Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Step Families

It seems that lately step families/blended families are being talked about more. This might be due to the outstanding issues we have with the school district our children attend and the lack of assistance from them to our situation. There will be more on this subject later...
Maybe it stems from the fact that the holidays are fast approaching which provides deeply embedded traditions into each person involved.

I am both a biological mom and a step mom. Never would I have imagined that I would be in my "life place" as I am now. No one grows up dreaming of becoming divorced and then getting married (again...) to a man with children. But here I am. My life is full of experiences and lessons learned from both sides of the speculum.

As a biological mom I had to come to terms with many things. Most of which were a direct effect of the divorce. I had to learn that we each had our own perspective of how the divorce (and marriage) was and the feelings behind that are powerful, and that none of that truly mattered anymore since the kids were the focus now.

My ex met and married his now wife (step-mom) before I had started seriously dating or married my husband. There are many stereo types out there about step moms and the kind of people they are. There are also stereo types of how ex-wives are perceived as well. Neither of which looked particularly good. I was the evil ex-wife and she was the "other woman" who was taking care of my kids.

Where we are now is definitely not where we were initially, as individuals, and as a blended family. There are many insecurities, boundaries, and situations that are addressed. Some are handled well and others not so much....

One of the first (and probably biggest for me) insecurity that I had as a biological mom was step-mom "replacing" me. This was partly due to her "taking my place" in my past relationship and then starting to have a relationship with my kids. I think that most bio-moms experience this (at least to a point) in the beginning.

What I have learned:(especially now that I am not only a biological mom but a step-mom too)

- is that she is only trying to find her place in this new relationship...new with both husband and with the children. This is not an easy task. It is long and continually changing as the things that are asked of her are done with the attitude that they are done without complaining and can change on a moments notice. These are to appease the biological parents.

- ultimately the biological should have the say over the values and discipline styles of the kids. This does not mean that the step-parents' role and values do not need to be considered. Most of the time the rules of the house etc..are set by the bio and step parent for that house. The closer the values are of each house the easier the transition is for the kids between the houses. It also helps to ensure that one home is not deemed the "fun house" and the other home the "one with all the rules".

- The relationship that you have with step mom is not the same as the relationship that you have with ex-husband. I have really gotten to know my kids' step mom in the last year. We have been able to exchanged stories and ideas about the kids and life in general. It has been great getting to know her and I find that we are similar in many ways. In the past I have found it hard to separate our friendship from the relationship that we all share since she is married to my ex. I have learned that the issues that ex and I struggle with or are in the misdt of sorting out should not and can not affect the relationship/friendship that step-mom and I have. These are 2 different relationships.

- I think the biggest thing that I have learned is that it is not only my feelings that matter. She has feelings and concerns that are not only legitimate, but could provide a possible solution that I might not have tried or thought of. Step-parents play an important role in the blended family just as biological parents do.

Where our blended family was 2 years ago and now has dramatically improved. I think time heals and you grow not only as individuals but together. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to get to know and become friends with my childrens' step mom. We have had many funny stories and situations that could keep you entertained for hours. She is the mom my kids have when I am not there. It is comforting to know she is there.

It is a bit harder to have a relationship with my step childrens' mom. The step children are older and live with her. I still try to keep a good relationship with her. I understand that my step children are not nearly as dependent on me as my kids are to their step mom but that is okay.

In the end, good relationships equal happy, well-adjusted kids...a goal we can all agree on!!

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