'If You Can’t Love His Kids Then Don’t Marry Him'

When you marry someone with kids, it's a package deal.
Everything Chrissy Lung learned about being a stepmom she learned from growing up in a stepfamily. 
Everything Chrissy Lung learned about being a stepmom she learned from growing up in a stepfamily. 

As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they’ve worked to bring their two families 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 family’s story? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com.

When Chrissy Lung first met her husband’s five kids, she was careful not to force any sort of parental relationship on them.

“I tried to be polite and kind,” she said. “Most of what I know about being a stepparent I learned from being a stepchild myself.”

Below, Lung who lives in Colton, California with her husband Terry, shares more of her family’s story.

Hi Chrissy. Please introduce us to your family.

We are a family of nine. There’s me and my two sons: Julian, 26 and Matthew, 18. My husband Terry has five kids from his previous marriages: Jordan, 25; Kailey, 21; twins Kamryn and Riley, 16; and Tyler, 15.

We’ve been together since 2006 and we were married in 2009

Chrissy and her husband Terry. 
Chrissy and her husband Terry. 

You had two sons and became stepmom to five kids. How did you ease into that role?

When we first got together the kids ages were all under 16. It was nuts! Back then when they were so young, I had this philosophy to treat them as I would a neighbor kid visiting. I would guide and direct them but in the politest, kindest way possible. As they got older we all fell into a comfortable routine and I was able to establish my place in their lives as a friend and mentor. But I didn’t try to be their mother.

What have been some of the biggest challenges of stepfamily life?

One of our biggest challenges would have to be when one of my sons and one of his kids would argue and then want us to choose sides. That was tough because you want to stay objective and you also so desperately want them to like each other.

What do you appreciate most about stepfamily life?

The best part has been being able to help my husband maintain healthy loving relationships with his kids. They are all growing into such wonderful young adults. I’m so proud of how close we all are and the bonds we’ve made. They didn’t have to love me but they chose to. That makes me think I did alright.

How do you deal with stress with so many kids under one roof?
Anyone who knows me knows I deal with stress with humor. You got to have a good sense of humor! I keep them busy and laughing as much as possible.

What advice do you have for other stepparents who are struggling to feel like part of the family?
Just be yourself. Kids have great instincts and can spot a phony a mile away. My advice to anyone considering marrying a man with kids is if you can’t love his kids then don’t marry him.

Blended Family Friday