Sort of S/O of fairness in our blended homes... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In my crazy struggle to balance our new blending... and wading my way through the murky waters of all this. I'd like some feedback on how you guys try to create a fair environment. I saw about the Easter candy thread, and was curious about some other things.

(Note: I apologize if I may be driving you all nuts. My head is a swirly place right now with everything going on, so I may need/like some more feedback more than usual to try to see all points of view, etc. I am going to try to use this thread as a place to get extra insight on things that pop up that I'm trying to figure out. Thanks for your understanding! )

My question of today... pictures?

I agree that there should be a pretty good balance of pictures in the house of all children. And this next part may seem nit-picky, but well, it's an issue on the table with DH, and I'm trying to see if I'm crazy or not.


Anyway... we took the girls to get professional photos done the other month. They came out AMAZING!! Well, we had to select one pose to be the main package and we chose one of the baby so we could utilize the dozens of wallet pics in the package to send out announcements to our large family.

Well, the base package also came with a 10x13 pic. We got a ton of other pics of both girls seperately and together in 8x10s and 5x7s, we also got 4 10x13s of both girls together in different poses and backgrounds.

Right now there is currently almost exactly the same number of individual pics up of the girls at our house, there is one extra one of DSD in her special dance frame that I have been using to put each years dance picture in.

The question is... DH won't let me hang the 10x13 pic of DD because we don't have a 10x13 of DSD to hang. It feels it would be unfair to DSD and show favoritism towards DD, even though all the other pics are completely even.

Thoughts on this?

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#2 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 08:52 AM
 
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I think your DH needs major counseling.



Yes, there should be equality between the children, to certain degree. But he is going way overboard. If you DSD was your bio daughter, I highly doubt this would even be a question, yk?

My gf has 2 daughters. One is a 17 yo brand new mother. The other is a 13 yo girl. The two are completely different. There are 4 years between them. They get different treatment....because they are different. The 13 yo got school photos done a couple months ago. The 17 yo's school didn't offer photo's (for whatever reason?). The mother still displayed the 13 yo's photo, even though the 17 yo didn't have one. One gets more money than the other--based on age and/or the behavior of the kid at that time. One is allowed a cell phone while the other one isn't. See the pattern?

This might be your husbands 2nd child....but it is your first child. He needs to step back and let you enjoy this baby. If that means you want to hang a 10x13 photo of your first baby, so be it. If that means buying a cute outfit for your baby, so be it.

If you two (or just him, maybe) keep viewing DSD as an "outsider" and/or keep treating her so differently from the child you have together, she's going to continually feel different and an outsider. Treat her like any other older child. She is the oldest child now. There is a baby and babies change things.

To keep the peace though, I wouldn't "fight" about the 10x13 photo issue right now. I would just drag your DH to counseling and let the counselor inform him of what a ________ he is being. Maybe then he'll get the picture (no pun intended).
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#3 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 08:54 AM
 
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Your husband sounds like he is really struggling with this fairness issue. The fact that you know that there are exactly the same number of photos of both girls except the extra dance one... well, that tells me it is a really big deal to one or both of you (or big deal to one, making it necessary for it to be a big deal to the other in order to keep the peace).

I could not begin to tell you how many pictures of each child are displayed around the house. From where I sit right now, I see two of my step-daughter and one of my youngest, and one of all three together. I know there is a picture of all three nearby that I can see the back of. I'm having trouble thinking of where there might be a photo of my son by himself, though I suspect there is one around here somewhere... I don't love my son less or my step-daughter more just because that is the balance of the pictures... and because my husband and I are very secure about the fact that each of our children are very much loved, it's not something that we spend time making even. I just put up cute pictures. We probably err on more pictures of my step-daughter because we miss her when she isn't here and the other kids like to be able to see her picture when she isn't with them.

So, I don't think you are crazy for wanting to hang up the photo of your daughter without hanging up an equally big one of your step-daughter. Granted, I only have your perspective to go on, but it sounds like your husband is feeling very insecure about it and you are working really hard to keep the peice... and he is pretty good at making you feel like you are the crazy insecure one instead of him.

How about if you hang the photo of the baby up in the baby's room for right now? And how about you just do it, and if your husband objects, tell him it is your compromise... you want to hang it up and you are respecting that he doesn't want other people to think he favors one child over the other. He is more than welcome to enarge a photo of your step-daughter to hang on her wall if he continues to feel strongly about it. Maybe he can discuss those strong feelings with a good therapist...

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#4 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 08:54 AM
 
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In our house, there are more pics up of DSD than DS, probably just because she's been on the planet longer so I've had more chances to snap good pictures of her. Also, I'm not that big on pictures of infants (I know, I'm a bad mommy ), so I have one of DS on his day of birth, then nothing until he is about 8 months old. I haven't gotten our wedding pics up (I'm a bad wife, too ), so we don't even have any of all four of us. The disparity of pics was so bad, I actually wound up taking DS to get some portraits done last fall. DSD has school pics twice a year, and we didn't have any of DS.

That being said, I don't think that the kids are counting the pictures. If I didn't have any of one of them, or there was a huge disparity for years, they might remember it, but as long as things are pretty equal, I think that this is something that only you and your DH would know. I am trying to think back on how many pictures of me my mom had when I was growing up, and I am drawing a blank. I also don't count the number of pictures of each child when I go to visit other people's houses.

I think that you should hang the 10x13. Next time you guys do pictures, get an 10x13 of your DSD and hang that one. If it is really a big deal, hang the pic in the baby's room for now (the girls had to have separate rooms, right?). ETA: Great minds think alike, huh Aricha?

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#5 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by aricha View Post
Your husband sounds like he is really struggling with this fairness issue. The fact that you know that there are exactly the same number of photos of both girls except the extra dance one... well, that tells me it is a really big deal to one or both of you (or big deal to one, making it necessary for it to be a big deal to the other in order to keep the peace).
Yeah... his issue. He counts them. Even when making the collage frame we have up, he counted and had to have a girl in each corner and everything perfectly even. That is why I know how many pics we have of each. Because if I accidently put one more out of DD I will hear about it. *sighs*

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#6 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 09:32 AM
 
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I have 2 children. DS is older so there are naturally more pics of him since he's been here longer, lol.

No way would I be able to tell you how many pics of each child there are. DS had more professional portraits done before his 3rd bday than I have of dd but that is b/c dd spent a lot of time immunologically comprimised her first 3 years. I wouldn't take her to a photographer often because of that.

I love my chldren with equal intensity. Pictures are not a measure of that, IMO.

FWIW, I don't really get those 10x13 potraits. They are too big and showy for my taste. Plus, It's hard to find a nice afffordable frame for them.
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#7 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 09:49 AM
 
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Well, from my perspective... As long as there are photos of both, in roughly equal amounts (i.e. not 50 gazillion of one and 1 of the other), it's a bit nit-picky. It doesn't NEED to be exactly equal.

I know that my kids have commented on the lack of photos that their Dad has up of them. There is a family portrait of the six of them (Dad, SM, all four kids), another of Dad, SM and her kids, and a ton of photos of SM's kids - and none of just our kids (w/ or w/o Dad). They did have a nice album printed with family photos. I think there were four or five of #2, one of #1. The rest were Dad, SM, her kids. The album was ~20 pages, collage style.

And not for lack of having photos - #2 regularly culls through the photos I take (or have taken, w/o me in) to bring to her Dad.
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#8 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 10:29 AM
 
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"Even when making the collage frame we have up, he counted and had to have a girl in each corner and everything perfectly even. That is why I know how many pics we have of each. Because if I accidently put one more out of DD I will hear about it. *sighs*"

That's nuts. And emotionally abusive. (I know you've heard that a lot lately, but seriously, it IS.)

Hang the picture. I know you want to stay with him, and honestly I understand why (worried about living on one income, worried about your dd growing up bouncing between houses, etc.) But the more you want to stay, the stronger you have to be about rejecting his attempts to control you with guilt. If you can't establish a family dynamic where you are genuinely happy most days, then your dd is NOT going to be better off as she grows up than she would be living in a poorer household and having visitation.
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#9 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 10:39 AM
 
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I'm totally a lurker, as I don't have any adopted kids, but I just wanted to add my two (random) cents. I have two bio kids and I have about seven million pictures of DS and like, four of DD. DD is like me - NOT photogenic, and DS is a super camera magnet. I take an equal number of both of them, but I only keep the good ones. And the good ones are all of DS! Even when I make a special point to photograph HER, I end up getting more pics of DS. On her Naming Day we got maybe three good pictures of her and two dozen ones of her brother. Same thing with her birthday, etc.

I do keep SOME of DD especially from special occasions, and even if they're not "perfect" - but normally her pictures are blurry or she's just making an ugly face, so we really can't keep those. I'm not going to throw out adorable photos of DS just to keep things fair. I don't love her less, though. There's no photo count. And honestly, if the kids are counting pictures in the house to see if there's an equal number or not, there's something already going on, and it's not about pictures at all.
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#10 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 10:42 AM
 
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Here's my perspective as a child growing up in a non-blended family (two married parents and their jointly-biological kids: me and my brother). At Christmas, relatives would send gifts to each kid. We would have noticed if only one of us got a gift, but I acan guaran-darn-tee you we didn't know or compare the gifts' values. Similarly, Santa (who by then we knew was Mom) gave us each a pile of gifts. Rarely were the number of gifts the same, and again, we didn't care - as long as santa remembered each kid. Well, one year my brother got some big (pricy) thing and I got a few small things... and a check. We looked at my mom like she had two heads: why a check? "Because your brother's gift cost so much more than yours - this evens it out." We were still astonished and never would have realized that if she hadn't pointed it out.

IMHO kids battle over the invisible line in the middle of the back seat, and who's hogging the remote control/toy/pet, and whose turn it is to lick the beaters, but as long as they feel loved and secure they aren't going to compare notes on whose Easter basket has more candy or whose xmas present is more expensive or who has more clothes or who has more pictures hung. MAYBE it's different in blended families, but if so, I'd refer back to the predicate of "as long as they feel loved and secure." And here, as others suggested, sounds like it isn't the kids but your DH who's feeling insecure.

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#11 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 11:19 AM
 
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Kids should be treated fairly and equitably. Equitable does not mean equal.

Your husband is being unreasonable--but I suspect he may feel guilty about how things went with his first daughter, and is trying to make up for it now.

I know, should my partner and I have children together, that's something he'll struggle with--he was still recovering from a very traumatic accident and brain injury (as well as the deaths of several relatives, which he had to grieve all over after the accident) when his daughter was born, and for her first year, he was emotionally detached from everything. was never neglectful or abusive or anything, but he just wasn't *there.* He went through the motions. He has since bonded completely with his daughter. He'll probably be our kid's primary caregiver and will have to deal with knowing he wasn't there in remotely the same capacity with his first child. I don't think he'll manifest it by counting pictures (we don't have many up in any case--I can count one of SD at 3, and one of her as a baby...one of each set of parents, one of each side of siblings...none of extended family), but something else will take its toll.

Good luck to you.

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#12 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 11:35 AM
 
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Your husband is being unreasonable--but I suspect he may feel guilty about how things went with his first daughter, and is trying to make up for it now.
: it sounds like he is really struggling being away from his first daughter now that you have your baby.

hope you get it sorted out.

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#13 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 12:34 PM
 
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when we got family pics taken, we hung up the big pic that contained us all. the rest were smaller. there are equal pics of all kids except school pics. DS has more, but he wanted us to take them down lol so most of them are in storage. DSD1 has her preschool grad pic up and there is a pic of me and my brother as children.

i dont see anything wrong with hanging your baby's big pic. maybe as a compromise let DSD pick out her fav and let her hang it where she wants. does she have her own room etc.

next year after the new baby is born and DSD1 has moved to her dad's, we will get all the kids and get new ones taken. then we will replace the old ones with the new ones so that everyone is in them.

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#14 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 12:38 PM
 
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is it something the step daughter would notice? Because my kids DO notice stuff like that and have made comments. DH had a huge photo of his son up and there were only 5x7's of my boys. We agreed from that moment that we would ONLY do same size photos (all 8x10's now) and they have to be equal. The kids are the ones who pointed it out.

However, my kids also see that there are more pictures of their siblings up who don't live with us, and they count those too to make sure there are equal numbers of each kid up. They are ok with more of the other kids then them, but I can't have more of A and less of D and O or any other combination. They think it is only fair and they also think it is ok to have less of the 3 at home then the others because I see the 3 at home daily, and I only see the others only a couple times a year.
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#15 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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As the bio-parent, I have great sympathy for what your husband is dealing with. I also have great sympathy for you because you are bearing the brunt of his pain, which isn't fair to you. And right now you guys seem locked in an adversarial relationship. I think the couples counseling can really help and I repeat my recommendation to get someone trained in stepfamily issues. I can't tell you how great our counselor has been for this stuff.

I think the photo stuff is his issue and you should be able to put up a picture of your baby. I also think that the more he is worried about the "fairness" issue then the more he will project that onto/instill it in his daughter. Another great book recommendation is "Becoming the Parent You Want to Be". It has a great chapter on building sibling relationships that you both may find helpful. This is a great opportunity for your stepdaughter - a challenging one - but opportunity nonetheless to become an older sister. To learn how to relate to other people's needs, to be the competent one who knows how to comfort her sister and show her off, to be proud of her own growing independence. One point the book makes about siblings is that they don't just have relationships with us the parents but also with each other and that we sometimes have to step back and give them space to develop that relationship. If you guys are locked in a battle over who gets more attention, then they won't have that space. It's hard - really hard. Because the older child is displaced to some extent - it's a hard adjustment in any family and harder in a stepfamily. No matter what we would wish differently, your love for your own daughter is different - it was,as our counselor put it, "love at first sight", total connection. You don't have to work at it. It's different than what you feel for your sd. That doesn't mean you don't love your sd, but that it's different. I also think if you're given some space then your love for your sd will grow as you see her relate to her sister. But your husband needs to give you that space.

Neither one of you should have to "just get over it". You need to be able to hear and really understand each other and then make compromises and decisions together. I found for myself that we needed help to make that happen. So I'd get the counseling asap.

In terms of near term, I'd spend some time stepping back from the immediate issue (photos) and really asking your husband how he feels, why he feels the way he does, why does he have such a strong reaction. That can give him space to open up and validate his feelings. Then I'd say "you need to hear how I'm feeling". And then talk about how it makes you feel like he doesn't love your daughter as much and like your to blame for a situation you have no control over and that you need and deserve the opportunity to revel in your new baby. And hopefully from there you can figure out a solution together. By way of analogy, my partner FREAKS OUT when my daughter back-talks or ignores him (both very age related behaviors) and gets angry and yells in a sometimes scary way. We were totally locked in a battle over this with me SCREAMING at him to leave MY DAUGHTER alone - I was so angry with him. I didn't know why he couldn't just rise above. In counseling, though, he realized that part of the reason he reacts so strongly is because it makes him feel rejected and he feels the loss of his expectation of an instant happy family like he had as a kid. This is amplified b/c his dad died 6 years ago and he lost his family as he knew it and is carrying a lot of pain and was seeking refuge in creating a new family but now feels shut out of it. All of that goes into his response to my daughter. Understanding that made it easier for me to deal with how he acts with empathy. It's also allowed him greater self-awareness, which means he tends not to react as strongly - although it's a process. That's just one example of how more empathy and approaching our issues as partners has really helped.

Okay, sorry to go on SO LONG. Good luck!
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#16 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Bronxmom... I really wish I had more brain power today to really comment back the way I'd like to. But you are awesome. You have hit things spot on! I know a lot of why DH reacts a certain way, but when I try to point it out he just goes on defensive... I am really counting down minutes to our therapy session next week. lol I know we need a third party to help us at this point and that is why I was adamant about that happening a few weeks ago... the therapist had a long wait to get in.

I know a lot of DH's reactions to me is projected issues from the past... Namely with the pictures is his issue with his Mom and her blatant favoritism of the her two other grandchildren. She took them out to get portraits done of them and created an entire wall of 8x10s for just those two... and then there was just one tiny little frame of DSD in the far corner of the window bench behind a curtain. So he is super sensitive to the issue.

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#17 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 02:07 PM
 
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Honestly? I do make sure the pictures are fairly equal. And yes, I did count them, lol. But, they are not EXACTLY equal. I did hang a picture of me and dd as a tiny newborn, and there is no corresponding picture. We have lots of pictures out of dsd with us before her sister was born-was I supposed to take those down when dd was born b/c it wasn't "fair'?
That said, dsd, dd and I were looking at albums the other day, and she was a little upset that dd had more pics in there than she did. This is partly b/c I am terrible at putting picutres in albums, and b/c all her baby pictures are at her moms. But, the point is, she did notice and was a little hurt. We struggle a lot with the jealousy issues too, int erms of dd getting more attention and in terms of dsd being worried that I love dd more b/c she is my "real" daugher (her words). So, to that end, I do make a conscious effort to make things like pictures fairly equal. I understnad where your dh is coming from, but he needs to realize that this is his issue, adn that having one more or less picture of either kid does not equal loving them more or less. Dp and I had a lot of the same problems that you are having when dd was born. It is a huge adjustment, and I think he wanted to "protect' dsd and I wanted to "protect" dd, and it just ended up getting pretty rough.
So, my advice, hang your picture, go get another one of dsd to hang, or take one of them together to hang. Deal with the larger issue, not this smaller manifestation of the issue. Although, I tend to just give in to avoid the fight, so perhaps I do not have the best advice!

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#18 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would have loved to have a photo done with DD as a Mommy/daughter photo... but I couldn't because it was unfair to DSD. They are both my daughters and I do love them both, but it is different... and DD well, is the first I actually gave birth to.

Sometimes I am sad that I have to deal with all this extra stuff and constantly think what is fair and what isn't... makes me feel like I missed out on a lot of first time baby stuffs.

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#19 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 02:50 PM
 
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I would have loved to have a photo done with DD as a Mommy/daughter photo... but I couldn't because it was unfair to DSD.
I think that you could still do this, once things settle down a bit in your house. You guys could go and have family portraits done of all four of you, then have the photographer do different combinations (you and DD, DD and DSD, DH and DSD, etc.). Hang them as a collage on one wall. That way you will have a mommy and daughter pic, but no one will be left out because you'll have half a dozen poses on one wall of various combinations.

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#20 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 02:54 PM
 
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"I would have loved to have a photo done with DD as a Mommy/daughter photo... but I couldn't because it was unfair to DSD."

Again, this is unacceptable, and if you want a happy life you need to stand your ground and get the portrait done. I have mommy/baby shots with both my newborns - how will you feel when your dd is about to become a mom and you explain that her FATHER didn't want a mommy/baby shot of the two of you to be taken because of some weirdness he had going on with his own childhood and his relationship to his older daughter?

This is crazy, sick, and cruel behavior. Your dd deserves better, and she had nobody but you to fight and make sure that she gets it.
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#21 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 04:36 PM
 
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okay, I am getting seriously annoyed for you, because it sounds more and more to me like your dh is (unconciously or consciously) setting you up to be resentful of your dsd. He is accusing you of being unfair, and by doing so making you feel like you have to be exactly fair (or fair to his specifications) therefore making you wish that you didn't even have to deal with the whole problem to begin with! (this is my take, not the OPs words, and by problem I mean the question of fairness, not dsd )
It is a viscious cycle, which I went through too by the way. It is sad to miss out on that first baby stuff with your partner

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#22 of 25 Old 04-16-2009, 05:57 PM
 
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Well in our house we have an entire wall "shrine" to DSD because this was his/her house before we moved in. There are many more pics of her than my kids/our baby girl because that's just the way it was...

it does make me feel weird, but I'm more of an album girl not a wall picture person..

but I know how you feel, really. MIL came a few months ago and said "where are all your pictures" I just feel funny hanging them up I guess.

I'm a  Christian, homeschooling, kinda crunchy mama to 3, lucky step-mom to 1 and expecting a new firecracker in Julysaynovax.gifhomeschool.gifh20homebirth.gifcd.gifsewmachine.gif
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#23 of 25 Old 04-17-2009, 10:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I would have loved to have a photo done with DD as a Mommy/daughter photo... but I couldn't because it was unfair to DSD. They are both my daughters and I do love them both, but it is different... and DD well, is the first I actually gave birth to.

Sometimes I am sad that I have to deal with all this extra stuff and constantly think what is fair and what isn't... makes me feel like I missed out on a lot of first time baby stuffs.
Again crashing in here as a first wife/mom whatever have you...

My exdp and I have two girls together. He has a new girlfriend.

If he and his girlfriend have a child together, I sure as heck hope she WOULD have mommy/baby shots done. I have those special pictures with my girls...

My two girls are six and sixteen months. I never had pregnancy pictures done my first time around, and I did the second. Does this mean I love dd2 more? NO. It means I had more time and money, lol. I have them proudly on display too - I love them.

And I know for a fact that exdp would have NO issue with this, none at all. It's almost like you are being restricted from fully enjoying your new child, or punished in some way. I'm so sorry for all the emotional upheaval mama.

Full time working mom to two bright and busy little girls! treehugger.gif
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#24 of 25 Old 04-17-2009, 11:56 AM
 
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I'm a biomom with an XP (biodad) and DP (stepdad) both actively involved with DD. She lives with DP and I, but sees XP about 6 times (and one ovenight) a week. We're (DP&I!!) planning another baby soon. My parents were married to one another and my brother was my full-sibling (also have 4 half-siblings) and it STILL wasn't fair! I think focussing on fairness as an arbitrary thing that can be counted like photos is only going to make the kids see these things a) all the time, and actively look for them and b) really quite shallowly. Love is NOT pictures. Love, as you know, is sleepless nights, worrying about things or BFing or cuddling nightmares away, driving when you're shattered to make sure they get to/from activities/home, finding another ounce of inner reserves when you thought you were empty so you can give them what they need. None of those things can be doled out "evenly" - you cannot BF your big DSD, nor can you set and alarm clock to make sure you don't spend too many minutes worrying about one and not the other.

I really think counselling is the way to go for you and DH. He has serious issues in this adjustment and whether his behaviour is "ok" or not with any of us, it is stressing you out and that will affect your kids, step and bio.

Him saying you can't have one additional photo of DD is as strange as you were to say DSD's dance pic has to come down until DD can dance! Some people are more "just so" about this, but for me, unless our kids are talking about it then i won't be focussing on it. You can't put a bigger pic of DSD up because you don't have one, not because you deliberately didn't get one because you don't love her! And you don't have dance pics of DD because she's not old enough to be able to dance, not because you don't love HER.

I really feel for you, it sounds like there is a bunch of craziness going on in your home and you're spening half your time hurt by it and the other half wondering if it's YOU who's being unreasonable. I have been there! It's hard!

The bottom line is that you CANNOT go on being punished directly or indirectly for the pain he *thinks* DSD may suffer due to the arrival of her new sister. His guarding and hostility is only going to make her more focussed on the rivalry and not the joy of being a big sister.

On a personal note, i have almost nothing in DD's baby book beyond 6 weeks, because 2 weeks after that i split from her dad, 8 weeks later i moved out and the months following were a tough journey of poverty and hardship trying to get a good enough relationship to XP going and getting to know my new DP who she didn't spend any time with for the first 12 months of our relationship (even though i'd known him for 5 years before we got together). I had nothing to write that wouldn't have been about how hard life was, how difficult her father was making life, how poor we were. I don't want her to read back how bloody terrible it was having her because i adore her and never, even in my darkest moments, regretted her being with me, but equally i have no idea the face she pulled when she first got food into her mouth, or the exact day she cut her first tooth bcause i was too busy making sure we both survived. I would have loved to record all the normal joys and stresses of her babyhood, and i will hopefully be able to do so with the next, but if they check, later on, and compare, there will be no "equal" there. Life is NOT fair.
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#25 of 25 Old 04-20-2009, 01:03 PM
 
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As coming from a blended family... it used to hurt me (well, okay, still does) that my half-sister (my mom and step-dad's child) always had more pictures on the walls. It wasn't by much, either... there are TONs of pictures in my mom's house. So I do get that, but I don't think one picture makes that much difference. But if it's a big picture... well, yeah.
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