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Step-Mom Talking to Dad about His Kids; Who's In Control?

Oct 12, 1998
Peter Falkenberg Brown

DEAR PETER:
What's the best way to handle talking to Dad about his kids (my step-kids) in a positive way? It seems that each time I bring up issues about them he gets very defensive and we end up having a huge fight about his belief that I don't like his kids and we never actually end up talking about the issue that I have a question about.

I actually do like his kids and we have a pretty good step relationship, which he knows, but I end up feeling left out in the cold and never getting my issues resolved. I tend to ask a lot of questions about them and about how things will be handled which it seems he does not like. I feel it is necessary to make our relationship work. (He has 2 kids and I have none).

Thanks for all your help and any reply is appreciated!!

Stephanie

DEAR STEPHANIE:
It may help to sit down with your husband and ask him what he thinks about your role in parenting his children. I would assume that he understands that they need a mother's advice and guidance and love -- if so, it will only short change them to not allow you to guide them as a parent. Does he want you to follow a hands off policy? That would not be good for them, especially if they're still young.

Bring the issue out in the open at a neutral time (not when one of the children has done something) and insist that he clarify and discuss the issue. He owes it to you as his wife, and to his children. You may find that all he really needs to do is think things out when he's calm. With a clearer concept of how you should proceed he might be able to accept your questions when they arise.

DEAR PETER:
To start things off: I'm 18 years old, I live at home, and in the fall I will be heading to college. Everything in my life seems to be falling into place. I know what I want to do, and I know how I'm going to get it. (I do realize this will most likely change.) However, on a daily basis I deal with a mother who cannot 'let go.' I love my mother very much, but what I really need during this transitional time...is space. Like my father, I am very independent. My mother has always given me room to make my own choices or mistakes. That is, until now. I am constantly being lectured on things children who are half my age deal with, such as bedtime. (I'd explain but that's really not the issue I want to focus on.) More so, I would love some outside advice and/or stories how others have faced this issue in their lives. Thanks.

Christy

DEAR CHRISTY:
Your mother may be reacting to the fact that very soon her daughter, whom she loves so very much, will be gone. After 18 years, that's a very hard thing for parents to face. And that's good, because it would be much worse if your mother couldn't wait for you to leave home. It's a sign that she loves you, and is afraid of losing you.

It will help if you reassure her, through words and deeds, that you not only really love her now, but will continue to do so forever. From a mom's point of view, she'll always look at you as her child. She will need to reach the point where she accepts you as an adult; but that doesn't have to mean that you stop honoring or respecting her advice. (I'm not assuming you would.)

A big issue for American parents is that their children often separate, and no longer listen to the parents after they're grown. But does it have to be that way? If the parents continue to love the children, and the children continue to love the parents, then why shouldn't the children continue to honor and respect the parents? The real problem is that the two-way relationship of love between grown children and their parents is often quite weak.

It's natural for your mother to worry about these things. Perhaps you can demonstrate that your love for her as a daughter of 'filial piety' won't change, no matter how old you are -- even 88!

She'll probably relax then, and realize that no matter where you are in the world, you're still her lovely daughter.

Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

Follow Peter on Twitter or Facebook:
@falkenbrown - https://twitter.com/falkenbrown
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For news about his books:
http://peterfalkenbergbrown.com or: http://worldcommunitypress.com

Visit Peter's LinkedIn Profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterfalkenbergbrown

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