Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ask Janae Column #2

Good Morning! (sorry no pictures today...it takes too much time)

It's a blustery day in these parts!  Leaves are a blowin', wind a swirlin' around my head, whispering promises of a beautiful Holiday season!  I LOVE September for self reflection, beautiful leaves, and the combination of back to school excitement and the calm that settles in.  I LOVE October for big parties and friends, dancing and pumpkins, laughing and parties. I LOVE November and December for FAMILY.  I come back into myself a bit after loads of people in October...and just enjoy FAMILY.  I love the rain and snow.  I love the hot chocolate, games, dinners, and shopping for loved ones.  How blessed we are to have families.  They drive us crazy, and complete our lives. 

First off today, I wanted to thank the people that have sent me questions.  I have no doubt that the "ask Janae column" will be some great fun!  And MAN you ladies have issues!! Just kidding haha !
My friends over at "Help Me Grow" have decided that it might be great if after I respond to your questions, they add some more information from a community resource point of view

*after all, that is what they do*

I remember when I was first married and felt so alone.  I knew there were other mothers out there dealing with the same issues that I was, but I didn't know how to get connected to the people or places that could be tools and support for me.  (and honestly didn't know if I wanted to) There is something about being frustrated that makes us want to isolate.. that's how I am anyway.  But, there is happiness in having someone around you that GETS where you are coming from.  Hopefully, this is what we
*the ladies at Help Me Grow* can can help provide people with...

SO, it will be impossible to keep up with my life, and questions, and pictures, and events in my life
BUT I will sure give it a shot, because I love it and I feel like it is a life calling for me. SO, without further waiting...here is "Ask Janae Column" question #2!


Dear Janae,
I am having the hardest time getting along with my sons new step mother! I'm asking you because I know you understand how hard this might be. My son's dad and I have had an awesome co-parenting experience since we divorced 14 years ago. That is until now ugghh. He has had several girlfriends that I adored one very serious one that actually became my friend. I almost adopted their little girl who is my youngest sons age because she wasn't ready to be a mom and he had become a drug addict. She was a part of our family for many years. He recently met and married his new wife and at first I couldn't be happier for him! It has been about a year now and she has effectively cut our son out of their lives and the little girl, and his little girls mother out as well. I cant even have a civil discussion with him about our sons grades let alone his day to day struggles. I am FRUSTRATED beyond belief and need an outsiders opinion on how to handle this in the best way for my son. He hates his father now and I am so sad for him. 

How have you kept your cool in your situation and still bonded with your own step-daughter? I know my situation is opposite of yours but with what seven + kids under your belt it seems you have successfully managed to keep her feeling loved and cherished.  Anything you could add to my scope of understanding I would completely appreciate!
 
will be watching for my reply:)



Dear ..... :)

Hmmm, I can see that these "ask Janae" questions could get tough for me to answer because of past issues they bring up, but answer I will. 

Co-parenting is, with no doubt one of the hardest things a parent can have to deal with!  It is hard enough for two married people that were raised differently to get along and agree how to parent, let alone two SETS of parents *FOUR* people to cooperate.  I wrestle in my own mind how best to solve each problem every day...add a spouse you love, .....an ex that used to be intimately involved with one of you....and both new spouses, and it's enough to send all four individuals over a cliff!  I could spend a year writing a book on many angles that surround this one question, but I will try to stay focused on the one specific question you asked

"How do I keep my cool in my situation and still stay bonded with my step daughter?"

First off and most importantly, this is about the child.
 Unfortunately, there are VERY few couples that can keep this the focus for a lifetime.  In our situation, we had several good years of trying to co-team parent, and several harder years.  There were times I felt like I could write a book with my husbands ex on how to pull this monstrous task off, and other times I wanted to run away screaming.  I am sure everyone involved felt the same way.  After all the emotions of pain, hurt, anger, etc... that come with a separation of parents, is overwhelming.  For this reason, I come back to my very first point.  This is about the child, not the parents.

Even if we are doing well enough to understand this, I believe it is a struggle for all to keep this in the forefront of their brain when hard times come up *and they will*



"Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in your  head." by...I'm not sure.

But the point is, it's ok to be angry and not agree with someone.  It's ok to tell them.  But If you hold onto it for days, weeks, months, and years...you are sacrificing your life and happiness to someone you didn't agree with in the first place.  You are giving your most valuable asset {time} away.  You pay.  Decide what amount of anger is worth your time.  Be Angry.  And then decide to let it teach you a lesson and m.o.v.e. o.n.

This one lesson helped me make it through the 18 years.

Another thing I made sure to do is not focus all my talk and energy on them.  This is easier if you choose not to think about it all the time, because then all of your conversation with your spouse isn't about.  Your kids and step kids don't have to hear all the venom over and over and over again.  Why bring all the frustration into your marriage?  Again, it will come up.  You will have no choice but to deal with situations all the time, but then move on.  I always tried as hard as I could to leave my feelings about any given situation away from my step daughter.  I had to talk to her about each thing that happened of course, but not the anger...not the proofs of "why I am right".  Your kid already feels like a pawn, why make it worse than it already is?

Try to see it from their point of view.
Not that you have to agree with it, but try to understand their feelings and thoughts that brought them to the place they are at.  I try to use this advice in all areas of my life.  If you look at their story, their reality and past, you will start to understand why a person does what they do.  You can still agree to disagree, but a level of respect for them as a parent helps calm things a bit.

Communicate.
As uncomfortable as this can be at times, it always helps big things from getting bigger.  As I look back over the times we *the parents* were doing well, there was always more communication.  When Syd started to get older, it was easier to let her do the communicating.  This led to more issues along the way and disagreements, than if the parents had talked/hashed it out.  It wasn't Syd's fault, she was just trying to make everyone happy, and kids know what each parent wants to hear.  So that's what they do.  Tell everyone what they want to hear.  Save the pain for the child, and talk.  Believe me, I get it.  This isn't always possible, it's just better.

Remember that the child isn't the problem.  The child isn't the one that did something wrong.  They are a product of their situation.  If you look at your kids or step kids this way, it is easier to separate the pain from the child.  I always wanted to be close to Syd.  I loved her.  I see her mom in her and her dad in her, two people that don't get along.  But she is Sydney.  She isn't them.  She has her own spirit and her own life.  Adding to that, she has me in her, and her step dad.  It is ok to not agree with each other, but still love the child.  As a step mother, I always felt like it was my role to love Syd.  Be her friend, and her back up parent.  I never wanted to take away the love she had for her mom.  I respected the role she had.  I wanted syd to know, that I will always be there for her.  Why is it a problem for so many when kids have several adults that they can go to for love, understanding, and answers?  Syds mom was always good to let me do my role in the best way that I knew how.  We respected each other.

Laugh together.
Play with your step kids.  Love unconditionally.  Like I said, they are the ones that matter.  Know your truth.  In court you hear lots of things that you aren't.  You hear allegations... you are judged by others by how you parent, step parent, foster parent...KNOW YOUR TRUTH.  Be the best you and try not to think about what everyone thinks about you.  It can eat you alive.  Focus on things you can change and control, not the other way around.  This is where the happiness lies in all of the chaos.

MAN.
Once again, this is a HUGE question.  I could write forever, but I can't.  One question at a time!  Please feel free to chime in, add to my feedback, share experiences.  I am not perfect, I wasn't perfect as a step parent.  I tried my best.  Like I said at the beginning, it is one of the hardest things in life to be a parent, ....step parent....co-parents.... So just do your best.


Janae Moss, Pink Moss
"Dear Janae" Advice Column

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