Blending a divorced family is difficult enough for straight couples, but very little attention is paid to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families who face integrated parenting. In this modern era, a growing number of LGBT parents are marrying, divorcing and arranging child custody agreements. As a result, parenting roles can quickly become muddled, especially for parents who are in a relationship with someone who has a child with a previous partner. Today, we bring some tips on same-sex parenting that can help New Yorkers manage their family lives smoothly.

Even in today’s relatively permissive social climate, same-sex couples find that they have to explain themselves – a lot – when they attend events for their children. This becomes even more complicated when a child has three “mommies,” for example. The best way to combat this situation is to team up and introduce yourself as a family unit. Yes, that includes both exes and any new partners that might be added into the mix. Even though this might seem convoluted to everyone else, they will learn in time that your family is still full of love, even if your child refers to three different people as “dad.”

Further, keep in mind that all parents and partners should be able to sign permission and consent forms for the kids. Without that power, it can be difficult, not only logistics-wise, but new partners can also feel alienated from the children. Also, make sure that your family educates teachers and activity leaders about the identity of adult family members that should be contacted in case of an emergency or a classroom concern. If you help those community members understand your family structure, communication will become much easier.

Yes, it is possible to serve the best interests of the child as a blended LGBT family. Although you may have to explain your family situation to many, many people – and you may even struggle with your own parenting roles – good communication can lead to a healthy, happy home life, no matter who has physical custody at the time.

Source: Huffington Post, “5 Tips for Managing the Logistics of Same-Sex Parenting of Blended Families” Colleen Logan, Dec. 12, 2013