Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's the Little Things

Have you ever noticed how grandparents just love to dote on their grandchildren? It's as though everything those grandkids do, from when they are small to when they grow up is the most amazing thing in the world. I've noticed that I tend to have a similar reaction when it comes to my new nieces, twins that are almost 15 months old, as well as with other little kids. They are so amazing and funny to watch. Everything is a grand discovery for them.

It occurred to me recently, that I didn't have the same outlook when Christian was that age. I asked Roger what it was like for him, and he had a similar experience. Our kids were certainly just as cute as little kids today, but we didn't seem to notice all the little things. I think we were so busy and so focused on being in the trenches, that we didn't take the time to stop and enjoy. As our kids have gotten older, I have tried to make a conscious effort to enjoy the moment. It's not as easy as it sounds. For me, I become so focused on 'being the parent' that I forget to enjoy my kids 'being kids.'

I don't know about you, but I put a lot of pressure on myself to be good parent. I'm not sure what that means, because I think the day I was supposed to go pick up my "How to be the Best Mom" handbook, I was so exhausted from being a parent I slept through my designated pick-up time. Needless to say, I've been winging it ever since. I'm not exactly sure how we know we've succeeded as a parent; maybe it's when they graduate college or maybe it's when they get their first real job. I heard someone on the radio say it is a sign of successful parenting when your child gets excepted to 1 of 5 prestigious colleges. I don't think it is any of those things, but I figure I will know it when I see it.

The important thing to remember is to appreciate the little things. Take the time to just sit and watch your kids. Don't get mad when they crawl through the doggie door; laugh - that's funny! I have to admit, that my brother and sister-in-law do a great job of this with my afore mentioned nieces. Maybe it's because they became parents later in life and know how precious their time is, but I wish I had been more like that.

The good news is that one day I get to do that with my grandchildren (at least 5 or more years from now). That's when I get my do-over, like all the other grandparents out there. For now, I will appreciate all the little things my kids do as young adults, and when all the adults they encounter pull me aside to tell me what great kids we have.....well, I'll appreciate that too. I guess that's my clue that we've done a good job. Perhaps we are getting close to being those successful parents I've heard so much about.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Do it on Your Own Time

I recently received an email with a great question a reader asked me to address. 

Here's the question:  What if your child wants to do something extra-curricular, but the activity falls on the non-custodial parent's weekend or time?  Should they still be allowed to do it or should they spend the time with the non-custodial parent?

What a great question!  We dealt with this on many of occasions with our kids.  It's tough, because you don't want your child to miss out on something they really want to do, but at the same time, they may not get a lot of time with the non-custodial parent.  Then you might think, yeah, but if it feel on my weekend/time, I would take them, because it's what they want to do, and then I would lose out on my time.... So...what do you do?

I think for the most part, the child should be able to do those extra-curricular activities regardless of whose time it falls on, but within reason. What I mean by that is, if every time your child is supposed to spend the weekend with your ex (a.k.a. non-custodial parent) an extra-curricular activity comes up, that is not fair to the other parent, and your child should probably have to choose one extra-curricular activity over another.  In the same respect, your child shouldn't be punished or penalized by not being able to enjoy whatever it is they want to do, go to a party, play in the band, play baseball, or whatever, just because it falls during the other parent's time. 

When your child is little, this takes communication between you and the other parent.  You both need to figure out who's going to take the little tyke where and so forth. Maybe you both go. When Christian was small, he went to swim lessons and his dad would meet us at the pool to watch and take him for the rest of the weekend from there. Sometimes we would both just come to watch and whoever's weekend it was took him home.  I can't say it was 'quality time' with the ex, but it was a way for both of us to enjoy the event, and no one lost out.

Before Roger and I started dating, I actually thought he was still married. What happened was, since the boys were friends, Christan had invited Adam over for a sleepover party.  Well, Adam's mom called to get directions and confirm the details. Roger, however, was the parent to drop Adam off and pick him up.  They weren't still married,(good for me), they just worked together so Adam could participate in something fun.  What happened after Roger picked Adam up from the party....well...that history is what brings us here today as a blended family, but I digress.

As your child gets older, and I'm talking tweens to teens, I think it is important for them to take on the responsibility of talking with the other parent about the other activities they want to do, if they happen to fall on their time with that parent.  I think it becomes important for them to have that communication because as the custodial parent, we see the day-to-day events and busyness that the children have and so we understand the big picture of what is going on in their lives. The other parent, however, might feel as though they are more on the outside of that bubble and it is important for the child to learn how to communicate and work through these things with their other parent. I also think it helps them to communicate better as an adult too. There might be times when you need to step in to help the conversation, but it helps develop good problem solving skills for your child. They might also be told 'no' from the other parent, and that is something they have to learn to work through too.

If you have a question you would like me to cover in a future blog post, feel free to leave it as a comment or email me at:  blendedfamily5@hotmail.com