WESTMINSTER – Like most families, the Horvaths’ weekend days are filled with sports and other activities, but Friday and Saturday nights are reserved.
That’s when the family — or as much of it as possible — gathers for movies and games. This togetherness is especially important to the Horvaths because the whole family is only together every other weekend.
“We are just like every other family,” said Carol Garman-Horvath, 37, a special education teacher from Westminster.
“Except we are the Brady Bunch,” finishes her husband, Dave, 39, an information technology audit manager.
While three of their four children live at Carol and Dave’s, Dave’s daughter Gabby, 7, only sees her dad on alternate weekends. She spends the rest of her days with her mother, Chris Stidham.
In addition, Nick, 13, spends some weekends at his mom, Pam Whitcomb’s, house and Ethan Rippey, 8, spends some weekends with his dad, Brian Rippey. Dave and Carol also have a son together, Dalton, who is 4 months old.
While Ethan insists he is the only kid in his school that has a family this crazy, the U.S. Census Bureau says that the number of children living with one biological parent and either a stepparent or adoptive parent is on the rise.
In 1996, there were 5.2 million children in a similar situation. And of the 56.1 million children who lived with siblings, 2.1 million lived with at least one stepsibling and 7.8 million lived with at least one half-sibling.
“We are just one big family,” Dave said. “There is no concept of steps and halves. They just consider them brothers and sisters.”
The Census defines stepsiblings like Nick, Gabby and Ethan as children who identify one parent as biological and one as a stepparent, but do not share the same biological parent. Half-siblings are defined as children who share one biological parent, but not the other.
While Nick admits his family is confusing because there are so many people, he said that living together is not that difficult.
“There are more things to do at my dad’s house,” he said. “It is fun because there are more people around.”
“We try to incorporate as much as we can on the weekends when everyone is here,” Carol said.
One tradition they have is choosing the family Christmas tree — from complaining to chopping, everyone has a set role, so they purposely wait for a weekend when everyone can go to the tree farm together.
However, the parents admit holidays are hard. There is just not enough time. The children spend either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at the Horvaths’ house, and the other with the other side of their family.
The children are less bothered by the holiday split, Dave said — they get double presents.