PODCAST: Surviving in a blended family
Wendy Miller is a business woman, a part time runner and mum to three wonderful children. Wendy is also the proud step mum to her husband's three children.
Statistics show more than half of marriages end in divorce so blended families are very common, but do we know how best to cope in a co-parenting situation?
In their Coffee Chat, Wendy shares with Matt the ups and downs of her whirlwind blended family journey.
Listen the Wendy Miller interview here:
Matt Collins: Wendy, Give us an idea of how your household works.
Wendy Miller: We are a blended family of eight. It's fair to say there are eight different personalities living in this home.
MC: Is there a lot of arguments in the house?
WM: Only amongst the blood siblings. So rarely crossing over. I have two sons and a daughter and my husband has two sons and a daughter.
MC: So four boys and two girls in the house.
WM: That's right. Our daughters are different ages and they share a room. They are the only two who aren't blood siblings who share a room.
MC: How old are the two girls?
WM: 13 and 10.
MC: They share a room and they are not blood sisters...
WM: Yeah and they're girls!
MC: You said it Wendy! Not me!
WM: It's tough because they have completely different personalities. They are completely different people and I love my daughter very much but she is very messy.
MC: How do you get along with your husband's children?
WM: Trying to relate to them can be a challenge. They are sci-fi mad and that just isn't the type of person I am. It doesn't interest me.
MC: So how do you make it work?
WM: I make a real conscious effort. I show a real interest. Some of the listeners might think I am a bad person but I have to make the effort.
MC: I can relate to that. I don't think it makes you a bad person. Not every conversation you have with someone is going to interest you right?
WM: But your interest has to be genuine. Kids can feel energy. Kids know, they can sense if mum and dad are fighting. They energetically feel it.
MC: Let's talk about discipline. Do you discipline your husband's kids different to your own kids?
WM: I guess I take a different stance with them. I don't have the same confrontation or conflict with them as I would with my own kids.
MC: I get that. I have this thing with my own boy, he's 15 and if he isn't being the young man I know he can be I'll say 'Noah, use your brain'. But I would never say that to my partner's girls.
WM: Yeah, I don't know what that is. I think it's maybe a different level of respect. But if you are playing all out you should do it no matter who is watching.
MC: Can I ask how long you guys have been married?
WM: We have been married for one year.
MC: Ok, and therefore you've been in this blended household for one year?
WM: No, we have all been in the house together for five years.
MC: So five years together and is it sounds like there are still areas you struggle with?
WM: Oh yeah, of course. I really don't have all the answers but I have a really skewed view on the world of step parenting. I had a really awful step father.
MC: Why was he awful?
WM: He was an abuser.
MC: He would hit you?
WM: Yes, it was terrible.
MC: Did your mum know about that?
WM: Oh yeah, she was one of the victims as well.
WM: Yeah, there is whole other radio show on that one Matt!
MC: As hard as this whole blended family thing is tough on the parents it's tougher on the kids isn't it?
WM: Oh yeah, if there is one thing I could say, it is that it is always going to be your own children first. If I feel in anyway that my children are being threatened because of my relationship with my husband.
MC: Then it's over.
WM: Exactly. It's done. Because the children will always come first.
MC: What does Wendy Miller do when she gets five minutes to herself?
WM: Oh that never happens!
WM: Just the piece and quiet is enough. When my husband will leave with all six kids for the school run there is a very small window where I can actually enjoy my breakfast and a coffee.