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We’ve moved to www.blendedfamilysoapopera.com. Find this post and a host of new ones at www.blendedfamilysoapopera.com.

BFSO readers, I need your opinion.   I have been opining this subject for a while now.  Actually, it is eating away at me because I have always tried really hard to not let what an ex does or doesn’t do or something he says or doesn’t say to me bother me.   My 19 year old son, L’s, father lives in California.  We were married for 5 years.   During that time, as I have written before, he was very physically abusive to me in front of my two older boys.  My oldest son was not his biological child.

Last May, when my son graduated high school, my ex and I got into a huge argument, over the phone over his car insurance payment.   The only thing I ask him to do is pay his car insurance $72.00 a month and that has only been since he was 17.  So, the first 17 years, he never paid a dime of support or helped me in anyway.  He didn’t work when we were married.  Anyway, at the time of our argument, he said to me “Diane, our son is 19.  I don’t have to have anything else to do with you.  I don’t have to talk to you, I can talk to L from now on.”   That really made me think.  How do you say that to the mother of your child?  If it weren’t for me, he wouldn’t have his only son, his namesake.

Well, he’s right.  He doesn’t.  But, that really hurt me.  I raised this boy on my own, got the crap beat out of me by this man, and now he just writes me off  because our son is 19.  I think what bothers me more is that my son WANTS a relationship with him.   For some reason, I feel a little bit betrayed by my son.   I was the one struggling, making $15,000 a year, eating oatmeal at night so the boys could eat what little meat I could afford to buy.  I was the one crying at night wondering how I was gonna pay the daycare that next week, buy groceries and have enough money to last me to the next paycheck.

I never asked for child support from him, not a dime.  We divorced when my son was 4.  I was so afraid of him that I didn’t want him to have any reason to come around us.  The court ordered supervised visitation, with no overnights and that he seek batterers treatment counseling, etc.   The court did order child support, but I stipulated that he didn’t have to pay it and I moved away.  My question is….why would my son want a relationship with him when he has done NOTHING  for him, ever?  Needless to say, from the time my son was 8 through now, 19, my son has seen him a total of 4 times.  Now that he is 19, my ex tries to have a father-son relationship with him, calls him on his cell, talks about the Lakers; which is both of their favorite team.   My son acts like they are the best of friends and it makes me almost physically sick because he has no idea the pain this man has caused me.   Just the raising of this man’s voice still scares me to this day.   My son doesn’t see that pain.  My son doesn’t understand the things his dad took away from me during those years of abuse.  He took everything from me.  My self-esteem, my self-worth, my pride and he placed fear in my heart.   Why does he want to  have anything to do with him?  I know I am being selfish.  My son deserves a relationship with his father….but he is a horrible father.   I have forgiven my ex, but I haven’t forgotten and I guess, I didn’t expect my son to forget either.

It bothers the heck out of me.   HELP!!!!!

Diane

We’ve moved to www.blendedfamilysoapopera.com. Find this post and a host of new ones at www.blendedfamilysoapopera.com.

It is hard for me to write on controversial subjects using my own blended family situation because my situation is very different from most of our readers.  I get along very very well with my husband’s ex-wife.  She is very good about including me in all decisions that she feels may need input from all of the parents in my step-daughter’s life. But, in reading our blog and listening to other readers describe their feelings and concerns, I feel the need to ask…..Don’t we step-mom’s have a right to have a say in what goes on in our step-children’s lives?  I know we didn’t give birth to our step-children and we may or may not have been in their lives very long, but we are, most of the time, their main caretakers when they are with our family.

Don’t ex-wives want to know that their children are safe and loved during visitation with the non-custodial parent and vice versa if the father has custody?  So shouldn’t all step-parents have a say in what goes on in their lives?  I just think that step-moms sometimes get the brush off more than step-fathers because usually, that step-father is the main father figure in the step-child’s household and the bio mom almost always never second guesses herself and allows him to be included in decision making.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this.  I want to state again, I don’t personally have this issue, but I am always somewhat baffled at some of the responses and comments from bio moms that don’t think their children’s step-mothers deserve any say in anything with their step-children.

Diane

We’ve moved to www.blendedfamilysoapopera.com. Find this post and a host of new ones at www.blendedfamilysoapopera.com.

As I have said in the past, when Kela asked me to be a contributor on this blog, I promised nothing but honesty.  Over the past several days, since hearing the news of the death of our blended family friend Morocco’s husband, I have been doing a lot of soul searching just as I am sure many of you are.  Thinking about the choices I make and how they affect or have the possibility of affecting my blended family, I have even been doing some serious thinking about my own husband and how just the little things I may or may not do can affect him.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that we have to live with our choices and if we are “smart” or “seasoned” enough (which I am not always) to learn from them, then we are way ahead of the game.  As I have stated, I too, have lost a husband in the past — the father of my 3 sons.  I made mistakes in that relationship that I’ve regretted every day since the day he died.  My husband’s death was the hardest thing I have ever had to trudge my way through, and the pain is something that I can sit here and honestly tell you readers that I can think about and still feel the exact pain in my heart that I felt on day one of that journey.  But, the question I have been asking myself today is — Have I completely and totally learned from that experience?  Do I always treat my husband the way he deserves to be treated?  I have asked myself a lot of those questions over the past several days.  I don’t have to relate this experience to just my life partner, but to my whole blended family.  Do I always make the right choices in how I am dealing with my blended family?  If I wake up tomorrow and God forbid there be something dire in the cards for one of us, have I done all I can within myself to show my appreciation and love or did I just take them for granted?  Did I do the best I can to make that irritation or attitude I may have felt with my husband’s ex-wife after they’ve had an argument better?  Have I always made my step-daughter feel equal?  I can positively say that I believe that I am on the right track, but I know that I still make mistakes that I don’t need to be making after everything that I have learned in my life.

This is one of the reasons that I try so hard to be an intermediary between my husband and his ex-wife when they have disagreements or problems.  In the back of my mind I am always thinking — what if — what if something were to happen to one of them and they said those harsh things — -I have been there.  I have walked that path and it’s not an easy one so I try to get my husband to see things through a mother’s eyes so that he might have a better insight to how his ex-wife may feel and when talking with her, I try to do the same.  I have made some of those same choices that she may be getting ready to make and living them as well.  If we make a conscientious effort,  we can choose to learn from our pasts in order for our blended families to be strong, thrive and stay together.

During the past several days, I have been also been thinking about Morocco’s husband’s ex-wife in prison.  Will the death of her ex-husband and children’s father possibly make her turn over a new leaf?  Will she learn from her choices or will she continue to live them?  Will she realize her mistakes and CHOOSE to make better choices in the future? -I will pray that she will.

We all know that nothing in life is guaranteed.  Nothing.  Nothing works without hard work and appreciation.  Nothing.  No relationship, no job, no blended family.

Tonight, I think, I will hug my husband and my children a little tighter and a little longer.

God Bless,

Diane

As you all know, I often quote the saying “Children Live What They Learn.”  This quote was ingrained in me by my mother when I got pregnant with my oldest son at the age of 19.  She also had this saying posted on our refrigerator for years:

“If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive. If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience. If children live with praise, they learn appreciation. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness. If children live with fairness, they learn justice. If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect. If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them. If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.”

These words are the motto in which I as a mother and step-mother try to raise my blended family up in ,and I know that these words are what keeps me grounded when it comes to any conflict that may arise in our family.  My hope is that some of the readers here on our forum will take away from this post the same thing I take away from it on a daily basis.  Our efforts in maintaining our blended families are so important to our children.

When we are able to come to this realization, no matter what our situations, our lives will become easier within our blended families.  Conflict will become easier to handle because our first and foremost thoughts will be the children ,and what they take away from our examples will teach them which roads to take when they themselves become adults and are faced with the same conflicts or situations.

I hope you are blessed by these words as much as I am.

Diane

We are all taught that Honesty is the BEST policy.  With that thought, I have long thought about posting on the issue of domestic violence and how it affects children.  Unfortunately, for a long time, I have been embarrassed (one of the effects of DV) to speak on this subject from my own horrible experience with domestic violence, and of which, I feel that I am still struggling with 14 years after my divorce.  Before I begin, I do want to acknowledge that during my divorce, my ex-husband was ordered to and did attend and complete domestic battery counseling and anger management courses, and through that experience, and from what I am told, has never violently abused anyone else and has asked my forgiveness, of which I have given and daily ask God for strength to continue my forgiveness.  It is very hard to do.  We have one son together and I had a child prior to our marriage; they both experienced watching their mother repeatedly beaten, bruised, intimidated, torn down and shaken to her core.  They are almost 20 and 21 year old men now.  Over the years since our divorce, we have had, fortunately for me, to parent our son from a distance , but even the raising of his voices still frightens me to this day.

In my own healing, as Robin Roberts often says,  I have tried to make this “mess” into a “message” for others.  Through working in the family law field and having researched this topic of how children of divorce who have experienced domestic violence feel about themselves and their parents’ marriage, I give you the following:

Most children who experience DV (mostly on the mother) want their mothers to LEAVE and divorce their fathers.  Most children who experience DV in their lives end up with serious effects going into adulthood. My boys were 2 and 3 when it started and 4 and 5 when it ended and were able to communicate to me at 2 and 3 that they wanted to be away from daddy.  But, for me, I was scared to death — literally.  One day, a neighbor called the police and my ex told me that if I told them that he hit me, he would get out and kill me, and I would never see my children again.  I was scared, humiliated and lost.  So, I spent the following two years being further abused.  I was afraid to tell my family and often told my children to be quiet about it as well.  Then, the beatings got so I didn’t have to “tell” anyone, it was made very apparent by my black eyes, busted lips, etc.  It wasn’t until my oldest son was in Kindergarten and I was called to school for an emergency meeting that the I had my “light bulb” moment.  The principal and the teacher sat me down and said that during recess, my son was sitting in the sand box with another student and was discussing with him how badly his mom was being beat up by his dad (which was actually his step-dad) and how he was afraid his mom was going to die.  I knew that day would be my last in that house because the school told me that they had to notify the authorities if I didn’t get my son out of that situation, immediately.  They were right, and it was what I needed to hear.  Fear can ground us and make us deaf, and I was on the path to my children not having a mother; which was my biggest fear.  I immediately filed for an emergency court hearing and the rest is history.  The court granted a restraining order, no overnight visitation, sole legal and physical custody, etc. etc.  To this day, that order remains in effect.

I always say, children live what they learn.  In my reading and research and through my own counseling,  I have learned that one-third of the children who witness the battering of their mothers demonstrate significant behavioral and/or emotional problems, including psychosomatic disorders, stuttering, anxiety and fears, sleep disruption, excessive crying and school problems.

Those boys who witness their fathers’ abuse of their mothers are ten times more likely to inflict severe violence as adults. Data suggest that girls who witness maternal abuse may tolerate abuse as adults more than girls who do not. These negative effects maybe diminished if the child benefits from intervention by the law and domestic violence programs.  One third of all children who see their mothers beaten develop emotional problems.  They feel shame, confusion, stress, fear or think that they somehow caused the problems that are causing their fathers to abuse their mothers.

Through my boys’ counseling, even up to the age of 12, my older son told his counselor that he was worried every single day that I would die.  That was his constant fear even years later after I was out of that situation.  My other son told the counselor that he had feelings of guilt that he couldn’t protect me and that he was angry that I didn’t immediately get divorced.  Of course, they didn’t understand and probably still don’t understand all of the feelings one goes through, but they knew enough to know that they wanted us to divorce.

There is another stunning statistic; the rate of child abuse is 6-15 times higher in families where the mother is abused.  Children with these experiences are more likely to run away, be suicidal and are at a greater risk of committing criminal acts as juveniles and adults.   Children do not have to be abused themselves in order to be impacted by domestic violence.

So, part of making my “mess” into a “message” is to tell my story in hopes that any of you readers who might be experiencing this yourself or who may know a close friend experiencing this can know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that finding the strength to face the fears we have as victims of domestic violence.   Our children do not deserve this tragedy and even though it is hard to put that first foot out there, it is the first step toward a more healthy life for you and, most importantly, your children. Some women will do anything to keep their families together for the sake of their kids. But I urge you not to stay in this type of marriage for the sake of your kids; instead, get a divorce for the sake of your kids.

Be blessed.

Diane

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