or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Blended and Step Family Parenting › Need response ideas, please
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Need response ideas, please - Page 3

post #41 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
But really, this child should not get to have any input into her father's home. None. She apparently visits there, so she should put up and shut up. ( /sarcasm ) That is, frankly, how a lot of the responses would make my kids feel. No one should be surprised if she doesn't like being there if that's the attitude.

That's hardly the attitude... I can't understand the attitude that seems to come "who cares about the other children that live there that can't even feel like it's their home... who cares about them, just make sure the other daughter doesn't feel alienated with changes..."

While spending special attention and care as to not rock the boat with the husbands children it is alienating the mother's children and for some reason no one seems to get that point or thinks it is all honkey dorey and I can't figure out why... the mother's children have apparantly gone through a divorce too... and now have this other family as part of their's... are they not going through all the same emotional turmoil as the outspoken DSD?
post #42 of 62
I am sorry you are having a rough time with trying to make the home your own for the family that is in it now and not keeping a shrine to what was. That is precisely why I would try my hardest to buy a new home for a fresh start if I were in this situation.

We often wonder how the ex's new DH feels living in the house DH and ex built and made a home together. Nothing has changed since they seperated. The ex's new situation also includes the addition of his two boys full-time. They "live" in the guestroom that is still set up as a guest room. This has nothing to do with DSD's feeling because she couldn't care less, but we wonder how the boys feel in that room. It has been three years of them living like that, and life is stressful as far as blending according to DSD.

I don't think it is unreasonable to want to make your mark on the home. I think what happens with single dad of older girls especially is that the DD takes on more of the wife role as far as making the home. So, they feel it is their territory you are invading. I am sure you can understand that on a woman level.

Maybe you could just sit down one on one with your DSD and talk about how you are feeling and how she is feeling in a non-confrontational, loving way. Being passive-aggressive does not solve the problem, but talking does. Maybe just letting her know that you are interested in her feelings and that you hear her will be enough to help her let go.
post #43 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I'm not really understanding why OP should have to bend over backwards to appease the child with the set up of the kitchen... what about all the other people that live in that house?
Because of what people here have pointed out before. The child has lost her family and seen a new one installed in her house. You can't foist more on a kid and expect her to like it and/or suck it up without some unhappy consequences down the line (like damaging the relationship between the kid and her father). And you really can't expect an 11-yo to be all that aware of the needs of others in house, or to consistently put them first.

Yes, the current situation is unfair to the OP's children, who need their own space, which they can decorate. And that's something that should probably be worked out pronto.

OP, am I mistaken in thinking you're a SAHM? I thought i'd read that somewhere here but can't find it now.
post #44 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I'm not really understanding why OP should have to bend over backwards to appease the child with the set up of the kitchen... what about all the other people that live in that house?

What if her spending special attention to DSD's "need" to have the kitchen a certain way, then causes the other children resentment that their needs to make part of the house feel like their's is being swept under the rug?

I don't think paying special mind to one child in the house is the way to go on this.. it should be an equal house all around.

SD is 11... I doubt she does much cooking in the kitchen... the kitchen should really be set up to the person's needs that does the most in there, typically Mom.

Good points!
post #45 of 62
Thread Starter 
Kirsten, I very much respect your comments and I'm certainly capable of incorporating the kinds of suggestions you offer. That's not the tough part... the tough part is the underlying, nebulous fear is that given the choice, she'd rather not have me here.
post #46 of 62
Froma stepmom's view:

Marrying a man who has children is HARD, especially when you're in a house that does not feel like your own. Before dh and I married, every book on blending families I read said that it's best to move into a space that can be both families', that can be decorated by everyone, and that everyone can feel home in. That was not possible for us so we painted and got new curtains. We brought in some of my furniture and took out some of his (his couches were old and mine newer). Were the kids sad? At some of it. My kids are incredibly sentimental about everything! Even broken toys, old appliances, you name it. Eventually we were able to move to a house that was new to us all.

There's got to be room for compromise. The kids have always been in charge of how they decorate their bedrooms. Now it's a jungle theme. We look at furniture for the house together. But for the house, dh and I have the final say. Some of the stuff their mom had is important to them. If it fits with my decorating, we find a place for it. If not, we either see if she can keep it in her condo, the kids can keep it in their room, we box it for when they're in a place of their own (we did this with a very old toaster they're attached to ), or we give it a new home.

Moving into a new house was one of the best things we did for our family. The kids help decide what trees to plant, what playsets to get. They miss some things about the 'old house'. But with a new marriage and new blending, things change.

It's easy to forget that adults have feelings too, and a depressed or resentful stepmom isn't good for anyone. Everyone in the family deserves to feel like they are at home, not just the kids. And OP had to move into someone else's space. That's hard!
post #47 of 62
[QUOTE=mama41;11768287]I have to say that I don't much care for this approach, personally, because it's passive-aggressive. (Unless, of course, you mean to be aggressive.) It's a form of attempting to control and shut down the other person, and it doesn't take the emotion out, either. If you don't want to engage, you can say, simply, "I'm not willing to talk about that," or "If there's something you have a problem with, you may say so, but only if you do so respectfully, and with some recognition of the fact that a) you're not the only one here; b) other people are actually working hard just to get to the point of something you don't like."

Or, if you're hearing her concerns but are not going to do anything about them, you can say, "I understand you don't like it. But until you're old enough to have your own place, that's the way it goes. This Is Not A Democracy." Or, as I say to my daughter, "You got your answer. Now stop asking."
QUOTE]


What I'm talking about isn't passive-agressive. It's simply a listening technique. Sometimes people just need to be heard. A simple statement can open up a lot. The idea is that you don't put words into a child's mouth, but you allow them to know you're hearing them.

When I use it with my kids, it's amazing. With OP, it could go something like this: OP: "It can be hard to find things in the kitchen now that my stuff is here, that's for sure!" DSD: "Yeah, I liked it better before you came. Mom didn't have as much junk" OP: "Hmmm" DSD: "I can't find anything! Why did dad have to go marry you in the first place. It was better before you cam! Mom never had all this crap" OP: "You really miss your mom sometimes". DSD may be able to open up and say how much she misses mom, or feels like it's not her house, or even that she doesn't like her stepmom. She needs to be able to state her feelings, and they need to be able to be received by loving adults who can hear her without judging her. This is used in a wonderful book http://www.amazon.com/How-Talk-Kids-.../dp/0380811960

I'm thinking the issues aren't so much that the laundry is folded wrong, or that the kitchen is rearranged. The girl is mourning the fact that her dad and mom aren't married anymore, and that someone is coming into the house and changing things. She needs understanding and to be heard. I'm guessing that if OP is able to reflect back some of what DSD says, it may open up a door to allow dsd to be honest about her feelings, even if they're not pleasant. Then the family can rearrange the kitchen together, or whatever needs to be done.
post #48 of 62
jjawm, I understand what you're saying. And that can be a useful technique in therapy, though it isn't always. When used in other situations as a means of avoiding someone's painful emotional reality, or as a way to block argument, it isn't necessarily a healthy thing.

I first encountered the technique about 15 years ago, back in the days of Chainsaw Al and huge corporate payroll cuts, in the midst of a deep recession. It was heralded as a way of minimizing the threat of employee mutiny and even violence, and the idea was that the employees, as you say, just needed to be heard. "I'm totally stressed and overworked since Marcy got fired and I'm doing her job plus mine." "Hmm. You feel overworked." It was a cynical way of avoiding the fact that the employees were worked so hard they went around shaking, and yet some of them were so severely underpaid that they had to live with their parents. Yes, it gave some employees the impression that managers were listening and cared. And they were very happy, and went away hoping things would change. Very quickly they learned that the managers were neither listening nor caring, and that the whole thing was a sort of ruse to calm them down. I was bowled over by the cynicism, and refused to do it to the people I managed.

You'll also find that a lot of divorced people will use it as a sort of wall-of-white-noise-generator when dealing with aggravating or verbally abusive exes.

If the technique is used in a genuine way and in an appropriate context, it signals, "I'm listening. Tell me more." But that's not what I hear mild_adventurer wanting to do; she wants her SD to stop being a prepubescent pill and stop hurting her feelings. (Entirely reasonably, it seems to me.) Nor do I hear the context as an appropriate one. A family dinner is not usually the time for an unburdening like that.

There may or may not be real problems going on with the 11-yo. In either case, mirroring her statements isn't likely to help unless she learns that something will come of it. Of course, if that's support M_A wants to provide, then yes, I agree, that can be helpful.
post #49 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
But really, this child should not get to have any input into her father's home. None. She apparently visits there, so she should put up and shut up. ( /sarcasm ) That is, frankly, how a lot of the responses would make my kids feel. No one should be surprised if she doesn't like being there if that's the attitude.
Honestly, since DFand I are the adults and pay the rent, we make the decorating decisions. The kids can have input on their room, but other than that, decorating the house is one of the things that I have earned as an adult. And that goes for all of the kids in the house, no matter what percent of time they live here. That includes DS, who lives here only. When they have their own place, they can decorate it how they see fit.

So, yeah, since DF and I pay for our place and do the work to make it run, they can put up and shut up. They have their entire adult lives to tell their kids how they want the house decorated.
post #50 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I'm not really understanding why OP should have to bend over backwards to appease the child with the set up of the kitchen... what about all the other people that live in that house?

What if her spending special attention to DSD's "need" to have the kitchen a certain way, then causes the other children resentment that their needs to make part of the house feel like their's is being swept under the rug?

I don't think paying special mind to one child in the house is the way to go on this.. it should be an equal house all around.

SD is 11... I doubt she does much cooking in the kitchen... the kitchen should really be set up to the person's needs that does the most in there, typically Mom.
I disagree. I don't consider it bending over backwards to rearrange some (ok, maybe all is a bit much) of the kitchen. If dsd gets her own drinks a lot, or can't find her cheesy pops in the pantry, maybe the glasses or pantry could be reorganized as a sm/sd project sometime. I just think it is respectful to realize that for 11 (or 8 or whatever) years of her life, things were one way, and now through no choice of her own, they are different.

All the other people in the house should certainly be able to have input about anything that is important to them. Being able to find something you need seems to be a fair request.

Dsd is 11. Next oldest is OP's 9 year old? and then two younger? Maybe they don't really care so much about the changes. Maybe they are different personality types. Preteens are just like this often anyway - step or not. I don't think making attempts at compromising on some things that are tough for dsd means you are favoring her over others. If others have their own specific issues, I'm sure the OP would address them as she sees fit.

And my kids help in the kitchen; they love to! And I like to foster independence. I don't want to always be the one to get the snack out when it is something they are perfectly capable of. I think 11 is a great age to let her have more responsibility and options in the kitchen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mild_adventurer View Post
the tough part is the underlying, nebulous fear is that given the choice, she'd rather not have me here.
The problem is that this could likely be the case. I'd think that most any 11 year old girl would prefer to have her original family, warts and all - than rearrange her life to accept a new parent and siblings - no matter how nice they are. I think I'd try to think of it as what any kid in that situation would likely feel, and not anything to do with you personally. Yes, she may feel that. I bet it is normal for her to feel that. But I think that you and dsd can still work through these feelings into a better relationship. It will take work and compromise - likely more from you than is fair - but I think the end result is worth it. I wouldn't be a doormat; I think she should be respectful. But I think stating her opinion, disappointment, etc should be ok in her own home. As long as it is respectful. A little eye rolling here and there is just preteen stuff and can be ignored for the greater good IMO.

OP, I think the fact that you are here for support and ideas means that you are the best kind of stepmom. You have links to their photos in your sig - they are all darling by the way. It will work out - but remember that the preteen years can be tough even under the best of circumstances. My just turned 12 year old has a lot of hormones and changes and growing going on. Sometimes it comes out in less than positive ways. You will all be ok. I'd ignore what you can, and have a nice glass of wine when you need it.
post #51 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by mild_adventurer View Post
Kirsten, I very much respect your comments and I'm certainly capable of incorporating the kinds of suggestions you offer. That's not the tough part... the tough part is the underlying, nebulous fear is that given the choice, she'd rather not have me here.

Awwww. I just want to give you a big hug.

It's tough forming new relationships, especially when you are essentially "stuck" and have to make it work. It takes time. It sounds like you are a caring, patient and understanding person, and she is in a phase and place where she's struggling with the changes.

Fears are normal, but I think it's also important to muster up the confidence in yourself that you know you are a kind, reasonable person and that things will be OK. Seriously folding clothes and chicken soup and furniture are all kind of common household conflicts that can be tough but aren't going to break a relationship.

If you know you are being patient with her and listening and also working out a healthy balance (as in, not sacrificing others' feelings in attempts to win her over) then you are being fair and kind and you shouldn't worry.

Yes, your SD may not feel entirely comfortable yet and that can take a while, but that's OK too, she may have bad feelings once in a while (and I would aruge that's totally normal for any relationship). She can have negative feelings and yet the family is strong and will survive that. And being patient and consistent and calm will help her too.
post #52 of 62
Quote:
I'm thinking the issues aren't so much that the laundry is folded wrong, or that the kitchen is rearranged. The girl is mourning the fact that her dad and mom aren't married anymore, and that someone is coming into the house and changing things. She needs understanding and to be heard. I'm guessing that if OP is able to reflect back some of what DSD says, it may open up a door to allow dsd to be honest about her feelings, even if they're not pleasant. Then the family can rearrange the kitchen together, or whatever needs to be done.
Exactly. This isn't about the kitchen or the shower curtain or whatever the little silly issue of the day is. The OP's SD is going to find a way to complain about everything she does, unless the underlying issues are addressed. Bending over backwards to make her happy isn't going to do anything except encourage her to find new things to complain about.

I don't think it's a good lesson for an 11 year old to learn that passive aggressive negative comments said to the air (not even to the person you're peeved at) will result in the household tiptoeing around you trying to make sure everything is exactly the way you want it. And worse, that's not going to make her happy anyway because it's not the real problem.
post #53 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
Exactly. This isn't about the kitchen or the shower curtain or whatever the little silly issue of the day is. The OP's SD is going to find a way to complain about everything she does, unless the underlying issues are addressed. Bending over backwards to make her happy isn't going to do anything except encourage her to find new things to complain about.
Well, maybe. She's going to complain because she's headed to teenland. And the underlying issues won't likely be resolved until she's in her late 20s or 30s and has her own family, because the underlying issue is "my family fell apart and then this new lady and her kids moved into my house and I'm supposed to like it and pretend they're my family BUT THEY'RE NOT, my dad just married her, she's not my real mom. And now she wants everything to run her way and I'm sick of her kids and I just want my family back." That's not the kind of thing you can expect to resolve in childhood unless the parent who left was truly vile and abusive. If all the DS is doing is some pre-teen moaning, then that's actually pretty good.

Quote:
I don't think it's a good lesson for an 11 year old to learn that passive aggressive negative comments said to the air (not even to the person you're peeved at) will result in the household tiptoeing around you trying to make sure everything is exactly the way you want it. And worse, that's not going to make her happy anyway because it's not the real problem.
I agree, and I also agree that reasonable standards of respect and civility should be enforced. On the other hand, I also agree with remarks -- especially from those who grew up as stepkids -- that say you really cannot wish away the effects of continuing to turn the kids' worlds upside down by making more changes to their home, except very slowly and sensitively, and in some areas perhaps not at all until they are ready. Nor can you expect them to behave like reasonable adults. They don't have that wherewithal or that degree of control over their own lives.

I must say, this whole conversation is more than a little wrenching, and is confirming me in my idea not to bring another man in here until dd is grown and on her way. She has enough to deal with already in having to go back and forth between households, never doing things with both her parents. And of course if there were someone new here it would be unfair to expect him to slide in like a piece of furniture, and leave everything else the same.
post #54 of 62
Something that occured to me this morning....

A lot has been said about the step-child and needing to not change their world anymore for fear she may end up growing up to resent her Father...


Has anyone taken the time to realize that the OP's children are step-children to the Father? What about them growing up to resent their Mother because she always gave in and had to have the step-dad's kids always have their way because it was "their" house first?

It is everyone's house now... like or not. Things change... it's the way of the world.

Would not it be a better life lesson to help the children learn flexibility and adaptation now?? Nothing in life goes as planned... A tidy single home with no step anything is so far from normal these days... It's the sad truth... Instead of constantly sheltering the children and mourning for the loss of what their family was...

Why not teach them to look at life more positively and be able to rejoice in gaining MORE family to love and have good times with??

You cannot live in the past... it is not healthy in anyway shape or form. Bottom line... Mom and Dad got re-married, you have new sibings now, your family has grown, this is the present life now, and I think everyone should make a conscious effort into focusing on the positive of that, because I feel living and mourning the past will only screw the kids up more.

Just my humble opinion...
post #55 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
It is everyone's house now... like or not. Things change... it's the way of the world.

Would not it be a better life lesson to help the children learn flexibility and adaptation now?? Nothing in life goes as planned... A tidy single home with no step anything is so far from normal these days... It's the sad truth... Instead of constantly sheltering the children and mourning for the loss of what their family was...

Why not teach them to look at life more positively and be able to rejoice in gaining MORE family to love and have good times with??

You cannot live in the past... it is not healthy in anyway shape or form. Bottom line... Mom and Dad got re-married, you have new sibings now, your family has grown, this is the present life now, and I think everyone should make a conscious effort into focusing on the positive of that, because I feel living and mourning the past will only screw the kids up more.

Just my humble opinion...
JSMa, I very much hear what you're saying, and I think it makes a lot of sense from an adult perspective. However, I just don't think you can try to shoehorn this into the mind of an 11-yo and expect it to work. I hear a lot of "just get over it, just deal with it", etc., in your post, but many people -- and many children in particular -- do not let go of love and its symbols that easily. If you try to force them you invite damage, long-lasting anger, and broken relationships. They will mourn as long as they mourn. It doesn't sound like m_a's skids dwell on it, but if the loss is there it's there.

My daughter is five; she's generally a determined and positive little soul, but she quietly mourns her broken family, even though no one has told her it's broken or intimated that there's something wrong with it, and even though she can't remember living with both parents. (This is not at all uncommon -- in fact it's so common that it's why I was willing to stay married to a man who made my life a living hell.) Last night, coming back from her father's house, we were talking about how nice it was that she felt like both houses were hers, and we talked about a comment her friend made, to the effect that she wished she had two houses to go to, too.

My daughter said, "Does she want her parents to be apart?! That's just wrong. I have to tell her, she doesn't know. She wouldn't want her parents to be apart and have to go back and forth all the time. She just would not want it. She doesn't know what it's like."
Me: "It's not good?"
DD: "No! Because all the time I'm missing one of my parents!"
Me: "And that's not good."
DD: "No. it. is. not."
Me: "How is it not good?"
DD: "Sad."
Me: "A little, or very?"
DD: "I'm always sad."
Me: "Very sad?"
DD: "No -- always -- I am always a corner of sad."

She wants both parents together. And it's a reasonable desire. Who am I to tell her to get over it, be cheerful, live in the present? This is her present. Her parents live in different houses, she goes from place to place, and she can't have them both at once, which is all she really wants. We don't talk much about it, but sometimes she volunteers, and I know it's there. She's a little too bright to be comforted by ideas like "But you have two houses!" and "But lots of kids' parents don't live together!" and "But we both love you!" It's one she will eventually have to work out on her own, maybe with the help of her therapist and other family or friends, maybe not. But in the meantime, though I won't encourage her to dwell on it, I certainly won't try to negate the sorrow's reality, or tell her it's unhealthy, or do things to poke it in the eye. It's a real thing, and it's hers.

It does sound like m_a and her dh are working with all four kids to try to bring them together as a family, but you cannot erase children's memory. I would also think that the fact that m_a's children live elsewhere every other week reinforces the sense of "this is my house".

I hear you too on the fact that it's potentially damaging to m_a's children, which is why I think it's important that they have their own space, that's really theirs, asap. The rest of the house, though...I do think it will have to go slowly, unless m_a and her husband want serious trouble with one or more children, and deep resentment. It's an unfortunate consequence of having moved into someone else's house.

I would really suggest having a family mediator/counselor in all of this, because every other party is an interested party.
post #56 of 62
Logically I understand all the suck it up comments but if this situation was all logic the OP wouldn't be bothered in a territorial way by living in a house decorated by another woman. I hear women on here all the time talking about the ghost of the former "queen" messing with their peace of mind and then I hear the same people saying that children should just get over it.
post #57 of 62
Not a stepmom, but what about involving stepdd in redecorating? Make it an afternoon out, pick out some new stuff you both like? Get her to help you rearrange the kitchen?
post #58 of 62
Thread Starter 
Reading everyone's passionate comments on this subject has been eye-opening and intriguing and sometimes a little sad and disheartening.

Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering if I did the right thing for my children. I truly feel that I've finally found the man I've waited my whole life for, but what if I've screwed up my kids and his kids in the quest for my own happiness?

Here's the reality of the matter: DH's kids are simply "needier" than my kids. They went through a heart wrenching divorce and sadly wonder every day if today is the day their mother is going to freak out again and decide she can't be a mother. My divorce was extremely amicable and XH and I are happily co-parenting with very little conflict. My daughters have always lived fairly happy, carefree lives. DSD and DSS, on the other hand, got the short end of the stick with a bi-polar mother who cheated on their dad, became a coke-addict and abandoned them. She's back now, and the kids spend a little less than 50% of the time with her, but really, who knows how long that will last? We could all wake up one morning to find out she's moved to Tahiti with her Ambercrobie-wearing boyfriend. DSD and DSS are wounded and it shows every single day. So naturally, DH and I are more tuned in to their "I'm in pain signals" and as a result, I fear I may be missing out on my own daughter's signals that things aren't going well for them.

With four kids in the house, I can't focus all my time trying to make my 11 y.o. DSD feel more secure. And honestly, neither can DH. We have three other children to attend to, we both have full-time jobs and dinners to cook and homework to help with and baths to draw and bedtime stories to read and on and on and on and on.... you know how it is! We have a REAL life happening here in little Vermont, and while it breaks my heart to know that DSD is going through a rough patch with adjusting to her blended family, the reality is, there really are part of it she's going to have to suck up. My daughters live every day with the strange underpinnings of "it's not really my home, it's not really my dog, it's not really my TV, it's not really my fridge." And it's starting to effect them. My normally carefree 7-year old cried for over 30 minutes last night because, as she said, "I was so excited to move here and I thought Hallie and Adam were excited too, but I feel like they wish I would move out." Her adjustment issues have less to do with getting used to having step-siblings than they do getting used to not being wanted, which is a brand-new feeling for her!

Doesn't every child deserve to feel that their home is a safe place? That they have a say? That they can make it their own? That they're WANTED?

I don't want to start questioning my decision to be with my sweet, sweet man but it hurts me to see the kids struggling so.

I know all the typical tricks and I've tried them all: involving the kids in decision making, giving them all their own space (they each have their own room), letting them help plan menus and outings and vacations, making time individually for each of them, reinforcing to them all the wonderful things about themselves, etc...

What am I missing? Is it just going to be HARD, with no recourse?

Oh, I'm just sad.....
post #59 of 62
BIG

What a rough time you are having. I don't know what other advise to offer other than maybe seeking some family counseling. It is hard enough being a SM without blending two completely seperate families together. I am always here to lend an ear, though.
post #60 of 62
You are all in a hard spot. I understand that and the fear that all my good intentions would still end with hurt children growing into hurt adults is what made me decide not to seriously date men who already had children. I figured there was enough baggage with mine. You should be able to just be happy with a man you love and your attention and effort should be able to blend a happy family but that is very likely not going to be how it all works out. It sucks when it is so clearly in your face that life is not fair. I would strongly suggest family counseling and individual for the SC. I would also urge you to be as understanding and flexible with them as you can be without being a doormat. Do you have activities or time with just your children? Especially one on one with them. I think that always helps in these situations. My DP and I have "minidates" with my kids (they are not his) and we trade off every week spending an hour going to lunch or thrift shopping...something that they would enjoy. In your case there are more kids but even a half hour little run to do something meaningful with just that child really helped to form attachments between DP and the kids.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Blended and Step Family Parenting › Need response ideas, please