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Just a Guy, His Wife, and THE KIDS

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So, herewith, Part Three of my blogs about the "Big Three" subjects most couples argue about.

arguing couple and teen son

Bruce Sallan: We've done money and sex -- now "the kids." I will declare, at the onset, that this issue is usually more combustible in blended families, though it certainly is present in nuclear ones as well.

For us, we had to deal with me having raised my boys alone for several years, and my second wife having not had kids or any meaningful (especially living with them) experience with kids. But she's got an opinion, and has never been bashful about expressing it (anymore than I have).

She has struggled with what her role and place is in their lives. As stepmom, she has had a free time of it because the boys' biological mom is not in their lives (for the time being). That allows her to be the sole mother presence and not have to deal with the often ugly dialogues that can be laid on the kids between moms and stepmoms.

Nonetheless, she's had to deal with a teenager who's exhibited every bit of teen attitude, and three boys (myself included) who developed pretty poor hygiene and cleaning habits. She would use a stronger word than "poor." To our benefit, we've adopted and changed some of our ways and it's made all of us better for the effort, as much as we chafe against it.

We also disagree on discipline, rules, and consequences. I tend to be more forgiving, given the guilt I carry over the divorce and the sadness I feel about their mother's abandonment. Their stepmom wants to lay down the law, and this can be a source of contention between us.

I actually think we're all doing very well with these adjustments. We certainly eat better and have a cleaner house -- but what do I know? I'm just a guy.

next: Park City with Kids
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Denise December 5, 2009, 7:32 AM

Well, you’re three for three as all these issues and others were present in my former marriage. And, I emphasize with continued relief the word “FORMER!” But, that doesn’t mean raising my kids alone doesn’t mean these issues go away. I just debate with myself how to pay the bills, where and how to get some sex, and what to do with the kids when they’re a gigantic pain!

Wendi December 5, 2009, 9:03 AM

I am in a marriage where we have his, mine and ours. The ours is only 3 yrs old and the his is 14 and mine 12. We have been through it all. He is the only dad my son knows and I am the only mom his daughter knows. We have worked very hard and still do. It is not easy being in a mixed family, but if you just stick to it and try to make everything as normal as possible for everyone. I am truely blessed at how well adjusted our kids are. I stay at home with them and take care of running them around and whatever else they need. I must say this has been a hard road, but I am a better person for been on it.

chriss December 6, 2009, 4:17 PM

As long as you and your new wife remember that you are the main source of discipline to your children then you should be fine. Coming from a blended family (as a teenager -13) I can tell you that there was a lot of resentment when my stepfather tried to punish me instead of my mom. I also didn’t have a “real” dad in the picture because he died when I was 10. My stepfather had 2 kids and my mom had 4 and we were all teenagers when they married. NOT EASY.
To this day I (or my siblings) still can’t stand my stepfather. It could be because he was never nice to us but sure loved to punish us.

Bruce Sallan December 6, 2009, 4:36 PM

Chriss - I’m blessed that my boys both love their step-mom though they resist her efforts to teach them manners and cleanliness…well, for that matter, so do I. I’m so sorry you had the experience you had with your stepfather. Tough. But, thanks for sharing via your comment. BTW, I am the main source of discipline for the boys, while my wife is the main source for me! LOL.

Jeff December 7, 2009, 8:56 AM

Bruce, are you living in our house? You got it with these three columns, but I can add a few more subjects we argue about! LOL. But, one thing we don’t argue about is how much we love our boys.

Marla December 7, 2009, 9:05 PM

Bruce, I love your style of writing and truth in your words. I love that Debbie has added a whole new level of compassion and boundaries in a “guys” home without the womans’ touch. I love that you and your boys are open to female point of view….which must be a challenge in a home without a woman for so many years. I salute you and your new born family.

Steve December 10, 2009, 2:19 PM

I think your a standup guy and I will read anything you write

Kirsten Wildman December 18, 2009, 4:20 PM

I get this, I became a mom to my 2nd husband’s daughter.(she was 15 when we met) We had some bumpy times! Since she lived with her dad and her mom was completely out of the picture,I came in and had an opinion! The house was a mess and her dad was a softy! It’s all good now. She’s married and she even calls me Mom!! we are now going thru the second round of teenage years with my daughter- and my husband is still the softy!!!

David January 21, 2010, 9:53 AM

Whenever I express — let’s say as a caller on a talk radio show, or simply in conversation — disagreement with someone who supports an action a president of the U.S. has taken, I always preface it by saying, “First, let me acknowledge that being the Pres. of the U.S. is the second hardest job in the world.” The other person — the talk show host or my conversation partner — always says, “Hang on … what’s the HARDEST job in the world?” I answer, “Being a step parent.” (Being a cop on the beat in a city with a high crime rate, or a soldier or Marine called upon to walk point on a patrol in Baghdad or Helmand Province probably also rank right up there!)

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