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Five stepfamily myths – busted!

  bustedMyths:

∗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.

Okay, you be the Mom and I will be the kid!

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!

Allison, 5
“ 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!”

Kaiden, 8
Allow ice cream BEFORE dinner, and set bedtime to 8pm.

Riley, 8
I’d make you massage my feet, do my chores and go to school for me!

Jacoby, 15
I wouldn’t make my parents do anything, I would do everything AND buy them whatever they want.

Josh, 9
I would make my parents do everyone’s chores!

Tommy
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

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.

awesome

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.

The truth is…we lie.

I think I speak for most parents when I say we are pretty damn near perfect! I mean, who are we kidding here? If we do lie, it is completely for your own good and protection… or is it?

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Okay, so the truth is we do tell white lies to our children in hopes to prolong the innocence they possess and to encourage make-believe and fairy-tales. White lies about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and that minions and oompa loompas totally exist in a world of chocolate covered scientific laboratories. Or, that one day prince charming will ride up on a white horse (or black if you prefer), sweep you up and all your worries will wash drown the drain, along side some calgon…and maybe a glass of wine, when you are thirty and still living at home playing with barbies, because you will be mommy’s sweet baby princess forever...for-ev-er! Oh wait, I got swooped up in those white lies again, dang it!

The truth is we flat out tell “whoppers” and sometimes it is for our own humor and selfishness. What are we going to do when our children get old enough to know better? I am lucky in that my daughter being two years older than her brother – helps with cover-ups. Wait, that sounds bad…but it is true.

In my jewelry box you will find an assortment of items, not just jewelry. In this particular case, my son was looking for something, and pulled out a small plastic baggy filled with baby teeth. As soon as I saw him holding them, I couldn’t move…and when I heard him ask “Mom are these my teeth?” I couldn’t mutter a sound. I just stood there thinking to myself, CRAP! Now, what? and looked at him. Then, my daughter swoops in and saves the day with a whopper all of her own “No, Gage, those are moms teeth from when she was little, but she probably has yours somewhere, cause you can buy them back from the tooth fairy – for memories!” Breathing now and able to speak again, I laughed and completely lied through my teeth and the bag of the teeth she was holding, and said “Yep, what your sister said!” Should I be worried or proud that she came up with that on her own? I don’t know, but while I ponder that thought here are some whoppers, white lies and fibs that parents use to get us through, and the truths that lie behind them.

Lie: When you get grounded it hurts us more.
Truth: We enjoy the quiet, and getting to watch what we want on tv.

Lie: The ice cream is all gone.
Truth: It is just cleverly hidden in another container in the freezer.

Lie: You can get pregnant from kissing or sitting in the hot tub with a boy.
Truth: We’re not stupid!

Lie: Eating veggies will put hair on your chest.
Truth: We have no idea if you will ever get hair on your chest.

Lie: The tooth fairy is off on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Truth: Mom or Dad either forgot, didn’t have ones or they get paid on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Lie: God emails me every day, I can just go check my inbox.
Truth: I am digging for answers and hope you still fear God and will tell me the truth.

Lie: If you keep making that face it will freeze like that.
Truth: It won’t.

Lie: Boy have cooties
Truth: Scientifically, girls actually have cooties.

Lie: The park is closed
Truth: We’re tired.

Lie: “Mom, what are you eating?” Answer “diet chocolate”
Truth: It’s not diet and I am not sharing.

Lie: Maybe, We will see.
Truth: I mean no, but I’m avoiding a melt down wherever we’re at currently!

Lie: If you swallow Watermelon seeds, they will grow in your tummy.
Truth: You are gonna poop watermelons. Oh wait, that’s another lie.

The truth is, that most of these are harmless and funny – which is good because I get in enough hot water for the amount of honesty and over indulging information I do share with my children. A good white lie, may be just what the kids may need these days. What are some whoppers you tell your children?

For more stories from Jessica, check out her blog at https://totallyjessifiable.wordpress.com

Bio-Parents & Step-Parents: Get over yourselves – it’s not about you.

It’s not about being a Bio-mom or a Step-mom – it’s about being a parent either way. My opinions on this are very strong – because I am both, and my children have both. Our children, my biological, my husbands biological, my ex-husbands biological child from a different relationship and his wife’s biological from a previous marriage – do not give a care about who is who – they only care who is there for them – who cares about them – who they are safe with.

The children do not care about child support, or who used to be married to whom – or why one parent dislikes the other. They are children – they care that their parents show-up, that they be involved, that they support them in sports, academics, and in their lives. They care that when there is a Christmas recital, and they peek through the curtains – all of the people they love are there – without fighting, for the best interest of the child.

My children’s step-mom and I have talked maybe twice – she has formed her opinion based on my ex-husband and there is nothing I can do to change that – and honestly I won’t try to. Over the years, I am confident she will witness enough for that to change on her own. As a bio-mom there are only two things I would appreciate her doing for the children 1) Love and care for them as her own 2) Be there – all the time – supporting them. In my opinion that is her role, she is in there lives, and is their fathers main person in his life – together they make their home, a place that is a home to our children.

In our home, I feel it is my job to be the same for my stepson – to always look out for his best interest. He came into our home with a mother already – but not by his side during our time. My place isn’t to replace hers – but it is to fill in the void temporarily. Why should I not? Is it not my place to love him, to teach him little things here and there, to show him love, compassion and understanding? My husband is a wonderful man, but he is also a man. No disrespect to the fathers out there, because I know that some are sensitive & snuggly, but women are able to teach certain things that men can not. When my stepson came into my home for the first time, he was only one – not potty trained, cried all the time, he was a baby – and I was already a mother. It is only natural – to mother the child, it would be unnatural for me to not have.

The problem with society or the bio-mom vs step-mom or even bio-dad vs step-dad is not the role they play and who over steps who, the problem in the involvement – and who is and who isn’t. The “other” parent can only be seen as over-stepping when there is room to do so. If things were covered, the role was fulfilled completely – there would be no room, to step in or take over as many feel the other parent does. There is also the part of partial involvement – the parent who is never there for the child – but is hurt because one parent has made it so. Take for instance my children’s Bio-dad and his wife. For my daughter, they have not been involved. They missed the entire year last year of anything that was important to her, and rightfully so she was upset. Softball is something my daughter loves, and she plays in a competitive league – its nine months out of the year – and her father didn’t support her – at all, even using it against her. Her stepmother was not involved at all either, though I don’t know if it was her choice or not. Today, is try-outs and they are both there as it is their weekend. On one hand, I was impressed they stayed, because they never have. On the other hand, I’m fearful that the involvement will not be permanent. The involvement needs to be permanent.

Children need consistency and permanency of being supported for all involved. There are times when you have to work, or something important comes up, that is understandable. However, a vendetta, or personal adult problem shouldn’t interfere with a parents involvement with a child. Don’t you remember being in a game, or a recital and looking for parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles? Why are step-families – not part of that group? Because we came after, or because we are seen as second.  A step-parent is no different from a friend that comes into your child’s life and loves them, only to be called an aunt or uncle – even though not blood related. They still care for your child, they love your child, playing with them, teaching them – doing what adults are supposed to do with children.

If parents spent more time addressing the real facts – instead of labeling the nasty role of a wicked step-parent on the “other” parents forehead – they might be surprised that they have something to not only offer your child – but maybe yourself. Who cares if another woman or man loves your child, plays with your child, or builds a healthy relationship with your child – either way your child is benefiting. Did you read that? YOUR CHILD IS BENEFITING. That’s whats important – nothing else.

Do you think your child is benefiting or losing because of your situation?

See you next blog, Jess~

I can CARE, because I CHOOSE to… Damn-it!

Why does my opinion matter, why does what I feel, the pain in my chest, or the tears that I cry matter, when I am only a step parent. I can’t possibly understand how it feels to love a child, to care for a child, to want so badly for this child to have the very best, because they are not my blood from my own body. How dare I even complain, or waste my time with things that I can never fix. The right to care ended the day my stepson came out of her vagina instead of mine, the day my husband married her and had sex with her, and shared the life long commitment of raising a child with her. They made this life decision in a moment of passion (dare I to speak it) and now that the marriage is over – and my husbands temporary lack of judgment has expired – we now get to deal with the never ending reminder of I have no rights – ever.

Lets put the fact that she is a mother who not only talks down my husband to his son, who forces her 3 year-old son to flip off his dad and tell him he doesn’t love him, or that she has moved 7 times in 3 years, or that she will drop him off with hfmd without even a mention to us, or how to properly care for him, or even the fact that she has totaled her car 2 times in the period of a year because she is irresponsible and reckless. Lets also put aside the fact that for 3 years, her grandmother is taking care of her and our son, she pays their bills, she provides a roof over their head, because she refused to work. But, why would that bother someone who doesn’t care? Why do I find it odd, that when their are two Parents, one that is living with a grandparent, and one that works, has their own home, provides for himself and his family, isn’t given the RIGHT to be the full time parent, simply because he has a penis!

Imagine being told by someone that simply because you are the dad, you are not going to get full custody. Actually, try it this way, have your brother who you have watched worked his butt off to be the best father to his child, and put up with more than his fair share of crap from the mother, and then watch him fight for a place in his child’s life, knowing he is the best place for your nephew or niece and then not feel sick or saddened when you hear that because he is a dad, he can only hope for a little more than every other weekend. Magnify that by an unimaginable percent, and think of that man being your husband, and watch him fall short, without saying one word, without having the right to say anything, do anything, just sit there quietly and soak in his heartbreak – but remember you are not allowed to feel any of this – because you are not his mother, you don’t love him the same, you don’t matter.

Are you kidding me? Deal with it? Why should I? Because you do? Because somewhere, someone wrote that we should act a certain way, when it comes to certain situations? Well let me tell you something, that’s not me, it never will be. I do not care if my children came from 12 hours of hard labor, or 3 years of laboring – either way I have parented them,  I have loved them when its hard, I have taught them lessons that someone else did not, I have held them when they cried, or after Dr’s appointments and shots. Countless hours of my life have been spent providing, supporting, caring, loving and investing in my children – and I damn well know that my levels of giving in those areas isn’t dependent on how much of my blood runs through my veins! Nor, will it ever.

I would hope that their are more women in this world like me, than against me. More men like my husband, that fight for their family, for their children, for the rights that today may not exist, but may exist for our children and their children for tomorrow’s tomorrow. Because those that fail to see that love is Blind, that love exists without conditions, guidelines, parameters and, BLOODLINES, are missing a whole hell of a lot more than just their sight. And I’m glad I am not one of those people, because I would choose tears, heartbreak, and continual failure, that brings me one step closer to the possibility of witnessing the right thing, the better choice, the best outcome and a happy child.

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