First, the preface: if you’re new here, I am a stepmother. We are INCREDIBLY fortunate to have a very good relationship with Jack’s BioMom, and we adore his stepfather. I understand what a walking-on-eggshells thing stepparenting can be for many families, but we are beyond lucky to have an open communication line where the differences between households is nothing that is insurmountable. Really, I can’t say enough about how much this working-together relationship benefits everyone, most of all Jack.
One difference between the two families is the level of honesty used with the kids. And that is really nothing that I can judge, because one man’s trash is another man’s stepparenting and whatnot, so there ya go. But.. I just..
Jack’s stepfather recently became unemployed. In today’s economic environment, this is nothing unusual or unique, sadly. But.. we’re not telling Jack. We’re keeping him from this bit of “stress”, because we don’t want him to get “stressed out”.
.. well, we totally differ here.
Here’s why: unemployment, especially the kind beyond the employee’s control, is part of life. It’s a necessary evil, and it’s something we all must realize is a reality. And? Jack’s stepfather is not sitting at home and collecting severance; he’s out doing temporary work, busting his ass so his family can enjoy the holiday. That kind of tenacity and sacrifice? Deserves acknowledgement, even from the children.
And I think Jack needs to be part of the tightening of the belt. We already warned him that Santa’s offerings at our house are going to be much slimmer this year, due to our new spending budget. We’ve told him that eating out may not happen much, if at all. We’ve warned him that we’re going to be spending more time doing free things, and that he’s welcome to offer up suggestions to help us. He has. He’s the first to say, “Let’s go to the park!” or “How about we visit the YMCA this afternoon?”. I feel that we’re enabling him this way; sure, the family is making an effort that may squeeze a bit, but he can HELP. This way, it’s not torture.. it’s a family endeavor, one that he’s a part of.
And? I feel like I’m lying to him by not talking about what’s going on at his house. There have been many times when Jack and I are by ourselves and talking as friends and he can tell me things openly that he may hesitates to tell his parents. I want to tell him how proud I am of his stepfather for manning up to take care of his family; I want to tell him that this happens to people sometimes, regardless of how well they’ve performed. And I want to take this opportunity to explain how a good savings fund comes in useful at times like these.
Again, I know that we’re all different in how we rear our children. Have you faced a similar circumstance in your family? How have you broached the topic with your kids, or have you at all? I really am open to all sorts of discussion here; I think it may be one of those things that I can’t possibly fathom until it takes place under my own roof.
And … GO.