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#61 of 89 Old 11-17-2008, 07:38 AM
 
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*sigh* I really, really don't like when threads turn into "mom v stepmom" battles. It doesn't have to be that way. Plenty of us here are BOTH. Sometimes it feels like people come rolling in here to put all us mean, thoughtless stepmoms in our place and it's really not necessary.

And on to the topic at hand. JSMa, I know what you mean about this. My ex-husband has always had a habit (not intentional I don't think, just kind of a habit) of setting me up to be "mean mommy." It's really frustrating.

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I'm not stepping in... At least it was never my decision to.

DSD's Mom asked for my email once to email me some pictures of DSD which I thought was really nice of her!

DH doesn't go on the computer, it's not his thing... so he does not have an email.

Then DSD's Mom started emailing all kinds of things, for schedules and what not and for discipline things that she wanted carried over to our house. I never wanted to be in the middle... and I told DH that.

But he says I'm as much a parent as they are and am helping to raise DSD as much as they are and he was okay with me getting the emails. I never respond to them until I talk to DH about them first so we are on same page and then we send a response. I don't just step in, and I never ever go to his ex with things, if it is us that has a question, I make him call her.
OK, I'll just jump in and say it: this was a HUGE problem for us. I'd cut this off at the knees. IME, the only sustainable way to make blending work in most families (note that I did not say all) is for the two bio parents to communicate about all things parental.

We started out this way; my DH was fine with me just kind of sliding into his place as coordinator/communicator with SS's mom. It seemed alright. It was certainly easier in some ways. Ultimately, it hurt our family very badly. I am involved in raising my SS via my DH. He and I make decisions together, but the bottom line decisions belong to SS's bio-parents. And it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep or that would be clearer, but really, I think it's a bad idea to let communication happen between a bio parent and a step parent. Nowadays (8 1/2 years in), I don't discuss anything parental with SS's mom w/o DH present. If she strikes up a convo during a drop off, even if it's something I know the answer to, I tell her I'll have DH call her. Life is MUCH smoother since then.

Know, too, that the early years of blending are HARD. I mean, there is no color bright enough or typeface large enough to get that across. There are so many power relationships to sort out, it's dizzying! My SS's mom was deeply jealous (I'm not speculating; she told us this.) in the early years of our marriage and started little wars (unconsciously) every time something happened in our lives. So we had a battle around the time of the wedding, then when I got pregnant, and then when our baby was born, and even when we bought a new car. She felt very powerless about all the changes in her little boy's life and was trying to find her way to feeling comfortable about her role in all of it. Led to some really, deeply weird behavior that I won't share here (because I'm the queen of OT when typing from the depths of an insomniac hole), but it's not uncommon. I've certainly done some strange stuff when trying to find my way to level ground.

I hope you enjoy your baby shower! I think there's no question that she should be with you that day. Shoot, children's birthday parties? My kids go to maybe a dozen per year EACH. There's about a zillion of those in her future. This, though, is a truly special day for your family. Enjoy it, all of you together!

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#62 of 89 Old 11-17-2008, 09:19 PM
 
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I don't post here often, but after I read some things that seemed really negative, I wanted to add my thoughts, or rather reiterate already expressed thoughts.

I think plans are plans, and we teach kids the importance of keeping commitments when stick to our plans, especially family oriented plans.

Also, this doesn't appear to be an isolated event. Maybe the mother isn't being spiteful, just insensitive, not thinking about how her actions effect others.

DP's X is really bad about this, but we have DSD every other week, so a few days here and there aren't a big deal to give up. However, if a plan has been made and known about since August, that plan is non negotiable.

Also, who are these kids in this class that get to wield so much control over the other kids that they get to dictate whether the step-mom has her DSD at her to be baby sibling's shower? I know peer groups are influential, but do we send a message that they are the most important group, even over family?
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#63 of 89 Old 11-18-2008, 03:45 AM
 
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This is an interesting thread for me to read. I am not a step-mom, but grew up with divorces parents who were completely inflexible when it came to rearranging schedules/let us go to events on the other parents time. My DS also has a good friend whose parents are divorced, and one parent is this way - and I see how it effects him. What really jumps out at me is that the emphasis seems to be more on the adults feelings about this rather than the child's feelings. I think a four year old is capable of making the choice between the two events. It may feel more important to her to be at the baby shower or it may feel more important to her to be at the birthday party. It may feel more important to her to feel a part of that family event or it may feel more important to not feel like her life is disrupted just because her parents are divorced. I think her perspective on this is really valuable. My DS is 4, and I would absolutely give him the choice in a situation like this. Just like there will be a lot of birthday parties, there will be a lot of chances to make her feel connected to her new sister.
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#64 of 89 Old 11-18-2008, 09:49 AM
 
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I get the feeling that this one party instance isn't an isolated event. I think that is important to understand.
I am a mom and a step mom, and when I can I am flexible, and when we can (DP and I), we are also flexible.

Is one parent really expected to flex every time a 4 year old says so? What message is that sending to the child? That she controls the adults? What happens when the decisions get bigger, like when she is 16 and wants to stay out late with inappropriate people? Is the choice hers? What if the mother remarries, on the same weekend that the Dad has planned a Disney cruise? Which parent is supposed to be flexible? What if she wants to go to Disney land? It's her choice right? No matter what, it's about what the child wants.

But in our household, children do not get the liberty to make every choice about their lives. Especially a 4 year old. In our household, we make it our job to let the kids know there is an order of respect that begins with the parents. We do not believe that letting our kids see themselves as our equals. It's not about what the child wants every time, in fact much of the time it is teaching the kids that life has responsibilities.

To be honest, I think the mother should have told the daughter that she wouldn't be going to a party that weekend, because of prior family commitments.
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#65 of 89 Old 11-18-2008, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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To be honest, I think the mother should have told the daughter that she wouldn't be going to a party that weekend, because of prior family commitments.
This is pretty much how I have been feeling all along... til I came here and got slammed and being made to feel like a horrible person for denying DSD going to a party...

I still am not sure what to think... I have never seen such a split in thoughts before on totally separate ends of the spectrum.


I can't imagine letting a 4 y/o decide what they want to do... if that were the case I doubt she'd even come and visit us in general (not because she doesn't love us, but she is 4 and very much about her Mother right now)... yet parents are supposed to enforce the visitation schedule right? Or do you honestly think the child should decide when and if they see the other parent??

They are CHILDREN... yes we should respect their needs and such... but they are also not mature enough to make the correct decisions all the time... Part of a parents job is to guide... if a child was born with a full adult brain and capable of making their own adult choices... then why do any of us have parents?

I do not think my 4 y/o DSD is old enough to make the call between a party and the shower... she doesn't even fullyl grasp the blended family thing yet and has no idea what a stepmother is or what it means... it still blows her mind that I'm going to be her sister's Mother and she will argue you on that if we say I'm Kallie's Mommy... "you're not a Mommy silly, you're Jen"

There are always going to be birthday parties... this is her FIRST sibling, and I think that is pretty grand and something for her to be involved in.

It is interesting reading the pregnancy forums here and how involved people have their biokids and all the things they are doing to get them involved, and some of them even have a shower, because this may be their first child with their new DP...

Yet up here in Blended... I get called down for wanting my DSD involved? I don't really understand it.


I just want to say thank you very very much for all the Mother's that stood up and gave a positive backing for this.

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#66 of 89 Old 11-18-2008, 10:40 AM
 
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Is one parent really expected to flex every time a 4 year old says so? What message is that sending to the child? That she controls the adults? What happens when the decisions get bigger, like when she is 16 and wants to stay out late with inappropriate people? Is the choice hers? What if the mother remarries, on the same weekend that the Dad has planned a Disney cruise? Which parent is supposed to be flexible? What if she wants to go to Disney land? It's her choice right? No matter what, it's about what the child wants.

But in our household, children do not get the liberty to make every choice about their lives. Especially a 4 year old. In our household, we make it our job to let the kids know there is an order of respect that begins with the parents. We do not believe that letting our kids see themselves as our equals. It's not about what the child wants every time, in fact much of the time it is teaching the kids that life has responsibilities.

To be honest, I think the mother should have told the daughter that she wouldn't be going to a party that weekend, because of prior family commitments.
I have to agree with this, despite the scores of MDCers who do not. The kids do not run the show around our house, the adults do. The point that JSMa made about parenting time is one that demonstrates this for us as well. DSD's mom never wanted 50/50 custody to happen for DSD because she said that it wasn't what DSD wanted. DH's response every time was that he didn't put much weight on what a 4 yo wanted - she also wanted to never brush her teeth, eat ice cream for every meal and go to bed at midnight when having to get up early the next day. He believed that what he was doing would be best for DSD.

Children live in the present and cannot see the consequences to their actions. They cannot see that not brushing their teeth can lead to cavities. They cannot see that in the long run, a family event that brings a blended family closer together will do more good than the birthday party of a child that is, in reality, an acquaintance.

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#67 of 89 Old 11-18-2008, 12:31 PM
 
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. It may feel more important to her to be at the baby shower or it may feel more important to her to be at the birthday party. It may feel more important to her to feel a part of that family event or it may feel more important to not feel like her life is disrupted just because her parents are divorced. .

I don't think that this choice is necessarily related soley to having divorced parents. What if a child in an intact family had this choice? Would everyone still say that she should skip her mom's shower for a bday party? When I was a teen, I wanted to spend my bdays with my friends and missed out on a few important bdays with my parents-something I really regret now. I don't think a 4-year-old should make this choice-that is why we, the parents, are involved. Anyway, this is a little OT from the OP's original question, sorry! While I agree that kid's should have their opinions heard, I don't think that they are capable at that age on making decisions with longterm consequences.

Just a thought...a lot of people seem to think it is no big deal if the OPs dsd is not at the shower. But, I am willing to bet that if the OP hadn't made every effort to get her dsd to the shower, the opinion would be that OP was excluding her and not wanting to make her a part of the family. It seems like there is a double standard happening for a lot of step-parents/blended families. Sorry if this isn't clearly expressed, just something I wondered about. Maybe a topic for a new thread!

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#68 of 89 Old 11-18-2008, 03:25 PM
 
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Just a thought...a lot of people seem to think it is no big deal if the OPs dsd is not at the shower. But, I am willing to bet that if the OP hadn't made every effort to get her dsd to the shower, the opinion would be that OP was excluding her and not wanting to make her a part of the family. It seems like there is a double standard happening for a lot of step-parents/blended families. Sorry if this isn't clearly expressed, just something I wondered about. Maybe a topic for a new thread!
I wonder about this, too.

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#69 of 89 Old 11-18-2008, 05:37 PM
 
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I don't think a 4-year-old should make this choice-that is why we, the parents, are involved.
This is what I was thinking, too.


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#70 of 89 Old 11-19-2008, 03:18 PM
 
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IF it was up to my Dss he would never leave his mom's house to come to our house and he would never leave our house to go to his mom's. Not up to the kids DSD should go to shower and I know this is not an isolated event w/ DSD mom. I thonk you are making the right decision.

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#71 of 89 Old 11-19-2008, 10:25 PM
 
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Just a thought...a lot of people seem to think it is no big deal if the OPs dsd is not at the shower. But, I am willing to bet that if the OP hadn't made every effort to get her dsd to the shower, the opinion would be that OP was excluding her and not wanting to make her a part of the family. It seems like there is a double standard happening for a lot of step-parents/blended families. Sorry if this isn't clearly expressed, just something I wondered about. Maybe a topic for a new thread!
I know my dd was not included in any way at her dad's wedding. So obviously if there were any parties involved, she was not included in them either. I never thought it was a slight against my dd (until now, maybe).
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#72 of 89 Old 11-20-2008, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Why would your DD not be included in her own Father's wedding at all? How did she feel about that? I couldn't even imagine telling my DH that his daughter can't be involved in our lives... it makes no sense to me.

DSD was our flower girl and ring bearer. She was so excited about the wedding and talked for months how she was going to dance with us. We only had a small ceremony right in our living room, but since it was so important to her to dance, we did. She will still bring it up sometimes and she will check our hands to make sure we are wearing the rings
"she gave us." lol It is really cute.

I am sorry your ex did not include your DD in something so big like that... her life was changing and I think these events are hugely important to blending families and setting the feelings of everyone belonging.

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#73 of 89 Old 11-21-2008, 09:25 AM
 
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Why would your DD not be included in her own Father's wedding at all? How did she feel about that? I couldn't even imagine telling my DH that his daughter can't be involved in our lives... it makes no sense to me.

DSD was our flower girl and ring bearer. She was so excited about the wedding and talked for months how she was going to dance with us. We only had a small ceremony right in our living room, but since it was so important to her to dance, we did. She will still bring it up sometimes and she will check our hands to make sure we are wearing the rings
"she gave us." lol It is really cute.

I am sorry your ex did not include your DD in something so big like that... her life was changing and I think these events are hugely important to blending families and setting the feelings of everyone belonging.
I agree. It was very important for us to have DSD in our wedding as well. You would think that your dd would have at least been invited.

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#74 of 89 Old 11-21-2008, 01:36 PM
 
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I agree. It was very important for us to have DSD in our wedding as well. You would think that your dd would have at least been invited.
Slightly off topic, but that is where I am coming from too. My stepdaughters were flower girls in our wedding as well. We were growing a family, of which they're a part.
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#75 of 89 Old 11-21-2008, 05:08 PM
 
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My DP and I talked about this topic, and we couldn't come up with a scenario where either one of us would be okay with having a wedding without any of our kids. Even if we decided to run off to Vegas and elope, we would still have a big party and some kind of ceremony just so that the kids could have a part in everything, however, we wouldn't do that because we wouldn't want to not have the kiddos around for such a special time. I think they would feel hurt, and honestly, I think it would make us sad to have them not be there.

Everyone is different, I suppose.
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#76 of 89 Old 11-22-2008, 01:17 PM
 
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my ex got married without his two kids and they were certainly old enough to understand the whole thing (they were probably about 12 and 9).
but then, they aren't in his life regularly so it didn't phase them but i thought it was mean spirited actually.

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#77 of 89 Old 11-23-2008, 05:23 AM
 
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My DP and I talked about this topic, and we couldn't come up with a scenario where either one of us would be okay with having a wedding without any of our kids. Even if we decided to run off to Vegas and elope, we would still have a big party and some kind of ceremony just so that the kids could have a part in everything, however, we wouldn't do that because we wouldn't want to not have the kiddos around for such a special time. I think they would feel hurt, and honestly, I think it would make us sad to have them not be there.

Everyone is different, I suppose.
I have divorced parents. They both remarried the same year when I was 4. I didn't attend either wedding. I never thought it was weird at all. Never even gave it a second thought until this thread.

ETA: Just so we're clear, they remarried other people not each other.

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#78 of 89 Old 11-23-2008, 05:55 AM
 
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I really think the child's thoughts and feelings should be taken into account here. First, I don't think baby showers are really much fun for children anyway. I wouldn't expect my dd to give up a birthday party to attend one unless she wanted to. I do think that sometimes family time trumps friend time, but it should be something that is intended to be fun for everyone. I second (or third) those who pointed out that at a big shower, you'll hardly be spending any time with dsd anyway. Plus I think step or no step being at a baby shower can inspire a lot of jealousy in older siblings because they see the mom opening all these presents for the new baby while they're not getting anything. It really can make a kid feel like they're less important. I'm not saying that you or dh should take dsd to the b-day party, but I totally think that if her mom wants to pick her up, take her, and then bring her back to you guys, that you guys should let her if that's what she wants to do.

I have kind of a personal story about the whole family things come first. When I was 6 I was invited to a birthday party for a friend, but my mother had plans for us all to take her dad to a baseball game for his b-day instead. To this day, my mother says she wished she had just let me go to the party. First it ended up being miserably hot, second I was bored out of my mind, third although I was pretty pleasant, she knew that I was really sad about missing the party. On top of it all, when I got back to school monday, I was feeling so left out because I was the only kid in the whole class who had missed the party. My mother has always said that even though I didn't see my grandfather very often, that one day wasn't so great that it made up for making me unhappy over missing the party. In fact, I look back on the experience as pretty rotten because I remember being miserable, not a great way to create warm family memories.

Also as the child of a divorced parents I'm really bothered by the idea that your dsd should not ever have any events scheduled during "your time." I don't really know the background, but frankly if you guys don't get enough time with dsd, fight for more days with her, but she shouldn't have to put her life on hold to visit you. Visiting her dad should be as much like her regular life as possible, if its to seem like "real life" and not something outside of normal.

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#79 of 89 Old 11-23-2008, 08:54 AM
 
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okay, one more comment! My dsd attended my shower for dd and had a great time. No, I didn't spend the whole time with her -nor did her dad (we had a jack and jill shower). But, she loved seeing all the cute baby things. She sat and helped me open almost all of the presents. If you are worried about her being jealous, we bought a few presents just for dsd, including a big sister shirt which she still loves to wear, almost 2 years later. Otherwise, though, she had fun running around with the other kids and just being part of the excitement. Everybody there was really great about playing up her part as the big sister, and she loved the attention.

Also, to the pp, I don't think the OP is saying that dsd can never attend a bday party on their time (or any other planned event). The point was that dsd's mom shouldn't tell dsd about events that are planned on their time until they have approved them. How would you like it if Grandma told your kids about a great event the same day that you already had great plans of your own? It just sets up the kids for dissapointment one way or the other. We always take dsd to the bday parties on our weekends, as well as letting her go with her mom's parents (her grandparents) for events that fall on our weekend, etc. BUT, that needs to be cleared with us before telling dsd about it in case we already have plans.

Obviously this is a sensitive topic for lots of us-JSma, I'd love to hear what you decided/how it turned out!

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#80 of 89 Old 11-23-2008, 10:47 AM
 
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I would also like to point out that the poster has written that several of dsd's cousins will be there, so it's not like some stuffy grown up shower.

In my years of growing into an adult there have been several times in my life where I have felt left out. This is unavoidable. If it's not this party it will be another one, unless I guess everyone's schedules can be rearranged around dsd's party schedule.

I agree that this is a sensitive topic, but it seems like some people posting are not really taking everything into account. I don't think the poster ever wrote that no plans for dsd may be made during the time she is with her dad. It also has been made clear that this is not a one time thing. It seems as if the mom is routinely making plans for dsd on the 4 days a month that she has with her dad and step-mom.

The shower had been planned for a long time. Who is the little kid that is having a party? That kid must be really freakin' awesome because that kid's party is apparently the most important thing in the world, not a shower for dsd's baby sibling- to -be that includes the entire family and has been planned for weeks if not months by now.

I don't think anyone is saying that a kid's feelings shouldn't be taken into account, but are we saying that the adult's opinion should be ignored as well?

And for being left out of a wedding, sure people do it, but I wonder if a step mom- to- be posted on here and said that she wasn't going to include her to be- step- children, if the people on here would be like
"oh that sounds wonderful..."
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#81 of 89 Old 11-23-2008, 07:25 PM
 
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I'm pretty sold on the idea that the kid should go to the shower - mostly because of the long-term issues of her missing it and how that might make her feel as well as the importance of it as a significant enough family activity to miss a friend's party. Also, there's no indication that the kid is dying to go to the b'day party as opposed to the shower (though it also seems like she hasn't been asked).

However, I'm a little disturbed by the idea that children are "just children" and aren't capable of knowing their feelings or wants or making certain decisions. In general, I would just expect a much different approach on a board that's pretty strongly ap in its focus - a key part of which, in my understanding, is honoring and empathizing with the feelings of children. It doesn't mean they dictate everything, but I do think their feelings should be asked for, acknowledged and taken into genuine consideration wherever possible.

I think this is particularly a difficult question in blended families where children are often expected to meet the emotional needs of the adults in the families and it is too easy not to pay attention to what the kids are feeling. I think it's a little too easy to say "I'm the adult so know what's best". We have our own feelings, prejudices and needs that just as much can get in the way of rational thinking as a 4 year old's lack of maturity can.

Anyways, I know I've gone off-topic but I wanted to raise this issue because I've found it a little disturbing. For ex., in this case I don't understand what is wrong with asking the child about the party and talking to her about the shower and about what she would prefer/wants to do and then having a conversation about what's going to happen (regardless of what the outcome is). If it's that in this particular case she wanted to go to the party but the parents felt the shower was more important, acknowledging why she wanted to go to the party, but explaining why in this case you are better able to see the bigger picture, empathizing with her disappointment and perhaps trying to make alternate arrangements with the preschool friend would all go a long way to making her feel that her opinions and feelings matter even if they can't be the main consideration always. I'm not sure why that's not part of this process. And when we ask kids what they think we learn a lot about their worlds. For ex., we're all like "whatever about this party, which there are dozens of and they're not even that close" and that might be true; or it might be that the child has a whole different perspective that we from our adult perspective can't understand but could be equally valid. Or we may find that the child desperately wants to go to the shower and this is all a storm in a teacup. We learn a lot by asking.
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#82 of 89 Old 11-23-2008, 10:58 PM
 
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I agree with the post about asking what the dsd wants, and acknowledging everyone's feelings regardless of the outcome.

That is not unreasonable.

Clearly there are different views about going to the party, but I agree that whatever the outcome, open and gentle communication should be used to work anything out with dsd.

I also like the phrase "storm in a teacup." I have never heard that before.
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#83 of 89 Old 11-24-2008, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm honestly not sure if we can have a conversation like that with my DSD... she doesn't communicate that well yet. If we ask her a question we get a response that has nothing to do with the question usually.

I find it remarkable that many parents here talk of conversations they have with their 4 y/o's and sometimes wonder if my DSD is delayed in some type of communication skills somewhere. She is very brilliant in a lot of areas, but holding any kind of conversation, not so much.

If I ask her about school, she may start singing, or will say I don't know or answer with something else totally unrelated. I just don't think she has full comprehension of communication dynamics yet. Not saying that "oh she is just a child and won't be able to make a decision." Not saying that at all... I just don't think we'd be able to have a conversation about validating her feelings and her understanding it at this point... possibly in a year?

She has still not mentioned anything about the party to us. I do know, however, that she had her Mom take her to get a present for her little sister's party. So we're going with that... and her Mom is actually being pretty awesome about it right now.

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#84 of 89 Old 11-25-2008, 08:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
You know... I'm thinking here...


Is it just because I'm the StepMom??


If your DC was invited to a birthday party the same day as your new baby's shower... would you make arrangments for your DC to go to the birthday party instead of being with their family celebrating the upcoming arrival of their new sibling???

I'd really love an honest answer here.
It would depend on the age of the child and how child friendly the babyshower was going to be. I don't know many 4-5yos that would enjoy watching someone else get tons of attention and hear other people all excited about a new baby that I might be afraid is going to take my place. I find most baby showers a bore even as an adult though, so that's where I'm coming from.

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#85 of 89 Old 11-26-2008, 04:07 PM
 
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She has still not mentioned anything about the party to us.
We often find ourselves in the situation where my step-daughter's mom says she (step-daughter) really wants to do something, but we have either never heard that from my step-daughter or we have actually heard the opposite. For example, her mom was insistent (for years, I think) that my step-daughter wanted to cut her hair short. We not only never heard her talk about cutting her hair (even when the subject of haircuts came up) but often heard her talk about how long her hair was getting, how long it would be soon, how it looked like "princess hair," etc. She really liked all the hairstyles I could do with her long hair, most of which I wouldn't have been able to do with short hair.

I don't think it was a matter of mom making it up or necessarily putting ideas in her head. It seemed like when she was with mom, she wanted short hair for whatever reason, and when she was with us, she wanted long hair.

Because we didn't think she could comprehend the big picture (like that once you cut your hair it was going to be short every day, and that it takes a really long time to grow long again), we (and of course by that I mean my husband) opted to leave her hair long until we felt like she was old enough to make that choice with a better understanding of what that choice meant. Recently she told her mom she wanted to cut her hair, mom told my husband, and he had a conversation with his daughter and felt like she was in a place to make that decision and understand it.

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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#86 of 89 Old 12-02-2008, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to update that DSD had a great time at the shower. She was excited to show everyone her big sister shirt and had a blast playing with her cousins.

She also helped open some presents and received a few Big Sister presents too which was really sweet.

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#87 of 89 Old 12-02-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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That's great! It sounds like it was a really special experience for her, and will help set her up well for the arrival of her sibling.
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#88 of 89 Old 12-02-2008, 04:07 PM
 
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Yay! I'm glad it all worked out.

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#89 of 89 Old 12-02-2008, 09:24 PM
 
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That's awesome. I also think it's really great that you and your family are doing so much to be supportive of her as a big sister and another child in the family, not some extra that gets displaced by the real grandchild/niece/etc. I'm sure it makes all the difference in the world for her, and I assume for your husband.
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