Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Be Authentic to Your Skids

Once upon a time, I couldn't trust either of my skids.

And honestly, if you aren't sure, don't. It is not the time- yet.

Confiding in your skid, especially your stepdaughter, is not well advised. For a while. Wait a long, long while.

You'll know when all is cool, but it will be when they are older. Confiding in them your actual opinions or thoughts just has to wait. When they're young, its just too easy for them to use it against you tomorrow when they are suddenly mad at you for existing.

There's a place for letting your skids know your feelings. Any adult caring for kids on a regular basis has to sometimes inform the kid in their care that they have been hurt, mistreated, or would like to hear an apology. Sharing your feelings is a tough one, though. If they're little, it can be pretty effective.
As they go into adolescence, its sometimes necessary for them to hear that they had actual effect on another human being- but will lead to little or no change. It will feel pointless. And they won't hear very much; they seem to catch only certain sentences and tune out the rest.
And that continues through the teenaged years, unless they develop maturity. (But you still play a role in that, helping them to develop empathy for others- including their supposed evil stepmom, understanding that you are human, too.)

If you see your skids finally maturing, it may be possible for them to hear actual opinions. You may be able to share your (massively softened) opinions without them turning it into a new war between you and their mom. Its really about critical thinking. If you start to see critical thinking, the ability to logically understand and process things, then you may be able to start sharing things you never shared before.

Signs that they can handle your opinions or take, as only that, and not attacks:
  • They ask you for your version, specifically, honestly, and you know they don't have an ulterior motive of some sort. (watch out... This is a two way trust street, really.)
  • They are finally relating to their dad, letting him know they understand what he went through in some way, talking to him, finally, about their shared experiences of the past marriage/family. Showing they are beyond the "sides" and "you vs. them" war.
  • They literally tell you that they are dealing with these things of their past and want to know more.
  • They are making jokes about their other parent, situation, family, showing actual understanding of what they have dealt with and that is no longer the end of their universe to talk about these things.

"Bashing" (the overused term used by most stepfamily authors)? No. But your actual feelings and opinions are yours. And by this time, there should be less bashing to be done because you're (hopefully) no longer in the thick of the early divorce years. Your point of view may actually help your skids process what happened to their world for those years where nothing made much sense, all messages were mixed, and they were torn between parents. Hearing you may actually help them.

Be careful. But it is true. You matter, your take on things matter, but its all about timing. That's the hard part.

Right now, one of my skids loves running her memories past me. It is her way of processing and rediscovering what really happened. She trusts me completely, now, and knows that I'm not making stuff up. She knows I have sources, a third party point of view on some things, and she also cares about my side within incidents- now. Way back then? She was too confused and hurt to make sense of it, and she just wanted to play with her daddy. That was priority, rightly so.

Authenticity matters. Consistency will ring true if you're up against a family of lies.

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