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Second Weddings

Blending families

We wed 10/6 this year (still excitement over that, for me, I think!)

My H has only had visitation of his children from his 1st marriage, and Friday his ex filed to completely reverse custody of their 12 yr old daughter to us. Him. Her bedroom suite is here, we will enroll her in school next week, based on that motion to change custody. They also have a19 yr old son, and he has a 5 yr old daughter he has no contact with :( by another encounter.

I have a 12 yr old son that lives here (an a 19 yr old son that does not) from my first marriage.

I am greatly intimidated. I have not raised a girl. Furthermore, this young lady seems to be troubled (as in - skipping school, physical knock-down drag-out with her mother, etc). Since H only had visitation (and I tend to see Mothers more involved in that overall parenting role from my experience), I realize he does no know this child much more deeply than I.

My iPad is vexing, forgive my edits/typos! I simply seek advice and encouragement. The children each have their own room. They are NOT allowed in each other's room, even by invitation. I asked H not to force comrade rue, and to allow it to grow by natural progression at this point. I believ they need to forge this path for themselves. I was such a tomboy! I am so rule-driven! I want badly to ake sure she is welcome, that I am the support she needs - and reinforce to my son tha his value has not decreased and I am ever so committed to him

Please share your wisdom, ladies. I am stockpiling for all it is worth. I know we are headed to many challenges - and rewards :)
~~Mendi~~ ...Everyone has their price; mine's chocolate Photobucket

Re: Blending families

  • I have no advice, but want to wish you the best.

    Oh wait, I do have advice. Maybe you and your FI could seek counseling. I imagine this will be a strain on your relationship at some point and maybe it would help to find someone to talk to now. This is going to be a major part of your life, particularly if she really does have problems like you suspect.

    good luck!!
    Daisypath Wedding tickers
  • Our pre-marital counselor/pastor is on stand-by. I won't rule that out! I really want to do right by both of our children. Thank you, for he honesty check!
    ~~Mendi~~ ...Everyone has their price; mine's chocolate Photobucket
  • Bless you.  I think you are in for a heckuva ride.  My wonderful, beautiful DD (now 24-we survived) was the spawn of Satan at that age.  And she will tell you the same.  DH and I were not yet married at that point and it nearly drove us apart.  I don't have cogent advice, just random thoughts. 
    (If you ever want to chat privately, feel free to PM me and I'll send you my email.)

    Even if his DD has been adamant that she wants out of her mother's house, she is hurt & feeling rejected / abandoned by this change.  She will be looking for ANY sign that you two are rejecting her as well.  And she will work as hard as she can to provoke that response to prove herself right.  Fight with all the willpower you have to never threaten to throw her out.  Which is different than having safety rules that cannot be breached.  Just make those real safety rules. 

    Your DS will be about 3-5 years behind her developmentally.  About the time she starts to grow out of this phase, he'll be starting.  This is good- only one at a time is more manageable.

    Reward is more effective than punishment. As in, "if you want privileges (friends, mall time, computer time, etc) you have to get the following: 5 day attendance at school, attendance at any detentions, no suspensions. (Notice the low bar). If you want special privileges ( sleep over, etc) you have to get the following: no detentions, no failing grades, complete your home responsibilities. IF she doesn't achieve the lower level, do not give her the basic privileges. When she objects, matter of factly say, "Your dad & I don't get a paycheck if we don't do our basic job. You don't get these privileges if you don't do your basic job. That's how the world works." Calmly. Repeat ad nauseum, with nothing added.

    Dad, of course, has GOT to be 110% on board. If she CAN divide, she WILL conquer.  No one can back down or give in. If its a special occasion (birthday, holiday) decide before hand what the minimum required threshold is. And stick to it. She will miss this threshold, by the way, just to see if you really are the awful abusive parents she knows you are.  It's ok to tell her how sad you are that she didn't fulfill the minimum on her birthday, and therefore she cannot have the privilege you wanted to give her, and how sad it is that she CHOSE to not get it.    Make it about her choices, not yours. 

    DO NOT sweat the small stuff. And a lot of it is small stuff. Remember that she has 12 + years of good parenting & good role modeling already on board. Smoking (cigarettes or other), swearing like a sailor, dressing sloppy, gothic or sleazy, horrid music, drinking etc. are honesly small stuff--- if they are done to get a reaction. Obviously you do not permit illegal behavior or behavior that is against your morals. My DS wore black clothes, black mascara & eyeliner in a goth style. UGLY! But not dangerous. Loved Insane Clown Posse (ew!), recognizes now how silly that was. Just don't agonize over it if it's not really dangerous.

    It's all about NOT being you. Do good grades matter to you (her parents)? Plan on her getting terrible grades. Let the natural consequences happen, even if she was an A student, let her stay back.  But make sure she understands the social impact of not being with her friends. Be sure you realize that if she's in the wrong peer group- she may see staying back as a second chance. Do you attend church? Expect her to declare herself an atheist. And a really adamant one. Let it go.  

    She is screaming for boundaries. Hold them fast, just not too tight. 

    My DD recently was talking to my DH, and made reference to step-parenting.  Said she would never want to step-parent young teens, "I don't ever want to go through what YOU went through."   She & her brother love & appreciate DH now. 

    Hang in there.  Holler is you need help or a sympathetic ear.  ~Donna
  • I second the structure and boundaries - and consequences for bad behavior. 

    Also be prepared for her to purposefully create drama.  Expect the "you are NOT my MOTHER" shouting matches.  The phrase that shuts that right down is "you're right I'm not, but I care about you and how you behave in MY HOME". 

    Having been and raising a step-daughter I have probably seen both sides of the fence.  If you need to talk or vent you can PM me as well.  Our jobs as moms isn't easy but it has it's rewards. 
  • Donna, you have given EXCELLENT advice for anyone raising a teenager! 

    imageimage
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Yes, right1thistime. Great advice. In my case, sons and mom mix better than daughters and mom, so don't expect your two child-rearing experiences to have any relationship to each other. I truly believe my husband kept my younger daughter alive, starting in her tween years, while I had the closer and simpler relationship with our son. Our middle daughter was just passive aggressive. Your dear husband has the opportunity to become his daughter's BFF, but it will be a lot of work. Wear your running shoes 24/7 so you can get away every now and then.
  • Donna, You reassure me through fright! Oh, heavens, I am only too serious. I will PM you. I am scared to death. She is such a darling girl, and my heart breaks that she has not learned better tools at this age. I will PM you tomorrow - and I plan to totally print an hang th rewards paragraph a my desk! Thank you. Thank you to everyone. M
    ~~Mendi~~ ...Everyone has their price; mine's chocolate Photobucket
  • I also agree with what was said above. FI and I have blended his 2 girls and my 1 girl and 1 boy. He also has the spawn of satan (his words, not mine, but she is), and it takes all I can to deal with her. I love her, I really do, but she is quite the handful, and she is 8. I can only imagine what she is going to be like as a teenager. And mom wants nothing to do with her. We have 50/50, so I imagine when the girls are older we'll have 100. We do the same, reward good behavior. They aren't teenagers yet, so I am dealing with bedwetting still (every night), anger issues (she throws things, tears things off the walls, etc). Don't allow the divide and conquer. Make sure you stand together. Keep the bar low. And make sure she knows she is wanted. If she feels she is not wanted by you and Dad, that is the worst thing right now. She has to feel wanted by you and her dad. For you, take time to yourself. If you feel you are going to explode, take a time out. Also spend time alone with her and get to know her. Find out the things she likes to do. Is she girly? Does she like to shop? Get her nails done? What do you two have in common? That will help things along and will certainly help her feel like a part of the family unit. Its going to be hard enough, but finding out what she likes and what you and her have in common will definitely make a huge difference.

    Give things time and it will work itself out. Good luck!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker Becca
  • Jells2dot0Jells2dot0 Cowtown mod
    Moderator Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    In Response to Re: Blending families:
    I second everythng right1 said. I love what the OP is doing with the kids - insists on respect for each other's property, but not trying to force relationships.  Good choice.
    Posted by RetreadBride
    I tried this with my one stepdaughter and it was a giant bust. However, I know and believe that I did not have a "joint forces agreement" with my DH. He, at the time, was in complete denial that his first child could possibly be satan's spawn. By the time he figured it out, she was out of high school and off wreaking even more havoc, but at least not in my home. However, I wanted to say that even though it didn't work out for me, it's a fantastic approach. It worked perfectly with my other stepdaugther and we have a great relationship now. I am now through the teen years of my two step daughters (I do not have any children) and survived with my relationship fully intact. My only regret was that we didn't work harder as a couple to have a strong united front, whether it was for rewarding positives and him doling out consequences for negatives.

     







  • I agree with everything here - you've gotten some excellent advice. The united front thing is above all, the most important. It's also what we struggle with (FI has no children, and has done several things that I have disagreed with, but we're working on it. I'm cutting him some slack - lol)

    I'd also like to add that if you're worried about the impact of this on your son, try to carve out some time for just you and him. It doesn't have to be much - maybe just a trip to the video game store or a bite to eat at a burger joint - something to keep you connected. And it doesn't have to be often. Your husband could use the same time to do something similar with his daughter.

    And then do things as a family. We, for example, always go out for supper together once a week. Everyone takes a turn picking where we go, and we typically head to a sit down, family type place (trying to avoid fast food). It gives us an hour or two to reconnect, and talk about what's going on in our lives.

    12 is a tough age. She's caught in the I'm-not-a-kid-but-I'm-not-a-teenager-either phase. I see it all day, every day at school. My DS is this age, but it's totally different for girls. As Donna said, rules are important, she's crying out for them.

    I'd also arrange meetings (or even email or phone calls) with her teachers to let them know what's going on. She should be referred to her guidance councellor too, so she has someone she can talk to, because she's not likely to tell you or her dad how hurt she really is by all of this.

    HTH, and keep us posted!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Hi all, and thank you again.

    I know it is very hard to really know anyone over the internet. Knowing that, I still had to say that I would never tell a child they were not welcome or they could become unwanted in my home. I couldn't, it simply isn't within me. I am very not girly, she is. I am very not touchy-feely, she needs a lot of hugs and reassurances - so I have to work on ME to be what she needs. On the other side of that, my mother has fallen absolutely head over heels for her. My mother is an incredible judge of character, she also happens to be a licensed counselor. We would not seek official counseling from her, and will be seeking official counseling, but her insight is appreciated. As we discover things that she and I have in common, she is constantly at my elbow. I am teaching her how to cook the things I do, and special treats. I am still making time one-on-one for my son away from the rest of the family - and sometimes at home even if we are being silly and texting each other in the same room.

    Heavens, I am even learning more than I want to or ever intended about One Direction. :)

    Thank you!!!
    ~~Mendi~~ ...Everyone has their price; mine's chocolate Photobucket
  • In Response to Re: Blending families:
    Hi all, and thank you again. I know it is very hard to really know anyone over the internet. Knowing that, I still had to say that I would never tell a child they were not welcome or they could become unwanted in my home. I couldn't, it simply isn't within me. I am very not girly, she is. I am very not touchy-feely, she needs a lot of hugs and reassurances - so I have to work on ME to be what she needs. On the other side of that, my mother has fallen absolutely head over heels for her. My mother is an incredible judge of character, she also happens to be a licensed counselor. We would not seek official counseling from her, and will be seeking official counseling, but her insight is appreciated. As we discover things that she and I have in common, she is constantly at my elbow. I am teaching her how to cook the things I do, and special treats. I am still making time one-on-one for my son away from the rest of the family - and sometimes at home even if we are being silly and texting each other in the same room. Heavens, I am even learning more than I want to or ever intended about One Direction. :) Thank you!!!
    Posted by mmmendi
    Sometimes a grandmother is JUST what the doctor (or counselor) ordered.  She doesn't have to be the disciplinarian, she doesn't have to enforce the rules (as much) and she can be a confidant.  As YOUR mother, she can even be someone that your DSD can commiserate with- she knows all your idiosyncracies as well.  The ability to tell yoour DSD what a horrid teenager YOU were will be appreciated!  Cool

    And, before you declare what you will NEVER do... walk a mile in the shoes.  In my case, there were some safety rules that had to be laid down as absolutes.  Always prefaced with, "In order to live in this house, you must follow these rules..." rather than "I'm going to kick your sorry butt outa here"  of course (Not that I wasn't thinking it!).    I am not suggesting that your DSD will go way over the edge, or that you will have the same issues, but rather that many a step mom has come to the end of the rope & said, "your child or me".  I am not talking evil step monster, but more so the step mother in the situation where the bio parent refuses to set limits & enforce them, and the child is walking all over them, or putting them in unsafe situations.  Physical violence, stealing, drug use or trafficking in the house, or any other of a myriad of events can be the tipping point.   

    From how you describe this child, she sounds needy more than a handful.  She is so lucky to have a step mom & step grandmother who both want to love her.  I don't necessarily think you need to change YOU to be like her, but rather to help her understand WHO you are, and the ways that you demonstrate love & affection, and the things that you like to do. 

    I sent you a PM.  ~Donna
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