Articles

IndyCar Driver Ed Carpenter Shares HIs Spin on Step- and Traditional Families

Friday, August 31, 2012

IndyCar Driver Ed Carpenter Shares His Spin on Step- and Traditional Families 

Ed Carpenter counts himself a lucky man. Not only does he get to do something he loves that’s both a hobby and his job—something he considers a “luxury” to be able to do—but he also gets to include his family.

Ed is an IndyCar Driver—his team’s car is number 20. Ed took time out of his busy preparations for the Grand Prix happening in Baltimore over Labor Day weekend to share his thoughts with RemarriageWorks.com on stepfamilies and traditional families.

“It’s different in other sports, but in racing, family can come along,” says Ed. Not that he gets to see them a lot while he’s working, but he and his wife Heather take comfort in the knowledge that their kids are seeing the country and learning new things while still being together as much as possible.

Other than balancing work and family life, Ed has a new challenge: his daughter Makenna’s newly budding social calendar. For Makenna, who turns five in October, sometimes a friend’s birthday party presents a conflict. Ed and Heather try to balance those types of activities with spending as much time together as possible while Ed is on the road traveling, which he does from March until generally the end of October. (Luckily for the Carpenters, the race season ends the end of September this year.)

In addition to Makenna, there’s Ryder who just turned three, and a third baby on the way. The Carpenter family resides in Indianapolis, and they feel fortunate that during race season in the month of May, the races are based in Indianapolis.

Ed is also from a stepfamily, and he can only see the benefits that a stepfamily provided him. In fact, he’s no longer a stepson. The man he has called his stepfather since the age of eight has been going through the process of formally adopting him. That man is Indy Racing League founder Tony George and someone that Ed obviously looks up to and greatly respects.

Ed credits his stepfather for how he handled entering the blended family dynamic as a stepfather and the mindset he brought. Ed has this advice for anyone considering remarriage: “What made it great was, my last name was different, but I never felt different. My advice is don’t do it unless you’re willing to care for a child who is not your own.”

When Ed’s mom remarried, Ed got a stepbrother, and later, a sister came along. He considered his mother’s remarriage a good thing for him, providing him with what he feels was a more normal environment.

For kids transitioning into a blended family, he offers this advice: “Respect your parents. Have faith in them, that they’ll make decisions that are good for your well-being.”

As for the family-friendly Grand Prix, Ed says that with a street race, there is always something going on, both off-track and on. “There’s a car on the track all the time.” It’s a chance for a family to have a fun outing and spend time together, getting caught up in the thrill of the event.

This is Ed’s first year owning his own team in association with Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka. We wish Ed and his team the best of luck in this year’s IndyCar Series. And, best wishes to Ed and his wife in their efforts to cultivate a close family environment that surmount the challenges of a traveling athlete. 


New Stepdads and their Role in the Blended Family

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Stepdads and their Role in the Blended Family

A Candid Look at Expectations, Growth Pains and Success

By Craig Gaspard 

I’ll have to admit that when I became a stepfather, the day I married my wife Terry – in May of 1997 – I really had no idea what I was getting into. I was a stepfather (briefly) for three years in my first marriage. But, I was never a father before, and at the ripe “young” age of 42, I was thinking that I was somehow going to “get by” and become accepted, primarily because I had married their mother. I was in for an awakening, not “rude” mind you but eye-opening nonetheless.

In my mind, “get[ting] by” was being nice, not making waves or expecting too much of Sean, who had just turned 13, and Tracy who was soon going to be 11. But as the weeks turned into months, the challenges of the role became more apparent. Comments like “you’re not my father” served as challenges to any authority I tried to impose, even as innocently as “could you please put this [or that] away.”

For about three years, our newly formed family went through some growing pains that included having our own child Catherine, who, in the beginning, was seen as a threat to take away their mother’s attention.  Holidays, vacations and birthdays seemed to be about one-upmanship. But, even before those three years were up, some helpful changes occurred that helped.

Different from a biological parent, a major thrust of being a stepparent I’ve learned is to be a friend on some level. Not like a school friend, but an adult friend more akin to being a guidance counselor. Inviting my stepson not only to go on summer vacations, but to also share my love of fishing with him helped in the friendship process. It was more challenging to be a friend to my stepdaughter, a naturally shy person. But to attend some of her basketball games and supporting her need for one-on-one time with Terry helped with this. This takes time, years really.

Presenting a united front with Terry supporting my suggestions or requests (if reasonable) was helpful. This did require respect, caring and perhaps love. These latter two are “earned” from the point of view of the stepchild.  Caring and respect are especially important, cannot be rushed, and are granted over time. I think it must take time because as in most relations between unrelated people, trust has to be built. Even though Terry ‘s and my relationship and eventual marriage happened nearly three years after her divorce was finalized, that still is very soon in the eyes of children. Too soon to not be seen as a “competitor” with their father on some level.

Let me end by identifying some key points:

  • Stepparents had best proceed slowly.
  • Just because things went well when you were dating the biological parent, does not ensure things will go smoothly once you’re a committed couple.  A marriage effectively ends any hope of their mother and father reunifying and can reignite those feelings of loss for the children.
  • Take your time in getting to know a stepchild. Rushing it may satisfy your own unmet needs to be liked. Sharing common interests, from sports and arts, can do nothing but help.
  • As much as possible, stay out of interactions between biological parents working out holiday or vacation schedules. And especially, try to be courteous and respectful of the “other parent”, keeping in mind that (likely) neither parent would have chosen having their children live with them part-time.
  • Cooperate with the biological parent living with you, and talk, talk, talk.

 

This article is a reprint of an article posted on Terry Gaspard’s blog on http://movingpastdivorce.com. The author, Craig Gaspard, LICSW, MPA, is a clinical social worker with over 20 years of experience, primarily in the substance abuse treatment and prevention fields. He has also worked in the affordable housing and homeless services and administered a family mediation program. He is beginning anew as a family and divorce mediator in Rhode Island. 


The 5 Best Ways Parents Can Help Their Daughter Cope with Divorce

Saturday, August 04, 2012

The 5 Best Ways Parents Can Help Their Daughter Cope with Divorce

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

While divorce can be problematic for all children, it poses unique challenges for girls. Most studies report that girls tend to adjust better than boys immediately following divorce.

However, several experts, such as Judith Wallerstein, have written about a “Sleeper Effect” – a delayed reaction which can trigger negative emotions and wounded trust in early adult years.  As they venture out on their own and make decisions about love and commitment, daughters of divorce may feel pessimistic about love, choose partners who are all wrong for them, and become preoccupied with the fear that their relationships will not succeed.

On the whole, children crave stability, and a girl’s desire for authentic connection is strong. The failure of a marriage falls outside of a child’s day to day experience. When compared to their male counterparts, daughters of divorce are more sensitive to this disruption. Often, a girl may feel her parents’ divorce is due to what she perceives as some defect on her part.  When her family is broken, she feels broken.  As a result, it’s important for parents and stepparents to model good communication, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.  This is ultimately for the good of any children involved.

As a parent, it’s crucial to recognize that intimate relationships may be hard for your daughter because she didn’t have a template of a healthy, intact marriage to follow. On the other hand, E.M. Hetherington, a leading authority on divorce, points out that a successful remarriage can counteract some of the negative impact of parental divorce. Keep in mind that a girl’s relationship with her father and stepfather can help her grow into adulthood with confidence in her ability to love and be loved, providing a counterbalance to any negative impact. 

In an effort to find out more about the unique vulnerabilities that girls face after parental divorce, my daughter Tracy and I interviewed 126 women raised in divided homes. Penny, a beautiful, out-going twenty-something woman, acknowledges she had a delayed reaction to her parents’ breakup: “As a young child, I was a people pleaser and didn’t react much to my dad leaving – but it hit me like a vengeance when I was in college – I got really angry at my dad and didn’t speak to him for a few years.” Consequently, Penny endured relationships rife with infidelity and emotional abuse, because she lacked awareness and a positive male role model.

How can you help your daughter overcome the loss she experienced in childhood and move forward with an optimistic view of love and marriage? The following strategies can help your daughter cope:

  • Help your daughter overcome the loss she experienced in childhood by creating a safe atmosphere for her to grieve and discuss her feelings.
  • Don’t bad mouth your ex-spouse as this will only promote loyalty conflicts and make it more difficult for her to heal.
  • Be sensitive to the fact that your divorce can have a negative impact on your daughter’s self-esteem – find ways to encourage her to build self-worth.
  • Attempt to help your daughter repair any father-daughter wounds.
  • Don’t let cynicism, sadness, or anger get in the way of your daughter’s future. If you have negative views of relationships don’t pass them to her. 

In closing, while daughters of divorce possess unique vulnerabilities, they are also armed with signature strengths such as resilience and self-reliance. With greater awareness, they can learn to recognize the forces that shape them and build healthy relationships. Experiencing divorce as children can make women more careful about whom they choose for partners as adults. Daughters of divorce understand the fragility of love, but maintain a respect for its sacred place in their lives.   

Bio- Terry Gaspard is a licensed clinical social worker, college instructor, and non-fiction writer, specializing in divorce, women’s issues, children, and families. She wrote Love We Can Be Sure Of: How Daughters of Divorce Can Build Love, Trust, and Intimacy with her daughter Tracy Clifford based on their research findings. They are both daughters of divorce and Terry has been happily remarried for 15 years. Their book inspired www.movingpastdivorce.com as a way for adults to move past divorce to a place of greater happiness and peace. They offer a bi-weekly enewsletter, blogs, and other resources to promote healing and successful relationships. 


Spotlight on Stepdads

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spotlight on Stepdads:

An Interview with a former Stepchild, current Stepdad and StepGrandad…

In honor of Father’s Day here in the month of June, let’s give a round of applause for one of the most unsung heroes out there: stepdads.

I recently interviewed a stepdad who grew up as a stepchild and is now a stepgrandad. He’s a successful licensed family therapist specializing in stepfamily relations, and is RemarriageWorks’ very own advice columnist: Chuck Semich.

Today, I’d like to offer you some highlights from that interview, particularly Chuck’s top 3 pieces of advice for stepdads. These are some nuggets of wisdom that can help stepdads gain some insight into their own expectations that they may be bringing to their blended family and their experiences as a stepdad, as well as help their wives see what it’s like to be in a stepdad’s shoes.

Paula:

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for stepdads, such as new stepdads—newly  remarrieds, in particular?

Chuck:

I have some very strong opinions on that, from hard experience and learning—I hope—from my own mistakes!

I would say my top 3 pieces of advice are as follows:

1-    Let their mother do the parenting. Don’t try to change the rules or impose your own standards and values. If you don’t agree on how she’s handling things, make suggestions, not demands—and do it privately. Say something like, “You might want to try this…” or “Maybe this will work…” If she decides not to follow your advice, be graceful about it.

2-    This is extremely important: never force your wife to choose between you and the kids. That should always be a non-issue. She is a wife and a mother, and she should be free to function in both areas, in both roles, and never forced to make a choice.

3-    Work on your relationship with each of your wife’s children: spend time with them, take an interest in what they’re doing, ask them if there’s anything or any way you can be of help to them. Be a consultant, not a disciplinarian. Good relationships aren’t built overnight; they take a long time, even years.

Paula:

What if a family has kids that are a little older and they don’t want to have anything to do with the stepparent? What if the kids say no? Let time roll by and hope for the best, or are there things you can do in the background?

Chuck:

It’s a real challenge. I think at some point, the stepfather might want to make a statement to the kids and say something like, “I know we haven’t really hit it off, but I hope over time we can have a good relationship, and I’m here if you need anything.”

Also, be a very good husband to their mother. I notice that my stepchildren were really impressed with our relationship, they told me that many times. And I know that they felt good about the fact that someone really loved and took care of their mother. I think that’s important.

And of course, maybe you’ll never be real close or friends; it’s something you don’t really have a lot of control over. You can take the high ground and you don’t need to take it personally, even though it does hurt sometimes.

To hear the interview in its entirety, go to: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thestepmomstoolbox/2012/06/05/remarriageworks-top-secrets-of-stepfathers

 



Recent Posts


Tags


Archive

    Tell Us More About Your Second Wedding!

    1. How much did you spend on your second wedding?

    $0 - 1,000
    $1,001 - 5,000
    $5,001 - 10,000
    $10,001 - 20,000
    $20,001 or more

     

    Here's What You're Saying

    “I find your site extremely helpful and resourceful in dealing with the many and daily issues of parenting, co-parenting and life issues that come along.” –J.P.

    “I love the information you all provide. The magazine was so helpful in trying to navigate the remarriage with kids territory. Thank you for all of your information and inspiration you provide.” –K.W.

    “Have I mentioned HOW MUCH I love your site?!?!? It's really cool. . . . I'm getting married to a man that has two kiddos, and it's quite a lifestyle change for me!” –M.M.

    Win a Copy of
    Eat, Drink and Remarry

    This is not your mother’s second wedding! Getting married again? Wondering why the planning is harder than you thought it was going to be? Enter to win a copy of Eat, Drink and Remarry by Stacey Tucker!


    Tweets from RemarriageWorks!