How I’ve Connected with My Bonus Kids


I’ve had the privilege of filling the “bonus mom” role for my bonus kids for almost 19 years.

In some ways, it seems like much more time has passed. But in other ways, it’s like I blinked and they went from 13 and 14-year-old teenagers at our wedding to adults in their 30s with growing families of their own.

Wilder Family, circa mid 2000s.

To be completely honest, there were some major adjustments with stepping into the role of bonus mom to teenagers. I was just shy of 30 and had never married before. Thankfully, my husband and I made it a priority to communicate about blending our family. We agreed that initially he would be the mediator as far as communication between myself and the kids. This was new territory for all of us and I didn’t want to come in with a bunch of rules and expectations.

Every family is different, but this worked for our family until one day the kids got to where they told their dad, “If Camille has something she needs to talk to us about, she can come to us.” This was a major milestone in my relationship with both of them and one way I connected with them: open communication between each other. Did we always agree? No. Was there respect, willingness to hear each other out and compromise? Yes.

The kids have a mother and I let them know I had no intention of replacing her. My role was to love and support them. Eventually we grew closer, and I became more of a parental figure to them.

I also grew closer with my bonus kids when we established our own family traditions. Before we married, my husband would make the kids “birthday waffles” on their birthdays. “Birthday waffles” were Eggo waffles topped with huge amounts of Redi Whip, chocolate chips, and any other toppings they desired. When I joined the family I wanted to keep the family tradition, but added a special touch by making homemade waffles with homemade whipped cream. I also started making whatever special dessert they’d request on their birthdays. This extends to other holidays, too. Our Thanksgiving holiday must include an

My daughter’s college graduation from TWU.

extra pan of cornbread dressing and cheesecake (which became the kids’ favorite dishes).

Over time, my relationship with my bonus kids grew from “dad’s wife and parental figure” to the three of us establishing our own relationships with one another. Whether that’s taking a girls’ trip to Austin for a Janet Jackson concert with my daughter or having the honor of dancing with my son for the mother/son dance at his wedding, these precious people truly are my “kids.”

God has given me the tremendous gift of these kids in my life, and I’m so proud of them.