Saturday, March 8, 2008

When I Was Married...

Back in the day... (way back) when I was married, I was so different than I am today. Everything was different.

Let's see.... I was about 22 when I got married. We lived together about 1 year before we took the plunge. We saved for a down payment on our first house. We worked together and then would go home together. I let the title Wife and Step Mother define who I was.

I fit the wife role pretty good, I thought. We would come home and I would make dinner, clean up after dinner and straighten up the house. I was the ruler of the house. I was definitely too picky. I did not realize it then. The towels had to be stacked a certain way, the silverware had to be a certain way... Everything had to be a certain way... (my way). And my husband allowed me to take on this role and everything that had to do with it. I would wash floors on my hands and knees (that was the correct way to do it) (so I thought) and if there was one speck of dirt anywhere, that meant that I would have to start all over and clean from top to bottom again.

My husband had a 8 year old son and I would leave the parenting up to my husband. I was only 22 which is probably why I was not crazy about the idea of him having a child. In the beginning there was resentment on both of our parts. Now looking back, I can say that he felt as thought I was taking time away from him and his dad. And I guess I was since I was in the family as well. it used to be just him and his dad. Now his dad remarried me and his son had to deal with new adjustments, rules and yes, ME.... Back then, I was difficult. LOL.. Well, more than I am now.

So, I began resenting the son because he took time away from my husband and myself. The son began resenting me because I took time away from him and his dad. Also, I used my wife/step mom role to my advantage. If there was something I did not like or agree with, I would go and tell the father and he would discipline the son. At first, I felt it was working. Until I realized that the son began resenting me even more. Which eventually led to my husband feeling worn down.... Tired of being in this feud between myself and his son. All my husband wanted was for us to all get along. But there was a deeper resentment building deep inside both myself and the son.

Years had passed and I was taking on more responsibility with my step son. At this point and time he had come to us and told us that he had been taking drugs for along time and felt that he needed help. So we enrolled him in a program and since my husband was working longer hours, I would be the one to take my step son to his meetings and then pick him up.

I think this was a transformation period. It was needed for myself and my step son. The drives to his meetings and back gave us alot of time to talk and really open up with each other. Then he said he wanted to start going to AA (alcoholics anonymous) but since he was a minor and his father did not want to go, I stepped up and began going with him to support him. His dad did come a couple times but that was it. After months of these meetings, I found that we were getting really close. And I began to really care about my step son. About his well-being and his life.

More time passed and my strictness of how the household should be ran did not stop. Everything was ran a certain way. I was very active in my step sons life. His football and schooling. Yes, he was with us 90 % of the time. Running a household as if it is your household is a silent killer. We begin thinking that our spouse and the child could not get along without us. That they need us. But the reality is they were managing fine before we came into the picture and TOOK OVER.

Eventually we got divorced. However, my step son would still come by and visit me even after his dad and I split. I was able to make things right between us. Are you?

Today I can say that I am not that same military style, dictator, house ruler that I used to be. And it's because I have children of my own. You really don't get it until you have kids of your own. Kids allow you to priortize what is really important verses what is just annoying. For some reason, it no longer matters which way the towels are stacked. What really matters is if there are clean towels to grab.... LOL. If one of my kids break a knick knack of mine, it is more important to show them that it is ok and life will go on instead of showing them that it's the end of the world. It's replaceable. It's a thing. They are more important.

*** Tip*** If you run your household like this... Military style....The results may be the results you don't want. Can people pick up a knick knack and hold it or will you snap and panick inside before you blurt "put it down" ! If someone steps on the unforbidden carpet, do you immediately yell at them ? Alternative: (jokingly) " hey there buddy, back up and get those shoes off". How we react to situations is what lays the foundation.

Some very common mistakes that step parents make..... By the way, the definition of a step mom is: the wife of one's father, who is not the mother of the person spoken of.

Common Mistakes Made By Step Parents

1) Do not go tattle tailing to the parent on the child. (this is over petty things, such as not taking your shoes off right away, not picking a towel up right away... anything that was not fast enough for you). Pick your battles. Some things are not worth it. If it's petty, let it be. If you continue tattle tailing on the child to the parent, each time you do that, you are leaving a question, a form of doubt in that parents head. Eventually, the real parent is going to get fed up with all the crap... And hopefully, if the parent is a good parent, will explain that the child is that..... A child! And remind the step parent that they are the adult. So act like it and stop tattle tailing.

Remember, the child came first..... Way before the step parent did. And could possibly be arranged that way again.

2) Do not step in and assume the parent role. You are not the parent. You are the significant other. The child already has parents that are hopefully living up to their role.

3) Trust.... Trust goes both ways. The child needs to feel as though they can trust you. If you continue to pull the step parent rank over the child (dictating rules, tattle tailing, talking negatively about the child to the parent when you think the child can't hear...the child will resent you. Which will lead to more problems... And eventually, problems in the relationship. Trust is something truly earned. Not just given. The step parent needs to prove to the child that they can be trusted and are worthy of that trust.

4) Be a friend to the child. Just because this person is younger, they do have feelings. Children have great perception. They can see things that adults don't see. How do you treat your friends? Are you courteous? Polite? Funny? Can your friends come to you with a problem? Now think of the child. Do you just dictate? Tattle tail? Ignore the child? Walk past the child as if they are nothing? Do you lay the foundation for the child so he or she knows that they can come to you and that you REALLY care about them? Or does the child feel like an outsider in their own home?

Imagine being in love with your partner... You can see no wrong in this person. yet, every time you leave the room, this person is giving your child dirty looks. The child knows very well what's going on. But, of course the parent does not. They are way up on cloud 9 thinking everything is beautiful. The child tried to go the parent and explain how they feel, but after several attempts of failure, the child begins to feel unimportant and that they are no longer the apple in their parents eye. You will be setting up this child to have resentments towards you and the step parent. The child should be able to go to the parent with a concern without having the step parent right there.

5) Don't be sooo picky. If you find a sock in your silverware drawer, don't go off the deep end. Think to yourself how lucky you are that there is a child in your life in which that sock belongs to. And that you have an already made family to enjoy. You did not have to do the hard work of giving birth. Yet, you can sit back and reap the rewards. Besides, if you can go off the deep end over shoes not being taken off, or clothes not being picked up, then you are missing the big picture.

Some Common Mistakes By Parents

1) Take the blinders off. Well first, you have to realize that you have them on. Then make a conscious effort to pay attention to your partner.... How they treat their friends and behave... then compare it to how they treat and behave with your child. Is there a difference in behavior? Do they open the door for a friend and let the door shut on the child?

2) Keep that one on one time with your child. If you did special things together alone previously, and now you are ALWAYS including the step parent, then the child has no sense of the ways things used to be. That quality time you shared before someone came in and messed it all up (in their eyes) and took you away from them.

3) Allow your child to speak. Even though they are children, being able to come to the parent with something that bothers them is the foundation for a great long term relationship.

4) Don't prove yourself . If the step parent is always coming to you about something that the child did..... Don't feel the need to jump on the child in order to prove to the step parent that they matter. If it is something petty, tell the step parent that it's just that.... Petty. You don't need to say something to the child every time the significant other comes to you with a gripe.

Some food for thought:

If your step child had to be the one to talk about you at your funeral, what do you think they would say about you?

Don't sweat the small stuff. Kids are kids. Try and remember, we were kids as well. And ask yourself, does this child really do terrible things? Or is what the child is doing just annoying you? There is a difference.

If you ever need priortizing in your life, just have a couple of kids... They show you what is really important. LOL

Treat children the way you want to be treated. SIMPLE!

Just some perosnal experience along with my feelings on this issue.

No comments: