The Art of the Blended Family
How to help step-siblings welcome the new baby
Among the current crop of pregnant celebs are three moms-to-be set to welcome their new arrival into a blended family. How can they—or anyone, for that matter—make this kind of family unit work? Here’s the Hollywood rundown—and a few helpful tips.
For starters, Reese Witherspoon, mom to mini-me Ava, 12, and Deacon, 9—her children with ex-husband Ryan Philippe—is expecting a new bundle of joy sometime this fall with second husband Jim Toth. Uma Thurman, who has two children—daughter Maya, 13, and son Levon, 10—with her ex, Ethan Hawke, is due to give birth to her first child with fiance Arpad Busson any day now. (Arpad has two children with his ex, Elle Macpherson; Ethan and his current wife also have two young children, making this an extra-blended family). And then there’s Megan Fox. She has yet to officially confirm her pregnancy, but from the looks of things, she and husband Brian Austin Green don’t have long to wait before introducing someone new to Kassius, age 10, Brian’s son with actress Vanessa Marcil.
They aren’t alone. A 2011 report puts the number of US adults that head up step- or blended families at 29 to 30 million (approximately 16.5 million stepdads and 14 million stepmoms). Jenny Bryant, of Wells, Maine, has two young daughters from a previous relationship, and just gave birth to her first child with her second husband. The newly blended family is … blending! Well! Says Bryant, “Both girls were thrilled to show off their baby brother.”
What’s Jenny’s secret?
Family First: Turn the birth of the baby into a family event by giving older kids “I’m the Big Sister” (or brother) shirts or another special gift. Take a family photo as soon as you can. Ask a relative or family friend your kids adore to watch them in the waiitng room, and buy some games or a few new books to make the time extra special.
Prep for Questions: Depending on the age, don’t be surprised if your children ask things like, what will the new baby call their father? Or, do they need to call your husband “Daddy” because the new baby will? Whatever curve ball they come up with, be honest and keep it positive.
Follow Their Lead: If your older child wants to be Mommy’s Little Helper, involve him by assigning easy tasks like handing you a diaper at changing time or have him make a “Shhh! Baby is Sleeping!” sign for the door. If kids don’t seem terribly interested right now, try not to push too much sibling bonding.
Reconnect—Regularly: Commit to one-on-one time with your older child. Cuddle, read books, go to the park together, or watch a movie. For a blended family to work, says Bryant, “Everyone needs to feel like a very important ingredient.”
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