LIBERTY — Fatherhood can mean different things to different men. For Wesley Botts of Liberty, fatherhood means teaching his six-year-old how to fix the kitchen sink, being a Scout leader for another son, enjoying the “light bulb moment” when a son understands something and watching his children succeed.
Learning each child’s strengths and weaknesses and how to communicate effectively helped Wesley’s transition to fatherhood, said his wife, Karen Botts.
Wesley married Karen six years ago. In doing so, he also committed to her three sons. Now the couple has a family of six with four sons: Kaleb Cooper, 20; Konnor Mautino, 12; Kolin Mautino, 9; and Liam Botts, 6. The family also has two cats, August and Merida; and a dog named Pearl.
“I had no kids,” Wesley explained. “From none to three, that was difficult.”
Karen said compromise and communication went a long way in helping their family unite.
“There was a 14-year-old in the house,” Wesley said, referring to the couple’s oldest son, Kaleb. “We didn’t get along really well at first.”
Karen said Kaleb was less trusting of Wesley in the beginning. It caused a kind of power struggle. In those situations, Karen said, it is important for both parents to stand together. She recommends a routine.
“I think it helped the kids to know what to expect,” she said. “I also think it helped Wes know what to expect, and I think it helped them feel comfort because they know where they stand and what comes next.”
Some of the struggle, Karen said, came from the children being used to one father figure. Adding a new father figure creates an unknown factor.
“It was important to me that we have meals around the table,” Karen said. “We go around and ask each kid if something good happened so each has a chance to speak. Then we ask if they had something challenging happen.”
Having a blended family also brings with it the challenge of holidays.
“I think Liam used to think he was missing out on something,” Wesley said. “He used to ask, ‘When am I going to get another dad?’”
“Hopefully never,” Karen added as the couple giggled.
Wesley said the family celebrates holidays when all the kids can be around, sometimes the day before or after a big holiday.
Though there are obstacles, Wesley said over time the family came together. Karen said blending families is easier when parents support each other and avoid undermining one another.
“Recognize the good things,” Wesley advises. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”