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Maybe you’re at the beginning of a journey with a newly formed extended family, or maybe you’ve already been a member of one for many years.

Either way, I’m willing to bet one thing you already know is this: Extended families can be TOUGH.

We go in with the best of intentions, but it can be so difficult to navigate the situations that come up every day.

Sometimes it really hurts! Especially because the struggle is with the people closest to us that we care about the most.

Why does something we feel so passionate about, and want so badly to work out, feel so difficult?

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Maybe you’re at the beginning of a journey with a newly formed extended family, or maybe you’ve already been a member of one for many years.

Either way, I’m willing to bet one thing you already know is this: Extended families can be TOUGH.

We go in with the best of intentions, but it can be so difficult to navigate the situations that come up every day.

Sometimes it really hurts! Especially because the struggle is with the people closest to us that we care about the most.

Why does something we feel so passionate about, and want so badly to work out, feel so difficult?

Sadly, this is accepted and even considered “normal” to many in society today. It’s as if extended families are just supposed to be dysfunctional.

That doesn’t really fix the problems though.

It doesn’t get rid of the anxiety you sometimes feel driving home from work. It doesn’t take away the isolation you sometimes experience around your own family.

As a step-parent myself, I myself remember thinking “Will it always be like this? Will I always feel this way?”

The answer of course is NO.

Extended families have the possibility of adding more to a happy dynamic, not less.

The mission of The Family Turf extends beyond the home; it’s about the entire family environment. It’s about building and nurturing the growth of a family.

The options shouldn’t be either a nuclear family or an unclear family. I’m here to provide clarity and direction for healthy, happy extended family homes.

I encourage you to join our community!

While I was growing up, I frequently felt like I had no one to talk with about my experience of being raised by a single parent.

I didn’t want to talk to my Mom about it because I didn’t want to upset her.

Throughout my childhood I felt the pain of being told everything about the wrong things and nothing about the important things.

I was the “little parent” to my mom even though she didn’t mean for me to fall into that role. It’s a common pattern among single parent households, where the parent talks to the child as if they were a spouse (to a certain extent). They don’t mean to, but it naturally happens.

The older I grew, the more aware I became of the dynamic I grew up with and how much information I lacked. I joined support groups and experienced so much learning and growth. It was extremely beneficial when I moved out on my own and began to navigate adulthood.

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Fast forward to a few years ago: I began a relationship with a man, Kevin who had a child, Blake. I felt the same lack of information I felt when I was younger.

I could not find the resources to appease my fears and concerns. I even tried to look for children’s books to help my partner’s daughter understand what was happening in her world, but found it frustratingly limiting.

Every time I would search online, despite finding a few positive resources, I kept being overcome by result after result of negative stereotypes about the “evil stepmother” or forums where everyone was just venting.

Step-parents have it hard! We often don’t feel validated as real parents, so we don’t get the same consideration or respect. We’re simply expected to be happy at all times because we “got what we wanted, so we should be happy.”

But stepping into a pre-existing family isn’t always as easy as it first seemed.

We feel out of place, like the leftover fraction from a long division equation that doesn’t quite fit anywhere. We struggle to figure out what our specific role is and how we fit in.

We wrestle internally with feelings of jealousy, not being accepted, feeling less significant, and anxiety when at home. Wishing we could “catch up” to the effortless, natural interactions of our partners with their kids but being restricted by emotional boundaries (either real or imagined).

I formed my own support group for Stepmothers in my city. Only one other woman showed up on the first meeting, but I kept at it.

Every month, more women showed up and I learned so much more from everyone’s perspectives.

I wanted to have a safe place for my fellow stepmothers to support one another and grow, but after awhile the discussions would occasionally go in a different direction.

I wanted to encourage these women to begin creating different results. Yet as tougher issues came up, I realized I wasn’t fully equipped with the tools necessary to handle them. I needed to learn more.

This led to me becoming even more determined to understand and help people going through the same experiences I had gone through.

I decided to take a life coaching course which was an incredibly rich experience. I researched everything I could about extended families.

I worked with a life coach myself who helped to grow my confidence and encouraged me to make major decisions I had been putting off. I took more courses online.

All the while, I worked diligently to put into practice everything I was learning. I always put first the interests of my step-daughter, Blake – which sounds like an obvious thing to do, but it takes a while to learn what’s in the best interest of the child.

I experienced setbacks, too. One night after Blake went to bed and had fallen asleep, I broke down crying to my partner, Kevin, that it had been a week that she was staying with us and she hadn’t told me she loved me once, something that was very unusual.

“What did I do wrong? Is what we have going away?”

About half an hour later, Blake yelled down the stairs. Kevin went up, but came back a second later to let me know that Blake was asking for me.

Blake looked at me as I walked in and said “I love you. I wanted to tell you that I love you.”

I know she was asleep and hadn’t heard me downstairs. She had noticed it too. We were in sync.

I felt like an idiot. Of course she loved me.

I kept pushing forward through the emotional struggle knowing it would result in huge payoffs not only for myself, but for Blake and Kevin as well.

And then came the first time Blake asked me to read the bedtime story and not just have her dad read them to us.

There was the first time she asked for me specifically after waking up from a bad dream.

The first time she hugged me first when running up to greet Kevin and I as we picked her up from school one day.

These all happened after I let go of all my fears that they never would.

Sometimes I feel down on myself and old feelings of jealousy or inadequacy arise. Then I remind myself of all the milestones we’ve had.

We need to focus on them, we need to cherish them, because they are huge.

I continued learning and was in the middle of my final term to receive my life skills certificate when my mother passed. I know she would be proud that I kept going. She inspired me to keep working towards my goal and continues to motivate me every day.

As Blake kept growing up, I kept searching for resources. I simply could never find a place that felt like my “turf,” one that I always wanted to come back to for learning, reinforcement, and positive growth.

I longed to see a community of people in these same situations helping one another to break down the walls that isolate us. I longed to see mothers and fathers, stepmothers and stepfathers and children and stepchildren all in the same place, all working toward the same goal.

A group of people who destroy walls and break down the stereotype of a “broken home,” and replace it with a positive image of extended families.

So I created it. And I want you to be a part of it.

Let’s be real – families can be difficult no matter how they are composed. Nobody’s perfect.

That’s exactly why this site exists. To give information when the tough times come up. For people to support one another and share what they have learned.

It’s not just for adults, either! The children out there who are just like “little me,” looking for people to connect with and share about their experience are welcome too. This is a support network for everyone, so that more families are happy and we can all feel more at home.

I continued learning and was in the middle of my final term to receive my life skills certificate when my mother passed. I know she would be proud that I kept going. She inspired me to keep working towards my goal and continues to motivate me every day.

As Blake kept growing up, I kept searching for resources. I simply could never find a place that felt like my “turf,” one that I always wanted to come back to for learning, reinforcement, and positive growth.

I longed to see a community of people in these same situations helping one another to break down the walls that isolate us. I longed to see mothers and fathers, stepmothers and stepfathers and children and stepchildren all in the same place, all working toward the same goal.

A group of people who destroy walls and break down the stereotype of a “broken home,” and replace it with a positive image of extended families.

So I created it. And I want you to be a part of it.

Let’s be real – families can be difficult no matter how they are composed. Nobody’s perfect.

That’s exactly why this site exists. To give information when the tough times come up. For people to support one another and share what they have learned.

It’s not just for adults, either! The children out there who are just like “little me,” looking for people to connect with and share about their experience are welcome too. This is a support network for everyone, so that more families are happy and we can all feel more at home.

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The Family Turf was created as a safe haven for all extended, blended, and mixed families. Join our community today and start learning how your family can go from surviving to thriving.