I am a mom, step-mom, daughter, and step-daughter. I have only ever known the blended family lifestyle. It is complex and I can see how it might be difficult for someone who has not lived it to understand. With the help of my step-daughter, we are going to lay out a few rules using our own life lessons that we have learned from. Some of theses may be so oblivious but it appears that there are some people that do not know better.
Sissy is my husbands daughter from his previous marriage. Most people don't know because she lives with us, acts like me, and we follow these rules. ;)
#1. Treat all of your children the same. No. Matter. What.
If you only have one child, you are exempt from this rule.
We may be a little harder on the boys because they are younger. They have to learn the same lessons that we had to teach her when she was their age. We reward them the same and punish them the same. We spend the same amount on each child on birthdays and Christmas. Even though she has twice the families and gets twice the amount of gifts. BECAUSE SHE IS AN EQUAL CHILD. SHE IS NOT HALF THE CHILD BECAUSE ONLY HALF OF HER BIOLOGICAL PARENTS LIVE IN THIS HOUSE! (I only put that part in there and in all caps because I have heard it much more than once. Sad but true) Do not show more attention or affection to one child over another. It makes them feel less than no matter how old they are. Trust me. Sissy is 13, we still have the same bedtime routine for all of our children. As long as she is under my roof, I will still hug her goodnight and make she is tucked in before I go to bed. She will know that at 5, 13, or 25, she is my child and she will always be treated as if I gave birth to her myself.
#2 Your home is their home
Most children have 2 homes in blended families. Each one should feel like home. There are kids that live with mom and do not have a bed or clothes at dad's house. And the other way around. This can make a child feel like they are an inconvenience or just another visitor. Where do I sleep? Where do I change my clothes? Do I unpack my overnight bag? You don't have to go out and spend a fortune of furniture and apparel but do your best to make sure they know that they belong and are wanted even if you only see them once a week.
#3 Listen to your child
Sissy and I have always had a very open relationship. She has to respect me as a parent but she can chat with me about anything and more than she would with just another girlfriend. Because of this, I know EVERYTHING about ANYTHING that goes on. Her mom and I have visited about this many times and we both love how this works for Sissy. She knows that Mom is always there but she says it is really easy to unload her thoughts on me. So, Mom knows that I will come to her with anything that directly involves Sissy and Sissy always has a safe outlet.
This is for the parents and step-parents:
If your child has a complaint about another parent or step-parent, Listen.
It is your duty to protect your children. period.
Have a family meeting or whatever floats your boat and get down to the bottom of it. Make sure your child knows that they are being heard, safe from future attacks, and that you are there to help.
#4 Do not bully.
Do not bully. Do not Bully. Duh, right? It's going on this list for a reason. If you are ugly to your step-children or children you are going to have hell to pay later. Mark my words. I have seen it happen WAY to many times. NOTHING good will come from being mean to a child. I know a family where the step-mom says nasty things to her step-daughter and about her mother right in front of her. This is abuse. She is a Bully. You can not act like a child when it is your job to set an example for a child. Nobody wants to be around a bully. So when you bully your children, they will not want to be around you. This can be a real problem for mean step-mothers when the step-kid(s) don't want to come over because of you. You might even find yourself in a court room over it. Be Nice. :)
#5 Respect each other
This goes for all the parents and children. Sissy's mom and I have a great relationship but it was not always easy. We have disagreed and ticked each other off but our friendship gets stronger all the time. No matter how bad things get, do not talk trash in front of the kiddos.
We are setting the example of marriage and parenting for our children.
Make sure you are setting a good one.
I might have been a little angry while writing this so it is very blunt and to the point. I have no tolerance for any type of child abuse and I have used this post as my outlet. I hope that those that need these rules are reminders find this post and apply it. :)
Goodness, It has been so long since I have had a chance to write a REAL post. Life has been so busy and I swear, the clocks are working at a faster pace. Things are changing. Just when I thought that things couldn't be better... I am reminded that I am not in control and the man that is can make good things, GREAT!
Here is a bit of what launched
The past few months have been life changing. I realized that I am an adult and I can make my own choices. I know that sounds like a "duh" moment. For me, it was a wake up call. I try to make sure that everyone is HAPPY. Happy Happy Happy. I don't like people being mad at me and I have become... quite honestly... a doormat.
When I met my husband I was a different person. I was raised with southern values. Taught to be kind and respectful but had a temper that was hot and ready. I have tried so long to calm my self and be more like my amazing, loving, kind, laid back husband. I can honestly say that I have. One thing has not changed. Mess with my babies... hell to the no.
But I have noticed that I am really letting the little things go.
So, I called my mom one day when I had all I could take. Here comes the wake up call She reassured me that I was doing a great job but I had to put my foot down. She reminded me that I am an adult. I don't have to take phone calls or crap. I don't have to be where I am expected to be or where I am told to be. It's my life.
Here recently, some things have gone down that I don't want to be a part of. I still get pulled into it from time to time but anyone who knows anything, knows what's up. So he ask the dreaded question, "Where is my wife?" Why don't you stand up for yourself? It hits me. This quote use to make me so upset but it never made more sense to me than it does today...
I have the choice to allow all of this crazy in my life. I can't have peace with people that strive on chaos. So I am standing up for my self by letting it and them go. It may not be the way that I would have done it 10 years ago but it's the way that works for me now.
There is no doubt that I have an AMAZING family. I that the best marriage that I have ever known. We don't argue and our home is FULL of love and laughter. So I refuse to let people in that will only bring us down. No more.
New home rule: If you are not kind, you are not welcome.
While praying for strength and guidance, I pray for them, the unwelcome.
While burning bridges, I am cutting off routes to certain things that I don't want to loose. So one day I prayed "Lord, please. Give me strength to move on or guidance to do your will. I can not do this on my own." 5 minutes later. No joke, 5 minutes later I literally ran right into the one thing at the other side of that bridge that I was terrified to loose and something that I already thought that I had lost. I feel like he just gave me a wink and reminded me that I AM NOT IN CONTROL. He is and he had just built me a beautiful new bridge.
I am a constant work in progress. I know that with Him leading, I may cross paths with an unwelcome one day and I just pray that I have the ability to do and say the right things. As I let go of the negative people, He is blessing us with beautiful new people who truly love our family. I am working on staying positive. It's not always easy but I am enjoying the challenge and I know my struggles are only making me stronger.