A question that I hear time and time again in families of all sorts, but certainly in stepfamilies in particular, is this:
Who comes first?
Who is the number one for your partner now – is it you or is it his kids?
This is one of the toughest, most minefield-filled questions on the planet in my opinion, and I’m not sure there really is a correct answer, but I did want to share what works for our family and what Christopher and my number one rule is in regards to that question:
I am Chris’ first priority. Jessica is his first responsibility.
At the end of the day, Christopher and I are going to be married much longer than Jess is in our home, but that doesn’t mean that our relationship is the only one that matters. True, our marriage is our first priority, but sometimes Jessica has needs that are more pressing and must be addressed.
Jess and I are two different members of the family who serve two very different functions and roles – I am a parental figure, she is a kid. However, that doesn’t mean that either of our needs are always more important than the other, nor should they be.
By looking at our family situation in this way, the answer to the “Who comes first?” question is clear:
Neither. Or, I suppose… Both.
At times your responsibilities in life must come first – this does not negate your priorities. At times, your priorities come first – this does not negate your responsibilities.
It has been so helpful for us to be able to have the language to explain the way our family works and to make everyone in it feel important and cared for.
Our family does not need to be a competition and we refuse to make it one.