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your stepchild wants to call you mom

When Your Stepchild Wants to Call You Mom

your stepchild wants to call you mom

 

I still remember the first time my stepson asked to call me mom, and I very curtly said no. The verbal playback from how I heard my response come out, the tone, the very evident feeling of repugnance behind it, and the visual of his reaction when he received my response – is a moment that I wish I could erase, for us both.

In the beginning, we both felt like we were fighting for a place in his fathers’ life and neither of us was giving in. Imagine having your child ask if their friend can stay the night, then another night and another night – then moving in. Forever.

During a single night sleepover, kids are endearing, quirky and fun even. If they misbehave or river-dance on your last nerve, you can breathe through it knowing they go home soon. But, when they never go home, because their home is now your home – that’s rough.

Listen, I know as you’re reading this, you’re thinking I sound like an evil stepmom and let me tell you, I felt like an evil stepmom too! Additionally, I felt like I was being bullied, being a bully, being tested and testing, and failing miserably.

Did I mention he was my son’s best friend? That I met my husband because they were best friends? I fell head over heels in love with a man and gained a son – that I wasn’t head over heels in love with. At first.

When Your Stepchild Wants to Call You Mom

If I am being honest with myself, I knew when he asked to call me mom, my answer was not coming from a kind and loving place. I knew it was coming from a “you already have a mom, and you are her responsibility, not mine” type of place. And, a place of “you are too much “work” for me.” Which translates to a child that they are not important enough to love.

Because, would we not put in all the effort, every tireless hour, every bit of heart aching pain to help our biological children? Over and over again? So… essentially our own biological children deserve our unconditional love, but not a child who was not born from us? That’s awful. And, that was how I felt. At first.

One of the biggest misconceptions about being in a blended family is that you blend well.

Think of an actual blender, the settings are, Blend/Stir, Shred/Beat, Grind/Puree, Mash/Chop, Liquefy/Whip, and Frappe/Mix. Those are some serious options just to blend something smoothly. I mean shoot, if I am making a margarita, I throw all the stuff in and press all the buttons praying they do the trick — and I’m quite certain that is exactly what I did in the beginning as a stepmom.

And, with the lid off at least 50% of the time, because some days I wanted to make a mess, this uprooting in my life was a daily grind where I was being beat, shredded and liquefied to a point of tears. At first.

Babies and toddlers, they are one thing. They’re pliable, naive, and still young enough to create that sweet bond with. But at seven, their mannerisms and personality traits are primarily already set in place, and none are from you. You didn’t spend the past seven years teaching them how to walk, talk, count to 10, sing the alphabet, how to write their names and how to say I love you, mommy.

You weren’t able to share the values, morals, and lessons that you taught your own children either. Instead, you inherited someone else’s values, morals and lessons all wrapped in a cute kiddo who you must simply just accept because if you don’t, you’re a horrible person. At first.

There was a day early on that made me very aware of the manipulation that could exist in the world of “I don’t want my dad to date you” (which was a super fun place to live, not at all). We were in the drive through at Carl’s Jr when my stepson saw an attractive girl taking our money at the window, and he says, “my daddy calls her beautiful every time he talks to her “hi beautiful, thanks beautiful” every time” and he flashes this look and laughs. And, I laugh too (as I’m texting his dad asking who the girl at CJ is) through the moment and play it off.

He just wanted me to leave, and he was too young to understand that by hurting me, he would hurt his father. But at that moment, none of us get that – we’re all just fighting for scraps at the dinner table. He would flip flip through very rapidly, one minute he would try to break us apart, and the next he would want a hug and ask me if he could call me mom.

Things I can now look back on and see very clearly. But then, I’ll be honest again, I didn’t have the type of heart that reminds itself this is a child, they do not mean it, it is their backstory causing this – in the moment. In the moment, I was mad, I was affected, and I was annoyed. To me, this kid was disrespectful and needed discipline, at first.

A few months later, he asked to call me mom again, and this time we were not alone, it was in the car with his dad and both my children.

Before I could respond, they both said, “No she isn’t your mom.”, And, while his dad looked at me with that look of what do we say, when he heard how quickly my kids blew his son off – he was hurt too! It was a no-win situation, and things were still choppy – but this time was a little different, and I felt stuck.

When a child asks to do something that another child in the same household does, it’s because they want to be the same, to be included, and to feel like part of the family. I was told once that if a child asks to call you mom or just does it on their own, and you have other children in the home, you are setting yourself up for failure by saying no – because you are then ostracizing your stepchild. Great!

So basically, I’ve been ostracizing him since the beginning, and now if I cave – my kids will be mad. Who do I please? Who is more important? Honest people will say their bio kids come first, goodhearted kind people will say it should be equal and so will your spouses. But that doesn’t always happen at first.

Just a side note about this, everything I’ve experienced as a stepmom, my husband has experienced as a stepdad too (my daughter who is 16 calls him dad now too actually). My two had their father involved at first – and he hated my husband for sheer fun. For me, it was a little easier in that my stepson’s mom was really not in the picture. At that time her involvement and communication were minimal at best and she lived in another state.

Basically, I was his mom, whether we liked it or not. His physicians, teachers, and coaches all knew me as mom because none had ever met his “real” mom. So, as I am saying no, you can’t call me mom, they are telling him to talk to your mom, and this poor kid is confused.

It was very clear my stepson was nothing like me, but there were definitely things about him that I started to love. He was and still is so great with little kids, he gets down on their level and is patient and kind with them. He loves to be with adults and would prefer to hang with them then go outside and play. And, I learned very quickly (thank goodness) that he just craved love. He needed and wanted so much love – and here I was being an ass and saying no. Saying I have no room, no extra love to give, sorry not sorry.

I couldn’t stop focusing on how much re-work I was having to do with him. Simple things like brushing his teeth, taking a shower, doing his homework, not lying (oh my goodness the lying!!!) his constant need to be glued to his dad at every moment – it was almost too much, almost every day.

He was on an IEP in school because he needed help in most areas and my children were none of those things. They were good kids, easy kids. Because they were my kids. Looking back now I can see that while I did have really great kiddos, we let a lot slide because we don’t notice it the way you do with someone else’s child. And, that is what they are, someone else’s child – at first.

Around his first birthday with us as a family, I had a feeling he was going to again ask to call me mom. I knew this because his mom hadn’t called him in almost a year at this point. My husband asked me one thing when we first started dating, and that was to never contact her, that she had made her bed and to just let it go. Well, if you know me from 7 years ago, letting anything go was a joke.

So, one day after watching my stepson sit by the phone waiting for it to ring, I lost it and I broke that request. My insides were literally burning with fury, and the inability to understand and I wanted to know why she didn’t love him enough to call??? And, then I wanted to know why I care all of a sudden? Was it because I needed her to step up and be his mom, so I didn’t have to, or was it because she was missing out on a phenomenal kid who just wanted her to love him?

The real answer was a good mixture of both I suppose, at first.

I remember writing his mom, and I pissed her off (maybe you read the blog If I could have a word with you, which is all about that and technically my first love letter to my new son in a sense) and rightfully so because who was I coming in acting like I knew it all. But, after that talk, I took my children aside and had a talk with them. I asked them why they were so against him calling me mom, and I explained to them why I felt like the next time he asked, I wanted to not only say yes but have them okay with it too. It was a great talk for all of us, and we walked away from that knowing that if he asked again, I would say yes, and things might be different, but nothing would change my being their mom.

I tell this story because not every stepparent/stepchild relationship is easy. There are times where both are wrong, both are hurt, both are guarded, and both are selfish. Aside from writing about stepparent related stories and situations I don’t use the word step to describe him, he is just my son. His is not a stepbrother, he is just a brother – and even though his mom moved back here two years ago, I’m not his stepmom, I’m just his mom.

He hasn’t stopped calling me mom since, and I’ve worked my butt off to earn that title, and he has my love unconditionally and equally always. We still have our moments, he will be 14 in a week and I will tell you that back then, I never thought we’d make it here but there is something really special about resilient love – and God knew we both needed the other. We just didn’t realize it at first.

The post When Your Stepchild Wants to Call You Mom appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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save money as a single mom

12 Ways to Save Money as a Single Mom

save money as a single mom

 

Raise your hand if you’re a single mom and you want to know how to save money. Budgeting can be expensive for two or more if you’re the only breadwinner.

It can be overwhelming to manage your funds, especially if you have no idea where to start. But the good news is that we have heard your prayers and we’ve got 12 tested ways to help you as a single parent save money.

How to Save Money as a Single Mom:

1. Sort your Bills

An enormous number of bills can be overwhelming to sort through if you let them pile up. It’s wise to organize your bills according to criteria so that you know the exact amount that you owe and to whom. Try and pay off each bill as they come so that you don’t get tied down with paying a bunch of them at once.

2. Recognize the Bad Egg

Remember that gym subscription that you really wanted and never used? Or that arts and crafts class that your child despises? Let’s face it, they’re a waste of money.

It’s very important to know the difference between something that adds value to your life and something that is just siphoning your money away for no good reason.

Sorting out the bad from the good, and closing accounts or ending subscriptions that you don’t lose can save you plenty of money in the long run.

3. Budgeting 101

Budgets? They’re boring but necessary. Keeping your monthly spending in check can be tough but its a great way to keep an eye on what you’re spending, as well as what you can cut down on.

You can start small with budgeting. It’s wise, to begin with, a weekly budget, and once you get a hold of it, monthly ones will be easy-peasy.

4. A Savings Account Saves the Day

Savings accounts don’t sound appealing because you only live once right? Wrong. With a child, you need to be able to prepare for a rainy day. You never know when you may have to splurge on a new uniform or an unexpected doctor’s visit.

Set aside an amount each month that you can afford to save and set up a direct deposit or standing order to transfer it into your savings. Within a few months, you’ll already have a sizeable amount you can rely on in times of crisis.

5. Paid Bills and Overdue Smiles

Have you been missing out on time with your kids because you’re too busy paying bills?

Mothers, don’t sleep on your bills. Rather pay them off immediately if you have the option as this will maintain a good credit record. It will also give you a sense of freedom and more quality time with your kids.

6. Don’t Borrow Liabilities

Loans become a necessity when you have growing expenses. As a single mother, there are responsibilities that you have to carry out and borrowing can be inevitable.

However, only borrow what you need and not what you want. If you can’t afford a new dress or a new coffee machine, don’t buy one until you can. Loans should only be for absolute necessities.

Make sure that you have read the small print and know all the terms and conditions about interest rates, deadlines and the source you are borrowing from.

7. Solo is your New Yolo

Joint ventures may have been a good idea but so is cutting ties when it no longer serves your purpose. Opting out from all joint ventures, such as joint bank accounts, with your ex should really boost your savings and leave you plenty of breathing room.

We know its hard to manage everything on your own, but it’s not impossible.

8. Low Prices Exist

As a buyer, you are obliged to pay whatever the price tag says. But you don’t have to pay the first price you see.

You can hack your growing spending in the craftiest of ways. Online platforms are amazing if you just take some time to see what’s on offer.

Using price comparison websites and doing research online can bring up all sorts of deals on the same or very similar products. See what’s out there before you commit to the first price.

9. Thrifts are Canny

Second-hand shops aren’t really for everyone – especially with the raving fascination for Gucci and Prada. However, stylish doesn’t have to mean expensive.

You would be amazed at the awesome clothes and other accessories you can find in thrift stores for you and your kids at hugely discounted prices. Once you go thrift, you never go back.

10. Meal Prep and Weekends In

Eating out is convenient and tempting, but cutting down on these little dinners out can save you loads of money. While cooking in and preparing meals can take a hefty amount of your time, it’s rewarding and you can be sure of what you and your kids are putting into your bodies.

Both your health and your purse will benefit.

11. Discounts and Coupons are Class

Discounts and coupons are a lifesaver when it comes to saving money as a single parent. Collecting them and being on the lookout for promo codes can be economical.

Keep an eye out for coupons in store, in magazines and online coupons to get discounted prices on groceries, clothing and even haircuts.

12. Honesty is the Best Policy

As an adult, it’s your job to provide for as well as discipline your kids Be vocal and firm about saying no to your kids. Explain the importance of savings to your child. The best way to save some cash is through communication and teamwork.

Final Reflection

Getting your finances in check as a single mother can be really tough at first. Whether you are a newly single mom or have been for a while, budgets and healthy finances are the new normal.

The most important way to start is by setting small goals, motivating yourself and not surrendering to temptation.

It will be hard but with trial and error, you definitely can and will rock the life of a money-savvy single mother with a little perseverance.

The post 12 Ways to Save Money as a Single Mom appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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single mom wants for valentine

14 Things Every Single Mom Wants For Valentine’s Day

single mom wants for valentine's day

 

Valentine’s Day isn’t just a day to celebrate the love of a couple. It’s a day to celebrate love all around. So if you’re single or you know a mom who’s going solo this year, spread the love with a few things that she might actually want.

14 Things Every Single Mom Want For Valentine’s Day

1. A word of encouragement

Everyone can use a little encouragement, especially on a day that can make being single feel more lonely and less appreciated. Show some love with a card or note that simply says what a great friend and mom she is. Leave it on her door to find or send it via snail mail for a welcome surprise.

2. Flowers don’t have to come from lovers

Who doesn’t love the smell of a fresh rose or carnation? Hit the florist for an arrangement that can be sent directly to her work, or try getting a bunch of loose flowers to drop off for a group of your favorite gal pals.

3. A trip to a day spa with a friend.

Being a single mom is tough work and should be rewarded every now and again with some relaxation. A day at the spa is just the treat to lift spirits and make her feel her absolute best. There’s no need for her to go it alone. Schedule back-to-back appointments for a massage or see if you can get an appointment at the same time for a manicure/pedicure.

4. A gift card.

What single mom wouldn’t enjoy a gift card to her favorite store or shop? Give her the opportunity to do something she doesn’t often get to do…go shopping and buy a tricket for herself!

5. A night out with the girls.

Sometimes a night out with the girls is all it takes to remember why being single is so great. Organize some time with the girls getting drinks, seeing a movie, hanging out at home or just doing a little shopping – without the kids.

6. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

There are few out there who wouldn’t enjoy a 10-pound bar of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Grab a bar or two – maybe not a 10-pounder – and give them out with cute phrases attached. Your single friends will be grateful.

7. No pity!

One of the greatest gifts you can give a single mom is to refrain from any remark of pity. Many women out there choose the single life and love it, so give encouragement as a friend that she is a remarkable person.

8. Photos of her true loves.

Every mom loves a picture or two – or a hundred—of her adorable kids and friends. Get some printed, wrap them up in a card or pick out a cute frame to show off fun faces. Better yet, if you’ve got time to devote to something special, create a photo album of all the people who love her best with special notes from them all.

9. A kid free day.

Handmade gift certificates for a kid-less day or evening can do wonders for a single mom. Give her a list of dates you are available for her to redeem her coupon, plan a few activities for the kids and let the evening of fun begin.

10. Something made with love.

Anything homemade or handmade is sure to be a hit with the gal who knows all about how important time is. Think soaps, body scrubs, candies, etc. If you’re into jewelry or have special talents in knitting, put your skills to use making something nice to give. She’ll appreciate the time and effort you spent thinking of her.

11. A special activity with her kids.

Single moms may like to just have a day to hang out with their littlest loves, so a family friendly date may be just the ticket. Consider giving a gift card to a local bowling alley or an interactive museum.

12. Tickets to a show.

A couple of tickets to a comedy night, local play or great band may be perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift. Plan ahead so she won’t be going it alone. Either schedule time with her and yourself or grab an extra ticket for a close friend of hers.

13. A maid for a day!

Unless she’s Wonder Woman, chances are she could use an extra set of hands around the house. Things like laundry, dishes, and cleaning chores pile up unless you have a dump truck on lock to dispose of them. A thoughtful gesture would be to provide her with the gift of a cleaning service to do some deep-down scrubbing of her home.

14. Something to binge on.

If none of the other ideas are striking your fancy, she’s sure to be up for a copy of her favorite artist or chick flick. Add in some popcorn and candies for a sweet gift.

Being a single mom doesn’t mean she should be singled out of Valentine’s Day. Use one of the items on this list to make her feel included, special and an inspiration for the love brought on by this special holiday.

The post 14 Things Every Single Mom Wants For Valentine’s Day appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Child Sexual Abuse: Yes, I Am A Helicopter Mom, And For a Good Reason

Child Sexual Abuse: Yes, I Am A Helicopter Mom, And For a Good Reason

Sad Boy.jpg

 

I’m that “helicopter” mom playing with my son at the park. I’m making sure my sweet boy doesn’t get out of sight.

I’m the mom at the play date who stays at your house, visiting, always keeping an eye on my child. I politely decline sleepover invitations.

I dearly love this boy. He’s funny and outgoing and generally kind. You may think I’m hovering and being overprotective.

Child sexual abuse: I’m making sure your child is safe from mine.

At age five, my child started acting out sexually, in explicit ways, and he told me clearly about inappropriate, intimate sexual contact he’d had with an adult’s penis.

I reported it to the proper authorities. Nothing happened.

The adult was my husband, and we were divorcing. Instead of believing my child’s words to me, it was easier for Child Protective Services to believe his dad’s word that they just took a shower together. CPS “educated” him on not doing this again and filed a report ruling out abuse.

Since then, his dad has been seen drunk-driving our son and leaving him strapped in a hot car while buying alcohol and cigarettes (CPS again did nothing, even though it was a criminal act, so it’s happened again). Our son says his dad has served him wine and shown him porn. Our son has talked about death and has tried to cut himself and strangle me. He’s drawn scary pictures with demons and genitalia and weapons. He has fits of rage. He has odd seizures of staring into space.

This happy boy, who could read at age three, by grade three needs help for multiple learning disorders and risks failing state exams.

Our son has been suspended from school for sexualized behaviors against other children. Most concerning, he initiated sexual contact with a friend the summer after first grade, while his friend’s parent and I were in the next room. He told his friend to keep it a secret. A few months later, he told his friend he wanted to have sex again. His friend, distraught, finally told his parents about the incidents.

State law mandates a person call CPS when a person suspects abuse. When I’ve made these required calls, I’ve been wrongly accused of “parental alienation.” Some judges wrongly use this unscientific theory to take kids away from protective parents who report abuse. This is a horrendous outcome for kids: to be stripped from a loving parent and given to an abuser.

Meanwhile, no one else ever reported the sexual behavior to CPS – not his psychologists, not the school counselor, not the (former) friend’s parents. Even though we all know acting out is a huge red flag for a child being sexually abused. It’s an even bigger red flag for a seven-year-old to ask his friend to keep it a secret. It’s an enormous red flag when we all know the child made a prior outcry.

When asked about incidents, our son pretends they never happened. He flees to a fantasy world. He tells me his dad tells him to keep secrets. He sometimes drops hints. But it’s possible we may never know what happened – or is still happening – to this precious child.

It’s clear that the person I love most has been abused. It’s also clear our society does not prioritize crimes against kids, and our courts do not make child protection a priority.

If a stranger victimized my child (or committed a crime against an adult), there would be a real investigation by police, with real evidence-gathering. But an abuser is almost always someone in a child’s circle of trust. When the perp is the parent or family member, the “investigation” is largely left to over-worked, under-resourced state caseworkers who don’t have the tools or time to gather or analyze evidence or even talk to relevant people. The CPS workers instead offer services to keep kids with parents. They meet strict deadlines and usually “rule out” abuse – which then makes protecting the child in court even more difficult for the protective parent.

It’s time to declare war on child maltreatment.

Toxic stress from abuse and neglect physically damages children’s developing brains. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study conclusively proves the link between severe or chronic maltreatment and future mental health problems, addictions, chronic diseases, self-harm, crime, and violence – and the perpetuating cycle. Children with several adverse experiences have a much greater prevalence of learning and behavior problems in school. Without intervention, they can end up repeatedly cycling through jails, emergency rooms, and hospitals.

It’s time to break the cycle.

My son is doing much better, after intensive counseling and other measures, but I don’t let him alone with another child. I want him to have friends and fun and learn empathy and respect and self-control. I want him to know he’s loved. I want him to grow up to be a good, moral man and to overcome the toxic maltreatment that can overwhelm him.

I will do my best to protect your child. My heart breaks when I can’t protect mine.

The post Child Sexual Abuse: Yes, I Am A Helicopter Mom, And For a Good Reason appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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7 Single Mom Valentine’s Day Ideas

7 Single Mom Valentine’s Day Ideas

Your single mom Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be sad or lonely. Use these 7 unique ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day whether you have a partner or not.

The post 7 Single Mom Valentine’s Day Ideas appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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