Friday, January 29, 2010

My Kids or My Spouse?

You married for love. You married forever. But you never expected your marriage would involve having to choose between your new spouse and your children. But here you are, torn between your parental instinct to protect and put your children first and your desire to make this marriage work by forming those ties that bind - and quickly!

One of the toughest choices I hear about, working with stepfamilies, is the painful decision biological parents have to make when their children from a former relationship take sides against the new spouse. What you had hoped would become a beautiful new family is suddenly a living nightmare of demands, hurt feelings, and having to settle battles between the people you love equally.

In fact, this conflict between spouse and children is at the root of most stepfamily divorces. Whether it's a straight challenge of "them or me," or another battle that comes from the tension caused by that conflict, the parental urge and confusion tears hearts apart. It's just more than many parents can stand, so they quit on the marriage. Or the stepparent surrenders to the feelings of being chosen second after the kids.

Where Should Your Loyalty Lie?

There is a link between a parent and their child that transcends location or frequency of time together. The love between you and your children will continue throughout your and their lives. Although my own mother has been gone for ten years now, I still love her and think of her almost daily. She will always be in my heart.

You will never lose that connection with your babies, not even if you remarry, when they marry, or if they move across the country. Your hearts will forever be linked. They say parents and children are "blood relatives," and that makes sense in more than one way - your hearts beat out your love and concern with each pulse.

The same should be true for your loyalty and connection to your spouse. You may not be connected by blood or DNA, but the vows you made when you married are as binding. 

When you wooed and won your sweetheart (can you remember that time?), you demonstrated and spoke guarantees that were part of the reason they accepted your proposal. Whether your particular vows included traditional statements such as "for richer or poorer," "in sickness or in health," or "til death do us part," you were making that age-old promise to remain faithfully loyal to your partner no matter what.

Unless your vows included exceptionary clauses, such as "unless my kids get difficult," or "but only as long as it's fun and easy," you placed yourself in a position to either be true or to be a liar. And you did this with your full conscious mind and will. No one made you get married. No one coerced you into stating and signing, in front of God and many legal witnesses, your sacred promise to remain married for the rest of your life.

Now, in most cases, becoming a parent was not such a considered, consciously determined, publicly committed-to situation. (Of course, some of you did adopt or take extraordinary measures to become pregnant, but for many, it just miraculously happened.) The beginning of your relationship with your baby was probably one of surprise and on-the-spot determination to love them. And, while this does not lessen your commitment to your child, it does place the two issues — your relationship to your child and your relationship to your spouse — on different levels. 

Ask yourself, the next time you're feeling pulled between your spouse and your children, which one of these two did you beg, bargain, and make great promises to in order to get them to be yours for life? The answer is, certainly, your spouse. You have a pledge of loyalty to him or her. You laid your reputation and your good name on the line in your guarantee that you would never turn your back on them.

I'm not suggesting that you should not take the greatest care possible of your children - far from that! I am, however, suggesting that you show your children how seriously you take promises and vows. That you teach them to be honest and true by your example. That you keep your focus on your commitment to love til death do you part, no matter what.

Where should your loyalty lie? Where did you swear it would?

God bless you as you struggle with these issues. I fully understand the difficulty in it. If you need help in making your marriage relationship more reliable and more enjoyable, I'll be happy to help you. But whatever you do, give it your all. Your spouse, and your children, deserve to see your commitment daily.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Should your Family Bother with McDonalds Wifi?

I visited our local McDonalds today with my wife and grandson, to try out their much-talked-about free wifi service which launched this week. We chose the newest McDonalds of the six or so in our immediate area, at 3010 Alma Hwy in Van Buren. This one was very nicely laid out. It even had a seating area with comfortable chairs and a large screen TV on the wall.

However, the problems began when we tried to find a spot to use the Internet. I searched through the entire restaurant and found only one booth that had a plug-in, and in fact only one plug-in in the entire restaurant. I asked the counter attendant where I could hook up our computers and she didn't know what I was talking about. I assumed she didn't know about the computer policy, not what a computer was.

When the single computer user-friendly booth came free, we grabbed it and went on-line. Maneuvering through their sign-in screen was fairly easy, but it seemed to take a long time for the system to clear us to go on-line. When we did, the first thing I did - as always - was to check the speed of the link. I always use the same service so results are the comparable. I use Speakeasy Speed Test at The speed of the link at this McDonalds was fair, but not as fast as most other retail outlets (coffeeshops, bookstores, etc) in our area: 1044 kbps download speed; 296 kbps upload speed.

I believe in being fair, so rather than just report on their service here, I also took time to leave a comment at the McDonalds web site. I wrote:
"11,000 free wifi locations, 7 wall sockets to plug in the computers." You have a very nice restaurant here, but you have ONE plug in at ONE booth. How much money was spent publicizing your free wifi service, which will be wasted because many first-time visitors (like my family) will not return since we can't get to a plug in for our computers.
Randal, the restaurant assistant manager, said that he thinks the restaurant owner, Jim Hadley, may be thinking of adding some plug-ins at some point in the future. We'll see.

Anyway, bottom line is our family probably won't bother with McDonalds again. Panera Bread or Books-A-Million (or even Taco Bell for that matter) are much more conducive to an hour or two noshing and surfing with family or friends or by myself. Not that McDonalds will mind though. I expect they are much more interested in presenting the appearance of being the place you can gather than actually having people cluttering up the place. McDonalds has, after all built their empire on fast food and quick turnover.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Want your Stepfamily to be on TV?

I just got this notice today and thought I'd pass it on. Please note: STEP-Carefully! has nothing whatsoever to do with this offer, program, or company. I'm just passing the word along in case you're interested. Their contact info is at the bottom.



Major cable network is searching for a large, extended and multi-generational family to be the stars of their own comedy reality show.  We’re looking for funny families that REDEFINE THE TRADITIONAL and BREAK THE MOLD of your typical ho-hum American household. 

This show will document their lives and explore the family’s complexity while witnessing the craziness, chaos and love that makes their family special.

 • At your annual Thanksgiving dinner, do you look around and think your family should have a reality show because no one would believe it otherwise?

• Do you find yourself having to explain your family dynamic to those unfamiliar with how things work in your non-traditional household?

• Do your siblings, parents, in-laws or hired help bring a new element that pushes the envelope? Maybe someone is in a May/Dec relationship or has taken on responsibilities or roles that might deviate from the norm?   Is there someone of a different race or ethnicity that’s mixing things up in your previously homogenous family? Stay-At-Home Dads, Working moms?

Tell us about you and your family.  The good, the bad and the ugly. 

Please include:

 All Family Names, ages and occupations.   
A brief bio about your immediate and extended family.    

Include a family photo(s).

Contact Phone numbers for the main contact in each family.

*This is a feel good show where at the end of the day LOVE CONQUERS ALL.

* All family members involved must live in close proximity to one another.

*Characters welcome.

E-mail ALL info to


Show your STEPfamily Pride!

Every word on this page is clickable!


Webster's Online Dictionary
with Multilingual Thesaurus Translation


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