I’ve had a couple of comments come my way in the last week that have me thinking. So – what better way to sort out my thoughts than to blog about them? Lucky you guys!

So – what were the comments?

One was, “No sense wasting time reading Dr. Spock, just ask Karaboo – she makes more sense.”

The other was, “You need to blog about your life as a step-parent. You make so much sense.”

Okay – I’m not going to lie, those comments stroked my ego like nothing else has in a long time. For those of you reading my blog for the last year, you know I struggle with all sorts of things when it comes to parenting. Am I doing it “right”? Am I being “fair”? Am I being “too harsh”? Am I being “loving enough”? Am I going to have to pay for college or counseling for my kids?

The person who asked about me starting a blog for step-parents is actually going to receive my link and I want her to know that this post is for her benefit, based on our conversation together. I’m pretty sure most of what I type here we already talked about, but I want her to be able to refer to the information any time she wants. I’m also hoping this is the start of a long, wonderful friendship as I wanted to spend a lot more time talking with her instead of attending conference classes. We already have tentative plans to get together in the future and what better way to do that than over food (lunch or dinner)?

Since she’s made such an impression on me, I’m going to give her a nick-name – like I do most of the people in my life. I’m pretty sure she’ll make another blog-post appearance or two, simply because of the subject matter, so I’d like to introduce you to Cassy. Cassy is a mom and step-mom, kind of like me. I say kind of, simply because she has an 8 year old bio-daughter with her ex-husband, who she shares custody with, and she’s only met her 16 year old step-daughter once, for a week, this past Christmas. They’ve talked on the phone, but it is a very limited relationship at this point. The child also lives multiple states away – so there hasn’t been a regular visitation schedule.

I don’t have all of the details of their family dynamic, but my understanding is the 16 year old is going to be coming to live with them (Cassy and her husband) at the end of this school year – in about 6 weeks. The reasons, as I understand them, are because the girl and her mother are no longer getting along and it has been decided that moving to Dad’s house will solve all of the problems.

Reality check for Cassy and any others reading – it won’t solve anything.

At least, not in the beginning……and probably not for a very long time.

Don’t get me wrong….any attitude issues the girl may have with her mom will probably be kept under wraps for at least the first 3 months, maybe as long as 6 months. And then reality will set in. And that is when the difficulties for everyone will start.

The Girl.

The Fantasy – The girl will go into the situation thinking about how much fun she had with Dad and Cassy at Christmas. She will think about how well her and Cassy get along over the phone – not like her and her mom. She will have a modified view of what type of parent her Dad is based on any short visits she has had with him – visits that probably resemble more like a vacation, rather than a separate family dynamic.

The Reality – The girl will realize at some point that very little is actually different at Dad’s house rather than at Mom’s house. There are still rules, chores, typical life bordom, expectations, and boundaries. There will be a new school, with new friends, and probably new struggles. The BIG CHANGE she’s looking for won’t have materialized because the one thing that hasn’t changed is herself. Being a 16 year old, she’ll blame everyone else for this because she doesn’t have enough self-awareness to understand that she can only change herself and her own attitude.

The Dad.

The Fantasy – His little girl wants to come live with him! His dream is becoming a reality! They’re going to have so much fun together and make up for lost time! Any problems she is currently experiencing with her mom are probably because his ex was always unreasonable, so it’s understandable that his daughter would finally see the light as well. In his mind, the girl is probably still 4 or 6 or 8 years old (however old she was when him and his ex separated) and will treat her as such and defend his actions as reasonable.

The Reality – When did his little girl turn into his ex-wife? Where did this attitude come from? Why will she not listen to the simpliest request? Why is his current wife so cranky? Why won’t they all just do what they are supposed to do and just leave him alone?!? Why did what was supposed to be the happiest time of his life suddenly turn into his own personal horror show?

The New Wife.

The Fantasy – The girl deserves to live in a place where she will be loved and respected. Based on what we’re being told, that will happen best at our house – even her mom is leading us to believe this. What are we going to do with a 16 year old?!? Our life is already challenging, bringing in another, unknown, child into the mix is going to really throw us for a loop. I’m scared at what this may mean for us as a couple. I don’t think this is going to be as easy as Dear Husband thinks it will be, but I love him and will support him and his child. This is what family does.

The Reality – Well….the reality is my blog and my life.

The best piece of advice I can give to anyone in this situation is to go to family counseling – one that specializes in blended/step-families. The sooner the better, no sense waiting until all of the parties are in one household and the challenges start. ALL of the family members – because a serious life changing event such as this affects everyone – including 8 year olds.

Welcome to the madhouse Cassy!

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