I took my blended family of six months on a trip to the coast. My son’s 13, my stepsons are 14 and 16.
I used my husband’s phone to take pictures of all the boys out in the surf.
I was sending those pictures to myself when I noticed he’d cropped my son out of one of them.
He quickly said that he didn’t know how that happened, that maybe his youngest had done that while looking at the pictures.
I feel strongly that my husband is responsible.
It’s felt like there’s me and my son, and then “them,” with an absence of “us” since we got married.
Is this a normal or even understandable thing for a stepparent to do?
Not Really “Blended”
IF your husband did crop out your son’s photo, it was a hurtful move that you need to probe with him.
Yet he denied it.
Use this event to have the discussion you two badly need.
Six months since your marriage isn’t a long time, and the dynamics of bringing three young teenage boys together don’t always flow smoothly.
There could be another explanation, e.g. one of his sons wanting to send the photo to his Mom but thinking she won’t appreciate your son’s image in it.
More important than “who” did this is why. You two adult parents need to confront the difficulties of everyone adjusting to the complexities of a blended situation.
It starts with both of you feeling you’re now a family, and not retreating to your own side.
It means talking it out openly with the children, and helping them know that being together doesn’t mean they’re abandoning their other parent or associated relatives.
Family counselling can be helpful.
My brother-in-law’s chosen to not attend his father’s funeral. They’ve been estranged for eight years.
He’d turned away from his whole family.
My nephew wants to attend the funeral, despite knowing the disrespectful way his grandfather treated his father.
The man wasn’t religious, had few family and friends left. Yet my brother-in-law’s siblings have planned an elaborate funeral.
I agree, out of respect for my sister and her husband, that her son should stay away from it.
But I wonder if he needs to go for his own closure, even though he hasn’t seen his grandfather for years.
I wonder what relatives should do in such a situation.
The question of missing a relative’s funeral isn’t uncommon. Families have rifts, years go by, and the people closely involved stay distant, holding tightly to their hurt.
But other adults, including children of the affected relative, have the right to their own decision.
Their sense of “closure” isn’t necessarily to the deceased, but rather to the disruptive family history.
Your nephew may be the wisest relative.
He’s showing that family members can still get together on significant occasions, and acknowledge their connection despite past rifts.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the divorced lady who’s missing having a partner (Dec. 14):
Reader – “I was divorced and on my own at 57.
“I became very busy, volunteering, babysitting a new grandchild, enjoying outings with other single women, and being independent.
“However, like the writer, I missed having a male companion.
“I went on a seniors’ dating sight.
“After two years, I found a wonderful man who’s now been my great companion for three years.
“We still have our own homes and space. Our children have been very supportive and are happy for us.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman worrying about her new boyfriend’s constant checking up on her (Dec. 22):
Reader – “It’s only 'common courtesy' to let your loved one know if you’re going to be late coming home or have other plans.
“Why would that be considered a dangerous situation if she isn't home for hours, and he has no idea where she is?
“Why can't she just text him saying she's going to be late because of work or some shopping to do?
“Does she enjoy making him worry?
“Why hasn’t he met her friends?? He lives with her.”
I’d agree with your skepticism if she hadn’t just met him only one month ago. He’s only “lived with her” for some three-to four weeks at most.
Also, they’re 40 and 42, presumably mature adults, and she’s questioning his behaviour. I had to assume she was truly worried, especially when her best friend considered these “red flags.”
Tip of the day:
“Blending” a family requires parents to help their children adjust and not feel disloyal to their other parent/relatives.