Parent Defender – Part 2

Y’all I LOVE blogging so much. I’m definitely a writer, a note taker, a journal keeper, etc. When I blogged The Parent Defender the other day, I was having a particularly emotional moment and felt very frustrated about a conversation that is probably fairly common in the blended family arena (and lead me to that dreaded feeling of unfairness about “my kid versus your kid”). In hindsight, I really don’t think Hubster meant that at all so I considered going back to delete the post altogether. But I’m actually glad that I did blog about it because it (1) reflected a feeling and situation that was going on for one brief moment in time, (2) it did lead to a follow up conversation and open communication in my marriage about the topic and we were able to clear the air in a healthy manner, (3) it gives me hope and encouragement to see how I felt that day versus how much better I feel now, and (4) it makes me laugh out loud big time because now anytime Hubs goes to defend a child in any way I quickly joke and say “oh here he comes, the parent defender is getting tagged in”… bahahaha.

For real though, if you can’t laugh and joke with each other about life and all of the roller coaster moments in marriage, you’re going to grow into a really grumpy old person one day haha. You know that one old grumpy neighbor that never smiles or talks to the kids on the block. And who wants to become that person?

Note to self: take this rollercoaster ride one moment at a time, one day at a time, one season at a time, and enjoy the journey as much as possible. It will all be over before you know it.

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Baby Love & Mommy Shaming

Someone posted a quote today by Wednesday Martin, Ph.D in StepMom Magazine that said “you’re going to prefer your own kid, period, and that doesn’t make you a bad person, a bad mother, or even a bad stepmother.”

Most of the women talking in support of that statement had stepchildren when they married, but no children of their own. Then when they had their first biological baby they experienced that unbelievable love and mama bear bond that is so strong which nothing else in the world can compare to. It sounds like some women, once they become birth moms, may feel some guilt because they realize they do not feel that same way about their stepkids. Truly truly truly, there is no guilt necessary. It’s ok to “feel” different. It really is. Even in a traditional family with multiple kids you will have different relationships and different bonds and different feelings with each kid.

Women, moms, stepmoms – I think we should work harder to let go of the mom & stepmom guilt, mom bashing and stepmom shaming. So often is seems like women are in continuous battle over “the right way” to parent (bottle feeding versus breastfeeding, vaccines versus anti-vac, how long you should stay home from work after childbirth, home school versus public school versus private school, day care versus home care, etc). Yes, I do have my own opinions and beliefs (I can hear them when I start giving my adult daughter advice) but that doesn’t mean I will be ugly to another mom for doing things differently. There is no “one size fits all” and it really is okay to support one another along this journey without always agreeing with others 100%.

So hugs and support to each and every one of you moms today. Birth moms, stepmoms, adoptive moms, all of you. Let’s give ourselves a break today and not beat ourselves up too much. (Oh yes, I’m preaching to myself too LOL).

Coffee cheers your way.

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The Nacho Kid Theory – The Stepparent Child Care Controversy

I’m in a very large Stepmom Support Group on social media that has over 15,000 members. One of the theories and concepts that’s been tossed around often in that Group is the NACHO KID method of step-parenting. That is definitely a controversial topic with many stepmoms in full support of and many stepmoms completely against The Nacho Method.

I firmly believe that in this season, people get way too offended by words and terms that really aren’t meant to be offensive or personal. For example, I’m a middle of the road Nacho Stepmom. I will handle certain things with my stepkids but other things I won’t touch with a ten foot pole for my own protection such as discipline. I told someone in the large group the other day that “I provide child care services to my stepchildren for my husband” and that person was just furious over the term “child care” because I’m a stepparent and that’s still a parent by golly and if I wouldn’t provide child care to my own kids how dare I call it child care when it’s for my stepkids. Y’all…. as far as I’m concerned, if the term “child care” bothers you, just keep scrolling and move on with your life. Thankfully, there are MANY stepparents that understand the concept, what I meant by it, are not offended by it, and feel a little better and supported that they are not alone in that.

So, what do I mean by providing child care services? I mean, when I am alone with my stepchildren, I care for them as I would a niece or nephew. I make sure they did their homework, prepare their meals, make sure they shower, watch movies, joke around, etc. However, when something happens that needs parental oversight or parental discipline, I DO NOT handle it. I notify my spouse of what he needs to know and HE handles it. For the most part, he and I have already created a list of boundaries and guidelines that we follow with all of our kids regardless of who they belong to. But when there is an infraction and it involves my stepchildren, I allow my husband to handle and enforce that whereas with my own biological children I would just handle it myself. I do some other things differently also in that I do not stay in the bedroom or bathroom with a stepchild when they are changing or nude (they are all old enough to bathe themselves so that’s not an issue) whereas with my bio kids I would stay in the room but turn around. It’s subtle but it’s different. And personally I think some stepparents may be a little naive if they don’t take any extra measures to protect themselves especially if there is a high conflict ex or history of litigation. I firmly believe that you can never be too safe.

Another slight difference that I’ve noticed with my bio kids versus my step kids is the use of Family Group text messages. With my bio kids I often send a quick private text whereas with my stepkids, I am certain 99% of the time to be sure to put all of my communications with my stepkids in the group text so that their biological parent (my husband) is fully aware of anything that I have relayed to the child. I’ve found that it also helps keep us all informed and on the same page so that “you didn’t tell me about that” or “I didn’t know about that” stays kept to a minimum and I can say it was posted in the family group text.

Y’all, these differences really are not personal and is simply for communication improvement and for my own protection as a stepparent.

So yes, I’m going to continue to provide “child care services” to my stepchildren even if that offends a good portion of the stepparent group because, after all, isn’t everyone offended in our society by something anyway 😉

Coffee cheers to you all.

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The Parent Defender

Trust me when I say that if you attack my child, I will totally go Mama Bear on you. However, if my kids acts like a fool or do something wrong, I WILL NOT defend them or protect them and will hold them fully accountable for their behavior.

Most people know that my kids are the older kids in our blended family situation. They are actually all adults now. When my Kids AB or C acted inappropriately, I had NO PROBLEM saying “that was not ok, that child is acting like an @$$”. And Hubs would agree with me. Support me. Tell me it’s ok, teen years are hard and I’m going to make it and he’s there 100% to support me.

Fast forward almost a decade later. Hubs’ kids are not so little and cute anymore. They’ve hit that teenage zone. The dreaded zone. The alien has landed and I don’t even know who you are zone. The zone that makes you want to pull your hair out or move to another country at times. You know that zone? But now when I tell Hubs that Kids XY or Z are completely acting like an @$$, here comes Superhero Dad Savior to the rescue and he just HAS to defend them. Almost always. It’s like he just MUST say something such as: well all teens are like that, remember how bad AB or C was that one year, it’s nothing “compared” to the way your kid acted at that age, but they’re really just such good kids (insert defense after excuse after almost approval of their inappropriate behavior along with a look of disapproval WITH ME for calling their kid out to him). Y’all… uh huh. No way. Like … I can’t even. Never in the history of – EVER – have 2 wrongs made a right. Never has it been ok for Kid B to jump off a cliff because Kid A jumped off a cliff. Last summer, one of Hubs’ Kids stole several things from my home. That’s wrong. Unacceptable. Not ok. Had my kid stolen, he/she would have been REQUIRED to return the item along with a hand written note of apology. But when stepkid stole from my home, it was “well maybe the child didn’t have everything they needed where they were”. Insert crickets here because theft is NOT ok. EVER. And on top of that, Hubs didn’t even call the child out on it or ask the child about it. Why not?

None of this double standard parent defender drama is ok. None of it. All it has done is verify in my mind that when it comes to this blended family life, we are NOT a team. We are NOT partners. We are NOT co-parents. There are 2 completely separate teams. Mine and His. Why is it important to acknowledge that? Because until you do, it cannot be fixed. Even then it may not get fixed. Now, that’s not a deal breaker for me this late in the game (we are almost a decade in and only have about 4 years to go. Hallelujah). BUT, for me, it’s definitely a mental check, a serious disappointment and something that – in hindsight – I wouldn’t have gotten myself involved in had I known that’s how it would have turned out. I married for partnership, not to be on opposite teams in parenting.

I also write this to say, I KNOW I’m not alone in how I feel and what I observe. I know MANY other stepparents feel this way at least monthly, sometimes weekly and sometimes DAILY!!! I know it’s something that only the strong survive. Marriage is hard. Blended family marriage is even harder. Having grown kids I also know that eventually these kids will be adults, independent, self-sufficient and will eventually no longer hold any power or control in our home and parent defending will no longer be necessary. One day.

Finally, I write this because sometimes it’s better and wiser to update you guys than vent at home and Hubs agreed that transparency and authenticity are our survival tools which is the sole purpose of this blog. In fact, sometimes he says “can’t you just go blog about it”. So, here it is!!!

And coffee cheers (or wine cheers) to surviving the remainder of this journey.

9 years down, 4.5 to go.

 

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The Unjust Judge… Keeping the Faith

A friend of mine shared a Bible story with me recently that definitely reminded me of the court and conflict side of Blended Family life (for those who do not or cannot work things out amicably). I personally do not have much faith in the family court system or criminal justice system. But, rather than go back and forth about that, I wanted to jot down this reminder because it really helped me focus on prayer.

Luke 18:1-8 – The Persistent Woman parable: 18 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,”he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man[a] returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

I have a dear friend whose son was murdered a year ago and the police did not even arrest, detain or perform a toxicology exam on the person who killed her son (though it was a stolen gun and he fled the scene…. yeah ok). But she did NOT give up. On her own she sought justice and the DA filed charges on their own though the police department did nothing. Today is the sentencing. The Lord heard her cry for justice and it is finally being granted.

Whatever your issue (or my issue) is, we must be persistent.

Hang in there y’all and coffee cheers your way.

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A Day in the Mind of a Stepparent

I’m in 3-4 blended family support groups of all kinds and types. Typically, there are some basic “day in the life of” type questions, but today a very sweet woman just wanted a moment to post some basic questions that roam around in her heart. She knew no one could really answer her, but she needed an outlet. She asked:

When his kids are with me, do I discipline them or just stand back?

If I discipline my 3 and not his 2, am I being unfair by not holding his kids up to the same standard I hold my kids to?

How do I handle jealousy between my kids and his kids when mine think his kids get away with everything because they aren’t here as much and when his kids are jealous that my kids get to spend every day with their dad?

Do I tell people that I have 3 kids or 5 kids when they ask me?

You guys, no one is expected to know these answers, but lets take a moment to empathize with this sweet stepmom because she’s trying her best to work it all out but never quite comes up with any solutions and always second guesses whatever decision she does make.

And isn’t that what being in a blended family is often like? Unless or until you are in that situation you really do not have the ability to understand the magnitude of these emotions or how heavily they can weigh on you. These types of questions hit me really hard when my kids were high school age because even they wanted some answers and wanted to express their own issues.

One thing we do have is empathy, understanding and support from one another. And that is why we small group.

Coffee cheers your way. And many many hugs 🙂

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Blended Family Events – Quinceanera Edition

This blended family gig is different for everyone and there is absolutely no “one size fits all” when it comes to it. It’s trial and error for most. Recently, an acquaintance friend of mine planned her daughter’s quinceanera. I’d never been to one before and let me tell you, it’s a very very big deal. Huge. Events such as quinceanera’s, weddings and graduations are once in a lifetime events for a child and within the blended family realm, they can be overwhelming for parents and their families post divorce.

My sweet friend handled the event this way. The father and his family were invited. The bio father had the first father/daughter dance followed by the daughter’s dance with her stepfather (she is very close to her stepfather, has lived with him for over 5 years, and her bio father only sees her a few times a year). My friend honored her ex husband’s position in the child’s life despite whatever differences the two of them have had post divorce and her daughter had an amazing and beautiful event. I loved the way they showed respect and honor to the child’s bio father in such a kind, thoughtful and selfless way despite their difficulties and differences.

Their way would not work for everyone. It certainly would not work for my family. Hell would have to freeze over first haha. But it was beautiful, respectable and I just wanted to take a moment to make this journal entry to remind myself of how they handled the situation so that I won’t forget how I admired them in the moment.

Coffee cheers your way 🙂

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