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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Post Divorce Moms … Celebrity Edition

During Wendy Williams’ Hot Topic segments, she’s been talking about the Jennifer Garner/Ben Affleck and Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt divorces and child custody situations. Well, that’s right up our alley isn’t it?

It appears (because you never really know what is going on behind closed doors unless you see it for yourself) that Jennifer Garner is an amazing mother and ex wife. Despite Ben Affleck’s public struggles with addiction, gambling, girlfriend who is half his age at best, and wondering eye, Jennifer Garner is doing what she can to promote a healthy and loving relationship with all of the parties involved right down to personally transporting him to rehab and voluntarily sharing joint child custody with him. They still participate in activities with the kids together and she continues to support him despite their failed personal relationship. Based on his struggles and issues, I’m sure that Garner could attack him from all angles, demand sole custody, keep the children from him and make his life a living hell if that’s what she wanted to do. But she’s so classy, glowing, charming, sweet, such a good mom, loves her kids so much, and that just isn’t her way. Good for Ben!

Now, look at the attitude and behavior of Angelina Jolie. OMG y’all. She appears very dark, depressed, and weathered. Controlling, bitter, angry. I’m sure that Brad Pitt was not some angel, but had he truly been a horribly terrible and unloving father, why in the world did she keep having child after child after child with him. It’s pretty obvious that she had to see something good in him as a man and a father though you’d never know it by the way she’s behaving publicly. It’s alleged that Brad Pitt “made contact” with his 15 year old son. Throw stones at me if you want, but there are PLENTY of 15 year old boys that need their fathers to jack them up just a little bit to let them know who is in charge when they hit that nice testosterone infused, attitude age group. The child wasn’t hurt, it wasn’t the end of the world, get over it Angelina. Rather than support your husband as the kids’ father, you’re using that incident to attempt to keep all of the children from him? But you sure don’t mind him providing finances for them. That is a key aspect of a “high conflict, controlling ex wife”. They want the benefits they can receive on behalf of the kids while attempting to alienate and damage the children’s relationship with their father.

If you are a divorced female with custody of your children, which type of ex wife are you? Which would you like to be? Forget for one moment everything your ex did wrong and what you don’t like about him. Look at you, your character, your behavior. Did you handle yourself like a Jennifer Garner or like an Angelina Jolie?

I was hands down, without a doubt, Jennifer Garner to my ex spouse during and following our divorce. But at the law firm I worked at, I had the opportunity to meet many Angelina Jolie types too. This road is not an easy one and everyone makes mistakes. It’s going to happen. No one is perfect. Divorce and child custody and blended family issues are DIFFICULT.

But, where possible, let’s be a Jennifer Garner 🙂

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Titles, Names, Co Parenting, Mom v First Name

I keep seeing this topic over and over and over. Do you let your stepkids call you Mom? Were you flattered when they asked, etc?

Every blended family is different so my opinion is that only. My own opinion from the view of our own blended family.

Hubs’ youngest child asked me if he could call me Mom when he was in first grade. My response was “you would need to ask your mom if that’s ok with her because that might hurt her feelings. You already have a Mom”. He asked her over the phone. She said no. He cried and cried and was so upset. Then he was fine the next day and got over it completely.

My personal belief is that maybe he was a little jealous of my bio kids at the time. They called me mom. Half of their friends called me mom. I think he felt excluded. But once we talked about it, he did understand WHY I didn’t let him call me mom and that helped.

When I was growing up, I called my stepdad Dad. But I lived with him full time starting at the age of 2 or 3 and I rarely if ever saw my bio Dad. In my mind, my stepdad was my Dad and I really did not know otherwise until I was in school and discovered that I was the only person in my house with a different last name. Oops.

In our situation, my last name is the same as my husband and my stepkids so it’s really my bio kids that feel a bit out of place on occasion (not anymore but when they were young). I had the last name initial of Hubs and I on a wreath on our front door but my bio kids didn’t have that last name initial. That doesn’t make them any less my kids or any less a member of our home. It’s just a name.

Titles are only titles y’all. They do NOT define you. It’s ok to just be you. You don’t HAVE to be called mom. And frankly it shouldn’t hurt your feelings if they don’t. We are individuals. Not the roles (stepparent, wife, employee) that we play.

Also, I don’t see many men struggle with this. I don’t think my husband has ever lost a nights sleep because my kids have always called him by his first name rather than call him Dad. Women tend to be more sensitive, and more easily hurt, but it kills me to see so many women’s feelings hurt over something so minor.

So, have your coffee, go for your workout, enjoy your life and don’t worry about the titles kids assign you. It’s all going to be ok.

Iced coffee cheers your way ☕️

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The Unapologetic Stepmom Mantra

I created a stepparent blog and Stepmom small group about 2 years ago after getting so much positive feedback about my stepmom blogs from 5-6 years ago. Firmly believing that I needed to stay a student and be a part of bigger groups, I joined fellow Texan, Emili Wadkins group, The Unapologetic Stepmom. A few months ago she shared her “Unapologetic Mantra” and I shared it with my small group. Y’all, it had feedback for days. So many women found it so helpful and so freeing. So, I’m going to share it here and save it for future reference as needed. Emili said:

“When I started this group, I chose the name for very specific reasons and often get asked about it. I have learned in the last year that where I stand as a stepmom is either met with very strong aversion or very strong agreement. I think I often say what so many stepmoms feel but dare not mutter out loud because of ridiculous societal expectations.

*I unapologetically do not let my family revolve around my stepkids. My husband and I make decisions based on what is best for our whole family.

*I unapologetically do not stop my girls’ lives simply because my stepkids are at their other home. We go on about life as usual and do fun things with or without them. I do not plan 100% of my girls’ lives for 50% of the time.

*I unapologetically do not love my stepkids like I love my daughters and they are my first priority. God gave them to me to be their mother and I take that very seriously.

*I unapologetically do not force my family to have a personal relationship with my stepkids. I do not adhere to the philosophy of “You take them all or take none.” I chose to marry a man with children, my family did not. I would never tolerate rudeness or disrespect, but I do not expect my family to do for my stepkids what they do for my girls.

*I unapologetically do not put myself on the back burner. I am not a stepmom martyr.

*I unapologetically disengage when I need to. I will not sacrifice my sanity trying to fix anything I didn’t break.

This is mine and my daughters’ journey and story just as much as it’s my stepkids, and I unapologetically don’t let anyone tell me what my role should be within my family or how my family should operate. Every stepfamily and their situation is unique and there is hardly ever a one size fits all rule.”

I love this y’all. As did my small group. And I hope it will give you the same peace and comfort that it has given so many others who have read it.

Hugs and support your way ☕️

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