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Messages By: txdawn1962

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May 20, 2007, 5:17 am CDT

It can be tough

I am also a step parent of 12 year olds as well as a parent of children who are now adults.  When my husband and I first started dating, I noticed he was basically a Disneyland dad because he saw his children so little of the time, he wanted to do anything to make sure they continued to love him.  Yet his visits with them made him anxious and angry a lot of the time because he didn't like what was occurring.  His ex refused to go by the divorce decree and she had full control over when / where he saw them. She would not tell my husband about school activities such as band concerts or even the fact that one of the children was failing school (and had for several years). He never knew when his children went to the doctor (unless the children slipped and made a comment in front of him)  As our relationship got stronger and we eventually married, I showed him and expressed my concern about his relationship with his children.  They now have chores when they come over, established bedtimes,  he doesn't take them shopping every time he is with them, let them only to eat fast food, we have taught them table manners (they didn't even know how to use a fork and knife to cut meat. They picked it up with their hands and tore it into pieces) and he doesn't allow them to talk to him rudely.  We notified the schools that he is the father (imagine our surprise at one school meeting a teacher told my husband "Its been a long time since I've seen you.  You've changed.  My husband had never met that teacher in his life.  However his ex's live in boyfriend is the same size/stature of my husband.  This also happened at a ball game and my husband introduced himself to the coach.  The coach looked at my husband and back to the boyfriend.  My husband had to reiterate that he in fact was the father, not the boyfriend.  The boyfriend isn't the problem with us.  He has been around the children for 9 years and treats them with love and respect.)  My husband also started following the divorce decree regarding visitation.  Last year was the first time in NINE YEARS, he had his children for 30 days in the summer and had them during Christmas break as declared in the divorce decree.  It made his ex extremely angry.  She even wanted to do family counseling which we happily agreed to do because it would better the situation.  After the first initial visit with the counselor, (which she wouldn't allow us to attend), she refused to go back because she "didn't like what she had to say."  My husband's ex is verbally abusive to him during phone calls IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN by telling the children "your dad does this, your dad does that." .  (We will put her on speaker phone and can hear all of them in the conversation.)  My husband has never talked down his ex to the children no matter how angry he has gotten.  I have told the children, I will never be your mom but I love you, care about you and hopefully someday you will see me as a friend.  Guess what....all of this is MY fault , according to the ex-wife, simply because I validated my husband's position as his children's father and I support him while he tries to establish a better relationship with his children.  He has expressed to his ex-wife that we all get together for family functions like birthdays, holidays, etc. and his ex has told the children "you know I do not want to be around your dad and wifey."   My own ex-husband and I don't have this relationship with our children.  From the day  we divorced, we made the relationship with the children ONLY ABOUT the children not about our personal feelings towards each other.  He would come to my house for their birthdays and holidays because we didn't want them to feel like they had to choose or hurt one parent's feelings.  We would buy them their gifts together so there was no competition.  As we told our children, we divorced as spouses but we didn't divorce as your parents.  Was it hard to do this when we first separated/divorced?  Oh yeah, but we kept in mind the constant mantra, "this is for the kids, this is for the kids" and its now easy and I consider my ex a friend.   If there is a competition, school function, ex. we sat together. (Still do today at the college functions.)  My husband accepted this and now my ex comes to our house to eat dinners, etc. when the kids are in town or he will take all of us to eat. When my youngest graduated from high school, he took everyone (extended family of his and mine as well as us) to dinner one evening and we had the same group over to our house the next day for BBQ.  The celebration was my son's not ours and it wouldn't be fair to be torn between two families. I sat between both men when my oldest got married  and I danced with my ex during the parents' dance portion of the reception.  All 3 of us paid for the honeymoon as a wedding gift.  (By the way, ex and I are both from divorced families and we know how it is to feel torn.)   My husband and my ex get along fabulously and my children constantly tell all 3 of us "THANK YOU" because of the way we handle the relationships.    All parents need to keep the lines of communication open, play/fight fairly and ONLY think about the children when it comes to dealing with an ex.  It isn't about who can make the children love them most and love the other one the least as punishment for a broken relationship between the parents, it's about letting everyone be a part of the children's lives. 
 
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May 30, 2007, 7:51 am CDT

Dealing with life's challenges

I am interested in what today's show has to offer.  In April 2005, my then boyfriend and I learned my cancer had returned.  We were living together at the time and I basically gave him an ultimatum. I told him I needed to know that he was in it for the long haul because I couldn't go through the battle only to have him bail once the going really got tough.  He said he wasn't going anywhere and in June he proposed.  We married on New Year's Eve of 2005. (its not the first marriage for either of us.)   I not only fight cancer but also gastroparesis ( aka paralyzed stomach. I may have to have a partial or total gastrectomy---removal of my stomach), diabetes and hypoglyemia (aka low blood sugar) due to medication for the cancer, thyroid problems, etc.  The cancer I have is not a "typical" cancer.  Its rare.  The tumors excrete hormones that cause severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, drop in blood pressure, flushing, body aches that make you feel like you have been hit with a baseball bat, etc.  So life can be challenging.  Does my husband get frustrated?  Of course he does.  Its hard to watch someone you love go through what I go through and not be able to "fix it".  So we deal with being newlyweds and learning about each other, becoming step-parents,  the stresses of his owning his own businesses, my health and we have challenges that would make Iron-Men cry but we just pray and take things one day at a time.  That's all that can be done. 
 

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