One Big, Happy Family

No "steps," no "halfs," no "yours," no "mine," just family.
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Before people become a family is a great time to have the discussion regarding what "family" means to each of you. Once again, we are a product of our experience and exposure, positive and negative.

I, for instance, have three brothers who I love equally. I have never thought of them differently. Technically, two of my brothers are my "step" brothers, but I care little for technicalities when it comes to defining my family. Family includes my Dad, his wife, Mom and her husband (all my parents), my cousin's ex-wives, my son's father and his wife, my "adopted" sons, my best friend, her husband, and many more. There are a multitude of people who do not share my blood, but share my heart and make up my family.

As a child, I often heard my parents and their new spouses differentiate their children (sorry guys) "your children," "my children" certainly divides a family rather than bringing them together. As children, we forged our sibling bonds despite this parental segregation. Surprisingly enough, eventually our parents took our lead and as we became sisters and brothers, their references to "yours" and "mine" evolved to "the children."

Flash forward to my own impending re-marriage to an amazing, wonderful man without children of his own. We did it differently. We parented together. It was a love story where we all fell in love and became a family. My husband changed from someone who didn't know who Winnie-the-Pooh was, to a real dad. He made lunches, put up swing sets and learned to navigate Disney World like a pro.

Never once has my husband said "Your child, you handle it."

We then had children together. When our first daughter was born, our then four-year-old son went to his father's house. He came home sad and concerned. He asked us if his new sister was his "half sister." His father had said she was "just" his half sister. I asked him, "Does she look like half a sister?" He smiled and said, "Nope, she looks like a whole sister to me!" That, thankfully, is the last time we heard the "half sister" reference.

Bringing a family together makes it stronger and makes your marriage stronger. Just remember that parenting is about love, not blood. No "steps," no "halfs," no "yours," no "mine," just family. It's not always easy, but really, family or anything worthwhile is worth working for.

And everyone can use a little more love.

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