Is that a mouthful for a title or what! I have had people ask me through the years about being a blended family. There are blended families everyday all over the world so I thought it would be a good topic to talk about. All I can do is share my own experiences and thoughts about what happened in our situation. Recently I had a friend reach out again about her blending family situation and there seems to be one theme that happens all too often with step-parents. The parent of the child or children create a dislike or hate against the step-parent and they put that on the children. Children are mostly loyal to their parents and will do things even if it feels wrong to them. Unfortunately parents use their kids as pawns and believe me it causes so much damage to them.
I had someone say to me that they no longer like or want to be around their step-daughter because she is causing so many problems. That is a normal reaction I think. What I say is think of it like this, kids are sponges, they soak up and will act in ways that their own parents act. If Mom or Dad doesn’t like the step-parent and has disrespect for them or a down right hate towards them, the kids will follow what they see you do. To me that is the saddest part. For us it was even more difficult I think because my husband, his ex, and her husband are all alcoholics, and me, I’m the only one who doesn’t drink. Parenting can be tough enough, so throw alcoholism in there and you have a chaotic nightmare! I know my husband loves the kids and he did the best he could. The truth of the matter is that, he wasn’t present enough in our lives when they were growing up. Each year the alcoholism got worse. He seemed to be out drinking more than he was at home. When he was home and there were issues with the kids how he handled it depended on how we were getting along at the time. If we were OK then he would listen and parent with me, if we were arguing then he would go against me and if something needed to be dealt with he would just ignore it, let it go, or turn it into a joke, so that was the message the kids got. Dad is the buddy that will let us do anything we want, he’s the cool one. Mom, she is the tough one, she will say no, she also gives us consequences, she’s mean. They had no idea what I was dealing with.
I am far from a perfect parent, but I take great pride in being a good Mom. That doesn’t mean I didn’t make a shitload of mistakes because believe me I did, However, I sacrificed myself for the sake of protecting the kids from their dads alcoholism. His oldest daughter had already been affected by his disease because she would say he was always at the bars drinking when she was growing up. I tried to raise all the kids the way I felt was right, you have to raise them all the same. You cant have different rules for each kid. It doesn’t work that way. Of course their mom would undermine us at every turn. If we sent them home with a consequence she would just ignore it. If there was a problem with them that should have been addressed she did nothing. I remember one time my step-son failed every single class and his mom and Aunt got him a dirt bike, what the hell kind of parenting is that? One time in middle school he hit a kid and fractured a bone in his hand and had to have a cast on and him and his mom told us he fell on a rock playing basketball. Years later he told us that his mom told him to lie. So what kind of message do you think these things send to our kids? You simply don’t reward bad behavior, period!
Trying to parent with an alcoholic was so hard. I was everyone’s punching bag basically, but I tried to never lose my step in being a parent. I always put the kids first. I know that it was so stressful for me that I had developed a bad attitude & at times I was harder on the kids than I needed to be. It was like I was expected to care for the kids but not tell them what to do but then when they did something it was why didn’t you punish them. It was a roller coaster of ups and downs and do this, don’t do that. You know how difficult it was to raise four children the same way when the person you are parenting with separates depending on their mood? When kids are young they don’t know any better, it is our job as parents to teach them right from wrong. Listen, I do not like my husbands ex at all, however, my job was to raise respectable kids that would grow into amazing adults. My step-son would be on the phone with his mom and he would talk so nasty to her and I would say to him “I don’t ever want to hear you speak to your mother like that again, you have respect for her.” I was not going to allow my dislike for her to change the way I raised our kids to be.
I always told the kids that I would never try and take their moms place because that is their mom. I told them that I just want to be their step-mom, a 2nd mom who loves them and is trying to find my place in their lives and in our family. It was a very heart breaking time for me. I cried a lot alone in my bathroom where the kids couldn’t hear me. I just wanted my husband to be home and for us to do more things as a family like playing games, watch a movie, eat dinner together, Etc. In an alcoholic home it is anything but normal. We all just kind of learned how to live a sick dysfunctional life, because alcoholism doesn’t just affect the one with the problem it affects the whole family in a very destructive way.
My oldest step-daughter moved out at 19 with her daughter who was 3 1/2 at the time because of a disagreement her and her dad got into. My step-son stopped doing visitations at 16 years old because he mostly lived with his girlfriend at the time and he was doing drugs, in and out of jail and his mom thought he should decide for himself, so my husband kind of separated himself from the situation because his ex just catered to this kid, she never let him learn the lesson without coddling him. The worst thing you can do with a child. My youngest step-daughter we gained full custody of at 15 because of the deteriorating situation at her moms house. So I was closer to the younger girls all through the years. I feel like I had the most impact on my youngest step-daughter out of my step-children. Even through all of this my husbands alcoholism still kept hurting our family. So much so that when our girls graduated from high school right after that my youngest step-daughter got married and I wasn’t allowed to go to the wedding. It was just his parents and her parents but step-parents should have been included so that was terribly painful for me.
and was here for everything from beginning to end. I do feel a lot of guilt about that but that is a whole other story. Once they read the book they each called me and apologized for how they treated me over the years. Sorry they accused me of things that I never did. Thanked me so much for taking such good care of their dad and standing by him all these years. Also thanked me for all I did for them and the ways I protected them. My step-son is still struggling with a lot of issues in his life and I wish I could mother him and know it would make a difference but all I can do is pray for him and hope he finds his way.
For me being a step-parent was honestly heart breaking and rewarding. I loved three other children from two other women as I loved my own daughter and did my best to be a positive role model. I was as consistent as I could be. I tried to teach them right from wrong. To have manners, morals, and values. How to give to others. How to have compassion. Love with all your heart, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don’t intentionally hurt someone else. Finish school, go to college. How to be respectful. I taught them how important family is. I gave my whole heart to our kids. I loved children that I didn’t have to love. I took care of them and provided for them. All I ever hoped for was that they would someday grow to love me and look at me as a mom figure and let me know that something I did through the years made a difference in their lives.
Family isn’t always blood related, and lets be honest; it isn’t always blood that becomes our family. These four kids always meant the world to me. I gave all my heart to them even when all they gave me was hate. I know now in the ways my three daughters have expressed to me that I have made an impact in their lives. So for all you step-parents out there all I can say is this……….If you are not in it for love then get out. Times will not always be easy, sometimes it will be a friggin nightmare but you don’t let that stop you! If you can’t treat a child with kindness and respect and be a positive role model in their lives even if the ex is against you, then to me you have no business being in that child’s life. Some blended families have it easy and they have no problems, I envy those people I wish it would have been that way for all of us. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Never put a child in the middle of a domestic dispute whether you are a biological parent or not. Kids model what they see and hear. Your children are a mirror image of you. If you don’t like what you see in your children, take a good look at yourself. Sacrifice and do all you can to raise great children. Sometimes we do all we can and kids grow up and make their own choices that may be heart breaking ones but when you do the best you can then know that you did all you could and you had nothing to do with the bad choices they may make in their lives.
If someone asked me now with all the hell and heartache I went through with these kids would you do it again? My answer would be, you bet your sweet ass I would! No matter what this is My family and these are My kids. I love them all and pray for the ones that still struggle in life and hope that they come out of it OK. Life isn’t perfect but I know that this is my place in life. Maybe someday I will know the impact I had in each of their lives. Whether it was things I taught them, something I said that stuck with them, the way I treated them, The way I cared, the way I sacrificed, the way I listened or said No, the way I called each one out on their bullshit, whether they remember a special gift I got them, the way I pushed them in school, the way I stayed consistent, the way I loved their dad, the way I took care of them when they were sick, Etc. As a Mom it is my job to raise them and what they do when they are adults is up to them. All I can hope is in some small way I am a part of each of them & they carry me in their hearts where ever they go. And when they think of me they smile and say “that’s my mom or my step-mom” and they know they are always loved. Be good to your step children and your kids. Sometimes when you least expect it, the smallest things can make the biggest impact in their life and change that persons life forever, and you may never know it, but they will!
Wishing you Peace & Serenity……….Harmony