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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Not the Brady Bunch

The Ask Shifra mailbag has become a bit moldy from disuse - let me slip on these rubber gloves and air filtration mask and see what I can find...

Ah here's one:

Dear Shifra,

OK OK I finally decided that anonymity should cover me and my secret alter
ego identity. This is my question.
I am remarried to a basically very nice person, she’s fun to hang out with,
yak, great cook, a true yiras shomyim* (woman of faith) , good looking, very capable etc etc
I have kids from my first marriage and she’s got kids from hers, both sets
live with us full time. The problem is that she gets offended at my kids for
something that she'd overlook at hers.
I’ll give you an example, a kid walks around at night and talks loud,
possibly waking the baby (ours), she’ll shush mine but her kids have got to
rock the house before she notices.
My kid left his coat on the floor my spouse mentioned to me “that kid is
careless”, her son left his shabbos shoes in the dining room and it was
still there on Tuesday, but she didn’t say anything about it.
So my question is HELP what, if anything, can do about it. I’ve tried
talking about it, she says its not true. And when I point out a clear case,
she says that I treat mine better so why am I making a fuss. I will admit
that my kids are more difficult, more post divorce baggage.
I would be grateful for any advice.

Not Mr. Brady

* Note: In the interest of my non-Hebrew/Yiddish speaking readers I have decided to add in more english translations (even to the letters I recieve.)
I advise you all to keep your sense of humor close at hand and not send me all kinds of letter about how I've translated things inaccurately - Thanks

Dear Not Brady,

First off congrats to you on finding love the second time around! I'm sure that adding children to the equasion makes things much more difficult.

I know even in regular (non-blended) families different things are expected from different children depending on their age, maturity, abilities and unfortunately sometimes favoritism.
The best safeguard against that in my opinion is deciding what the rules and consequences are, together with your wife, and sticking to them.

It's very natural to want to advocate for the child you share the closest bond with but I hope with time all of you will grow into one big family rather than having everything as "mine and yours."

My advice? Be patient. Be good to your wife and your children old and new.
Try to establish limits for all your kids and show them that you and your wife are a united front and don't let them try and play you against each other. Hatzlocha (good luck) and Bracha (blessings) and keep us updated!



At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good advice. What kids want the most is to see the parents happy with each other. Especially kids still reeling from divorce. They need two parents who love each other. Patience. The blending takes a lot of time.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Elie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Elie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Elie said...

And I totally agree, this problem is not unique to blended families. Even in "nuclear" families every kid seems to think that all the others are being treated better than he/she is. There's no way to be totally even in every instance. You just have to try to be as consistent and fair as possible over time, and remind the kids that you are not perfect.

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanx for posting my letter

Shifra & Mirty:
In a nutshell you advise being good to my spouse?

"remind the kids that you are not perfect."
AHH but I am!

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Jack Steiner said...

That sounds like a common challenge.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Shifra has some good points, I would sggest that you might want to raise this issue with your spouse and have the two of you minimize any favoritism shown. After all, the Torah shows the all-too-common tragic consequences of favoritsm. Look at the story of Joseph. That favoritised kid gets to become one of the most powerful men in the world an then gets to share his booty with his siblings (or at least his brothers) and it's happily ever after...whoops, wrong example.

Fortunately, I have managed to cleverly avoid this trap. I had my first wife leave me before we had any kids, and then I arrnaged to marry a second wife who struggled with infertility problems, so we didn't have to worry about favoritism, we here happy enough to have one child on whom we can bestow all the favoritism we want. (even though right now it seems that all we're doing is nagging her to do her homework.)

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have managed to cleverly avoid .....and then I arranged to marry a second wife who struggled with infertility problems"

Cleverly arranged? are you sure? Does your wife know?
Are you sane?

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a kind of line of respect that has to happen. In our family it works like this. (I am the stepmom, by the way.)

Dad shows respect to Stepmom
Stepmom shows respect to stepkids
Stepkids feel respected and so...
Stepkids start respecting stepmom/

At 5:48 PM, Blogger previous anon said...

MIRTY.....You're a step mom????
I admit to being shocked

Totally shocked


(I gotta go find my socks they blew off here somewhere)

At 4:05 PM, Blogger tznius-lady said...

I just posted Girls’ Shabbos Shoes on my Metzias blog, for $9.99 please see the post and help people save money for Yom Tov. http://www.tzniusmetzias.com


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