This blended-family/step-parenting thing is a lot more complicated than I expected it to be.
Partly, I think, it has to do with the fact that CBG isn’t a permanent fixture in our lives. He has relatively little contact with the girls right now, as things stand with our schedules and such. I do hope that will change over time, but only time will tell on that one. Right now he is not with my girls enough to truly get to know them well, and vice versa.
Another part of it is that he and I have very different parenting philosophies and approaches…and from what I can tell at this point, likely always will. Sometimes our philosophies are in direct conflict with one another. I’m okay with that, but really feel as though we need to find some sort of way to work this out. And before now, this isn’t something that we’ve really discussed all that much.
When CBG and I got back together last year, I told him that I didn’t need him to be a “parental figure” in my girls’ lives. They have a very loving and involved and good dad, and I’m certainly not looking to replace him. I told him that all he needed to be was their friend and that the parenting aspect could be left entirely to me and their dad. As time goes on and CBG becomes more of a permanent fixture in our lives, he obviously needs to take a more active role in parenting my girls. It’s not all fun and games for the three of them anymore. Sometimes he’s going to need to discipline them. There will be times when he needs to enforce boundaries with them. I would like, as much as possible, for him to be my back-up when issues arise when we’re all together.
I noticed this past weekend, me reacting quite negatively (if even in my own head) to CBG’s approach with my girls a couple of times. I believe strongly in my way of parenting them, and to him doing otherwise caused my protective “mama bear” instincts to kick in. There were also moments when I could tell that he was thinking that if I’d chosen to do things “his way” that things would have gone a lot more smoothly. My approach might not always be easier in the moment, but when it comes to parenting, I believe more in long-term effects rather than immediate results. Once again, my defensiveness kicked in, in the face of perceived judgment and criticism.
It’s difficult to know how to approach this. I sent him a long email last night, talking about the ins and outs and whys of the parenting choices that I make, in an effort to help him understand a little bit more where I’m coming from and why I choose to handle my girls in the ways that I do. My hope is that this will spark a conversation that brings us a little more in line with our parenting, particularly when it comes to my girls. Or at least explain the couple of dirty looks he got from me. heh.
This parenting thing is tough! Anyone else have any experiences with this and/or thoughts to share?