teenparentcafe’s “Guide to Raising Someone Else’s Kids”– Part II

StepRingsWhen a parent remarries, a new family is born. Caring for a “newborn” calls for flexibility, an ocean of love, and a lot of sleep.

“Raising someone else’s kids” will try your patience in a thousand ways you didn’t expect.

According to our very own Pseudo-Pop (my kids’ pet name for their stepfather), a lot of questions go through your mind as a new stepparent. Maybe some of these ring true for you, too:

Will the kids like me?

Ah, there’s a question. Everyone wants to be liked, especially when they’re anxious to impress. But getting to know somebody takes time. You can’t expect the kids to like you instantaneously. Like a fine wine, relationships have to b-r-e-a-t-h-e for awhile.

We were lucky in our case, because the kids and my husband hit it off well from the start. But that isn’t always the case.

Though we generally get along famously, there are times when it’s hard for my husband to play the role of Pseudo-Pop. Specifically, he loves and adores our daughter, yet sometimes feels he gets about as much recognition from her as she might give a phantom limb. There are days he’s ignored when he walks in the door and overlooked when the daily “have a good days” are dispensed.

She often tells her Pseudo-Pop that she loves him, but occasionally has been known to dismiss him by saying, “This is between me and my Mom so stay out of it!”

OUCH.

This is a ongoing “step-thorn” we’re trying to extract.StepFamiliesRock-CafePress_thumb2

It could be that this is residue from unresolved anger playing itself out, or just garden-variety teenage rudeness. Whatever the cause, it’s unacceptable and we’re working to correct it.

What if my step-kids confide in me about risky behavior?

“Please don’t tell Mom!”

There are certain “secrets” that can be kept confidential between the kids and one parent (“girl” talk, “guy” talk, Birds and Bees stuff that they’re not comfortable talking about with the parent of the opposite gender), but when their safety is at stake, these secrets need to be revealed to both parents.

My husband is honored that the kids trust him enough to confide in him about actions that could get them into trouble, but this has occasionally put him in an awkward position.

He has figured out a way of dealing with it that’s been fairly successful. He explains that there are no secrets between him and their Mom, but that he doesn’t have to be the one to tell her, as long as they will. He also offers to be there with them to help “soften the blow” by explaining to me that they came to him with the information first.

So far this strategy has worked out well, though thankfully there have only been a couple of occasions where it was an issue (at least, as far as we know).

Oops, we’re out of time! To be continued tomorrow…

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by No one special on March 17, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Hi == those are some difficult issues that fit into the parenting other people’s children what I think could be put in the “sticky situations category”

    Just a thought…maybe having a list of those sticky situational issues, and with the agreement of each family member. set aside some times for family “we love eachother, we can work on win-win solutions” discussions beginning with the first discussion content being that of the addition of the teens’ own sticky situation issues list, and go from there. you can make the discussions center on one issue at a time, or whatever comes up, keeping in mind that if the discussion get to be difficult, there are chances to continue in the next discussion. With each person agreeing with each other that they will be open and honest about how they feel, as well as each person agreeing to accept responsibility for any behaviors that might be exacerbating any given issue, whether intentional or non-intentional. With all coming to the discussion knowing that everyone participating will be willing to really listen and accept the others’ feelings, ideas, and point of views, as well as knowing that the focus of the discussions is to find what is in the best interest of one another, as well as themselves, working toward as clarified, open, honest peaceful coexistence as possible. Work together as a team…solving issues because you love eachother and want peace with one another. Maybe some needed boundaries, agreements, paremeters, etc. are openly understood in by all and all are comfortable with them. Just an idea that I hope might be helpful.

    Reply

  2. Hey Sharon! Great ideas, I appreciate you sharing your expertise. I’ve always thought family meetings were a great idea in theory, though in our experience they don’t seem to fly well in reality (maybe we’re doing it wrong), particularly with younger children’s shorter attention spans.

    Our “family meetings” tend to take place in a casual environment, like when we’re all in the car together, and they’re kept relatively brief and to the point. My son isn’t particularly comfortable with long discussions about feelings, especially at age 15. 🙂 We’ve found a way of dealing with sticky issues, usually in a casual setting (at a restaurant, in the car) and taking as little of everyone’s time as possible (try sitting teenagers down for longer than 3 minutes!) Like I said though, I’ve always liked the family meeting idea a lot, being a lover of communication, and it may work for some (Steven Covey actually encourages a format that includes a family mission statement and everything) but that just doesn’t fly in our brood.

    So…(I took long way ’round to the actual point, ironically) I guess what we’re both saying though is that every family (including step-) needs to have a way to communicate “sticky” issues in an open-hearted, loving way. I agree wholeheartedly! ❤

    Reply

  3. Posted by Just me on March 19, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Thank you Honey for your message…ya know, after reading your comments, It sounds like you already have your meetings, per se…they’re just more impromptu and casual…if I understood you right 🙂 The important thing is that you all know you are free to talk about any issues openly and honestly whenever the time arises. and that anyone participating is open to hearing the others’ and being willing to be accountable when they need to. Just knowing that everyone is open to these things, the trust and openness level should be very high between all the participants :} and as Martha Stewart says “It’s a GOOD thing…” 🙂 kinda like, I’m o.k., you’re o.k., even if we’re not perfect 🙂 and we can all accept that and enjoy making changes that make good! that make a GOOD thing!

    Reply

    • Oh but I AM perfect. (KIDDING!)
      Yes, very true, there is a very high level of trust between us and the kids. We are grateful for that, every single day. Some of the things we find ourselves discussing are pretty awesome, and we are really honored that both kids trust us so much to confide in us. They’ve become exceptional young adults, and I couldn’t be more proud. ❤

      Reply

  4. […] In our previous two articles, we discussed worry over whether your stepchildren will like you, children requesting secrecy between parents, and your role as disciplinarian in your new family. […]

    Reply

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