Sharing Our Story Part 2

Today, I’m back with my friend Heather at Bonding a Blended Family with part two of our blending story.

I am also linking up with my friend Joi, Rx Fitness Lady for her blogging mini party, with today’s topic: “Write a Controversial Post.”

I actually thought “Sharing Our Story – Part Two” was perfect for this post.

How so? Nothing controversial about blending a family, right?

Wrong.

It can be very controversial.

In fact, even the concept of “blending” screams debate.

Is it even possible to blend? Why are you trying to blend? Are you forcing an identity on two families? Should you not be respecting the roots of the two families? Did you not know that the order of love hierarchy should be: your kids, your husband, then your step kids (and don’t worry, you just have to tolerate them)? And did you not know that you should not be involved in disciplining your step kids? If you do, you’re a terrible person.

We took a beating. Everyone feels because you are new to this whole blended thing, they can make observations and comments (to be helpful, of course). I mean, the things people say to you! The things people say to your kids!

I especially appreciated the people who advised my step kids that they didn’t have to listen to me as I really had no role in their lives.

They loved being asked if their Stepmom was mean. Constantly. Still, to this day. Thank you Cinderella and Snow White.

I especially loved when a counsellor told my husband that unless he was taking HIS kids to school on HIS days, then he should not be walking MY kids to school with me (they all go to the same school). She was a counsellor specialized in divorce and step families. I think her first job must have been with Cinderella’s family.

I really loved being criticized for trying to keep my kids on an even playing field with gifts and material things and setting my own rules in my own house for ALL the kids. Can I let you know what I think of YOUR rules in YOUR family? Maybe I’ll just pull your kids over to the side and let them know I think you are too strict and if you actually loved them, you would act differently.

According to many of the books I’ve read, we blended and are blending all wrong. We have made so many no-no’s, we must have scarred our children for life!

Seriously though, we have made many many mistakes – and will make many more. But, the path we have chosen, is the right one for us. It may be controversial  to some, but it works for us.

Please join me as we share Part 2 of the “CDF Tell All.”


Comments

Sharing Our Story Part 2 — 28 Comments

  1. Oh Leah, I loved this! It is HARD to blend families and there is so much contradictory advice that it is impossible to follow it all! I think you and Rob are doing a great job. You seem to have really found what works well for your family. Right from the start, Matt and I also agreed that we would try to treat all three kids equally in every way (whether they are our biological or our step). At first, I think it made the kids a little uncomfortable because they were used to living in a single parent household. But in the long run, we think it creates more family unity and a feeling that they are all three equally important in our eyes. Thanks so much for sharing your story over on my site!!!

  2. Leah..it was great reading your story…even for me who knows you so well wonderful to read all the details and understand even more deeply.

    And I agree with you very controversial..everyone WILL have their opinions but like you said who cares!! It is YOUR family and you do what works for you. Makes me doubt a confrontation that had with a friend this week on her lifestyle choices…hmmm.. feel bad about that now. Her life is hers and should not be the concern of others but as we know can get more complicated than that sometimes.

    The way you have blended your family really makes me think how I would handle if I was ever in the same situation. I love the way you have blended and see the happiness. I guess the part for me that would not work is that Hubby and I have always made the alliance that we are the kids parents and we will always come first as their parents until death do us part. We have vowed never to have another person even if we divorce become a parent (although a friend or important figure in the kids life is ok never a parent)

    In knowing you so well and seeing what you have experienced as a stepparent I realize now that this is naive (especially since of course now in theory our alliance to eachother is strong but if we were divorced our alliances to someone else would be strong!!!)

    But I guess I have always just felt that the biological parents are the one who had the kids, raised the kids etc..shouldn’t they get the authority too and all decisons made by them ? But the way you have run your family has worked so well…so makes me re-think my initial impressions of my own thoughts for me if ever I were to be in same situation.

    I think it also really depends on the relationship with the ex and how much love or not love there is still there. I always picture myself and Hubby loving eachother still (NAIVE!!!!) so picture that he would always respect that I was the kids Mom always and forever (clearly I am no where near getting divorced!!!! I picture never the same for me-that he is the Father and all decisons being made with him.

    I think Hubby and I would do it very differently and do what works for us …..but I love the way you did it too. And love that you stand up for what you believe is right and forge ahead with it.

    I think you have great info to share with others as such a different way that you do things that what the books say as you said..but has worked so well for you guys! great to get the word out there that there are so many different ways to make a situation successful,

    I loved reading your story…was great!
    Lauren

    • One of the most powerful things about divorce and Leah’s (and my) story is that when life deals you a hard blow, that is beyond your control, you must humble yourself, check your ego at the door and embrace the beautiful situations you can encounter. We also all must be careful that adopting certain perspectives puts the parent’s needs/ego first and thinks of children a personal possessions. We all must learn that your children’s capacity to love does and will (when they themselves get married)extend beyond the bounds of you as the biological parent. Bottom line is that divorce is a decision two adults/parents make (or endure when imposed) and is not an arrangement kids go in to voluntarily or have control over. However, how they handle it, how they learn to relate to their new unmarried biological parents, new step parent and new family dynamics are in their control. It is a big problem when a parent who goes in to a divorce denies their kids this opportunity/freedom to heal and grow. Why let our own insecurities and fears limit or deny our childen as much love in life as possible? To think we have all the answers for our kids on our own and denying input from a step parent truly limits the good that can be gotten from the unfortunate reality of divorce.

    • Hi Rob,

      yes totally agree and very good points you bring up. As someone who never lived it myself, like I said, likley my perpectives would never hold ground in the real world if I was faced with the situation

      And very true what you say about the whole denying our kids other love with others…rings home very true for me for sure. Hubby and I are both very possesive of our kids even now and even possesive of our time with them. I can only imagine us divorced! Both of us freely admit we would be hard exes ! Anyways really really interesting to learn about yours and Leah’s journey in more detail like this.

      I also come from a blended family with two half siblings. Interesting to see what I appreciated/did not appreciate about the way we were raised. There were some pros and cons for sure.And times have changed since then too…Sometimes I wish my parents would have taken a more proactive role like you guys and really had a vision for the way our family functioned…

      Writing and reading is my learning style for sure so really appreciate the power of the written word to make a situation come alive.
      Might need to tell my guy tonight that our hypothetical plan of hypothetical divorce may not be realistic or good! hahah

    • Quite the discussion. I think the problem comes down to people think that an involved step parent is trying to take over a biological parent. Simply not true. There is room for both. Child number 2 doesn’t take over from child number 1! We just make room in our hearts. It’s not a competition – so our kids should not and do not have to take sides or choose. Alliances and bonds are made – sometimes biologically, sometimes through nurture. We only hope that our children will feel loved and at home with their families.

  3. Loved your story part 2!
    And, I think it’s awesome that y’all did what worked for you and let so much roll off of you. What works for some might not be right for you as you have learned. Funny that so many people think they know what is best for you and your blended family.

  4. Oh no, I’m scarred for life for being raised the way you’re raising your kids!! (not)
    I think when my parents first got married, someone asked my six-year-old brother if his stepmom was like the evil stepmom in Cinderella. Seriously?! Who asks a kid that???!!!
    My parents made mistakes. We made mistakes. It’s all good.

    • Zandra got asked that exact question a couple of years ago!! She came home and told me and we chuckled. We often joke now…I will say no to something and then remind her I have to say no as I am the evil Stepmom! When the kids need to tell someone something that THEY don’t want to do, I sometimes joke and tell them to just say “my mean stepmom won’t let me.” HA!

  5. I can’t believe all the advice that stepparents shouldn’t actually help with the parenting. In all honesty, it was my stepmother who helped kick my butt into shape in high school. Keep doing what you and your husband think you need to do to help shape responsible future adults. Looking forward to seeing more during #MBC!

  6. Looking forward to reading part 2. It seems to me that you are doing everything right, Leah. I second what Michelle said above. I admire you and what you have been able to create for your family. People say the dumbest things sometimes.

  7. This post just validates even more why I am going into the field of Marriage and Family Therapy. I’ve had counselors who have been completely off and they’ve contributed to the Parental Alienation that’s occurred. I even had one therapist who was abusive and really should have been reported, but psychologically it was enough just to end it and realize how much damage they had already done. The kids’ pediatrician worships my ex (who’s a physician) and can’t stand me–so I don’t go anymore–I let him do it because their attitude is palpable. I can so relate to this post and it leaves me with a couple thoughts: I’m sorry you’ve had to go through these experiences, but I’m glad you’re going through it with your new husband as support. Also, the lack of “professionals” who are on the ball is astounding! I’m glad you’ve gone with your own gut and did the things that mattered to you–not someone else (cross-reference unsolicited parenting advice–my post on A Dish of Daily Life’s site! :)). Gosh Leah, I realize we’re all not perfect, but you’re doing a great job traversing the very tricky road of blended families.

  8. I love this because it is so genuine, and it speaks so clearly to how judgmental criticism is just so wrong. I am so sorry you have had people dare to direct your ways. You and your husband are the ones who should make decisions that are entirely based on the needs of YOUR family- PERIOD. Geesh. And that counselor should be fired, STAT.

  9. I’m looking forward to reading Part 2. I have a step dad but no step siblings. But the way I grew up, we had a really open mind about family. Family wasn’t always the ones that were related by blood or even marriage, but the people that were close to you and loved you. I had to listen to my aunt, or to my step dad as much as I did my mom. I think we can ever have too many people who love us. I wonder if the general consensus will change over time. Years ago, people thought it was better for parents to stay married when they were unhappy. People tend not to think that anymore. Maybe some of the views about blended families will change too.

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