My Experience as a Step Mother.

“You’re not my mother! You can’t tell me what to do! These are the words he uttered as he stomped into his room, slamming the door hard enough to feel the vibration through the house.”

Thirty- eight years old and a step- parent with no children of my own. I can honestly say being a step- parent is not a walk in the park. Dating or marrying a man with a child is a new and life altering experience for me. This relationship is different as well!

Turn and run in the opposite direction as fast as you can! My mind told me in the past when meeting a man with a child or children. Followed by Do Not Answer (DNA) added to the name on the cell phone caller i.d. Excuses like… “I’m extremely busy, I don’t have time to date”. All to avoid the inconvenience and drama associated with getting involved with a man who has a child. Like I said before, this relationship is different!

An unexpected first time meeting.

When I met my fiancé’s son it was not under the best circumstances. No one was available to care for him while the mother was in the hospital.  That left me as the only one available due to the fact that I work from home. His stay would be overnight for a couple of days, I reluctantly agreed to do so. My fiancé had to work nights during that time, so I felt it was my duty to assist my future husband.

It was not as awkward as I thought it would be, He was well mannered and quiet. Entertaining himself with his PlayStation, surfing the internet, and talking to his friends on the cell phone. Although, there was a red flag that presented itself. He used profane language when talking on the phone with his friends. His ringtone contained a rap lyric with profane language as well. Most importantly, the disrespectful manner in which he spoke to his mother when having a conversation with her. These were the issues I felt I had to bring to my fiancé’s attention. I knew there was an underlying issue even with though he remained respectful to me, his father and my mother.

A child with no respect for authority.

The second visit is when the lack of authority was revealed. For as long as Jim and I have been together, he often confided in me about his sons constant acting out. He constantly had trouble with authority figures in school and his mother. Is it due to our relationship? Jim reassured me that it was not due to our relationship. His behavior changed once he moved out of the home they shared as a family. This is understandable, but I continued to find his behavior disturbing. I know that children act out at times, to get attention, puberty or when they are mentally stressed. I still felt there was more to it!

Troubled child or a child with no parental guidance.

The morning Jim was set to pick up his son for the weekend, we agreed on some house rules. First, he was to change the ring tone to something more age appropriate. Second, he was not to use profane language. Last but not least, he must be respectful to adults. Jim stated he would go over the rules with him on the way home. I was extremely happy that we saw eye to eye on the rules put in place. I felt this may help to add structure to his life.

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He entered the house with a snarl and a roll of the eyes. He walked back to what was the spare bedroom and shut the door. Disrespectful behavior! I was taught, when you enter a room you greet those who are present. Jim stated, he had a rough week at school and fought with his mother before leaving home. Regardless of what went on his actions were not acceptable. As a result, we decided to ban access to the game console and internet which seemed to us to be a good idea. We enforced this punishment as a united front and informed our upset child that this would carry out through the weekend.

Children will often test the limits put in place.

The next day, Jim and I went to the grocery store to get dinner. We left my stepson in the care of my sister with strict instructions banning the use of his PlayStation. Well, we returned to find him defying our rules. He ignored my sisters’ reminder that he was on restriction. She said… He acted as if I was not even talking to him.” A total disrespect for authority! This definitely bothered me! When confronted and told to turn off the console he threw down the controller and stormed off!

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Who’s at fault? The child or the parents?

Times have changed drastically. Many moons ago, we were taught to respect our elders. Say yes or no ma’am/ sir. Please and thank you were a must. Always be on your best behavior because what you do is a direct reflection on your parents. The parents of back then had no intentions of being our “BFF”, they were more concerned with being parents. Some of us were blessed enough to have mothers and fathers who continued to be responsible, loving and caring parents even after failed marriages or relationships.

I feel as a parent it is our responsibility to try regardless of the circumstances thrown our way. Whether we are a parent or a stepparent, we owe it to our children to give them our love and attention and to try our very best to steer them in the right direction. It’s not our fault if later in life they choose to go in the opposite direction. It is our fault if we don’t try.

Images courtesy of:

http://pixabay.com/en/desperation-worry-longing-447736/

Physical Fitness and Our Careful Motivation of children and teens.

In 2002 the government cut the amount of funding for physical education in public schools. Health and physical education which were once a mandatory class to graduate is now an elective if offered. These cuts leave very little money available for hiring physical education teachers and ordering equipment. Over the past two years I have noticed a few bad fitness situations with children and the school system.

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I was disturbed at the story regarding the 9 year old sent home with the fitness letter from school.  I feel it was a bad decision to send the letters home with the children. Children are inquisitive by nature! Letters of this nature should have been mailed to the homes. Why not discuss this matter with the parent on parent/ teacher night? I’m also quite sure the teachers have the ability to email the parents. Most important is the message that can be perceived by children and teens.

  • If they are not skinny/ slender they are considered overweight or obese.
  • Classified as overweight or obese if not as physically active or fit as peers.

We are creating a feeling of inferiority and self-consciousness. We should be motivating our children and teens to be healthier. When the fitness examinations are taking place is the following considered…

  • Body structure.
  • Physical lifestyle outside of school.
  • Physical abilities and inabilities.
  • Nutritional habits.
  • Health

There is a better way of promoting physical fitness to children and teens. Through thorough research as well as collaboration between school and home. We are sure to break the epidemic of obesity. A few tips to get started are as follows…

  • Start by making physical fitness fun.
  • Become more active as a family.
  • Educate children and teens about the benefits of physical fitness.
  • Reduce TV and computer time.
  • Make physical fitness mandatory in schools.

Let’s keep in mind that physical activity must take place at home as well as in school. As parents we have to take time out of our busy schedules to become more involved in our children’s physical well-being. It is not necessary to bully or embarrass children and teens into physical fitness with secret letters or pressure to get involved in sports. Find the present fitness level of the child/ teen and build upon that. What is the current physical interests of the teen? As an ex- certified fitness trainer, I would recommend 60 minutes of aerobic activity a day. A few fun activities children and teens can do for exercise are:

  • Play soccer
  • Brisk walk
  • Run
  • Bicycling
  • Dancing
  • Rollerblading

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A strength training regimen should not be implemented until after puberty and with a professional. What is most important is to stimulate and maintain their interest in a supportive and non- aggressive manner. I feel the change in the approach taken towards the subject will make a huge difference. Motivational and open conversations between teachers and parents as well as parents and their children will contribute to keeping our children physically fit. Making fitness and health a community- wide effort will make up for the lack of physical education professionals in our schools.

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KEN WHEATON

Novelist. Editor. Journalist. Business Writer.

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