Courtenay, BC, CAN
Number of kids: 3
Ages of kids: 11, 8, 6
Problem: I have been in a blended family situation for about a year. My husband has 1 daughter, and I have two children. My kid's father is a total deadbeat dad, and hasn't seen them in five years. My husband has joint custody, and he and his ex seem to be in a competition over who can be the best parent. My stepdaughter therefore has two parents who love her dearly and both spoil her and try to curry her favor. Her father is afraid she won't want to stay with us, so the rules he enforces on my kids re: politeness, chores, etc. do not apply to her. She is always excused because of her age (she is the youngest). I feel like my kids always get the short end because we can't afford to do the fun things my stepdaughter's mother does with her, and they don't have a dad that spoils them equally. With Christmas coming up, I am already extremely stressed because my stepdaughter will get 2 Christmases and be overwhelmed with presents from her 2 families, while my kids only get 1. My husband thinks that my kids should just accept that his kid gets more. I don't think they should have to. How do we even this out? We can't give my kids more gifts on Christmas morning than she gets, but when she comes home from Mom's showing off all her other gifts, they will be hurt. Any suggestions on how to keep things fair?
Another solution submitted by KJ from Philly, PA: It sounds bad but are you jealous that the step child has 2 people buying her gifts and your children only have one? the step child should not be given any less than you and your husband give your children. It does not matter what her mother or other family gives her. This will only show her that she is not equal in your house. Plus did you think that your husband has your children all the time and his only frequently? He should spend a little extra on her, while he is doing that, you take your kids and spend time with them, alone. I have kids and step kids, we always gave the same no matter what.
Another solution submitted by Les from Golden Lake, Ont., CAN: I think that your husband needs to realise that his daughter would "appreciate being "included" in your family when she comes ther by being treated the same as the others, otherwise she will feel that she doesn't "belong" there the same as they do, especially when they are there all the time, and have constant access to her father. The resentment this will cause the kids to feel towards each other will not make "want to be there"! As far as your kids feelings go, they must have friends who have loving parents and get things that they don't get, and vise versa (material things and otherwise). Even though your step-daughter is part of your family while she is with you, she also has "another family" with her mother,and that it is different than the one she has with you. These things have helped me a lot in my step-parenting situation. Best of luck.
Another solution submitted by Joe from Eugene, OR: First let me say there are no easy solutions, children are emotional first. However, it may be possible to impart a little understanding to them and give them a choice. In the form of understanding and then a question.
Another solution submitted by Neil Z. from Baltimore, MD: Christmas! Bah, humbug! Sometimes I get fed up with the commercialism of Christmas. A little background: I am Jewish and my wife is Christian. She belongs to a Methodist church, and I accompany her to services on a regular basis. Although I am Jewish, I still feel I gain a lot from the services, and I feel I know a fair amount about Christianity. I realize that kids are kids, but comparing the dollar value of what one kid gets with that of another totally misses the purpose of Christmas. The "Christmas gift" that really counts, according to Christian belief, is that God gave Jesus to the world. So the question is: are your kids exposed to religion? Maybe a partial answer to your problem is to send your kids to Sunday school, if they are not already going. Then there's the question of your husband and his ex spoiling their child. Don't they realize that spoiling is a BAD thing? By competing with each other to see which one can give the most material things to the child, they may be creating a teenage monster! If a person really wants to show how much they love their child, they should do so by giving the child the discipline he/she needs, and by teaching the child to appreciate the value of money (and that, sometimes, you become a better person if you DON'T get everything you want). That being said, one final question: Do you get child support from your ex? If not, maybe you can explain to your children that you would be able to afford to give more if you did.
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