Category Archives: Parenting

How Should Parents Deal With Teenage Heartbreak

My oldest bio kid is a moody person.  He alternates between sullen, annoyed and morose.  Every now and then, we have a rare glimpse of a smile.  Although I will say his mood has improved as he has gotten a little older.  He just graduated high school, and he seems happier. A little……

I was recently thinking about the times in his teen years when he has been at his mopiest, and every time his dark mood has somehow involved a girl.  Usually it is the worst right after a girl breaks up with him.  Which seems to always be how his relationships end.  I don’t think he has ever broken up with a girl, he always seems to be the one who is dumped.

So I wondered why he is always the dumpee and not the dumper.  Surely I talked to him about relationships.  I know I did.  When he would let me.  I did my best to teach him how to be kind and compassionate.  To respect the boundaries of his partner, to be respectful, and try to give 50/50 in a relationship.  Of course I can talk and talk, but he will only take in what he wants to take in.

And I will say that I have seen improvement in his interactions with females.  His girlfriends seem happier with him with each new girl he dates.  I think maybe he is learning how to be a better boyfriend with each new relationship.  Three girls ago he would have her visit at our house and he would proceed to play PS3 games she had no interest in while she just sat there.  That relationship didn’t last too long. Hmmmmm, I wonder why not??

The next one didn’t last too long either (thank goodness).  I was happy to see her go because she just made me uncomfortable.  She was a little too “touchy feely”, in my opinion and many times when I was making my “check ups” I would find her laying down on the couch with her head in his lap.  Maybe not so bad, but they were 16 and 15…a little young for that in my opinion.  She moved on pretty quickly, I guess I made to many “checks” when they were at my house…..not sure….

I really liked the next girl.  She came into our house to visit and interacted with the family in a friendly, open manner.  She actually spoke to the grownups, and interacted with my younger son as well.  She was funny, she was smart, she was very pretty, but alas she didn’t last that long either.  They dated for about 6 months.  A mutual friend of theirs told me that she broke up with him because she was ready to move into more “adult” physical relations and my son wasn’t…….whew…….dodged that bullet…….for now at least.

So, how should parents deal with teenage heartbreak?

So over the years I have had to deal with teenaged relationships and the heartbreak that follows when they end.  My advice to parents dealing with this is to give the kid a day or so, and then cautiously approach them……in the same manner you would approach a wounded animal……softly, slowly and calmly.

I NEVER NEVER said anything about more “fish in the sea” or how his feelings “weren’t real”.  I have always believed that teenage love feelings are JUST as strong as adult love feelings.  They aren’t as mature as adult feelings, but they are definitely just as strong, if not stronger with those raging hormones and all…..

My lines after bio kids heartbreaks have been things like, “why don’t you hang out with your squad instead”, and even “give it some time and it will get better.”  He usually perks up…a bit.  Especially when I point out all of his cool points and remind him that “karma is a bitch”, and one day he would be on top of the world and the girl might not.

I always tried to explain to him that his feelings are valid and that yes it sucks, but in time he will feel better.  I have encouraged him to invite friends over to play video games and have promised to feed them pizza and brownies.  I have tried to keep him busy to keep his mind off of his broken heart, and it works at times. Sometimes he still feels great pain for awhile. Each break up is a little different for him, as he matures and gets closer to adulthood.

I remember being a teenager and all of the drama, angst and difficulty it brought.  I remember having my heart broken.  I remember being in love.  I am one of those adults who believes teens can love each other and be in love.  Granted it may not be a mature love, but I believe it is love nonetheless.  Think about it those of you who are naysayers….your teen knows how to love you, and family members. So they know how to love.  Why can’t they have those same deep feelings for a boyfriend or girlfriend their own age?????

I shared with him the story of my “first love” and how that boy had broken my heart and dumped me for a girl named Jill.  (Those of you who went to high school with me get three guesses who I am talking about).  I told him how I had my “revenge” when after I graduated I ran into First Love boy and he wanted to date me again.  I had the karmic joy of telling him, “dream on buddy.”  That felt good.  (He liked that story, he even had a little gleam in his eye.)  His response was, “Yeah, when I am an Aerospace Engineer making the big bucks, she will be sorry.”  I did NOT dissuade him, who am I to steal his dream?????  (Ummmm, if she even remembers you dude, but okaaayy)…..

But the bottom line is that teenage heartbreak and young adult heartbreak are very real to our kids, and we should not discount it.  Just allow them to feel their feelings, and encourage and love them the best way you can.  This too shall pass….

 

Do parents love their biological kids differently than their step kids?

This is a topic that has been on my mind for a few years, but I have been very hesitant  to write about it.  Partly because the title may offend some people, and partly because it is a very touchy subject. However, for any one who has been reading my blog for the past 5 years that I have been writing knows that I don’t often avoid a topic because it is difficult.  I have written about my difficulty with my step daughter, I have written about Lesbian Bed Death, I have written about Menopause in all its glory, and I have written about my brothers death.  Nah, I am not one to run away from a difficult subject.

So, that being said, I have been thinking about this step children vs. biological children issue for some time now.  But it has really been brought to the forefront even more as my oldest biological child gets ready to graduate High School.  I have two biological kids, Zachary and The Genius (I don’t use their real names until they are 18).  I have two step kids, Katarina and Brandon.

As I have written about, Katarina and I do not have a relationship (her choice).  In fact, she doesn’t even acknowledge me anymore.  As far as she is concerned I do not exist……it is very sad, but it is what it is.

However, Brandon and I have a beautiful and loving relationship.  It did take us awhile to get there, a few years in fact  I have come to realize that it is quite normal for step relationships to require time to build.  I suppose if you become a family with step children aged 5 and below this relationship can bloom faster, but when the kids are 7 years old and up I think there is much more patience and time required to have a great relationship.  I mean, think about it, Brandon had only seen me as his mom’s friend coming to visit.  We got along, but I wasn’t an Aunt, or relative, or someone he felt “required” to care about, I was just his mom’s “friend”.  Then when we moved in together we didn’t fit the traditional family “mold”, so that also had to be navigated carefully.

But over time, Brandon and I have grown to love each other very much, and I think of him as my son, and he thinks of me as a parent.  I cried when he graduated.  He moved to Tennessee last year, and for the first 8 months or so, I just felt like something was “missing” from the house. I have gotten used to it now, but I still talk with him when Karol chats with him on the phone about once a week.

Our first "family" photo, circa 2007.  Even then, Katarina refused to be in the photo....

Our first “family” photo, circa 2007. Even then, Katarina refused to be in the photo….

You can see from the photo that we were still not really “blended” yet, but we had only been a “family” for a year, so we were still figuring it out.

But even though Brandon and I have a great relationship and I love him with all my heart, and I say I love him just like I love my own, that is a difficult thing to measure.  I do love him, and I would be devastated if anything happened to him, but….

As Zachary’s graduation from high school approaches I have been more and more emotional.  I just want to hold him and hug him and NEVER let go.  I know he is about to end the “childhood” phase of his life.  He has pulled away from me in the past few years as he has become an older teen, which I know is totally normal, but I can’t say it hasn’t been a little painful.  Oh, he still indulges me with a hug before he leaves the house, and tolerates me sitting next to him sometimes when we watch a movie together, but he is becoming an adult.  He is about to pull away even more, and become his own person with a life completely separate from mine.  Just writing that makes me cry.  I didn’t have these same feelings with Brandon when he graduated and was ready to move into adulthood.

So those feelings I am having make me wonder about love for biological children vs. love for step children.  As much as I love my non-bio son, (and I call him my “son”, NOT my “stepson”), it isn’t exactly the same depth as my love for my bio sons.

I often wonder if this would be different for me if I had been in Brandon’s life when he was smaller.  Karol tells me she loves my bio kids just the same as her bio kids.  Sometimes I wonder if that is true, but I can’t feel her feelings, so I can’t doubt her verbally.  But maybe she does.  When we got together, my kids were 5 and 7.  I KNOW that she is especially close to The Genius, but he was such a little boy when they met (he was 4) that maybe his young age allowed them to bond together more than I did with Brandon who was 9 when I met him.

Brandon was already going into 5th grade.  He wasn’t that “cute” kindergartener anymore.  If I had met him when he was 4 would I feel differently?  Would we be closer?  Would I have the exact same love for him as I do for my bio kids?  Or is that about babyhood, and taking care of that completely dependent human being??

I do believe that it isn’t about the act of pregnancy and delivering a baby, because people who have babies through other methods than conception, pregnancy and delivery have that intense love for their babies that I feel for the babies I carried and delivered.

So it makes me think about the love for bio kids vs. step kids.  It is a tricky and sensitive subject.  I have googled it, and tried to read about it, but to be honest I don’t think very many people want to talk about things that make them uncomfortable, so I didn’t find much beyond some threads on a few forums about raising step kids, or parenting. Not being one to shy away from uncomfortable topics, I decided to talk about it here.

So for me the bottom line is that as much as I adore my non-bio son, it just isn’t the same for me as with my bio kids.  After really thinking about and analyzing this , I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter.   I have always done the best I can to treat all three boys equally. Of course there are differences in the way they have been parented, because they are different people, but none have received any “more” than the others.  That was always VERY important to me.  It was important that all the kids feel as though they were equal in our family.

It is funny though because when I ask them if they were treated equally, the older two say we spoil the youngest one, and the younger two say the oldest got more privileges.  The middle one always says the other two had it better than him.  So when I look at it from that angle, I can say without a doubt we are a TOTALLY normal family and they all felt loved and cherished, because that is what ALL kids say….. that the others had it better than them.

So after all the dissection, and analyzing, and agonizing over my feelings, the fact that all my kids felt loved and adored, and taken care of, I am thankful that I was able to (with Karol)  parent them well enough that they feel that way.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

#womenslives

Trust your parenting decisions

As we get closer to summertime, I am seeing more posts on social media and blog posts about what to do with the kids over the summer.  Some parents put them in day camp, some parents leave them home, some parents have friends watch them, some parents have no idea what to do…..

And, unfortunately, when I hear parents talk about what they are doing with their kids, be it allowing them to watch certain tv shows, read certain books,  watch certain movies, I also see something else happening:  Judgement from other parents…..  and then I see the parents who are being judged do one of two things…..either they just keep talking, like they didn’t notice the judgement, or they apologize, and start explaining why they made that decision as a parent.

As if they somehow feel the need to apologize for making a decision they feel is best for their own kids.  Concerned about being judged by other parents as “too conservative” or “holding them back””, or “hiding your head in the sand”.  Then there is the other side of the coin.  They might be judged for being “too permissive”, or “too liberal”.  so the parents feel they have to explain why they DID allow their children to read a book, see a movie, go to an event, start dating, wear makeup, etc etc etc…the list is endless……

They worry about judgement for seeming too “permissive” or not caring about the scars their kids might get from the message of the books or the violence. Or the worry about seeming too conservative” and sheltering their child(ren) from the “harsh reality” of life.

I have a difficult time with both of these points of view.  Not because I think there is a correct age or time for a child to see a particular kind of movie or read a particular book, or date, or wear makeup, etc etc etc. The problem I have with those two trains of thought is WHY the parents even feel the need to explain their decisions to every one else.

I feel bad for the parents who feel they need to justify and explain their actions to others. Maybe they are new parents, maybe they are first time parents, maybe they are just insecure….there could be a million reasons why they are unsure of their parenting decisions.  Parenting is HARD!!!!   There is no manual, and most of the time we are just flying by the seat of our pants, having NO CLUE what we are doing.

I will say that I have made MANY MANY bad parenting decisions, and I have also made MANY MANY great decisions.  I have learned from the bad ones AND the good ones.    Parenting is full of mistakes and learning curves.  There is no manual that a person gets to help them when they become a parent, and even if you did get a manual with your first child, you would need to toss it in the trash when the second child comes, and the third, fourth, etc etc….  Each child is unique and what works for one child won’t work for another child.

For example, our oldest, (my stepdaughter, Katarina) doesn’t even acknowledge me as a parent, and refuses to even speak to me, so while that is an incredibly difficult situation it doesn’t take me off the proverbial “parenting hook”.  Her  mom is my partner, and we make decisions together….but my stepdaughter  doesn’t accept my decisions….it is complicated….   The three boys are completely different though.  Karol and I parent them together, and they understand that  we decide together and lets be real here…..Karol and I don’t always agree on what we are going to do…our parenting styles are very different…

And that is something else.  Parents are different from each other, and if you have more than one parent involved with raising a child, the parents sometimes need to talk about what to do, how to do it, etc, and parents don’t always agree with each other, so that requires discussion and compromise.  Parenting is the TOUGHEST job I have ever done.

 https://www.facebook.com/rusticpinedesigns

I used to feel as if I had to explain my actions and motives regarding my decisions about my kids, but not anymore!.  They are pretty awesome people, and I know that the only person that knows them better than themselves….. is me.  I know what makes them tick, what motivates them, what they are afraid of and what they want from life.  I know their hearts and most of the time I know their minds.

My point is that I want parents who are caring, trying their best, and just doing what they think is the right thing for their kids, (bio kids, adopted kids, step kids,god kids,  ANY kids), ….to own their decisions, and know within ourselves, that we do not need to justify or explain our decisions regarding our children to anyone besides our partners, ourselves and (sometimes) our kids.

So if you want your kids to see a movie or read a book, date, wear makeup, stay home from school, (or not), it is your decision to make.  If you think they should or should not attend a party or a school dance, or a movie or a football game, that is a parents choice as well. So decide, and own that decision knowing that you are always trying to do the best for your children. Trust your parenting decisions!

Found on momfabulous.com

Found on momfabulous.com