving problems is a life skill that is useful in relationships, when working or playing in a team setting, and when building a family of your own. I am grateful to have been taught to be flexible, open to new ideas and to learn from others in a stepfamily setting. It wasn’t always easy, but I am a better partner, team member and dad for it.



#4.

Here is my memory and advice:

One of my happiest memories with my step-dad (I call him dad) when I was a child were our “Daddy and me” days. These were special days, which only came around a few times per year, where my dad would let me make an entire day plan of whatever I wanted, for the two of us to do together. No expense was spared! If I had to choose one of my favorite days in particular, I’d say it was the time he took me to my favorite clothing store and bought me clothes :) These days definitely made me feel special and strengthened our bond.


If I had to offer any advice for stepparents out there, I’d say to make sure you spend quality one-on-one time with your stepchildren. Something that may seem so insignificant and overindulgent to you could mean the world to them and your relationship. By the way, spending time alone with your biological parent is wonderful too.




#5.

My father married a lady who didn’t have any children. So I don’t have any stepsiblings.


My happiest memory was of the day my dad remarried a really nice lady. I was her bridesmaid. I was only six years old but I felt very special. I had a pretty dress and it was a big fun celebration.

The best part was when my new stepmom told me I was the daughter she always wanted and although I was a stepdaughter she loved me too.


My stepmom didn’t want my mom to feel bad so she didn’t want me to think of her as a “mom” and I always call her by her name. I always knew the difference between them though. When I look back now, having a mom and a stepmom caring about me is wonderful.


My advice is simply that it is important to remember when you marry your partner you have to be ready to marry his/her whole family as well. Stepchildren are a big and special part of the family too.




#6.

Mom didn’t remarry until we were married adults with our own children. I likely have a different perspective about stepfamilies now than I might have had if I was still a scrappy teenage boy.


Happy memories for me are always backyard BBQ’s. That is because my siblings and stepsiblings often come too and bring their children. There is perfect chaos with everyone there and we laugh and have happy conversations. I have to say that we can be quite funny when we are all together. Being part of this big extended family is fun.


A. My advice is not to forget about your adult children too. Let everyone know about all the family functions. Sometimes we can’t come but invite us anyway. We also like it when our parents and stepparents come to our children’s activities.


B. Also, it is good to remember that adult children need support and mentoring from their parents no matter their age. The difference is that adult children need to ask first before advice is offered. Lol




#7.

My dad was on his own for a while before he got married again. He was really good at playing with my little brother, but girl “things “ were hard for him to deal with often.


One of my best memories was dad helping me do my hair in the mornings. I had long hair and I needed it tied up into a ponytail. One day, dad fiddled with my hair for a really long time and by the time he was done my hair was tied in knots. I looked so funny that we laughed and laughed. It was a relief to me and especially to him once he remarried. My stepmom could help with my hair much better than dad.


My advice is to give stepparents a chance. Usually they mean well and want to be a positive part of the family. They do make changes to the family dynamics no doubt about that and they are going to make some mistakes for sure. As long as they are making an effort try to be patient.




#8.

When I was ten and my brother was twelve our dad got married to a lady that had a girl nine and a boy fifteen.


My memory is about the day our two stepsiblings moved into our house. My brother and I were aware that we would need to share our bedrooms with our stepsiblings. We were not thrilled about it even though we knew it was necessary.


One day when we arrived home from school, we found our two bedrooms with extra beds, desks and dressers. However, they were also decorated with balloons and streamers and gifts on each bed. The gifts were new computers!!!! Looking back, it took the sting out of sharing for all of us.


My advice is to parents and stepparents. Never ever take over (move them out of) a child’s bedroom without asking and/or talking to them first. Their room is a special place with their valuable and private things in it. Children might feel abandoned and replaced if you do.




#9.

My Stepfamily memory:


One of my favorite stepfamily memories is every year we would drive as a family to a place called the Irwin inn on Stoney Lake. We rented a small cottage there for a week every summer and we would spend time swimming, tubing, paddle boarding etc. These yearly trips with the whole family made us a lot closer and gave us time away from home, school and work to bond as a family. Each year we would go and I would spend all day with my sister and stepbrother playing and hanging out and we all got a lot closer because of it.


If I could give any advice to a child in a stepfamily it is that you should always do your best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt especially with stepsiblings. They are likely going through the exact same feelings you are and you can be a real support to each other. You never know, they might become your new best friend!



To put all of this into context is really a matter of recognizing that all of the stepchildren’s experiences will vary and there are many positives. The reality is that love, support, patience and guidance from and between stepchildren and parents will result in the best chance for everyone to have a healthy, happy experience.