Filed under: Good Step-Parent Stories
Kind of strange to think that anyone would think of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as an evil step-mother. But, according to their new book, Gabby, this is what astronaut Mark Kelly’s two teenage daughters thought of Giffords when she became their step-mother in 2007. When Giffords was tragically shot early this year in Arizona, the two daughters immediately changed their attitude towards their step-mother. Kelly says that this is one of the good things that came about as a result of the tragedy. It’s a good lesson for a child to learn.
I suppose that this just goes to show how the actual personality of a step-parent might not always be the real issue here (although I don’t want to discount when it is).
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Good Step-Parent Stories, Uncategorized
In the never-ending comments section of the Stepmothers and Step-daughters blog entry I wrote how many eons ago a Step-Mother just shared how she doesn’t have a problem with her step-daughters. Yay! Read it. Also, read Carolyn’s blog because she links to some really positive, helpful blogs right now which are written by Step-Mothers who are also Children of D. I suspect that Children of D. make much better Step-Parents than Step-Parents from traditional households because they know how it feels to be in the situation and I’m really glad this is happening. I sort of wonder if a lot of the behaviors suggested won’t fall on deaf ears, though. Children of D, for example, grow up knowing what it feels like to feel left out. Telling most people who grew up in Intact Families not to interfere in certain parts of family life is going to be impossible. One of the problems with Divorce is that it messes with our natural sense of mixing territoriality with our homes and they don’t understand that this is just part of the contract they signed into.
At any rate the Successful Happy Step-Mother commenter says that her step-daughters live with her and her husband. She gave some really great advice about what works for her as a step-mother. (I don’t understand why step-parents constantly butt into this blog because it’s clearly not about them, but I suppose I don’t understand why anyone would marry into a step-family without making sure that they knew what they were walking into in the first place.)
I’m trying to believe that all the complaining that the step-mothers do about their roles is a link to figuring out a way to fix the problems that exist in step-families. The Step-Mothers can hopefully provide insight into the family which the blood relatives can’t see. Unfortunately, in divorce situations, everyone’s already adjusting to being an outsider in the family as well.
Sadly, I tend to think that most of the Step-Mother complaining is just complaining. In the situations where the step-mothers are reasonably well balanced emotionally, honest, caring, respectful people (in the situations where they really are that way and not just saying that they are that way) there might be some real information in there. But over the Internet one can reasonably only assume the worst.
In reality many women who take on the step-mother role are doing it just to “get a man.” They are bullies and will make fast work of the husband’s kids. I grew up with one of those. I know others who know one or two of those. I know that there are a lot of overly confident women out ought to be CEOs of large corporations but have to settle for decimating step-children’s lives.
Sadly, like all other adults out in the world right now, I have no real advice for kids growing up in that situation except to focus on what positive, strong people do. Divorce in families is so alienating that it is raising a great social consciousness in the World which may be just as valuable (or, at least different). Grasp on to that part of the lessons it offers.
Back to the commenter who has no problem with her live-in step-daughters, what impressed me from a critical point of view was her description of the biological mother because it still manages to fall into that category of step-mother comments that negate the other Mother’s influence in her children’s lives. The deal here is that the biological mother is not in her children’s life. The commenter showed some concern for the girls’ welfare that the mother wasn’t there. She didn’t say why the Mother was absent.
I tend to feel equal amount of annoyance by Step-Mothers who tell me that everyone gets along just fine as the ones who like to point out the flaws of the Mother. How do they know how the kids feel? Why don’t they analyze their own flaws? A kid has enough lessons to learn in order to ask a “real parent” for a ride to a friend’s house. Imagine how much more difficult it is to ask a “step-Parent” for a ride to a friend’s house. This is a constant awareness that the “real parent” isn’t there. And it’s gotta hurt. It’s made all the worse when there is mental illness, addiction, abuse, or illness involved somehow in the situation because the child is already dealing with difficult situations.
Since this is a blog about Children of Divorce and what affects them it just sort of made me wonder why a Mother wouldn’t be there because I wonder how the two girls will grow up thinking about their Mother and how that will affect their abilities to see themselves, love themselves, and to love others. In my personal experience I’ve heard the comment “I don’t owe my real Mother anything, my Step-Mother did everything.”
Okay, for one, becoming a single Mother is farking scary. Nothing is easier for single Women than it is for single Men in this world. That’s the honest to God truth. Because of that you would think that women would support each other. But they don’t. They tend to attack and use each other.
Is the Mother not there because she hates the child? (some Mothers really don’t like their kids)
Is the Mother not there because she simply doesn’t like or can’t handle being a Mother?
Did the Mother marry too young?
Is she not there because she has a career and has decided that the Father can provide better care?
Is she mentally ill, alcoholic, addicted, etc?
Does the Mother have a chronic illness?
Is the Mother just irresponsible?
Is she unable to handle the financial burden of raising children?
Can she not handle the tension of passing the kids back and forth between households?
Did the Mother marry an abusive man?
What else? How different a Child from Divorce’s attitude must be from the Child who grows up in an Intact Family where these questions don’t exist.
I wonder what the best way is for a step-parent to discuss the “other parent.” I have noticed that Step-Mothers who complain about step-children endlessly seem to never discuss their husbands’ parenting styles. They do like to discuss the “Real Mother’s” problems, however.
I think that men really don’t know what’s going on between the Step-Mother and Step-Child situation. (Yes, I know, and the police know, that Step-Fathers tend to be very abusive as well, I’m just discussing the Step-Mother thing because they keep flooding my blog). Women are experts at doing things underhanded. They survive by pulling this behavior in society.
This is basic tribal stuff. But, as I said, it doesn’t exist in intact families. And so it goes that there’s an awful sexism that crops up within step-families between the women. And it’s interesting that no one really seems to benefit from it (emotionally at least). The Mother is humiliated by the Other woman. The daughters are abused and at least are exposed to how two very bad female role models co-exist. The Step-Mothers complain endlessly and no one really does know if they really are used as doormats or if they are just being bullies.
Boy, I want this to be my last post about step-mothers. I suspect that most kids are so worried about their own parents during a divorce that they really don’t even want to think about the add-ons. Most kids from divorce want to talk about their relationships with their real parents. They do this not only because of love but also because they are trying to find a place to mirror their genetic traits. This is done through the strong emotional bonds that exist between biological parents and kids. When they say that step-parents feel strange to them, they aren’t kidding. Why do people take this so lightly?
Okay so this post is a total ramble. I’m just totally stuck on the other thing I’m trying to write and am wasting time on this.
Filed under: Birth Order, creativity, Exemplary Children of Divorce, Good Step-Parent Stories, Living with Grandparents, name change, Stepfamilies, Uncategorized
Blockbuster singer/songwriter Barry Manilow is a Child of D. Manilow’s parents divorced just after he turned 2 years old and he grew up with his Mother and Grandparents in Brooklyn, New York. Manilow changed his last name to his Mother’s maiden name when he was around 13 years old. I’m not sure how much of a relationship he had with his Father.
Both parents remarried. Manilow’s Mother remarried at some point in the late 1950’s. Manilow would have been in his mid to late teens. Manilow credits his Step-Father with having introduced him to Jazz.
I’m unclear about sibling relationships. According to a website, Manilow was raised basically as an only child, but had two step-brothers from his Mother’s remarriage. He possibly has a step-brother and a half-brother through his Father’s remarriage. I’m not real sure about this information, though.
Below is an except of an interview on the TV show Larry King Live from 2002 in which Manilow desribes his childhood. (Full transcript of the show is here. //transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0205/17/1k1.00html. Sorry, I messed up the link thingee). Manilow had just put out an album called Here at the Mayflower which apparently was based on the apartment building where he and his family (Mother’s side) lived. It featured two hits “Turn the Radio Up” and “They Dance.” Manilow’s music is all about being positive and making people feel good. “Turn the Radio Up” is about using music to combat misery and worry.
According to Wikipedia, Manilow is Jewish on his Mother’s side and Jewish-Irish on his Father’s side. His Step-Father is Irish.
KING: Was your childhood tough?
MANILOW: No. I don’t say it was tough. No.
KING: Your parents were divorced?
MANILOW: Parents were divorced. I was raised by my mother and my grandparents and a lot of relatives around this Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mayflower…
KING: Jewish neighborhood?
MANILOW: Jewish neighborhood, Jewish, Puerto Rican. It was very ethnic. I loved it.
KING: But your stepfather though was Irish, right?
MANILOW: Yes. I just saw him. He lives down in…
KING: You close?
MANILOW: Well, we’re not close. He lives in Florida and I don’t. But he was the guy that turned my musical motor on.
MANILOW: Well, before Willie Murphy (ph) came into my life, I was playing the accordion, and “Have Nagila” and all of the folk songs that my grandparents loved.
KING: Worked at bar mitzvahs?
MANILOW: Well, I should have been so lucky. I wasn’t even up to bar mitzvahs. I was just playing folk songs on the accordion.
MANILOW: You got it. And I wasn’t bad, believe it or not. But that would have been it, had Willie not come into my life.
KING: What did he do?
MANILOW: He came into my life with a stack of albums that turned my musical motor on. He brought a stereo system in that I never had and a stack of albums that had people like Stan Kenton and June Christy and Broadway show music like “The Most Happy Fella” and “Kismet” and “Kiss me, Kate” and on and on. It was a stack of gold.
Filed under: Alcoholism, Books, Good Step-Parent Stories, Movies About Growing Up in Divorce, Parents and their Dates
I haven’t been going to many movies lately but this week-end I’ve gone to two. Both were about Children of Divorce.
First was Twilight. It’s a teeny bopper Vampire movie. The heroine, Bella, a high school Junior, moves to the Pacific Northwest to live with her Father who she hasn’t really spent much time with. Her Mother has just remarried a baseball player who travels around the country a lot so she can’t keep Bella around. Relations with Dad are awkward and there are a lot of telephone calls with Mom. Nobody, absolutely nobody, is angry.
However, the Pacific Northwest being what it is, everyone is pretty much depressed and pale, very pale. What a great situation for meeting and falling in love with a Vampire in Chemistry class. Vampires like the sunless landscape because they can hang around during the day. Anyhoo, all kinds of trauma erupts out of from this awkward, romantic, very steamy and innocent relationship. The Vampire is sort of a Vegetarian vampire who doesn’t kill people but he sure does lust after their blood. Bella throws herself right after him because she has some sort of compulsive need to prove that she can trust a guy with such intense instincts to hurt her. Is that Child of D stuff, or what? At any rate, I guess Vampire psychology involves all things that can wrong with … Blood Ties, ah hem…
I didn’t know what I was going to see and I liked the movie okay. The kids who read the books seem to universally think the movie is awful.
Out of curiosity I tried to see if the writer, Stephenie Meyer is a child of D. Apparently not; she just really worshipped the Brady Bunch as a kid. That’s so annoying.
The other movie I saw is called “Rachel Getting Married.” It’s a psychological drama about being psycho in a family setting. Kym is the psycho, very well performed by Anne Hathaway. She is an addict who is getting out of rehab to attend her Sister’s Wedding. The tensions of adjusting to real life in such an intense week-end sort of brings out her whole story. At 16 Kym committed an unpardonable sin while high and has to confront all of her family members over this for the first time sober. All the while preparing for the festivities. By the time she puts on the Brides Maid’s dress she is covered with scratches and has a Black Eye.
The relationship with the parents is well portrayed from a Child of D point of View. The Father is the dominant care taker. He’s loving and caring and completely forgiving. The Mother is the negative character who is left out and can’t deal with her sub-par role in the whole hierarchy. The Step Mother is totally cool and never complains about a thing. She also doesn’t leave the Father alone for a minute with the kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if these filmmakers really do come from Divorce. One of them certainly must be a step-parent.
Both movies portray positive images of Step Parents. That’s good for the Step-Parents. It might be good for the kids as well as they might get a piece of their inheritance down the road if they maintain a low profile in the family.
As a matter of fact I’m seeing nothing but positive images of Step-parents in the media. The new Coke commercial has a joyous jingle for the Season about the joys of Coca-Cola and Step-Families. Since all kinds of new scientific evidence is coming out about the toxicity of carbonated beverages I guess this makes sense. Plus, we all know who is in charge of Daddy’s money — Step-Mothers are a great target for the marketers. (Reminder: I’m not talking about all step-parents here, only the ones to whom it applies. Unfortunately, these people don’t know, or care, who they are).
I’m beginning to notice the way that Step-Mothers are very critical of Biological mothers. This happens in the movies and it happens more in real life. (Miaow, the cat fight never ends.) It certainly happened in my family. Women are still treating each other like poo. Liberation has a ways to go.
Neither movie showed Step-Sibling relations. The relationship between Rachel and Kym in “Rachel Getting Married” is very strong. Sibling relationships that go through this extra stress, of course, are going to be different from those in Intact families. Either the bonds are stronger or they are considered as ridiculous and expendable as the parents’ marriage. I don’t know if studies have been done. Probably not.
Filed under: Abandonment, Bad Children of Divorce, Good Step-Parent Stories, indifferent parents, Suicide
I regret having starting this category called “Bad Children of Divorce.” I sound like somebody’s Step-Mother already. The word “Bad” should be replaced with something like “Notorious” or “Misinformed.” Once you read what these people go through from their families it’s really difficult to call them “Bad.” Well, Rove seems to have been born a right-winger which is not necessarily good, but still.
I’m writing this to compare with the next blog entry about Barack Obama’s Advisor who is also a Child of Divorce. They are comparable in their understandings of how to work the systems, how to manipulate, depth of understanding of human nature, and also in a really creepy way, their actual stories. (Pay attention to Age 19 for both men.)
Ex-Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove is a Child of Divorce. He was a Child of a Really Crazy unhappy Divorce too. Most of Bush’s political successes and failures are attributed to Rove’s strategic planning. His opinions are abnormally right wing and considering the family he grew up in this doesn’t make sense.
According to Wikipedia and other internet sources Karl Rove’s biological Father left his Mother when Rove was still very young. I’m still working on trying to find out what age. At the time Rove had one older brother. The Father was a Geologist.
Rove’s Mother married a second time to another Geologist. Rove grew up thinking this man was his Biological Father which wasn’t really that abnormal for that generation. It was certainly a stressful game for the parents to have to play, though, and the shame resulting from such games and the shock on the child when he/she finds out later is a good reason for keeping Divorce up and running in society. Best to make it safe for people to admit what they’ve done and move on.
The family had 3 more children; I believe two girls and another boy.
At Age 9 Rove was beaten up by a girl for defending Richard Nixon. In High School he says that he was a totally uncool nerd.
Karl Rove’s adopted Step-Father left his Mother and his family on Dec. 24, 1969 because he was Gay. This would have been the day before Rove’s 19th Birthday.
According to the website “The Carpet Bagger Report” Rove’s Mother took off shortly after and left Rove to fend for himself in College. She contacted him later on when he was in his mid-20’s when she needed money. In 1981 she committed suicide by gassing herself in her car in Reno, NV. If the following link is legitimate you can read Karl Rove’s emotional description of having to deal with this: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/8531.html. It’s pretty sad. Basically he was abandoned and rejected by both of his real parents.
Meanwhile, at some point between the ages of 19 and 21, an Aunt and Uncle had told Karl that his adopted step-father was not his Biological Father. One account I read said that he met his biological father while in his 40s.
Karl Rove did not graduate from College.
Rove’s adopted step-father died in Palm Springs around 2004 from Lung Cancer. It is said they had a loving relationship although Rove is extremely anti-Gay.
Rove married his first wife in 1977. This marriage lasted only until 1979.
He has been married to his 2d wife since 1986. They have one son, Andrew, in 1989.
Some kid found this site through the following search:
“my stepmom caught me jerking”
Cute. Very cute. That’s a really difficult age.
Hope he found some sage advice somewhere for his predicament.
And may his stepmom be having a glass of wine for her troubles.
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Exemplary Children of Divorce, Good Step-Parent Stories
The Hills are Alive With the Sound of Music…
Julie Andrews, that Great Nanny of Stage and Screen, is Child of D. She’s played every fairy tale character of single family households on Broadway, at the Movies and on TV: Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, Cinderella.
Andrews’ parents divorced when she was around 4. Her theatrical Mother fell in love with another actor, Ted Andrews, and her parents separated. Ted Andrews became Andrews Stepfather. Andrews’ Father also remarried. “I’ve got more mothers and fathers than anyone in the world.” (Wikipedia)
At first Andrews lived with her Father but moved in with her Mother and StepFather in order to develop her Musical talents. The entire family performed together. Andrews changed her name to her StepFather’s last name.
Andrews is herself once divorced and twice married. Her first marriage to Tony Walton lasted 14 years. They had a daughter, Emma Kate. Andrews is still married to her second husband, Blake Edwards. They have 2 daughters together, Amy and Joanna.
ADDITION: I’ve recently read that Julie Andrews has published an autobiography admitting that she was molested by her step-father.