Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What to Do When Your Kids Hate The Step-Mom

This question is asked by many people in step relationships, and the questioners sometimes have their own agenda. It can be quite human to, well, not be so unhappy if your kids hate the woman who was responsible for the demise of your marriage. But is hating the step mom healthy for the kids? The answer is a resounding NO.

Hate is a very strong emotion, and not one that you want your kids to walk around with. They will be spending time with their step-mom, and surely you don’t want them to hate this time. So, here are some ideas on how to deal with this.

First, it is really unlikely that their stepmother is a hateful person. This tells me that it isn’t the person they hate but the situation of being children of divorce and having to now share their father with someone else. With this in mind, I counsel moms to talk to their kids about the situation (divorce and remarriage) being the thing that they dislike — not a person. Help them to see this and you’ve taken a big step.

The absolute best way to foster a better relationship between your kids and their stepmother is to model it. While you don’t have to be friends, there are a lot of things you can do. Ask nicely about her after they have spent some time with her. Encourage them to see the good in her — not the bad. Suggest activities they can do with her. Let them see you interact well with her. This can be over the phone, at a “drop off”, a school event. By acting nicely to her, you are giving them permission to do the same.

If your kids do complain about her, listen to them. Everyone needs to be heard. You might say “You may not like her, but she is in your life, and it would be helpful if you could try to find some common ground.” Or, “You may not like her, but you do have to treat her with respect — just like I will treat your future husband or wife with respect.” This is another good time to emphasize that it might be the situation — not the person — that they dislike.

Sometimes mothers are afraid that their kids will like their step-mother too much. Your kids will always know who you are — their mother — and you will be the most important female relative in their lives!

Click the following to return a directory of articles and resource videos on Kids, Family and Divorce.

Source: FirstWivesWorld.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

Co-Parent Fear?

I recently received an email from a bio mom from Houston, Texas who was interested in my mediating a problem she was having with coparenting with her ex-husband.

"Well, I thought I was doing it right," she wrote. "I didn't think my children could see how disgusted I was with their father. His parenting skills suck. I always have to take up the slack."

Intermixed among other emails was one from a father, Mike, who complained that his ex-wife was always trying to control how he dealt with the kids. He felt his privacy was invaded and he wanted to be left alone when his kids were with him. He was writing to ask how to get through to his ex-wife and let her know that he was fully capable of taking care of his own children. “The kids are clean,” he wrote. “They have a bed time. What's the problem?"

Before I go on, I must explain that I often have the opportunity to talk with both parties, even though we do not meet face-to-face. If those who need mediation do not live within driving distance, I mediate using Yahoo Messenger and we converse over the internet in real time. Both Mike* and Brenda* had stumbled on to the Bonus Families web site and had no idea the other was writing. I suggested online mediation--and for them it worked.

"Have you asked her what the problem is?" I asked Mike.

"Sure," he wrote back. "She never gives me a straight answer. I think it's just me."

"Have you told him specifically what you don't like about his parenting skills?" I asked Brenda.

"It's everything!" she wrote back. "He doesn't do anything right!"

It appeared that Mike was right. Brenda’s responses suggested that she did disapprove of just about everything he did.

"Do the kids complain when they are with Mike?" I asked Brenda.

If you ever had an insecure bone in your body, divorce will find it and shake it until it really hurts. "Are you kidding?" she wrote back. "They can't wait to get to their dad's house. No one bugs them to clean up their room. They have pizza for dinner every night. It's a party over there! I'm the one who always has to be the disciplinarian. The kids probably hate me."

I continued to ask Brenda questions and because we were meeting in real time Mike could instantly read her responses. “Because Mike is a little more lax in the discipline department, does not cook on a regular basis, and is not the fastidious house cleaner that you are, do you feel as if you have to compensate by staying the responsible one?”

“Oh my Gosh! she wrote. Yes! What a relief! You get it!”

Mike then wrote, “It’s just not my style,”Brenda. And, continued by saying that being “‘Suzy Homemaker’ was not required for their children to be healthy or safe.”

As much as she hated to admit it, Brenda agreed that Mike was right. “He’s right,” she wrote. “He just makes me so mad!”

I then pushed a little further. “Are you perhaps afraid that Mike is "the fun one" and therefore the kids prefer to be with their dad?” Her response was simply, :-(. It was obvious I had reached the heart of her insecurity. She went on to explain that because of the divorce she could no longer influence Mike’s parenting decisions and her frustration was making her into someone she did not want to be--bitchy, condescending, and never satisfied.

Mike then confided that the kids felt Brenda’s frustration, too, and he worried that they could never satisfy their mother.

In turn, Brenda admitted that exactly what she feared so much was happening--the kids preferred to be at Mike's. She was deeply hurt, however, it was obvious that her family perceived her hurt as anger and the children were rebelling.

"Brenda," I wrote. "Are the kids in danger when they are with Mike?"

"No," she replied. "He's always been very careful with the kids."

Found at BonusFamilies.com

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

iPod + Teenager = ?

What Do You Get...... when you cross a teenager and an iPod Touch (with enabled wifi)?

The start of a horror story you hear about on Dateline or Maury Povich complete with private chats of an inappropriate nature with strangers of questionable age (and even gender).

I've been asked not to tweet or post about this because the Internet doesn't need to know about His daughter but I'm doing it anyway because ... well, it's *my* blog.
But, that's not the real reason. I do so not to embarrass Cinderella, or to spite anyone. I post this now because it's important to remind ALL parents (steps AND bio) of the importance of monitoring your children's internet usage. No matter how insignificant you might think it is, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Even the best parent needs a reminder every now and then.

If you are not familiar with an iPod Touch and all of it's capabilities, it's basically a mini-computer. So when your otherwise good kid is locking him/herself in their room "playing games" on their "iPod" you need to know that they may be ON TEH INTERNETZ and that means people of ALL KINDS are also playing these games and therefore have access to your good kid. AND!!! that said games also have private chat capabilities (remember the early days of a/s/l checks? Umm...YEAH! 'nuff said.).

BUT, if you are lucky (and YES there is also an upside to this otherwise craptastic and stomach turning experience) you might also get validation that you are doing a good job when, as you scour though the chat and email history, you happen across a statement made by your kid such as: "I'll [send it] tomorrow because my Dad is home then and he doesn't watch me."

You bet your ASS I'm going to be watching you.

Found at TheWickedStepMom

Monday, March 8, 2010

Can You Date (marry) Someone That Parents Differently?

Dating Dad Wonders How to Date Mothers with Different Parenting Styles


Dear Lisa,

I recently read an article on MSN.com by you that talked about dating and kids. I am divorced with a 15-year-old boy and was dating--until recently--someone who had a 14-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy. She had full custody of her kids. I have rotating weekends. One of the issues that ending up breaking us up was our parenting styles. How do you move forward when you have two different styles and know that in the long run if you get married, it will drive you crazy and will be the source of arguments and hard feelings down the road?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stepfamilies And Depression

My Heart is Breaking writes: I have recently married the man I have dated for the last 5 years. We have been married for 6 months. We split up numerous times while dating because he would just out of the blue shut me and my kids out and tell me he can’t give me what I want. We each have two children. His children (17, girl and 14, boy) do not live with us and the girl hardly visits. His son is with us most weekends and over half of the summer. My children (11, girl and 8, boy) love my husband with all their heart.

The issue is my husband has turned cold to my children. He has just told me he isn’t happy and doesn’t want to come home to us and that my children fight too much. If they make any kind of noise or have a disagreement, my husband gets mad and doesn’t want to be around them (or me). When I asked him why he has seemed so happy until now, he said it is because we haven’t been home that much since the wedding (we travel with our job together). I don’t disagree that my children have issues; their actual father is a piece of work and has caused a huge amount of problems that they are scared from. My husband recognizes this, but now he acts like he doesn’t care about any of us. No matter what I do with my children to make things better, (I have them in counseling, I keep them away from him at night if he comes home before they are in bed; I try to do anything to make things better), he resents the fact that they exist and all they want is to love and hug on him and he cringes. All he will say is “if it works out, it will work out.” I told him divorce is not an option and he just looks at me. It is like he enjoys hurting us and we do nothing but love him.

He battles depression, and I told him his ‘pattern’ has started and he needs to go to his doctor and have his meds adjusted to which i get the response, “I am fine.” I don’t know what to do. My children love him so much and he for some reason wishes they didn’t exist. However, the last five months he has been happy with them, takes my son with him all the time and watches tv with my daughter. Then one day it all turns to cold hate. Please help.

Chuck and Jae reply: We are truly saddened by the difficulties you and your children are experiencing with your husband. It must be very confusing and frustrating for you.

Based on what you have shared in your email, we believe the issue is primarily your husband’s depression. His irritability, inconsistency, bouts of isolation and periodic withdrawal from your children are symptomatic of untreated depression. Your suggestion that he see his doctor about this is on target. If he continues to go untreated, his condition will probably worsen. The impact on you and your children will intensify as well.

Since he denies he is having a problem, it’s unlikely he will seek help on his own. Therefore, we recommend you discuss the situation with a family therapist to consider options for persuading him to have his depression treated. One option that comes to mind is an “intervention” conducted in the therapist’s office with you, your children and your husband present. In this session, you and your children would let your husband/their stepfather know how much you love him and how concerned you are about his emotional health, provide some examples of his negative behaviors and how they have impacted you, and, finally, tell him how important it is to all of you for him get help.

If he firmly refuses to treat his depression, you will want to consider the potential seriousness of the impact of his behavior on the emotional health of you and your children. Then you will do what is best and safest for all of you.

Found this at remarraigemag.com