Friday, June 20, 2008

Peeing Up A Tree...and In The Wind

So, when is the point were a man can lay down the law with his “soon to be step-children?
I’ll start by saying that all 4 of IM’s kids are incredible. I love them all to death. I love the way IM parents and feel that she has done a great job raising them.

That being said…I guess I am kind of torn and on the fence for several reasons. (Please bear with me on this cuz I’m guessing that you will get confused.)

I am not, yet, their step father.
I, in several ways, have differing (from IM) reactions to things the kids do and say.
When asked something by one of them, I often say…”Let me run that by Mama.” I really don’t want to have to do that for the basic stuff…but SHE is their mother.
I have lived with them for more than 2 years.
I will be marrying her….someday soon.
I am introduced, by them, as step dad, parent or …future step dad.
I am here for them every day (groceries, preparing meals, tucking in at night, helping with homework, making lunches, going to school events, etc.)

Why do I not feel comfortable making final decisions? Why can’t I feel that it is OK to say “NO”? Why do I feel that IM should do the grounding and punishments?

One part of me thinks that it is for selfish reasons…I still feel that I want/need them to like, love, accept me…and I don’t want to do or say anything to make them not like me.
But then again…I am a man in the house and will only be treated as one if I act like one.
I’ve made it very clear to the kids that I, in no way, want to or am trying to take the place of their dad. I want them to ALWAYS see him as their Father. Shit.. I am starting to confuse myself.

Even today, Megan asked if she could go to a friend’s house to watch a movie, just for a few hours. I said “sure” and offered her a ride. Then, Megan turned to me and said, “should we go find Mama to tell her…and see if it is ok?” I looked at Megan and said to her, “no. I said that you could go…so you can. I will tell your mom exactly where you are.” She smiled and we got on our way. It was no big thing but it made me think…about me, my position here and how we will accept each other when our responses to the children differ.

I guess that I am stuck because I want to be a parent to them, but do not want to over step my bounds. I have been strict about some things, but have NEVER disciplined (grounded, yelled at, etc.) any of them. Not that I want to…but I do want to be comfortable that I can if needed.

Damn I am lost!

I do want your feedback. And, if I did not explain this in a way for people to understand…let me know and I will try it again.


The Mom said...

I think talking with IM about the boundaries are...what would SHE want you to discuss with her first and what's 'okay' to take the lead on.

Even though we're not in your sitch, Hubby and I still are working on what is a TALK-TO-MOM- about-that or TALK-TO-DAD-about-that situation.

Sounds like you all have a fantastic relationship together!

~Sheila~ said...

My husband isn't my oldest's (Dom)biological father. I met him when Dom was 3 yrs old. Still to this day (10 yrs later), he still says he can't discipline Dom because he's not "his father". The only thing is, his biological father has never been in the picture.

So when exactly do you start to feel like you are a driving force when it comes to decision making when it comes to the children you help raise (or begin to help raise)?
Will you always feel like that even after they are starting to get into adulthood?

Geez, I think I may have confused you AND myself now.

ugagirl30 said...

Gotta talk to IM about your role. I would just want to hear her say that of course you can make decisions and discipline. I can guess from reading both blogs that she really would not have a problem with that, but would most certainly be open to discussing it.

My oldest has a different biological father, but my husband is daddy in every sense of the word: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

insane mama said...

Whoa, I thought you knew where I stood?? I want you to feel like you can discipline...and please take them away...

~Billie~ said...

Blending families is never easy. I think it's work for many years. Just when you think things are going smooth...BAM, teenagers blind-side you. LOL! No, seriously...I think if you and IM have very open communication about things, it will work itself out. You two seem to have a fabulous relationship, and you guys will get this sorted. If you love her & her children (which you do) then you can't go wrong. It will all be coming from a good place.

Matt said...

It's been my experience that two things need to happen. First, IM needs to let the kids know that you have that responsibility.

Second, the kids will let you know. When they trust and respect you they will start to come to you for help, decisions, advice, etc, and you will gradually assume a more important role.

Peace, love, and good happiness stuff.


Brigindo said...

Step-parenting is HARD. Well parenting is HARD so maybe step-parenting is near impossible. b, my husband, is not Boy's biological father and his bio dad has always been very much in the picture. b also came into our lives when Boy was 10, which I think makes it a little harder. I really think it is both parents that make step-parenting work. b had to start finding spaces and places where he could discipline and I had to let him. Often I felt I was letting him, by saying I wanted him to co-parent, but through a lot of discussion I started realizing places where I was sending Boy mixed messages.

I think it can be hard for mothers in 2-bio families to give up some of the control they have over their children's lives too, so this isn't just a step-parenting issue.

So in addition to talking it out with IM, I would suggest finding a few areas that are really important to you and try them first. For b it was Boy's incredible ability to waste food and table manners (something I really didn't care all that much about). It gave me a chance to see how he handled discipline and be comfortable with it and also a place where I could "back him up" so Boy knew it was a united front.

Swirl Girl said...

I think that just by the mere fact that you are thinking these thoughts you are their father....

I think the same types of things about my kids and I am their bio mom! Not a day goes by when I am not torn between the 'good cop / bad cop' conversation with myself.

r-e-s-p-e-c-t is earned not have earned it.

Candid Carrie said...

Alright, Chris. Here's the deal. it would be easier for you to joke around about balls and take pictures of balls than it would be for you to grow a pair.

Those kids need/want/deserve you to be a class act example of what being a man is and what a man does. From what I've read here and over there they haven't had a great start and you need to step up to the plate. If you are in this for the long run as you indicate, then be The Man. And yes, Chris, real men can fart and host burping contests, too.

You and InMa have a private pow wow and co-establish ground rules and then a family pow wow where you introduce the concept of co-parenting.

Declare your love for her and use some grown up words like "unconditional" and "responsibilities" and slap a ring on her finger in front of those kids. If you can afford it, give them rings, too. That makes this relationship tangible to them. Give them the permanance and stability that goes with the entire package of being a family.

Now, grow a pair and get on with your life.

P.S. I'll still be your friend whether or not you grow a pair.

buffalodickdy said...

I have no point of reference- I yell at everybody's kids...

Mamahut said...

I am with Carrie, you and IM need to make a plan, keep each others backs and include the kids, because that is what it is all for right? There will be rough patches, but as long as you and IM make your stand together you can get through it like the rest of us. On a wing an a prayer.

Mama's Losin' It said...

I don't think step parents can ever really step in and be real parents unless they marry when the kids are really little. I think Dr. Phil did a show on it once. Step-parents get jacked. We treated our step-dad horribly when he tried to tell us what to do.

Tough question. Because if you always refer to IM than they won't take you as seriously.

Shit, I don't know. Maybe you should see a therapist. ;)

Teri said...

In our blended situation, I had a harder time saying much to my 14 year old bonus daughter (her age when we married) than my husband did with the younger bonus kids that I brought into the mix.

It is crucial that you sort out the details with IM first, then share it with the family. The kids need and deserve discipline and order in a life of chaos. They may get pissed from time to time when your answer doesn't fit with their more fun choice, but that is what love is about. They will absolutely appreciate and love you more for it.

Mama Dawg said...

Ahhh...I don't know how to help you. I haven't remarried or gotten serious with someone since my divorce and my mom never remarried so I didn't go through this as a kid. My dad remarried, but she stayed out of my life and just let me be.

I do think you need to discuss this with IM and maybe have a family meeting.

Marrdy said...

My kids now have a step dad and I know how frustrated he gets trying to figure out the boundries. Good luck with all the parenting stuff and if you figure it out share it with the rest of it.

Anonymous said...

I've known my stepchildren since they were 10 and 8, lived with their dad for 4 years before we got married (when they were 21 and 19) and they're 30 and 28 now. Daughter (30) understands I'm her mom, too, and comes to me with troubles and questions and hopes and dreams. Son (28) is out of our lives thanks to birth-mom, for now at least, but we got along while he was a part of our lives.
I think if they know you love them unconditionally you'll find the right words and treat them in a way they'll welcome and respect.


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