Tag Archive for blended family

Step Parents, Facebook & Twitter

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post about cyberbullying and step-parenting. It ended with a pretty strong statement that maybe the step-mother who had cyberbullied her stepchild made a mistake in offering to join the family. Yikes! Maybe this stepmom just needed some insight or knowledge from another stepmom that would have helped the situation, helped her understand that cyberbulllying through Facebook or Twitter isn’t the path she wants to be on.

I think we should talk about step-parenting and social media more than we do as social media is pervasive … Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest, blogs. It made me think about how my husband and I handled this social media / step parent thing when we got married.

Starting our blended family with teenagers brought its own set of unique opportunities. One of them was how best to manage Facebook and Twitter. I mean, three out of our four kids have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and my step-daughter has a blog. We made sure we spent some time discussing this one, because as we know, it can be minefield out there and you don’t even know it until you’re out in the middle of it.

Our Social Media Approach

We came up with a fairly simple approach to it … let them make the first move. We chose to see if our stepkids cared to engage with us on social media. I waited to see if my stepkids sent me a friend request on Facebook. They did. My oldest son sent my husband a friend request. I waited to see if they followed me on Twitter. One did, one didn’t. I’m totally okay with that. I think that by them reaching out, it showed that they wanted to invite us a bit more into their worlds. But if your stepkids, don’t invite you into this part of their world, just remember, it’s okay. Really. It isn’t a slight against you personally. Although, it is so easy to feel that way. Been there, done that with other situations myself. Try to remember that they’re kids, trying to figure this all out just like we are. We need to be the example, we need to show them the way by our actions.

So, what are your intentions with your stepkids on Facebook or Twitter? Intentions drive actions. Our intentions are to show our stepkids that we care about them, that they are loved, that they can count on us, that we will not be shaken, we have their best interests at heart. We do not want to make their lives any harder than we have to.

Social Media Guidelines 

So, based on our intentions and the dynamics in our blended family, my husband and I came up with this list of guidelines for social media engagement with our kids and stepkids:

  1.  Keep the engagement light, maybe a “Like” here and there. Too many “likes” can look stalker-ish.
  2.  Keep comments on the kids’ Facebook status update/pix to a minimum. Sharing your comments in person is always an option.
  3.  Keep status updates/tweets about them few and far between. If we do include them, we keep the update/tweet positive.
  4.  Be discerning about tagging them in status updates, pictures. This could upset my stepkids’ mom so we really shy away from it. We’ve gone to the extreme of not putting pictures from events or trips on Facebook.
  5.  Do not use Facebook and Twitter as primary communication tools.
  6.  Do not use Facebook or Twitter as platforms to vent. Even if our stepkids aren’t following us, they can find us and see what we’ve been saying.

These guidelines are specific to our family with where we are now in the blending process. They’re working for us. Just some ideas to consider, they may or may not work for you and your blended family situation.

I would love to hear from some of you regarding how you handle social media … the good stuff and the challenging stuff. How have you handled Facebook and Twitter in your blended family?

Deb

 

One of Those Hard Blended Family Questions

“Back the herd up!”

When my husband and I have a serious conversation, we tend to make references to cattle. My husband started it. I just go with it. 

“That was a meaty conversation/topic.” 

“That (conversation) wasn’t a steak, that was a whole side of beef.” 

“Back the herd up!” is one of my favourites. I don’t know why, just is. 

A few weeks ago, I was in the kitchen cleaning up when DS16 came in and started chatting with me. He does this often, so we can have some one/one time to talk. But I didn’t see this bomb coming … Mom, do you think {step-son’s name} talks bad about us over at his mom’s?” 

STAMPEDE! 

Needless to say, this caught me a bit off guard. DS16 knows that his step-dad’s relationship with his ex-wife is strained. He knows that his step-sister has chosen not to come around us. Maybe it caught me off guard because I didn’t expect him to connect some of these dots. The dots that while he is growing closer to his step-brother, that same step-brother could be saying not so kind things about us over at his mom’s house. I shouldn’t be surprised. He is almost 17, and growing up fast, but I still want to protect him from some of the opportunities we face as a blended family.

So, now what Mom?

I did what I usally do with DS16. I told him the really-reallies. I told him that I hope his step-brother doesn’t bad mouth us while he’s at his mom’s. And that based on the young man I know, I doubt that he does. But I also shared with DS16 that I wouldn’t be surprised if his step-brother has been put in a position where he felt like he had to talk badly about us. I reminded him that there are relationship dynamics that his step-brother has to navigate that he doesn’t have to. And that IF he has/does bad mouth us, it’s only to keep the wheels on where he is at for the moment, and that I don’t really think he means it. If it happens at all.

Not quite a “yes”, and not quite a “no”. There are so many nuances to a blended family, and each blended family has a different set of nuances that I don’t think I could have possibly answered with a yes or no. Probably not the best, family-therapist-approved answer, but I went with what I felt was the best thing to share at the time.

You get to have some pretty beefy conversations in a blended family. Get it? Beefy? Ok, I’ll stop. No more references to beef.

“Back the herd up!”

Until maybe a later post.

Deb

P.S. Doesn’t it look like they’re staring right at you??

Scruffy

This is Scruffy. He is my step-son’s dog that sort of came along as an add-on to the package I knew I was getting with my husband & his kids.

Right after we got married, my step-son would bring Scruffy with him to our house on Sundays, and we’d take him back to my step-son’s mom’s house on Wednesdays. My boys and I quickly grew attached to him.

Most evenings, you can find him sleeping next to me while I’m watching tv, working on the laptop, or crocheting. He loves to lay on the yarn. I don’t love him laying on the yarn.

Not long into our marriage, my husband’s ex-wife put her house on the market and asked us to keep Scruffy full time. Of course, we said yes! Who could resist a sunbathing chihuahua? I definitely couldn’t.

He serves as co-pilot from time to time.

I consider Scruffy to be my step-dog. And he gets along well with his step-brother dog, Bear. Didn’t see him coming, but very glad he’s a part of our blended family.

Hope you have a great week!

A Look Back at BlogHer 2011

Last summer was our first summer as a blending family and we wanted to take a special trip. We decided to go to San Diego, and we had a blast! So much so, my youngest wanted to go back this summer. We did a lot of the touristy type things. We went to a Padres game, took a harbour cruise.

We would have regretted not going to the San Diego Zoo to see the pandas. How often do you get to see a panda?

My husband took the boys to La Jolla for a day. 

And, being the amazing husband that he is, he made sure that we did my must-do when in San Diego.

He took me out to The Del and we watched the sun set. “Some Like It Hot” is one of my favourite movies, and I’ve always wanted to go to The Del. I can check that off of my list. Thanks, babe!

A Visit to BlogHer 2011

While we were there, the BlogHer conference happened to be going on just down the street from our hotel, and some of the stepmoms I had met on Twitter were going to be there. I don’t have friends who are stepmoms so the chance to meet these women in person was HUGE for me. They had already been such a lifeline for me on Twitter. Who woulda thought? Twitter.

I had been thinking about starting a blog for a while, and even before we left for vacation, I purchased my domain name. Us, San Diego, BlogHer? Divine intervention? My husband encouraged me to go check out the conference for a day. I am blessed to have such an encouraging partner. And was I glad I went! It was amazing! The women were amazing! They were so nice, so welcoming, interested in what everyone blogged about. They asked about my blog, gave me advice based on their experiences. I couldn’t have asked for more. As my decision to go was totally impromptu, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. It was definitely a learning experience. If you ever go to a blog conference, take business cards. Lots of business cards.

The StepMom Breakout Session

BlogHer had scheduled a StepMom breakout session. If I recall correctly, there were about six of us in the session — me, Lisa from HersHisandOurs, Heather from CafeSmom, Barb from Evil Stepmom Speaks, Diana from A Life Well Blended, and Colleen from MommyAlwaysWins. Not a lot of turnout but we all quickly realized that there is a need out there to provide positive, encouraging support for stepmoms — we need to foster our community. You should check out the article that Heather over at CafeSmom wrote about it.

I left San Diego energized to get started on my blog. I brainstormed ideas for posts on the flight home, I made all sorts of notes on things that I wanted to be sure to include.

And then school started.

And then school ended.

And here I am, almost one year later. Finally getting the blog I talked about up and running. I think I needed that full year with my husband, kids and stepkids to get my feet underneath me a bit more.

It really is all in God’s perfect timing. I can’t wait to see where He takes me and the blog from here.

The Backstory

Mine is a messy family story. Not the messiest by any stretch, but not storybook or Leave It to Beaver like either.

My Immediate Family

I know a bit about blended families. I’m the oldest daughter in a blended family. Here’s a picture of me and my sibs … I don’t think of them has halves, just as my brother and my sister. My mom married my dad when I was 8. I say my dad, because he adopted me a year after the wedding.

My brother is 11 years younger and my sister is 14 years younger than I am. Don’t you know that I got some strange looks when I was 14/15 years old carrying around a baby! We didn’t really grow up together as they were still young when I left for college. For me, I’ve always felt more like an aunt to them than a sister.

Here’s the other side of my family who live in a different state. That’s my bio dad, my grandmother, my step-sister and my half-brother. I didn’t meet any of these people, and that includes my biological father, until 2001. I was in my mid-30s. I think I look like my dad.

My mom and dad divorced when I was around 2-years-old. For most of my life I wasn’t allowed to speak about him or ask any questions. When I did meet him, I asked about why he gave me up for adoption, and he said that while it was the hardest thing he did, he agreed with my mom about not having to travel from state to state, and having a different last name than hers. I know they meant well. 

My father passed away unexpectedly in 2006. I am thankful that I made the decision to go see him the few times I was able to.

My Blending Family

My husband and I married, and started blending our families at the end of 2010. He was my 6th grade and 12th grade boyfriend, and I’ll share more of that story later. It’s just crazy how it all happened! We still look at each other and can’t believe we’re married. So, this is all of us today …

Family Picture 2011

 Yes, it’s our backs. And, yes, it’s a poorly Photoshopped pic at that. Sometimes you encounter opportunities when dealing with family pictures and blending families, and you need to find alternate solutions. I messed around with Photoshop so we could have one picture where we’re all together.

It hasn’t all been easy, however, we try to do the best we can at all times. Here are a couple of verses from the Bible that we like to rely upon:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” ~ Proverbs 27:17

“Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” ~ Romans 8:37