Category Archives: Stepparents
∗Don’t be a Mom, be their friend
∗Don’t be the disciplinarian
∗Stepchildren should be allowed to misbehave
∗It is easier without the other parents involvement.
∗You will eventually grow to love them, and they will love you.
Chances are, if you are a stepparent, you’ve had these said to you by either a successful stepparent whose life is perfect – and possibly lives in denial, a family member or worse; your own friends. Here are five common myths, and tips to prevail.
#1 Don’t be their Mom, be their friend.
It was about a few months in when a friend of my significant other muttered this very statement. It was followed up by “He already has aunts, grandma, and me, he doesn’t need anyone else.” Those words are as fresh in my mind as the day she spoke them. What I should have said was this: Last time I checked, his mother hasn’t been in his life for years. Furthermore, Aunts are aunts, Grandmas are grandma’s and you are a friend. Therefore, looks like the Mom position is currently vacant, so I am just going to go right ahead and slip into whatever role his father and I choose. Instead of course I sat there with the deer in the headlights stare, and a broken heart. This is solely a decision that is left up to the people who it effects, your spouse, your stepchild and yourself.
#2 Don’t be the disciplinarian.
Okay, let me get this straight, what you are saying is that if the child misbehaves with me, I need to wait until his father comes home to rectify that? Or, if I see him misbehaving even when his father is home, I am supposed to run to his father and tattle that he is doing something wrong and make him deal with it? Whoa honey, no freaking way! Sorry, not happening, uh uh. NO. Allow me to explain why in two reasons. First, respect is built by setting expectations and firm foundations, and allowing the go around or discipline to doled about by someone else, is less effective. That simply permits the child to be disrespectful and to misbehave until dad gets home. And, the second reason is, have you ever asked your husband to take the garbage out…. it can take days!! Discipline needs to be done in the moment, direct, and efficient for it to work.
#3 Stepchildren should be allowed to misbehave.
When venting to friends about the difficulties in blended families, and building a relationship with your stepchild you hear the difference in responses when the conversation of ill behaviors arise. When you are talking about your biological childs misbehavior to another parent the responses are “Oh yep they get bitchy when their periods are coming” Or, “Oh, I would have spanked her ass, and grounded her until she was 16!” But, not with stepchildren. Those responses are “Oh, she must be going through a lot. You need to love her through this phase.” Or, “Well consider how she feels, she’s angry, lost and confused, she just needs patience.” While, I can give the benefit of the doubt and show compassion like any other parent for a majority of situations – I am not an idiot! Sometimes, kids are little shits, and do bad things, and misbehave. ALL KIDS. They all need the same reaction and same treatment. No different. Same love, same discipline – same, same same.
#4 It is easier without the other parents involvement.
Really? For who? The child? Or, me? I used to believe this myth. I was wrong. My stepsons mother is not involved except maybe three times a year, by phone – if that! Yesterday was the first day of school, and all day my mind was overrun by thoughts like, will she call? Why didn’t she call? Who does that? Sure, I made sure to ask him about his first day, and I made sure to take those all important first day photographs, his father and I took care of the school clothes shopping and the school supplies, without one care or concern from her. She is not involved with him, but she and I are involved in that she lives permanently in my head, rent free. She lives as the fear I have that she will never call, or that she will call. That she will never come back for him, or that she will come back for him. That she will always be the one he wants, because he so badly wants her to want him. I worry she will let him down either way – and there will be nothing I can do to prevent that heartbreak.
#5 You will eventually grow to love them, and they will love you.
I’ve never been one to blow smoke up anyone’s skirt, mostly because I don’t smoke and I have no business up another woman’s skirt – but nonetheless this is not always the case. Sure there are some gloriously unified step families that just work. However, there are plenty of blended families who live to respect their parents choices, and live a life without a bond or love for their stepparent. In the same sense, there are stepparents that tolerated their stepchildren until they were old enough to live on their own. A stepparent/stepchild relationship can’t and shouldn’t be forced. If it happens naturally and effortlessly that is fantastic and makes life that much easier. But, don’t be surprised or feel doomed if it doesn’t happen for you right away, or at all. You can still foster a relationship with mutual care and respect.
Contrary to popular belief no one really has the answers on how to be the best stepparent. There are plenty of articles and advice from those that have lived it, and while those should be respected if only as a differing point of view, you don’t have to agree. You need to do what is best for you and your step-family. For me, I choose to be the mom, not the friend to all my children, step or otherwise. My significant other and I are the two leading adults in our home, we are partners in the responsibility for raising healthy, happy and well adjusted children who we chose to love, care and discipline regardless of the person or whose child is whose. Children and Stepchildren, are the same. Period. Maybe, one day the lack of involvement from the other parent will change, maybe it won’t – don’t allow that to limit your involvement. Love your stepchildren/stepparents as best as you can, if you have to fake it at first, do that. If its not there, respect them.
After all, we are all in this together.
Have you ever awoke from a dream that was so intense and real that your heart breaks as you open your eyes?
I dreamt about him again, and its such a double edged sword because even though for the duration of the dream we’re together again, there is always the waking up that rips him away.
Divorce sucks, everyone knows that, divorce with your children involved even worse, but nothing is worse than divorce with a stepchild. Nothing.
Ethan was only one when he blessed my life. Having had a hysterectomy after my son, I always believed God wasn’t done with me as a mother, therefore he brought me Ethan. We had him in our home every other week for a week at a time, which is virtually unheard of at his age.
At first, it was hard to get used to, because my children were 5 and 7 at the time. Diapers, sippy cups and highchairs were a thing of the past. But, it took no time at all to fall in love with this blonde little sweetheart.
He always called me mom, because he copied my kids. It was hard because his mother hated it. It was something he chose and though I was uneasy with it at first, I grew to love it and to call him my son. Raising him was a joint responsibility in our home. In every definition and action I was his mother, and I loved him dearly, and still do.
Through battles in court, battles between my husband and his mother, I fought hard for this little kiddo. My love for him and my relationship with him, is what started my blog, and my parenting page. My children took to him instantly and we were a family. And then after three years, we weren’t. He was gone.
His dad left for another woman. He left while my kids were not at home, and while Ethan was with his mom. There was and has never been a goodbye on either end. My children were left heartbroken by the dual loss of a stepfather and brother. And, I, well…I haven’t seen Ethan since. Except in photos here and there.
That is probably why I still dream about him. In my dreams Ethan calls me mommy, and hugs me so tight as if to hold me over until our next date in our dreams. He caresses my face and tells me “I love you mommy” the way he used to do. This time I was so happy to see him that I was crying, and woke up feeling as though I was going to cry. My heart hurts, still, a year later.
It makes me hate his father, and the woman he left our family for. The woman who informed me it was better for Ethan and my children, to not see eachother or the man that was a father type in their life. She has no children of her own, how does she know? She made the rules and he followed them.
While I’m thankful my ex is gone, and even more delighted that they two now are eachothers karma; I miss my son. I miss his laughter, his silliness, his sweet breathy voice and the way he loved me so. I miss him crawling into my lap, caressing my face and telling me stories about bullriding and hockey with his excited little boy voice. I miss him holding hands with his brother and sister and how excited he was to see them when he came home every week. I miss the 3 am tapping on my shoulder, saying “mommy can I snuggle you?”
Now, awake and emotional, I will go on about my day dealing with the loss of my son again. The sinking feeling in my heart, that dull aching pain which will exist unbeknownst to anyone throughout the day. I’ll suffer quietly because noone understands it and everyone expects it to go away because its been over a year. But, guess what? It hasn’t.
It hides away until we meet again in our dreams. I miss you Ethan, and love you always.
We were, or I guess…I was nominated by someone, somewhere for my blog. It was entered into a Step-parenting contest with fifty…yes 50! other stepparents who share the same passion as I do. And…we ranked in at #5! How fantastic is that? And, how do you thank someone that you have no idea who they are? My best guess would be to continue doing what I have been for the past few years – and one day when my first book is published it can include this anonymous person who believed in me – because it has made a monumental difference.
Its hard to share the love of what you do with people who register writing and blogging as rather insignificant. “What is blogging? Who cares about that? Big deal! I have better things to do with my time” are all things I have heard people say – and while I let it affect me way down somewhere – those comments don’t matter to me today. You, the readers and followers, the stepparents, parents, friends and family are who matters. If we all went off of what the naysayers say – we would never follow our dreams. Besides, the fuel in my life has always been “those people” who didn’t think I could do it, because I love the moments like this…where I do.
So, for today I am going to relish in this small step towards the life impacting writing I hope to do in the many years to come – and to thank you for your continued involvement and support in my blogging.
Read the article here on all of the Top Ten:
I’m willing to venture a guess that almost any adult would choose to go back to being a child in a heartbeat. No bills, less stress, maybe do better in school the second time around and ENJOY those naps! I mean, life for our kids these days is just so hard, they get bored, they need instant gratification, video games, cell phones, bedazzled jeans, and so on. Have you ever asked your child what is it about being a kid that is so hard? Well, I did! And then, I took it a step further – what if our roles switched? What would our kids make us do if they could be our parents for a day? And, what would we do to them, if we were the kids? Read below for the hilarious switch.
The hardest part about being a kid:
Allison, 5: Umm, working and working out – I have to do that at NaeNaes. My favorite part was when I asked how she spelled her name, and she said A, L, L, I, S,O,N – but I do my “S” backwards!
Pierce, 5: Dumpster diving! The look on moms face, and the adamant denial that she does not make her children dumpster dive, may have been funnier! She swears its from Sponge Bob!
Coleton, 9: That sometimes kids really don’t understand
Gracie, 11: That we makes mistakes, and parents don’t always get that!
Kaiden, 8: That we can’t play all the time, because of chores and homework.
Emma, 8: That I can’t spend the whole day with my mom – cause I have to go to school.
Nick, 15: Having to listen. You have to try to remember to listen!
So, just for the fun of it, lets switch. If you as a parent could be your child, what is the first thing you would do? Would it be enjoy a nap? Maybe sleep in, play with your friends all day? Or, would you have a little fun with some get backs?? The answers were 50/50!
Telia Fogle: Yell “I’m hungry, fix me food” and destroy the house
Jami Fernandes: Get in a bathing suit and run through the sprinkler!!
Dina Fentiman: TRASH MY ROOOOM!!!
Amber Martin: Pick my nose and wipe it on the seat of the new car. Ask them to make something special for dinner, then say I don’t like it anymore. Say I cleaned my room but really I shoved it all under my bed.
Tiffany McIntosh: Eat whatever I want & not gain a pound… & then take a nap!
Desiree Rafferty: Leave socks ALL over the house!
Kathleen Winfrey: I would eat a million lunchables and then actually enjoy a nap instead of fighting it!
Sherri Tucker Tunnell: I’d yell “Mom mom mom mom” that is what I would do.
Now your kids are your parents, what would they make you do? What rule would they change? Would they have ice cream for dinner, or buy you whatever you want? Would they have a case of the “getbacks” also? Let’s see!
“ umm laundry, washing the counters, cleaning the dishes, make my bed and clean my room … pretty much everything, I’ll make you do all my house work!”
Allow ice cream BEFORE dinner, and set bedtime to 8pm.
I’d make you massage my feet, do my chores and go to school for me!
I wouldn’t make my parents do anything, I would do everything AND buy them whatever they want.
I would make my parents do everyone’s chores!
Make you clean your room, and if it’s already clean then give you a treat!! Then take us to Rogue Air!
As for me, if I could swap places – I wouldn’t. My daughter would have way too much fun with that – but then again I could always get her back by slamming my door, flipping my hair, stomping off with attitude and knowing every thing about everything and bossing everyone around! Wait, that is kind of me now? Hey! Well played Karma, well played!
Being a mom means more than having given birth to a child. Its loving and knowing a soul before you even see it. It’s carrying, and caring for a life completely depending on you for survival. It’s giving air to the lungs that grew with-in you, and sight to the eyes that will never see you as anything but mommy. Its sleepless nights, its nursing scratches and scrapes, its being stern and protective. It’s teaching them to talk, to walk and to eventually run. It’s learning to hand your child to a stranger to let them teach what you cannot at times. It’s bracing them for a fall, and dusting them off after they do. It’s seeing them cry, and not knowing how to fix it, so you sit on the floor and hold them and cry right along beside them. It’s teaching them, that they are smart, capable, funny and giving them the security to do great things. Its building their self-esteem, supporting their dreams and loving them unconditionally. Its letting them go, letting them fail, and teaching them how to get back up. It’s going without, so that they don’t have to, and being okay with it.
Being a Mother, is a gift that is unimaginable to any woman who does not have a child in their life. It’s a connection that is unmatched and insurmountable in any form or other relationship. It’s a love that grows continually, a love that always wants more and better. It’s being terrified that you can’t prevent pain, injustice, heartbreak, and at times even death. It’s laughing at jokes that aren’t even funny, but the way they say it,makes its hilarious. Its listening to stories, that go on and on without a point. It’s always being available for the “mommy watch ME’s” and “mommy I need you”. It’s drowning out the word MOM repeated over and over, in attempts to get your attention. Its songs sang out of tune, and settling squabbles with siblings. It’s being mean, and teaching hard lessons, that hurt you inside so deep you want to cry, but you must stand strong with resolve. It’s being strong for them, when you are weak. It’s smiling when you want to cry, and crying when you’re smiling with pride.
It’s looking through photographs and feeling your heart swell with love and happiness when you see the beauty, the happiness and life in your child’s smile and eyes. Its confusion, mistakes, uncharted territory and blind folded guessing. It’s snuggling on the couch watching a movie, braiding hair till your fingers hurt, it’s being woken up early on Saturday morning because they want to crawl in bed and be close to your heart. It’s having the worst day, and having them hug you and tell you ”mommy I love you”, and needing nothing more.
It’s a blessing, a gift, a relationship that never ends, and a love that never dies. It’s the best thing I have ever become, the greatest love I have ever felt and the best part about being me.
It doesn’t matter where the love comes from, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bio-parent or a step-parent – as long as there is love being freely given. Someone who gives their time, their energy, their love without any regard for a personal gain – solely to benefit the child. We all get some portion of this in life. A little piece of completeness.
When you look at your child/stepchild – look at them and see the child – not the other parent. See what needs they have, what talents they possess and can share with the world given your love, your time, and your extra attention. Don’t be afraid or too busy to hug them, to discipline them, or to not be their friend. Because, inside of us all we have that small place that’s missing something? Don’t you?
One of the most vital parts of being a parent is making mistakes. Mistakes are what causes growth and results in lessons and ultimately change. On a daily basis I make mistakes and there are times I lay awake at night reviewing those, and how I made them, why I made them – and how to not make that same mistake again. Quite possibly I am about to give you more credit than deserved, because I am hopeful you lay awake at night and feel some sort of anything for the abandonment of your child. You do feel bad right? Maybe cry when no one is around because you make the same mistake day in and day out. You get angry at yourself for not calling, writing, asking for photographs, or knowing how his day is, right? You do realize the irreparable damage you have caused your child, right?
We have never been introduced, which is difficult, given the lack of involvement you have in your child’s life. I’ve seen you at one baseball game, when you moved back for a month, ten months ago, only to abandon your child, again. Since that time you called at Christmas, and not since. There are times; I desire nothing more than to shake some sense into you, and ask if you realize what you are doing, what you are losing? This is your child, my god! However, I feel as though that would fall upon deaf ears, and a cold heart. I’m not nice like everyone else, I don’t give you credit for being a good friend, or continue to bite my tongue for the sake of graciousness. You are messing up, you are wrong, and lack in any accountability what-so-over. But, my opinion won’t change you, will it?
Instead I want to let you know something’s you don’t know about your child, and his life. Since you left again, he had his first school dance, where he didn’t dance at all, but had a blast. He loves dress shirts and ties, and really wants a three piece suit. He played football, and basketball for the first time. The other day he started baseball; and is showing strength in pitching. At practice the other day, he got hit in the head with a ball; don’t worry though his dad was there. He is terrified of getting hit with the ball by the way. He is having a nerf birthday party, which he is very excited about. There will be a nerf battle, and we ordered this great nerf gun cake, and his friends and family will be there, all of his family but you of course. Do you even know that tomorrow is his birthday? That he is turning nine? Will you even call him? Well, in case you don’t we are taking him to see the Oregon Ducks play a baseball game, he has no idea – and will be ecstatic! He even gets to meet the players, how awesome is that?
See, I may be just dad’s girlfriend, but I have to wonder if I worry more about this little boy than you do. Sure, I have only been in his life for a year, the shortest amount of anyone but I can tell you this, in a years’ time he already asked me three times, if he can call me mom…because he doesn’t have one. In fact he is making this board for his room right now, one of those tri-fold poster boards that you use for science projects – you know? Any how, he is putting pictures of his family on it, and he said “I’m going to put my dad and you in the middle and then us kids under that and on both sides.” Doesn’t that break your heart? Where is he putting a picture of you? Or, did the role of mom – not create a picture of you in his mind? That breaks my heart as a parent. We share a home, a life, and are building a relationship every day, and there are hard days, mainly due to you. But, I don’t give up, and move away because when he moved into this home, he became my child too, and he moved into my heart. When he comes home from school, we help him with his spelling words, his multiplication facts – which he struggles with, and I try to show him I am woman he can trust, that won’t just leave one day. I grew up without a mother, and it something no child should experience.
Yes, he has constants in his life, Grandma, Aunts, and friends that have filled a void since you left fulfilling any piece of the role of mom – but you and I both know – no one can fill that role and void but you. He will always hold out hope that one day you will pull your head from wherever it is stuffed and realize the mistake you are making. Meanwhile, tomorrow I will spend the day with your child, and every time his fathers phone rings, I will hope that you are calling and that you don’t call at the same time. I hope you call because he so desires you to remember him, and what easier day for a parent to remember their child, then the day they were born. And, a part of me hopes you don’t call because in a sense it is easier for him to not be reminded that you exist, and get hopeful you’ll call again, or maybe come for a visit – only to be left sitting on the curb – with a broken heart.
He is a sweet boy, damn it! So naive in this world still; he is funny, extremely goofy and wants nothing more than to please. While snuggling with his dad last night, his dad said “You are almost too big to snuggle” and your child responded with, “I still fit in your lap” which was true. How long has it been, since he sat in yours? You never realize what you have until it’s gone, and you are losing a connection with your son. You already lost a wonderful man, a giving man, a man who selflessly busts his ass to provide for your son, without the help emotionally, financially, morally or otherwise from you. He nurses the scrapes, attends every practice, every game, school conferences, plans birthday parties, etc…because he takes his role as a parent, seriously. When are you going to? Because, honestly every day you don’t, is a day you will regret down the road – and when your child is grown that void, will fill with questions of self-worth for himself and distaste for the woman who gave birth to him.
And he rubbed my back, he really did… Of course this an odd place to start and what might seem like something so insignificant that it shouldn’t be worth mentioning. However, you couldn’t be further off the beaten path. Truth is, before this, before the Love Dare – he hated rubbing my back. Okay he probably does still, but you know what I am saying. Prior he made excuses like ” my fingers hurt” or the wonderful Oscar winning performance where his hand slowly stops because he pretended he had fallen asleep; made me quit asking. It happens at your home too, I bet.
Now, don’t get me wrong, doing the Love Dare isn’t so you can get your spouse to do the dishes, or rub your back, but when things are better – we ALL tend to act and love each other better.
My husband and I both like playing cribbage, and we have the app on our phones. We used to get into bed, and play against each other, best out three all the time. However letting life, kids, fighting, schedules and whatever else get in the way, we stopped playing both the game and with each other. The Love Dare forces you to re-evaluate, to get involved, to remember to interact with your spouse. The night before last, I challenged my husband with a best out of three cribbage battle. He of course, as many men would, accepted the challenge. If we won, we got whatever we asked for – I chose a neck massage. He never verbalized his choice. Which come to think of it now – was odd. I figured it would be something in the unmentionable region – but I just let his silence lead the way.
Game two, I was in the lead, in fact, I almost skunked him even, but by one point, I lost. Game two, neck and neck, and again within a few points, I lost. Oh man, there goes that opportunity – not only did I lose to the “master of cribbage”, but the elusive neck massage would slip through his grasp and my relaxation yet again. However, this time that didn’t bother me like before. None of that really mattered, because we had fun, we laughed, we competed and we spent time one on one. After placing our phones on their chargers, I rolled over and placed my head on his chest, feeling at peace, relaxed, and happy. And then it happened…
He started rubbing my neck, then my back – all on his own, without my saying anything. Within minutes I was sound asleep like a little baby – hopefully minus the drooling! It was by far the best night of sleep I have had in months. To him, it probably wasn’t anything major – to me, it meant the WORLD. He did something he really just flat out doesn’t like, to make me happy. I thought he forgot how to do that, or that we as a couple had forgot the importance of doing things for the ones we love. But, the truth is that when we take care of our spouse, in every way, they do want to, and most often will, return the kind gestures that aren’t an expectation.
I am sure there are many men who do this for their spouses all the time, and it isn’t this monumental accomplishment, however it should be. We need to remember our spouses chose to be with us, and its a choice to keep the romance, the little things we hate to do, the friendship and love alive. We forget to thank them, to acknowledge them – to love them in the ways we did in the beginning.
Little by little – we are falling in love again, reconnecting and recommitting to this life long process of give and take, expectations, sometimes heart break and disappointment – all which are parts of marriage that after the storm, create a closeness that couldn’t have been achieved without the trials and tribulations in the first place. It is a great feeling – to feel great. Its a loving feeling to love and be loved in return. We are all constantly learning and growing, what a great experience it is – to choose to do that together.
When was the last time you truly showed your spouse – they are special, appreciated and loved by you?
In the shower (where it seems my clearest thoughts prevail) I was thinking about how many people lose out when they simply don’t allow, encourage or welcome a relationship with their step-children. Many times I overhear that they don’t accept them due to manners, dislike for the other parents, their behaviors etc. When your family includes either your own children and a new spouse, or the children between you only, that is not a family and you are not only hurting the children you are hurting yourself.
I have a friend that I adore, she and her husband were granted full custody of a boy about 10 or so, due to a mother that just left him one day. My friend was less than pleased, this boy dressed scroungy, he had different manners, picked on her kids, and she felt he was more of a hassle than a blessing. Her husband worked nights, and she would complain and feel that she was raising “his” child, and it wasn’t her responsibility.
She would come to me and ask how come it was so easy for me, with my prior stepson, and how did I do it without getting upset – her biggest question was “How can you love him?” My answer to her was that for me, it was easy to love him – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have hard times. We all come around to things differently. Now in my current relationship, I went from raising a one year old to a nine year old. HUGE difference, difference in parenting, difference in attitudes, lifestyle and to be honest he isn’t used to have a mother type figure – let alone a steady one. We have our days of where it is real work, and there are days I am sure he doesn’t like me. But, tomorrow is a new day and I am not giving in. One day, one step at a time.
While being able to understand her frustration, I never could see how she could dislike this boy, because she had such a wonderful heart. After awhile I noticed she complained about him less, and he appeared in more photos, and the stories she shared were about him and the great things he was doing.
Fast forward a couple of years, and she and her spouse are now divorcing. Something that needed to happen a few years back, but when I say she has a great heart, I meant an extremely forgiving heart. Of course, I asked about her stepson and her response warmed my heart ” He goes with me of course, he is my son — it is written in our agreement that when the kids are with me, they are ALL with me.”
She took on a situation that wasn’t hers, she often did it alone, however the resentment wasn’t put on the child, the discipline, the nurturing, the love and care that she at times wanted to withhold – she never did. In the end, this boy grew into a young man who gained a mother and a sense of worth because someone who he fully expected to let him down, instead lifted him up.
My point here I guess is not just to share how easy it was for me, or how difficult it can be these days in a new relationship or how she was able to come around. But, more in that you all stand to lose when you choose to divide your family, solely due to the differences in hygiene, clothing, manners, attitude, or because they are simply not your responsibility. The truth is, that any child inside your home is your responsibility – whether it be a friend of your child’s, or niece or nephew, or a stepchild. And, the real question is why would you choose to shut out a child in any manner any how? Simply because you don’t like him or her – a child is a product of their environment – show them a positive environment – and watch that child make positive changes.
If not, you and your spouse or significant other will have an endless battle on your hands, there will be underlying resentment around every corner, and hidden under every argument, every family discussion – because you are not truly a family. Being a family doesn’t mean that you will agree, or that everyone ends up happy – it means that all are considered an important viable interest in your choices.
If you get to the point where you don’t like her/his kids, and they never say thank you, they will never be as good as your kids, and your spouse will never be as good a parent as you are – Is it time to ask yourself a different question like what am I doing with this person, is this the relationship for me? Seriously sit back, and ask who it is that you are hurting, because no one wants to be with someone like that. If your complaint is constantly their kids, that is a problem that needs fixing instead of complaining.
Do you want to fix your relationship with a stepchild or maybe build one? If so, here are some great ways to do so:
Sit and talk – even observe – see what they have to offer, a talent they possess and get involved.
Listen – put yourself in their shoes, remember they are a child.
Go on a date together – you, your spouse and them. Just you – not your kids at first.
Then go on a date with them all together.
Then go on a date just you and them.
Eat dinner together as a family – sharing your day or something that happened that made it great.
Life blows us in directions that we never see coming – or that we see the possibility of coming, but believe that they will never get that bad. Finding out you are wrong, and that it doesn’t just hurt yourself but others – is a hard pill to swallow. My children have survived, managed, whatever word you feel best describes living through our divorce. There really hasn’t been a hard time, or adjustment period – there has been hard times – but mentally and emotionally they have remained intact. Until now…
Lately I find myself questioning if it is my fault that my daughter dislikes her father so much? Is it because I divorced him? Is it because I married my now husband, and he is more fun than her father? Should I have not remarried and stayed single until she was in college? If you find yourself asking these questions, the answer is no. Children need to see a happy, fulfilling relationship that works, that is stable and creates a safe haven for them. As for my daughter, she is simply an old soul – she is intelligent and very forthcoming, inquisitive and mature for her age. When she asks questions, I answer them – whatever they may be – and I tell her the truth, even if it makes me look bad. Personally, I think this is best way to be a parent, but it’s not for everyone.
If you saw my daughter three years ago, you would be confused by the difference. Her daddy was her world, he could do no wrong and if I said anything to contrary she was first to defend. This was 4 years after our divorce, she has always been a daddy’s girl. Now, she wants nothing to do with him – Odd don’t you think? How is that even possible? Not only does she want to exclude him from her life, she wants her stepdad to be her dad. Placing me right in the middle of CRAP no matter which way I turn. A wrong move, hurts both my daughter and husband, or my ex-husband – whom although contrary to his delusions of hatred I have for him – bothers me.
Sitting here, I put myself in her fathers shoes. What if she lived with him full-time, and she decided she wanted nothing to do with me anymore, who he support her in that? Would he go to court to modify visitation to ensure she didn’t have to follow the court order? What if she wanted her StepMom to be her mom, and they had the relationship we should be having – how would I feel, what would I do? Then it hits me… “What if’s don’t usually happen” and I know this wouldn’t happen to us. Is it because I am a perfect mother? Not even close. Is it because I am a better person than her father, No. Is it because I wouldn’t allow myself to be in the background and take a backseat to her life, whether I was the custodial parent or not? YES!!!
See, that’s just it. If in court that day, I lost custody of my children – and they went to their dad instead, I wouldn’t have let them go completely. My heart would hurt, I’m sure I would harbor resentment towards my ex, and even be depressed not having them as I had before. BUT, I wouldn’t allow that to come between us more. I wouldn’t miss a sporting event, a school event, a conference, I wouldn’t miss anything that I was allowed to attend. I would ask for more time, not less. I wouldn’t let my children down. When they look around a crowded room, or ball field to see if I was there, they would find me every time. If they were sick at school, and needed to be picked up, I would pick them up, no second thoughts about it. When my children tell the truth about illegal things, I would never accuse them of lying to cover my own secrets. My children would know I loved them, want them, miss them, everything, as often as I could tell and show them.
He didn’t do this. As soon as he lost custody, he checked out of his position of a parent, a confidant, a role model, even as a friend. Little by little, his lack of involvement, his distance and constant avoidance of activities and important events for the children caused both kids to lose respect, question actions and pull away from their dad. What happens in a home, where you are remarried, and the ex removes himself from the kids lives – and you have a husband who loves your children? Naturally, they fill in – they STEP up, and do those things that a father should be. Is that really so wrong? Should we stop a natural progression of a parent role being filled in the best interest of a child? NO!
For approximately a year, I emailed, texted, called, reminded, re-reminded my ex of every detail, every event, and tried my best to stop what I saw unraveling before me. Was it because I didn’t want my husband stepping in? No, it was because I felt like my ex owed his children more than stepping out. When I think of my stepson, I know I could never replace his mom – it’s just impossible. But, when I look at my daughter – I see that it is very possible for her to replace her dad, and that makes me sad. Not because he deserves my sadness, or because he just got a bad rap – but because I know my daughter lost something inside her – she lost her father.
I lost a father, it hurts really bad – it’s a deep inside pain, it’s a core shattering, confusing, left always wanting and never feeling good enough kind of pain. The thought of her feeling this – tops that pain. A father is supposed to love his little girl no matter what, to be the one man a daughter can always count on, a little girls first love, and the rock that pulls her through. I never had that, and now I see that she doesn’t have that with her dad. However, God must have seen it coming – because he sent in a replacement.
Replacement, may sound hard – Second string, alternative, Stepparent – whichever means that it wasn’t the first option – but it is now the permanent. My husband loves my daughter more than I could express. He puts his blood, sweat and tears into her for everything. He doesn’t let her down, he doesn’t try to be her friend, he doesn’t miss an event that he can’t avoid – he doesn’t break her heart, he simply does his best everyday to be a parent to her. He disciplines, he reprimands, he teaches, he practices, he listens, he snuggles, he shows, he provides, he protects, and for all those reasons and more – she respects him. She loves him, and she considers him her dad. As much as it pains me to admit it, I am thankful she has him. She doesn’t lose out, she doesn’t go without, she gets that role model, that picture of what a husband she be, a father should be – and I can’t pretend that I don’t appreciate him for that.
Who are we to decide who is socially accepted to be a parent? Just because my husband isn’t biologically her parent, doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t make him love any less, it doesn’t make him unfit, or inexperienced or less than any other father. It makes him better, bigger, more, it makes him a father to a daughter that loves him. Which is priceless if you asked me.
Does it make our situation magically improved and we can all ride off in the sunset together, unfortunately not. Life is far more complicated than that. I still don’t know how to react, or defend her in her choice to choose her stepdad. The law prevents me from many choices, and my conscience does as well. However, when I sit back and question the why’s and what if’s, I know the answer. GOD, he is why – he knows, and he knew she would need a father, and he provided that for her, for our family. The blessing of my husband didn’t just include the gift of my wonderful, loving, sweet stepson, it blessed my children with another dad. What could be a better blessing than that?