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Step Parenting: Healthy Lesson from a 30 Year Old Stepmom

I just read an interesting comment about a 30 year old woman who was about to become a stepmom to a 7, 13 and 16 year old children.  She said that it is not important where kids put their napkins.  Although the new stepmom might believe that the napkin belongs on a child's lap, making that an issue is not important.  She viewed the children's experience as important in her new parenting role.

In developing a parenting plan, moms and dads often forget to look at the plan from the viewpoint of the children living in the year 2013.  They should be concerned with "the best interest of the child".  However, parties often use restrictions of parenting time to satisfy other desires.  Some moms or dads insist on limiting the other's parenting time to "punish" the other for perceived wrongs or even to satisfy their need to see themselves as "right" or the "better" parent.  They fail to consider that the children have certain needs regarding both parents as well.

I have observed situations where one parent fabricates a physical event and calls the police to arrest the spouse and obtain a "no-contact" order against the other.  This is not to say that all domestic abuse complaints are fabricated.  Then, the person filing the complaint uses the time to restrict the other parent from contact with the children and cements a favorable parenting position.  The parent feels justified and satisfied, believing that punishing the other spouse is beneficial to a negotiating position; they fail to see the harm to children who lose a parental connection and often lose the ability to attend extracurricular activities because one parent canot bring the children to every event that they previously attended.

Numerous studies over the past years have debunked so old theories regarding parenting.  I believe that almost none of the current RI Family Court Judges automatically believe that mothers should have greater rights with children than fathers.  Studies have shown that if both parents are cooperative and respectful of the other's rights, children grow up healthy, even if they do not spend every school night in the same bed.   

The young stepmother demonstrated a more mature and healthy understanding of parenting and children's rights and needs when their parents get divorced.  She was less concerned about her "dominance" or selfish desires and more focused on helping the children through a process that can leave a lifelong blemish on a child.  

Source:  Lauri Roman, Esq., Madison, WI, FAMLAW@AMERICANBAR.ORG 

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