As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight stepfamilies to learn how they've worked to bring their kids together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we'll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life! Want to share your story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On their blog Our Blended Marriage, Ana and Frank Amelio try to reassure divorced parents that there is life -- and love -- in the wake of divorce. Below, Ana, who lives in Croatia with her family, shares more of their inspiring story.
Hi Ana. Please introduce us to your family!
My husband Frank and I have four children: Mateo (13), Cameron (12), Lesley (7) and our newest family member Erik who is 6 months old.
Frank and I have been together for eight years. We met in 2007 while playing an online game and we got married a year later. It's been a wonderful ride and it still feels like it's our first year of marriage.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a family in those eight years?
Our biggest challenge so far is the fact that we are currently living in Croatia while Cameron, my husband's biological son, is in the U.S. with his mom. Normal visitations are rather difficult to pull off in this case, which is one of the reasons we started a blog about our adventure -- to keep our family in the loop and to share our experience with others in similar situations.
Aside from that, it can be challenging when different rules are in place in our house than in the other parents' homes. On a few occasions, our oldest has tried to weasel out of his punishment of no video games by going over to his father's house and playing them there. This is just one example of when communication plays an important role in a stepfamily.
What do you appreciate most about life in a blended family?
If you ask our children, they will without a doubt say double presents! For my husband and me, finding happiness again is the best part. We were both pretty disillusioned and thought happiness was way out of our reach. Then we found each other and the rest, as they say, is history.
What makes you proudest of your family?
The fact that our children do not make a distinction between half-sister or step-brother. They all see each other as brothers and sisters and know they can come to either one of the parents for advice or if they just need someone to listen to them. We've also been told a lot that we would never make it as we were literally worlds apart when we met (I was in Croatia, Frank was in Tampa, Florida). But despite the initial distance, we are still together, still going strong and we're both determined to stay together till the end.
What advice do you have for other parents who may feel like peace in their household is out of reach?
If I can offer any advice it would be to make sure your stepchildren really understand that you are not there to replace their real mom or dad but you will be there for them if they need you. Don't try to force titles on the children and let them decide whether they want to address you with your first name or something else. Make sure the other parent is OK with that too. Above all, remember that children might be more confused with the new situation so allow them time to get comfortable. And like in any other relationship, communication is key -- both with the children and the exes!
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