As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they successfully blended their two families. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we'll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!
This week we hear from Prentiss and Angel, two exes who put aside their differences in order to be the best co-parents they could be for their son, Payton. The exes married other people years ago, and today the two families are so close, they like to call themselves Team Tucker-Earl. Below, Prentiss and Angel impart some of their co-parenting wisdom.
Hi guys! Want to tell us who's who in your family?
Angel: I am Payton's biological mother and my ex, Prentiss, is his biological dad. Both of us are married to other people now. My husband, Sean, and I have been together for six years. We have a daughter named Genevieve who's 4. Prentiss married his wife, Jazzmin, four years ago. She just gave birth to the sweetest baby boy -- Maxwell Jackson Earl. He's all of one month old.
You have it together now, but I'm guessing it wasn't always that way. What have been some of biggest challenges you've had to face as co-parents?
Prentiss: Transitioning Payton between our homes was difficult. We live in the same neighborhood now because we realized that was the best way for us to come together for our children and each other. That said, even though we spend time together during the week and on weekends, it's still difficult for Payton to adjust to our different rules and ways of life at times. Some of our earlier struggles centered around logistics, which my wife and I remedied by moving to one of the best neighborhoods in Kansas City this past summer.
Angel: Prentiss mentioned transitions and I agree -- that was easily the greatest challenge for us. Figuring out the best method of sharing time with our son was really tricky. We have changed the "when, where, and how long" a dozen times at this point. Managing expectations is also huge. We strive to provide the same expectations -- homework, eating, chores, downtime -- in each of our homes. This is sometimes difficult because we are, of course, four different individuals and we value and enjoy different things. Parenting is a unique experience with one other person, let alone four. In the end, it boils down to consistency, communication, and not playing the blame game when issues arise.
What's the best thing about being part of a blended family?
Prentiss: Our children are growing up together and are receiving love from four adults. We spend holidays together. We watch K.U. basketball games together. We go to school programs together. The additional support is truly a blessing.
How do you both manage the stress of blended family life?
Angel: In a blended family you tend to be at a disadvantage when it comes to stress. Stress management is all about maintaining balance -- and creating balance just so happens to be one of the biggest obstacles in a blended family. We recognize that as a problem and try to remedy it by being understanding, compromising and maintaining togetherness. We do whatever we can to triumph over conflict. It's not an easy feat, but it's worth it.
Prentiss: I'd argue that our situation was more stressful when we maintained a separatist attitude with our individual households. I don't feel family-related stress as much as I used to because of the way we've come together as a team. If anything, we overly communicate and love on one another now. Just yesterday, Sean and I were watching the Kansas Jayhawks basketball game when we shared with one another that if something were to ever happen to him and Angel or me and Jazzmin, we'd take care of each others' children. Over time we've built trust, love and respect for one other that's paying dividends in ways we never imagined. It's awesome.
What makes you proudest of your family?
Angel: The coolest thing and the thing I am most proud of is that nine times out of 10 we are harmonious and comfortable with one another.
Prentiss: I’m proud that our family chose love over the negative baggage or circumstances that led to our previously failed relationships.
What advice do you have for other blended families who feel like a peaceful family dynamic is out of reach?
Prentiss: Pride, ego, jealousy, and anger are not your allies. Focus on what's best for your children and find a way to build that bridge. It was hard for us to invest in each other years ago, but that investment is and will continue to pay dividends until our time is up.
Angel: Spend time together. Know what you as an individual bring to the table as a co-parent -- what you're good at and what you struggle with. Remember that kids are complicated and far from easy. And lastly, know that what we have established took intent, time and patience.
Scroll down for photos of Prentiss and Angels' families
If you'd like your own family to be featured on a Blended Family Friday, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're looking forward to hearing your story!