Blend by Mashonda and Why She Chose to Put Her Kids First

When Swizz Beatz married Alicia Keys, their approach to co-parenting their blended family made headlines. The couple partnered with Swizz’s first wife, Mashonda Tifrere, to provide a great example of a blended family where everyone is committed to co-parenting and doing what’s best for the kids.

At the time, Swizz and Mashonda’s son Kasseem was four years old. In her book, Blend: The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Blended Family, Mashonda shares stories from inside her blended family. Swizz contributed a chapter on fatherhood and Alicia wrote the foreword. These are the co-parenting lessons from this modern family that you can put into practice in your own life. 

Look for the light in every situation.
In addition to forgiving your ex, it’s important to forgive yourself so you can begin to work on your blended family. Mashonda spends the first few chapters of her book focusing on healing yourself. Once you begin to work on forgiveness, working together to co-parent is easier. 

Rebuild your spirit.

By accepting that you had a role in the end of your relationship, you can work toward forgiving yourself and your ex. Building a support system after a divorce can be very helpful in rebuilding your spirit. Mashonda also recommends committing to yourself through things like therapy, counseling and genuinely putting your children first in important decisions. 

Take your cues from your children.

Watch your children closely to see how they are reacting to the divorce, custody changes, step-parenting and blended families. Her son’s behavior at school helped Mashonda realize it was time to mend her relationship with his father and step-mother. 

Honor thy co-parent.

When it comes to blending your family, it’s important to put your own ego aside and identify ways to work collaboratively with your ex and other co-parents. Mashonda began by journaling her experience as a mother going through a separation, divorce and then a blended family. She encourages parents to get along with their ex’s new spouse by sharing her own story. At one point, she invited Alicia to Kasseem’s sixth birthday party. It was a bonding experience for the moms, and Mashonda could tell how much it meant to her son, too. 

Walk in empathy.

Mashonda says one of the things that helped her get to a place of harmony with Swizz and Alicia was walking in empathy. By realizing that not everything was personally about her, she was able to open herself up to an open and honest parenting relationship. Once the three parents were able to accept the pain everyone in the family felt, they were able to see each other with empathy and work together. 

After a very public divorce and many hard feelings, Mashonda moved the focus to what was best for her son, Kasseem. By working on herself first, something she calls looking for the light, she was able to forgive not only herself but also her ex-husband. With a focus on empathy and understanding, she began to build a relationship with Alicia and today, the two are successful co-parents to Kasseem in a very modern, blended family. Mashonda says, “You can co-parent, or you can blend.” 

She based her book around the concept of taking co-parenting one step further and truly blending families, just like Ben Heldfond and Nikki DeBartolo have shared their own journey in Our Happy Divorce. Seeing the new, modern divorce from the inside out encourages co-parents everywhere that they aren’t alone. While it’s not always easy, these examples remind us that putting the kids first is always the best step forward.


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