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Monday, May 7, 2012

Clarification

I’d like to respond to a comment an anonymous poster left on my post “Second Best” which is not something I normally do as this blog is not a forum for judgement and argument, but I feel it’s important to clarify my stance because the blog was written at a heightened emotional state and I’m realizing it didn’t come across as I intended. Below is the comment he left for me:


“This is particularly sad to me as I am a step father to 2 amazing children. I've been their step father for 2 years, a boy 12 and girl 6. First of all, I would have NEVER married their mother if I had any doubts that I was in absolute love with her children. They have a father who is active in their life, I happen to like him as well. But before I married my wife, I took the time to get to know & love my step children, just as I love my children and my nieces and nephews. If my sister and brother in law both decease while their children are under age, my wife and I will become their guardians. Because we love them "unconditionally". I hope the person who comes into your life and choses you and your kids never comes across this blog. If my wife felt I were "2nd best" at loving her children, that would cut so deeply, a wound that may never be healed. And if she ever had these thoughts, which she very well may have, I'm glad she never said them outloud for all the world to read. I truly feel for you. Good luck.”

The purpose of this blog is to be real and honest and to share emotions that are authentic and raw, and in doing so, to hopefully help someone else feel less alone or less crazy because maybe they can see that someone relates to them. While I did express my emotions openly and honestly “for all the world to read” is was only after a very lengthy discussion on this topic with the man in my life.  I assure you I did not blindside him with that post.

Let me first say that it is my opinion (which I am entitled to) that the best option for my girls would be for them to still have their biological father, given that this is impossible it is by that nature that whoever becomes their father figure will be "second best".  I think it’s a natural feeling to believe that the child’s biological parent is the first and best option for a child. It was in that spirit that the post was written.   Secondly, I also meant that I did not want my girls to ever feel that they were "second best" because they were someone's step-children and were not biologically tied to him.  As a parent you want to protect your children from hurt and I don't want them to ever question whether or not they are loved as much as their would be step-siblings.  I did not intend to imply that step-parents are not capable of loving their step-children as they would their own.

What I was trying to say is that I am profoundly sad for my children that they will not ever know the love their father had for them. I am thrilled and honored that they will come to know the love of this man though, who will love them like he loves his own children. But I know that the bond will be somewhat different than the bond they would’ve had with their biological father. I am sad about the loss of the relationship they could’ve had with their father.  The post was NEVER about me doubting that the man I've chosen to be in our lives is the best person to fulfill the father figure role to my children.  It was never about me believing that he was giving his "second best" effort.  Simply put, I want to preserve the sacredness of their father's place and give it the honor it deserves, while also allowing another wonderful man to be a part of my childrens' lives at the same time.

The loss of a parent to death versus divorce is a vastly different experience for a child. While both are deeply hurtful, they are different. I absolutely appreciate great men, like I’m sure this anonymous poster is, who step in and become great step-parents, but it is a very different experience when those children also have their biological parent involved too. When that is the case the step-parent is not expected to be the sole provider in that type of role, rather they are expected to share it with the biological parent and be an extra support to the child. But in the death of a parent the new step-parent becomes more of a “replacement” in a sense because they become the only one fulfilling that role; the responsibility is heavier. I know I am not the only woman who has worried if her new spouse will love her children as much as she believes her children deserve.

I believe there is no bond or level of love like that of a parent and their child. As someone who lost her father at a young age I can see both sides of this issue. I remember not wanting my own mother to ever remarry because I as a child I felt that nobody would ever or could ever love me or my mother the way my father had. Perhaps that is where some of my fear for my own children comes from…I don’t want them to ever have the notion that they are not loved immensely. I want to protect them from the same feelings I had. I know they will be loved beyond measure, but I don’t want them to ever have to question or doubt it.

Luckily, I have found a man who does adore me and my children, and is strong enough to take on the challenge of becoming a father figure to them. But more importantly, he understands that honest communication about my grief and the unexpected and not always rational emotions it brings up is the only way to make our relationship work. In considering remarrying and becoming a step-mother I would never expect to supersede the role of my step-childrens’ biological mother, or believe that I could love them more than their biological mother could. I am comfortable with being “second best” in that sense. I would never want to take top billing; that would be selfish of me, and not fair to the children or their mother for me to expect it.

It is in that way that I meant “second best”…it is not that I feel the man entering my kids' lives is giving his “second best” . Quite the contrary, he gives 110% in being the best to fulfill the step-father role, and he is absolutely without a doubt in my mind the very best man I could’ve chosen to be a father figure to my children. 





14 comments:

  1. I started reading your blog a little while ago and have never felt in a position to comment. I am so far away from experiencing what you have been through, but I am full of admiration.
    I am however completely with you on the 'second best' thing. My younger brother is a step-father and he sounds very similar to the poster to whom you have so eloquently responded.
    The key difference to me is the father is still playing a role in the childrens lives.
    I cannot think of anything so heartwrenching for you or your children than having this option taken away.
    I think that most who take on the role of step-parent do so only ever wanting to do best by the child.
    For those who take on such a role where there is no 'second parent' they are doing so to take on the role as the only mother/ father the child will ever know, so much greater a commitment.

    I am completely supportive of your feelings, and like you, use my blog as a personal journal, to explore who I am and how to be a better person.

    xx

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    1. Thank you for your comments and support...
      and for being willing to share them!

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    2. Too many different situations to make such strong statements. While sharing our stories & feelings as "only parents", we must be mindful of the many types of blended families that seek advice & comfort. There are children who's parents are both living, yet are being raised by an "only parent". I believe the original "second best" blog was written raw and real. I was very surprised at my own personal offense, being a widow & only parent, with no desire to bring another man into my home with 2 daughters. I realized with the "Clarification" blog, just how broad a subject this is and one with many variables, it was a sure bet that it would touch some nerves. And that's not a bad thing to do every now & then. Hands lifted, Brendalyn.

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  2. It was gracious of you to put any energy into a response. It is so obvious when people just have no idea whatsoever about the situation you find yourself in- I usually don't bother. I know a few emails I've gotten have left me wanting to stop writing- but don't. Keep pressing on for yourself. The writing helps. So easy for an "anonymous" poster to step in and voice their "opinion" on your life when they don't even know you.

    "The loss of a parent to death versus divorce is a vastly different experience for a child." OF COURSE. Lots of love to you and the girls...

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    1. Thanks Julia! This is the only time I can remember feeling the need to respond to someone in such a way and can relate to your feelings of sometimes wanting to stop writing altogether. But like you...the need to write is much more powerful! We must press on...

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    2. Brooke I am so incredibly glad you responded to this!

      My family in the making is a combined family partial from death partial from divorce. We have two almost 3 year olds and their paths are drastically different. One three year old has a mom, a future step-mom and her daddy as well as two future step siblings. The other has a future step-dad and a mommy with sister and a future step sister. The roles we take are so different. I would never want to take the place of her own mother. We all have our roles, our trials and errors and our feelings about these roles. In the end...I completely understand this second best idea. In all the reading I did in regard to children and grief there were many mentions that the two biggest forms of loss and grief for kids stems from the death of a parent and divorce. They are, however, a drastically different experience. Even looking at my two children, my five year old will live with the memory of her father and the knowing change of our family. My almost three year old will grow up being told of his father but only truly knowing him through pictures and video. My future step daughter will know of her prior family only through stories but will intimately know both parents.

      So glad you responded. I definitely hit so many bumps I've had trouble finding my blog consistently anymore. It's here, being penned in my head.

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    3. Sabrina, I'm so glad to hear I'm not alone in this! You and I have always been on similar tracks through this journey and it's so comforting to feel like I"m at least a little "normal"! I feel like this part of our journey isn't really talked about or addressed much...at least not that I can find in literature, but it is a unique experience to blend families when there has been death vs divorce, and especially when both sides of that equation are involved.

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  4. You are so right that the man's experience is very different than coming into a family where there has been a death. This is not to take away from the relationship he has with his stepchildren. But there IS a replacement factor that comes with becoming a stepparent to children who have had a parent die. There is just no way around it. It is very complicated and if it wasn't, more people would be signing up to do it:).

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    1. Yes, you are right...more people would be signing up to do it! Thanks!

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  6. I know that you know you never have to justify your feelings that you express on here because they are just that your own thoughts and feelings. I agree that in your situation this would only be second best to having their biological father in their lives. No two situations are ever alike so for those to judge is not right. Keep your head up like you have been. You are doing the right thing for your beautiful babies. I am always in admiration of you!

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  7. Some will say "aw, poor you" but what you need to listen to, if you want it to work, is the real hard-knocks advice of shut-up and be careful of what you post on public airwaves. Grieve for sure and do all you can to get through that process in the best way you can but at the end of the day, 50% of a blended family is worried about themselves, their situation and how they are treated.....not you and anything that happened in your past. Sounds harsh but life is harsh and life is real. Carefully typed words aren't real but they can hurt feelings of innocent bystanders with not much of a choice in what happens in life (yet). Its very easy to have the acceptance of a child you give birth to....very, very hard to earn the respect and trust of teens and toddlers. That isn't going to happen by being the "publicize everything you say on facebook" person. I'm going to guess that "this man in your life's" boys or girls are grieving in a way similar to you. I KNOW they are going to cringe if they see the way you talk about their dad in a life with your kids while they are wishing he was still with their mom. These kids will not have a "poor poor you" feeling in the least.....again, they are grieving as well. All of this admiring you/feeling for you/you are doing the right thing crap is not true. Its just the nice thing for others to say. If you love him and want it to work be very careful right now with his boys/girls.....you have to earn a seat at their table and consider their feelings in every move you make. At this point, I'm going to assume you've dug a pretty deep hole by blogging about all this "perfect man" stuff while his kids are wishing he was the perfect man with their mom. They grieve as you do so again, I'm not going to say awww, poor you.....you are the bomb.....you are doing everything perfectly. I'm going to suggest that you just shut-up and keep anything about him off the airwaves until his kids accept what is happening in their lives. Its almost like you are playing nanny nanny boo boo while other kids are grieving about their family lives coming apart. Kids grieve differently and in a lot of cases, privately. You have a very real life experience about losing someone. My heart goes out to you and your children. But to 50% of a blended family, they lost someone too and you need to be a lot more in tune with that.

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  8. I agree with this poster. I kind of get the feeling that you are using this blog as way to get others to give you kudos for doing what millions of us do everyday--be the best parent we can be & hope that our children grow up to be the best they can as well. I was a single parent for many years--only my husband decided he was done having a family and abandoned us. We all grieve and then move forward. It sounds to me like you don't fully appreciate your new boyfriend. Time will tell if he will stay with you--keep acting as though he couldn't possibly measure up and you'll get the boot.

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