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I have a question...
May 13, 2000
10:31 pm
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helpless
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I have spent many hours reading what others have written here. I have a question: How do I convince a co-dep parent that the children's growth is being stunted by constently being "johnny on the spot?" This parent makes everything, or most everything all better whenever the children, teenagers, hit a rocky point. From being there to drive them to school if they miss the bus, because they didn't go to bed at a reasonable hour, to doing their homework so they don't fail their classes. Money is handed out at most every whim, without regard to the bills getting paid, as long as they are "happy."

Am I being too tough on this issue? Should I back off and let the chips fall where they may? I love them all. We are a step family and the children are special to me. The oldest just thinks I want to prevent the other parent from loving them when I say that they should be responsible for their own responsibilities. This causes a major rift in our relationships, all the way around. At least once a month I am put in a position to defend myself and my existence. I love them all, but I also need to live and breathe. Any answers???

May 14, 2000
1:39 am
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heartfelt
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helpless.......maybe helpful instead of helpless may be a better perspective. Unconditional love is different from enabling. When dialog accompanies being "johnny on the spot, another seed is planted , to be used now or at a future time when the rememberence is re-united with the heart. We're all a family extended through the ages and would serve each other better by seeking to understand desire intention, and motives inchoices one makes as a parent. Kids will make mistakes , fall down ontheir face, test the waters, etc. The same goes for parents. Your need to be defensive may come from another time, and yes live and breathe. If a relationship is of the healthy nature than understanding that things don't and won't change overnight, maybe never, if the heart is the director, it's acceptence that needs attention. If one is unable to live with the circumstances..decide otherwise..all A matter of motive desire and intentio. When the heart honestly looks to see, then a direction will come.

May 14, 2000
9:05 am
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Spirit
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Helpless: Try taking a step back and see if you are dealing with control issues of your own. Sometimes what we see in others is what we have a need to regognize in ourselves. If other areas of our lives seem to be out of control, we strive to find that one area we can control, ie. family. If what you feel is different from what you Know, go with what you Know to be true. If the parent of these children is truly doing good for the kids, and they are showing that they are independent of this parent in other areas, then you Know that all will work out. Is this parent the mother or father? Has this parent had the children always, or is this a fairly new arrangement?

Many factors come into play when raising children. Parents do what they feel is best, not always what they Know is best. Parenting is not an exact science. It has many variables. Do you have children of your own, or are these children your children also?

May 14, 2000
9:08 am
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janes
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Backing off and letting the chips fall where they may will in the end lead to lots of heartache but it may be the only solution if your partner refuses to see the codependency issues.

Step families can be tough as you know, because they come with so much baggage from the prior relationship that didn't work out.

I would suggest that you consider seeking therapy as a family. Especially if the issues with the kids continue to make a rift in your relationship with their parent.

doing your child's hoemwork will not help the child do well in college. Teachers KNOW when a parent has done the homework.

Bailing a child out of everything only teaches the child they do not have to do anything but take and not give.

But you cannot MAKE your partner see this.

Buy a copy of Codependent no more by Melody Beattie. Read it. Suggest your partner read it.

You cannot force a family to grow. The best you can do is learn to let go of the problem and be at peace with yourself that you have at least made an effort to make change happen in the process. Become as well versed as YOU can in obeserving the behaviors involved and being honest about what you are seeing...trying to buy love, lack of responsibility, etc. but do it in a gentle loveing way. Be honest with the kids. There is no place for "blame" in this equation as the mistakes are being made in the name of love but it is very misguided love.

The children may not turn out badly at all but then again if they don't learn to answer for their own behaviors they will always try to lay blame somewhere else.

How old are the children.? The oldest may need the response of..."but teaching you to be responsible is loving you"

But until you get counseling back off some...love them all and try to be at peace with the whole mess.

Keep us posted.

May 14, 2000
11:18 am
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helpless
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The parent is a father. The children are a boy, the younger at 12, and a girl of 16. Two years ago their mother decided she needed a life of her own and just, basically, dumped the kids on their father. Maybe dumped isn't a good word for what happened, but that's how the kids seem to feel, when they actually voice their feelings about their mom. Their dad is a very loving person. This I know with all my heart and soul. I do not have children of my own, nor have I ever had the desire to bring one into this world.

Control, hummmm... that is a good question. Maybe too many episodes of the Brady Bunch while growing up. I really fel for these kids, but was raised to take responsibility for my own behaviors and activities. If I started it, I finished it, asking for help, not expecting someone else to do it for me. As to him being a co-dep, he told me from the start that he is and has been dealing with these issues for many years. He even has the mentioned book on the book shelf, with pages marked. Could it be that he is ignoring these issues out of guilt feelings? Any of you in a similar situation?

Just up and leaving isn't an option. My heart knows that I am here out of love for all of them. Janes, they do place blame for their behaior onto others, starting with what their mother has put them through, ending with me being in the way of their relationship with their father. I have backed way off of being demanding that their father spend quality time with me, because I felt so immature in the ways I went about it. I only wish that when they began to blame others for their behavior, their father would shut it down and steer them in a direction where they see their responsibility in things. Teachers are always wrong, authority figures are pushy, and so on. I will step away and look at where I am trying to control, and continue to love them all. Thank you for your input. I look forward to any advise you can offer.

May 14, 2000
1:22 pm
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violetrose
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I can say this from experience. Maybe it will give you some ideas, helpless.

My husband is in your spot, sixteen years later. We still have a close relationship that I treasure, thanks to him.

His approach from the beginning has been to back me in everything because he loves me. He knew I felt hogtied by my kid - we sure talked about it - and he didn't put any extra pressure on me about it.

My daughter would have been quite happy to take credit for ruining the marriage, and it would have happened if she could have gotten us fighting about her.

You have two volatile situations. Your husband's inability to detach himself from the emotional garbage with his daughters to be a sensible parent is one.

The fact that they're girls at awkward ages is the other one. Think on the bright side - no matter what they do, they're not your kids. And aren't you glad?

If you think your husband might be interested in a possible outcome of his current misguided behavior, have him read my story in the "how to get someone to social services" thread.

May 15, 2000
3:17 am
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hazza
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Helpless,
There has been some good advice here, andit is good that your husband is aware of his co-dep issues. that is a great starting point.

YOu must remember that these kids are KIDS! of course they will take take take, they are rpogrammed to do that, just like baby birds with their huge beaks open!

It is up to you both as parents to find anacceptable level of giving and responsibility.

You cannot suddenly change these kids rules around, you must do it gradually. their father at the moment loves them so much and just wants to soften their pain, that is natural enough, but you are right in that it will do them no favours in the long run.

Talk first with your husband. Explain that you don't want to make things unpleasent for everyone, but that you need with him to work out a new programme of GRADUALLY teaching those lovely kids to be responsible.
once you both agree that this needs to be done, then involve the kids too.
Tell the kids that as they are getting older now, there are certain jobs that they will need to do to learn responsibility. say to them that you need them to start changing the way things are run about the house becuase they are now teenagers and not children. Tell them that they are loved and always belong in your home, but you now need to runs things as a house with teenagers not as a house with children.

Ask them if they can suggest to you things that they could do to help out. Maybe the 12 year old could wash the car once a week or help with the shopping? maybe the daughter can agree that she must do her own study and homework and that she should only ask for help if she needs it not just because it is easier?

either way, the more you can show your kids that you love them the better, but as you say, love in the right way. They will not understand if all they have are rules, they want to rebel, that is natural. But talk to them like the adults they think they are and ask for their imput and involve them in the new way for the "teenage household" and you will build bonds. Ask them what they would like now that they are a tennage house hold! try to suprress your giggles as they demand more money, more food and more freedom, without offering much back! but then key into what they are wanting and try to make some bargains with them, so that they learn they DO get what they want in life but ONLY when they give a bit also.

You could tell your daughter that she should now have an allowance of money that she must budget, instead of getting moeny when she wants, but that she must look after it because that is all she will get each and every month. Ask her if she feels she would be able to handle her moeny well? ( you bet she will say yes and give you a dumb look!) and then say okay, and give her slightly more than she would be expecting!!! that way she thinks she is onto a good thing so she takes the deal! then be very firm about only giving her this and no more in a month, she will soon learn the value of money.

the biggest problems you have are in making sure you and your hsband remain consistent. if you do that and if you listen to your kids and really hear their point of view and make it obvious that they do have a part in the negotiations even though you are the boss, then you will work out some boundaries.
Be firm but fair.
They must get something out of it too in order for them to understand. There must be some benefits that the immature mind can appreciate while it is learning to grow up. but the rules will also teach order and dicipline.
Good luck
Hazza

May 15, 2000
6:49 am
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janes
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Read his copy of the book, Get the book "Boundaries for Kids" and then seek a cousnelor.

An uninvolved third party for at tleast you and your hubby might help. 'Specially if he has been dealing with this issue for years.

May 18, 2000
9:58 am
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concernd aunt
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concerned: I have a 13 year old nephew who is not doing too good in school. His mother,my sister, is at the point where she doesn't know what to do with him. His father is not a constant in his life, so he's being raised by his single mother. She feels that he is too old for whippings but doesn't want him to run all over her. He is lying to his teachers and his mother about his homework. Recently, she threatened to put him out to go live with his father. This may sound like the right thing to do but sending him to his father's, I think, would be worse. Since he and his father don't live together, his father tries to be his friend instead of an "Authority figure". If he lived with his father the closest he would get to going to school is watching Sesame Street.
WHAT TO DO????????????

May 19, 2000
11:26 am
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okinawa91
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i have a question: i'm a 20-yr-old single mother of 2 now. i had my first when i turned seventeen. that was a mistake. the second time, i was raped. i have a boy and a girl. i just had the girl may 9th. at first, i made the decision not to keep her, but i've completely changed my mind now. how can i keep my son, but not her? i don't want a broken family. but some of my family members seem to think that i'm being selfish because i don't have the stability in my life to handle 2 kids. i feel otherwise. i might not be a college graduate, but that doesn't mean i won't be. i might not have everything, but that doesn't mean i won't do everything in my power to get it for them. i need some advice. am i being selfish? will my kids resent the fact that they might not grow up in a 2-parent home? HELP!!!!!!

May 19, 2000
11:38 am
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Frieda
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That's a HUGE dilemna, okinawa91! You need your own thread.

You know better than anyone what you're facing, but maybe there is someone who could help you think through what you will be facing, having lived through it.

My heart goes out to you, and I'll pray you make an informed decision choosing what will be best for your children. Thank you for delivering your baby. You chose well. You will again.

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