Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Family...Definitions and Rantings.

I try hard to be an understanding kind of guy, especially with my children.

After my parents split, neither could say a civil word about the other and each tried to get me to ally with them against the other. I know what it feels like to be pulled in two directions. Loving both...liking neither.

I hated it and I would never subject anyone else to it...most especially my own child.

Our (meaning JP's and mine) "family" situation is decidedly modern. There are four children, three from her previous relationships and one (Kara) from mine. Kara is the youngest and then (in order) there's Darling Daughter (who JP had with her ex), Oldest Daughter (who JP's ex had from a marriage previous to the one he shared with JP), and B (who JP had when she was quite young herself).

B and OD do not live with us (some of which has been explained in other blog posts), but DD (most of the time) and Kara (some of the time) do. Which is why I generally say I have two kids. The "living at home" is generally implied because sometimes I do try to simplify explanations.


On Wednesdays, I pick Kara up from school and we spend the afternoon/evening together. I have to return her to her mother at a certain point, but she has a few hours to spend time with her other family. DD gets out of school an hour before Kara does, so she's usually with me when we pick Kara up.

On the way back to our home tonight, Kara said that OD wasn't really her sister. This isn't the first time she's said this and I knew where it was coming from. DD asked her if that was something she believed or if it was something someone had told her. Kara was honest and said that her mother ("Pamela") had said that.

The caveman part of me wanted to scream that her mother was a raving bitch and how dare she try to frak around with Kara's concepts of family. I did not do this.

I did stand up for OD and told Kara that while her mother was free to think whatever she liked, our family used other measures to determine the meaning of "family." I mentioned that our family was defined by relationships of the heart...and not by blood. (The irony of Kara's adoption was not lost on me.) I reminded her that we have "aunts" and "uncles" who are not blood relatives...yet, because they're important to our hearts, they are called--and loved as--family.

I also pointed out that OD regularly called Kara her "leetle seester" and that it was appropriate and proper to return the favor. Kara understood, but I know she's feeling that frakking pull.

As a father, I want to protect all my children from all confusion and harm. As a grown-up, I know that isn't possible. I can nudge. I can guide. But sometimes, I have to let them figure things out for themselves...even when that's confusing and painful.

It's hard...and sometimes I just need to vent. I wish my ex focused on the needs of her daughter, rather than her needs as a high school drama queen.

I wish Pamela (my ex) would leave my family alone. I wish she'd leave me alone.

But she won't...because she's plying some agenda. And that's really unfortunate for our daughter.

If you're in a difficult parenting relationship, please focus on the needs of the child. Don't play games.

Let's try to keep them innocent for as long as possible.

Photo credit: Matthew