After 14 years of blending families, 88% of our kids still talk to us. That’s a B+ and I guess I can be pretty happy with that.What brought this to my attention is a friend who is new at blending a family. He now has a bunch of kids trying to figure out how to live in one home together. When I told him we had one kid that wasn’t talking to us right now, he said, “Wow, you’re doing GOOOOD!” Yes, I guess so? Then I did some figuring in my head and figured 8 out of 9 is 88%. Not bad? (2/17/19) ***Update 2023: 7 or 8 of them talk to us depending on the day…
I was an A student in high school and college, so I was used to being an “A” person. Well, parenting takes this to an entirely new level. Some days I feel like an “F” parent. At least the kids have told me so. I don’t know, maybe I’m taking it too personally when they tell me, “I hate you and never want to see you again”? So all I have to go by is if they will even speak to us at all. Just so we are clear, I mean not speaking to us for a few months or a year. Almost every day I have kids who won’t speak to me, so I’m talking about a long length of time.
After talking with hundreds of families who are blending after a divorce or loss, unhappy children seem to be pretty commonplace. Yes, we have seen our share of it. I know families who aren’t blending see their share of unhappiness because I was in that type of family for 20 years before I was in a blended family. I think what the kids don’t like parents? Some kids are just not happy having someone who controls any part of their life.We have had a few kids, okay, all of our kids that haven’t liked us very much when we say “No” to a request. Yep, that’s part of being a parent.
What’s so fun and amazing is when you become a grandparent and you get to watch your kids parent. It’s hilarious. My daughter has to say, “No” quite a bit to her toddler. My daughter told me, “Karma-it will bite ya!” Yep, bite you through the generations. I remember calling my mom when I was a new mom and saying, “This is so hard, how in the heck did you have 6?” Pretty funny, now I get to figure out 9. I should have named my youngest daughter Karma.
Creating boundaries is another thing the kids don’t seem to like very much. I don’t think I was too good on boundaries in the previous 20 years of parenting. Well, my boundaries probably weren’t very defined. As they grew older I didn’t realize I needed to communicate better with them- let their voices be heard. I married Matt and he was all about communication and compromise. I had never thought of such a thing! So then I was taught boundaries by Matt- the kids can communicate only if they are respectful and we can only compromise so far. Let them know where the boundaries are and if they cross any. This is where the problems come in- they cross boundaries, you tell them and then they push it and you stay strong. Then sometimes they never talk to you again. Nope, not a pretty situation, but for my soul, it’s what I had to do.
I’m sure that the number 88% will fluctuate. I’m a positive person, but I can see reality. I believe (probably because it makes me feel better) that everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have been given. So I’m going to go find some more tools!
There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.
If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.