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


Blogger Devyl Gyrl said...

When my ex and I were still married, and he was living with his then-girlfriend and taking care of HER child, but not his own, I used to pick fights with him. A LOT. And *she* would try to get in the middle of them, and I'd tell her where to stick it. A LOT.

One thing I made sure of, however, was that my child was not party to any of the conversations or arguments or general bullshit. I hated my ex for playing house with some hussy, and knocking her up ... but not for the reasons others assume. I *knew* without a doubt that she too would realize he's a worthless piece of crap, and choose to leave him. I also knew, without a doubt that I would be the one to take her and her children in ... because she was pregnant with my child's sibling.

My predictions came true ... and for 4 years, I carted her (the hussy) and her children around with me, before I finally felt like she was more of a drain on me than I was a benefit to her children (she had three by then, had spent a brief amount of time living with a man she married, but moved back in with me when he turned out to be scum too).

I love her (the hussy) despite her faults, just as I love her children (all FOUR of them now, not counting the one she gave up for adoption) despite their bloodlines. I try to ensure my child has plenty of talk-and-face-time with the other children in our social-family. And I curse my ex out every time I talk to him for not taking care of EITHER of his two children - mine and hers.

Families are made up of people who love each other. My strongest family ties are to my best friend, her three siblings, their spouses/significant others/children, and her parents. I do more for them (and they do more for me) than my own family. In fact, my best friend's sister (and her two kids) and brother (and his three kids) are my roommates right now, and have been for a little over a year. I call them my brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews ... and I do for them just as I do for my "blood" family (or, as is usually the case, more). I love them. Period.

I hope Kara learns to let her mother flap her lips as much as she wants, but believe what is in her (Kara's) heart. I had to learn that trick as a child of divorce ... and I still follow my heart more than anyone else in ANY of my respective families.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Giggles said...

There are never enough people loving your children... Love is the only answer....doesn't matter where and who it comes from! We make the families we need!! Sorry for your pain and that of your kids!

Hugs Sherrie

1:38 AM  
Blogger JP/deb said...

We'll get through this and I know Kara will figure out the truth of her mother's agenda ... I'm proud of you (and us) for taking the higher ground.


11:47 AM  
Blogger healingtouch said...

You explained this to Kara so eloquently ! She is lucky to have you as her father !

6:55 PM  
Blogger chulita4 said...

Deb, is right and so is healingtouch, when Kara learns to think for herself, she will naturally gravitate to her real family's (the one you and Deb are creating) way of seeing things. For now, you are being a true father for her, she will also come to understand just how fortunate she is to you have you as her dad.

All there are blood families out there who do love, respect, and support each other unconditionally, there are also those of us to whom family is who we choose out of mutual love and respect.

Yes, it is hard to have to deal with a person like Pamela--believe me, I know, my son is going through the same thing--but just stay true to your convictions and all will be as it should be in the end.

4:23 PM  

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