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Old 05-18-2009, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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you do things with the family when the stepkids aren't there?

We went to the zoo yesterday, just dh, dd and I. We never do this kind of stuff without dss (it was a 2.5 hr drive day trip to the zoo) but now I feel bad for going without him. I guess since he has been very ungrateful lately it's been easier to not feel guilty (not to mention the way he pretends he has no idea who we are in public if he is with his mom...usually a non smile fast wave greeting...if that) but I don't want to be petty....or blame him, although I hope eventually he is strong enough to be himself no matter what.................

It's just been hard living a half life! We have him half time, every other week, so when he's not here we aren't a complete family. We always plan everything for when he's around, but I feel like my dd is getting a little bit ripped off since he still gets to do fun things when he isn't here and we are always planning around him.

How do you handle this? Just curious. I wonder if it will be different when we have another child?

P.S. I don't usually feel guilty if it's just me and dd because that just us, but when it's the three of us, then it feels weird.

Artist, teacher, wife and mommy to DSS, DD1, DD2 and surprise baby girl on the way, 7/12!

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Old 05-18-2009, 06:47 PM
 
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We have my stepdaughter every Wednsday and every other weekend. For the longest time, we only did the fun stuff when my stepdaughter was with us. It was bad for my son- he would hear about all the fun places she went to during the time she was at her Mother's house and he was beginning to feel like we only had fun because his sister was with us. Now, we just do things as planned. If she's not with us, then she's not with us. Of course, we miss her always and it doesn't feel like the family is complete when it's just the three of us, but we it doesn't feel right to have the entire family revolve around any one particular family member all the time, know what I mean? Of course, special things, like family vacations or trips out of town to see family, we make sure is planned when all four of us are together, but something like going to the movies, we don't always save for when my stepdaughter is here.

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Old 05-18-2009, 07:19 PM
 
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It was bad for my son- he would hear about all the fun places she went to during the time she was at her Mother's house and he was beginning to feel like we only had fun because his sister was with us.
You'll for sure need to avoid this at all costs. His life goes on when he's with his mom; your lives should too.

I know how hard the non-smile wave-when-mom's-not-looking thing is. It unequivocally sucks. How can two kids who the night before cuddled on the couch with me now pretend I don't exist? But please try and realize you SS is just trying to navigate the situation as best as he can. I know for sure my XH's XW would get REALLY mad at the kids when they said hi to me at school functions, soccer games, whatever. It didn't mean I didn't go, it just meant that I had to use every bit of empathy I had to try and accept that their reaction was what they had to do to survive life with their mother, even though it hurt me to the core.

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Old 05-18-2009, 07:31 PM
 
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Yes, we go through this, too. My step-son (almost 10) lives with us and so do my twin sons (almost 14). The twins had some serious complications at birth and are mildly developmentally delayed, whereas my step-son is gifted, so they meet in the middle quite nicely and have called each other "best friends" since they were 4 and 8. So it can be really awkward, leaving anybody out!!

The twins spend EOW with their dad and step-mom, who live nearby. We feel less guilty about doing special things with my step-son when the twins are gone, because he's bored as the only kid home (except our 1-y-o) and because the twins get to do lots of things with their dad we, quite frankly, can't afford to do, so those two are certainly not deprived when they're away from home!

My step-son's mom lives across the country, so he spends a week with her at Christmas and Spring breaks and she comes here every once in a while to visit, plus he spends most of the summer with her. She provides plenty of entertainment when he's with her. But we know that she also stresses the message that when he's with us, it should be a sad, tearful, desperate existence where he's just counting the hours until he gets back to his "real home" with her. So we hate for him to come home and hear about all the fun we had without him!

But, of course, the twins' life can't stop just because their brother (they don't bother with "step") can't participate in all of it. Wherever possible, we try to schedule the big things when he's here. Last year, his mom scheduled her summer time to start the day before the twins' birthday party...so we had an earlier one. (Yes, BTW, we told her the date of the party before she bought DSS' plane tix! Arghh.) Our one yearly amusement park trip is reserved for before or after my step-son's summer visit with his mom. But we certainly go camping, to movies, have play-dates and, yes - visit the zoo - without him.

Surely, with a 10-y-o boy and a 5-y-o girl, there must be activities he'd be "more" or "less" disappointed to miss. Try to save the things that fall under the "more" heading for when he's with you. It's OK for him to know that your life goes on when he's not around, the same as his goes on without you, when he's with his mom. But it shouldn't feel like a punishment for him, with you going to his favorite places without him.

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Old 05-18-2009, 07:37 PM
 
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I struggle with this, but I know my stepsons have a great time with their mom on the weekends and do lots of fun things. We do as Harleyhalfmoon does and just live life. Sometimes we definately do fun things when the boys aren't around. We've even taken trips w/o them. I am planning camping trips this summer - some with them, and some will be with just dh and dd when the boys are with their mom camping.

The age gap can make it difficult to find activities that all three kids can enjoy. I'm glad they have an awesome mom who takes them to festivals and amusement parks!
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Old 05-18-2009, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the replies! I know it's silly to feel bad at this point. I think what is happening right now is that my daughter is getting older and enjoying activities closer to my dss's likes. Because we have him so much we don't plan things when he isn't here, like trips out of town/camping etc (though if he was gone more often we would have to) We always plan big around the schedule for him too...and so does our family.

I do feel that we provide much of the "experiences" he has as far as cultural/art/outdoorsy stuff. They are more of a movies/video games/eat dinner in front of the tv type family. Not to be rude, but it's just the truth. (don't get me wrong, we have those days, and movies/arcades can be great in moderation) Let's just say, I don't have to worry about her reading this post on MDC. haha So we put special effort in to make sure we always eat at the table, have family outtings, hobbies etc. Exposure to all sorts of great things, I mean, we live in CA where we are surrounded by great stuff! I know they don't take advantage of that so we try to do as much as possible, but sometimes it's hard to wait for him.

His mom lives within walking distance... but is galaxies away as far as communication. I wish I could say great things about his mom like some of you have here, but I just can't. I truly and completely wish I had that positive attitude/relationship that so many of you do I am really envious of you, but the last nine years have been nothing but terrible dealing with her and my stepson has become two different people because of it. Counseling didn't even help, except to give her more ammo. My dh and I have been trying to brainstorm ways to open things up more and keep at least a business relationship with her. We are going to offer he come here in the summer while she works, we know she will prob say no because that would mean more time w/me, but we want to try to do something!

I think I will let us off the hook for the zoo trip, we def wouldn't do anything that is his fave when he's not here, and we can always go to the zoo again! Thanks again for your input. I love hearing how other people deal with these increasingly common and complex family issues....sometimes it's a lonely place! Most of my friends don't deal with this irl, and the ones that I knew who did just gave up on the kid and sent them to live with the other parent. Sad...I don't want to be that way...ever.


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Old 05-18-2009, 08:18 PM
 
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Well, not really, but I do try to be careful to plan anything I know dss's would like to do when he is here (he is here all the time now, but when he did go to his moms EOW). I don't know. He is 14 and still manages to guilt me about it! Of course we keep all beach trips, zoo trips, etc for when he is here, but sometimes he says, "You guys had pizza while I was at my mom's? Not fair." We do our best, and try to be sensitive, but we can't just pause and eat bologna sandwiches until he returns.
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:41 PM
 
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Well, not really, but I do try to be careful to plan anything I know dss's would like to do when he is here (he is here all the time now, but when he did go to his moms EOW). I don't know. He is 14 and still manages to guilt me about it! Of course we keep all beach trips, zoo trips, etc for when he is here, but sometimes he says, "You guys had pizza while I was at my mom's? Not fair." We do our best, and try to be sensitive, but we can't just pause and eat bologna sandwiches until he returns.
My kids (both my bio kids) have different fathers. DS's father is nonexistant and hasn't been seen or heard from in 14 years so DS is my "full time" kid. DD sees her dad every weekend for some period of time.

I do like Flor does... save the big things (like the zoo, beach, ect) for when both kids are here. If my dd were gone 50% of the time, I'd still do the same thing. It's not like I plan to go to the zoo every week so it's not a small thing to miss for dd. She'd be upset.

I would be OK with going to the movies, to the park, to a particular festival or party without her if it was her dad's time. Some things we do routinely (park, movies, farmer's market), so missing that one week or another would not be a big thing. Taking one kid to an amusement park/zoo 2.5 hours away and not at least trying to schedule it so the other could go... well it's not how I parent my kids.
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:39 AM
 
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Right now, we plan almost everything to happen when DSD is with us (we are 50/50). DS is pretty little, so although he enjoys doing fun things, it isn't as big of a deal to him yet. We do little things like go to the park when she is with her mom.

DSD is pretty demanding and takes up a lot of our energy (both emotional and physical), so often by the time she goes back to her mom's, we just need a chill weekend. I am hoping that as she gets older, things like tantrums will decrease a little and we'll have more energy on the off weeks.

Once the boys are a little older, we probably will do some fun things when DSD is not with us, but try to save anything really cool (like an amusement park) for when she is here.

DSD does get to do fun things with her mom, but in the past it seems to be connected to her dating someone (he pays). Now that she is engaged to a man with two boys that she met a few months ago, I suspect DSD will have a busy summer.

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Old 05-19-2009, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Taking one kid to an amusement park/zoo 2.5 hours away and not at least trying to schedule it so the other could go... well it's not how I parent my kids.
It was a spontaneous trip, completely unplanned because we were going down there for another reason, and decided to hit the zoo too. We do always plan around him, that is what I was saying.

Actually going to the zoo is pretty routine for us, we have a membership. (we wouldn't go to an amusement park or something we only do occasionally without him) He doesn't care if we go to the zoo without him normally because we go so often, but this one is further away. We did talk to him about it and he's okay with it, but wants to go in the future-actually he wants to go to a different one. He knows that we can't wait to do everything fun with him, and we are going to the beach this weekend...so we couldn't have gone to the zoo.

We have always planned everything around him, but like I said, I feel like my daughter is getting a half life when he gets to do stuff at both houses and we are always waiting for him. This is the first time I have felt this way. I was just wondering how other people handle it...and I think I got a lot of different ways!

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Old 05-19-2009, 08:09 PM
 
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We always plan "big" trips for times when dsd is here. However, I am planning a trip to the zoo with just dd (although dp is not going), and we occasionally go on "outings", if you will, when it is just dp, dd and I. Dsd has said she wished she could have gone with us, and I have gently reminded her that she gets to do things that dd does not with her mom, with school, with her other grandparents etc.. Obviously, I would never plan a huge once in a lifetime trip without her, but she has been to the zoo lots of times. I also think that sometimes it is nice to just take one kid so that you can go at their own pace ( a 2 yr vs a 8 yr old generally do not!). It sounds like you are feeling guilty needlessly-it might not be fair that your dss missed out on the zoo trip, but it is also not fair to deprive your younger child of fun events for half the time, kwim?

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Old 05-19-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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So I am now wondering how many "trips" you all take (not directed to the OP but to the group)? I consider going 1hr or more out of town something I plan vs something that is simply a routine thing. I don't go to the zoo more than a few times per year so that would be a trip in my book. The beach is only 45 mins from my home but I would not consider not inviting both my kids if possible. I'd actually prefer the beach with just my ODS since dd is sensory challanged by the sand but I'd preferably not go without her... it wouldn't "feel" right.

I think giving each child their own time is awesome and I do that but the OP didn't seem to be saying she wanted to take her dd to the zoo and then take dss to the amuzement park as an "exclusive" bonding experience for each. If that is what is being said, then I'd have no issue with it whatsoever.
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Old 05-20-2009, 01:07 AM
 
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So I am now wondering how many "trips" you all take (not directed to the OP but to the group)? I consider going 1hr or more out of town something I plan vs something that is simply a routine thing.
When my twins sons (now almost 14) were little, we went on spontaneous trips all the time. My college town is about an hour away from the city where we live and there's a great state park there and a nice little tourist town nearby. It was nothing at all to decide on the spur of the moment to turn the car in that direction, roll the windows down, turn the radio up... But from the time they were 2, it was just them and me and gas was a lot cheaper! Now there are six of us (I'm married, my step-son lives with us and we have a baby), money is tighter and when we go down there - or any place that's an hour drive - it is most certainly a special, planned event and much consideration is given to everyone's schedule and trying not to leave anyone out. So the younger kids in our family don't get to experience the fun of the spontaneity the older kids and I shared.

Specifically how often do we go at least an hour away, as a family? On average once every other month, maybe less. Once upon a time, it might've been once a week - or more, in the summer.

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Old 05-20-2009, 01:26 AM
 
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I haven't had a day without my step son unless I have been in the hospital in ummmm 5 years or so. So no, I never feel that guilt. LOL However, I do sometimes feel bad when I do stuff when my boys are at their dads. But I can't just do nothing when the boys are gone.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:25 AM
 
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We used to save all the fun stuff for when my step-daughter was with us, but at some point it felt like that was sending a message to the other kids that they weren't special enough all on their own to do fun things. So we started planning just the really big stuff around her schedule whenever we can (major holiday events, big family events), and if there was something expensive that we wouldn't be able to repeat (a vacation or a trip to Disney Land) we wait for her. But we definitely don't let the other kids miss out on things because they are happening at a time she is not with us, and we don't spend the time she is not with us sitting around doing nothing... like I said, we want to make sure they know they are important enough to have things planned around them, too.

Last year my step-daughter wasn't with us for Easter, and my grandparents invited us to their house for the holiday. Normally we would have just celebrated it when she was next with us, but we went ahead and had Easter with them. My 4-yr-old son had a great time, but said he wished he could have done it with his big sister... so we planned "Easter in July" and went down to my grandparents' again in the middle of the summer for an Easter celebration while she was with us.

We planned the birth of her newest sibling (and, therefore, future birthday parties) around her schedule

I imagine we will be trying to find the right balance forever, and I imagine just as we think we've figured it out, something will change... keeps life interesting, right?

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Old 05-20-2009, 10:36 AM
 
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We don't do big trips very often. Hardly at all, really. We took both girls to the zoo last fall, we do a weeks vacation plus a weekend at the grandparents over the summer with both girls...I think the last time we went to the zoo was three years ago when we took dsd. I think the point is that it becomes unfair the other kids who live with you all the time if you save those days/weekends just for chores, catching up on stuff so that you can save all the fun stuff for the times when the other kids are there too. Actually, 90% of the time, this is what happens with us, so I do make an effort to make sure that we do some special fun things when it is just dd here. I guess I could wait to go to the zoo on the weekend dsd is here, but you know what? Prices are higher, it is WAY more crowded, the group I had planned to go with can't go on a weekend, and unfortunately dsd's mom has chosen a schedule for dsd over the summer that does not allow for daytrips..I just don't see how making plans while dsd is otherwise busy is a bad thing. I know lots of parents who take their younger kids to museums, shows, etc. while the olders are in school-is that a bad thing? For that matter, when dsd goes on a school field trip to the zoo, does that mean it is unfair to dd? I do feel guilty about it sometimes, but there is only so much we can do to make life "fair" for everybody without going crazy. I should add that, 99.9% of the time we go on trips of any kind (that dsd would enjoy), big, little, whatever, dsd is with us. I guess that I why I try not to feel guilty about the rare time that something falls outside of her time with us or doesn't work with our schedule during that time.

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Old 05-20-2009, 11:03 AM
 
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We don't do big trips very often. Hardly at all, really. We took both girls to the zoo last fall, we do a weeks vacation plus a weekend at the grandparents over the summer with both girls...I think the last time we went to the zoo was three years ago when we took dsd. I think the point is that it becomes unfair the other kids who live with you all the time if you save those days/weekends just for chores, catching up on stuff so that you can save all the fun stuff for the times when the other kids are there too. Actually, 90% of the time, this is what happens with us, so I do make an effort to make sure that we do some special fun things when it is just dd here. I guess I could wait to go to the zoo on the weekend dsd is here, but you know what? Prices are higher, it is WAY more crowded, the group I had planned to go with can't go on a weekend, and unfortunately dsd's mom has chosen a schedule for dsd over the summer that does not allow for daytrips..I just don't see how making plans while dsd is otherwise busy is a bad thing. I know lots of parents who take their younger kids to museums, shows, etc. while the olders are in school-is that a bad thing? For that matter, when dsd goes on a school field trip to the zoo, does that mean it is unfair to dd? I do feel guilty about it sometimes, but there is only so much we can do to make life "fair" for everybody without going crazy. I should add that, 99.9% of the time we go on trips of any kind (that dsd would enjoy), big, little, whatever, dsd is with us. I guess that I why I try not to feel guilty about the rare time that something falls outside of her time with us or doesn't work with our schedule during that time.
ITA with this....

I know once DD is older we will do fun things without DSD as well as with. DH and I already had that converstation and he agreed that he does not want DD to think we can't do fun things with her.

DSD's life certainly does not stop when she is with her Mom. Her Mom takes her to many shows and events and other things that we will possibly be only able to afford one a year of, if that. So if something comes up that is on a time we don't have DSD, I don't think it's fair to not take DD to it because of that reason. DSD goes to shows every month, sometimes two a month in the fall/winter seasons.

I can see missing DSD and wishing we could be a "more normal" family and have her with us... but at some point we have to accept that blended families are different and have these little pitfalls... In our case, DSD gets plenty of activities and outings with her Mom too, so if she misses a couple with us, I don't think it should be a big deal.

With that said though, our big family vacations that we will only do one a year of will definitely be planned to include DSD. Or any other event that is only once a year, such as holiday celebrations.

But zoo trips... we are only about 45 minutes from a zoo and have a membership there so that is a routine kind of thing for us.

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Old 05-20-2009, 01:03 PM
 
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Right now, we just have my SD, so we don't do fun kid things without her. (Why would we?) We do fun adult things when she's not here (and, occasionally, we hire a babysitter if the adult things--such as a once-every-five-years concert from a favorite--occur when she is here).

When we have another child, we'll see. SD will probably be 8 or 9 by then, and even older when the new child is old enough to actively enjoy activities...but by then, SD probably won't want to do "baby things." So, we may have to carve out baby time, SD time, family time...

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Old 05-20-2009, 03:52 PM
 
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It is my bioson that misses everything. I use to try and wait til he was with us instead of his dad, he lives with us, but then will be with his dad on weekends, holidays etc then I realized my other kids were missing out on life waiting for their brother to be there.

So no. I have stopped putting myself through that particular kind of hell, my family too (last year my x tried to bully me into bully my mom into changing our traditiona christmas eve get togather).

We all just plan our lives, if ds happens to be with his dad when we go camping, so be it. I dont like it, but I cant put everyone elses life on hold. Besides, he does stuff there that they dont do.

But ds1 is 17 so that helps. I feel like he is perfectly old enough to make those choices. You wanna go camping with us this weekend or to your dads for whatever he has planned? And I put no guilty or pressure on him to choose either way.

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Old 05-20-2009, 06:44 PM
 
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there is only so much we can do to make life "fair" for everybody without going crazy.
(just quoting the above to put my response in context, not because it is a response to that particular post/poster)

I heard a quote once that has really helped me keep things in perspective... that is that "fair" doesn't mean everyone gets the same thing, it means everyone gets what they need.

Life is, in some ways, inherently unfair for every single person in a blended family. Sometimes I think the biological kids living with both biological parents (ie my husband's and my kids) are at risk of "falling through the cracks" as we work really hard to make sure the children of divorce are adjusting okay and not too stressed out... at some point it occurred to me that despite having both parents happily married and living with him, joint custody was nearly as stressful to my son as it could be to his sister, and it has its own unique complications from his perspective. So it's been important to me to take a moment to focus on each child individually and his/her own needs and make sure they are being addressed, or at least not being sacrificed for the needs of another family member.

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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Old 05-27-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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To be honest, no. Sometimes we do extra fun stuff when my stepdaughters are here, sometimes it's just hanging around the house. They aren't here a ton, so if we held out to do fun stuff just for when they were here, my four at home woul be pretty bored.

That, and I also feel that every time my stepgirls are here doesn't need to be a fun filled family extravaganza, kwim? Sometimes we just need to have a regular day doing regular family things.
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