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monday, may 21, 2001
one more war

there is one conflict that has not been settled since saxy's return and that's his problems with kitten. yes, i know he's never been a father before, and yes, i know he's not had the opportunity to raise these kids long enough to really be in sync with them. no, i am not looking for a perfect record here. heck i am not a perfect parent, i certainly could not expect anyone else to be. but this is not asking for perfection, this is not asking him to even really parent. this is asking him to step back out of the parenting picture whenever possible and just be a friend. perhaps a friend who is firmer than most at times, and perhaps a friend that may have to support mom's decisions, but a friend none the less. and there are things friends do and don't do to help build a relationship of respect and love that saxy seems determined not to do. if anything, saxy seems more determined to be the iron hand of the law more than anything else, and, if you have read the archives at all, we all know what that has to do with: this part of him that is determined to be in control no matter who it hurts.

now, why would i want saxy to be a friend and not a parent? well, for one, he's NOT their parent. lord knows i need someone to back me up when i am trying to raise the kids, i need someone to support me when i make a decision and a kids mouths off or disobeys. i do NOT need someone walking in and making the decisions. worse yet, i do not need someone walking in and creating a furor over absolutely nothing. raising my kids is hard enough with a dad who pretty much lets them walk all over him, i don't need someone else laying down absolute laws with no regard to feelings, circumstances or even what i want for my own kids.

but there is more to the issue than that. i did a study on remarriage families ~ families in which at least one adult brings children into a marriage or second marriage and all the baggage that goes with it. the things i found out floored me and made me realize early in our marriage that saxy and i had to change the way we had him "parent". did you know:

~ kids are not ready for a new adult to parent them until at least as many years have passed as the age they were when they met the new adult? this means kitten will never be ready for saxy to parent her, she was 11 when they met and hopefully i will have done a good enough job that by the time she's 22 she won't need any parents, so to speak.

~ over 60% of remarriage families break up within the first 2 years (at least we made it that far, even if just barely), and divorce is more from the problems of trying to get all these unrelated people to integrate into one household than anything else.

~ the kids have to deal with FOUR different parenting settings minimum: the biological parent's, stepparent's, the parenting from the original marriage, and the parenting in the current marriage. no wonder kids don't want to deal with a stepparent telling them what to do, they already have more than enough going on in that department.

~ a stepparent presents children with a huge loyalty conflict: to love that parent is to be disloyal to one biological parent, to not love that parent is to be disloyal to the biological parent that married him/her. and adolescents have a worse time with this conflict than younger kids. (of course, i suppose by being the way he is to her, saxy solves that problem for kitten quite well.)

~ the most successful stepparents are those who take on a less active role and take on a role other than parent. coach, uncle, friend ~ any of these will encourage a positive, nurturing relationship.

this is just the top of the chaotic iceberg that makes up remarriage families. saxy has read this report, yet he refuses to follow it's advice.

saxy says i'm not being fair. damn right i'm not being fair. when a 30-something man degenerates to a 15-year-old brat and goes to battle with a 14-year-old girl, i will NOT be fair. he's the adult and he needs to act like it. and even if he's sweet as sugar to all the other kids, if he can't get his attitude towards kitten cleared up, he's still out. he's harder on her than any of the other kids, jumps down her throat at the drop of a hat, doesn't encourage her in any way, and usually resorts to knee jerk reactions that he later chooses strict interpretations of the "rules" as justification for. today they went at it over almost everything: she can't comment, ask a question, or do ANYTHING without him jumping on her. not a single thing she did today was harmful, illegal, or detrimental, but he laid into her whenever she opened her mouth it seemed.

i am damn tired of playing referee. i know he can be a responsible caring adult, he's done it before. too bad i can mark those occasions on my calendar, that's how rare it is. yes, i know she can be a snot-nosed, argumentative, emotional brat. she's a teenager, it's somewhat expected to go through at least a few episodes like that. and i get on her case almost as much as his, because arguing with us after we've said we don't have the money doesn't mean we will magically get the money (or change our minds or whatever happens to be the issue at the moment). you'd think knowing this would help him learn to choose his battles wisely. hell, if he can't be nice to her, the least he could do is leave her alone when she's not doing any damage!

saxy's got two problems as i see it: he's rigid as hell, and he has a desperate need to be in control. with them both he damn well better get over it. i don't take to being controlled, as he's learned, and i sure as hell am not going to allow him to be unreasonable just because he wants control (even if he doesn't realize that's what he's trying to do, it really is a huge issue for him). and as for rigidity, the only one who needs that is taz. and even he needs some flexibility built into the system. and kitten is 14 ~ this child is growing up. in FOUR years she will be able to move out and do anything she wants. she needs even more flexibility to make her own choices, because there is no safety net out in the real world.

kitten gives saxy a bit more credit than i do right now. he does not realize just what a treasure she is being for him (even when i tell him what's going on, he doesn't understand the amount of slack she's cutting him). she understands he's trying and has told me she's ok with him being here even with their current problems getting along. i admit, life in this house is no where near as bad as it was last summer when i finally threw him out with the intent to divorce. but he practically harasses her and she still is giving him the benefit of the doubt. but she also sees that he reacts before he thinks, which is one of the biggest causes of fights between them.

she's a smart girl, my kitten. nice to know we haven't messed her up too badly yet. and i just hope saxy gets the message when he gets into his ecs classes this fall. i don't even want to think about having to make decisions if he doesn't.

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