A popular mummy blogger has revealed the toll stepparenting can take, saying its not the easy, Brady Bunch experience may of us see on Instagram, but rather "ridiculously hard".
"The truth is, mainly, its f**ked," writes parenting blogger Constance Hall in a new essay for Mamamia.
Hall has gained notoriety for her candid, honest takes on parenting, including previously saying "corners must be cut" when feeding and clothing many children.
Now, she says the difficulties in blending their broods almost cost her relationship with husband Denim Cooke. Between them, Hall and Cooke have seven children.
"It's like being one family torn in so many different directions. Instincts go one way, heart goes another and head goes altogether," Hall writes.
"Most couples pretend it's all perfect, with smug photos on social media about how amazing their Brady Bunch family is, that have just blended together perfectly with no hiccups at all."
Hall says at the end of last year it "all just felt too hard".
"I wanted to raise the kids one way, my husband raised his another way," she says.
"He is stricter than me [and] comparing our kids was making us hate each other.
"I felt a ball of fury burning inside me every time he disciplined my little boundary pushers."
Hall says she doesn't have all the answers and "this is not a light bulb moment blog", but she has learnt some tactics to help other parents and stepparents in the same boat.
"All kids are different, you cannot simply say that one system will work for all kids. 'This worked for my kid so it will work for yours,' is like saying 'this is how I trained my dog to sit, so it will work for your horse'," Hall reflects.
"Our job as parents is not to control children, but to guide them."
She also advises stepparents to trust their parnter.
"If you love someone, trust them and the intuition they have for their children's best interests - that often means stepping back, even when you don't want to.
"You fell in love with your partner, not their children and that's OK. At most, you will be like another parent and at the least, you will be a good friend. But most of all your job as a step-parent is to show the kids what real love looks like. Be the example of what a healthy relationship looks like by loving the shit out of your lover."
Hall previously came under fire for her claims in a lengthy Facebook post that a stepparent should never discipline their partner's children.