Her Times
By Pam Parker Erie Times-News staff blogger
Pam Parker's blog takes on everything from women's fun to momisms to lifestyles around Lake Erie and real estate. She'll take you down Memory Lane, up through sports and fun and off the grid. Get ready for laughs — it's more than just Pam. It's Pamdemonium.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1821
Posts tagged ‘blended family’
Posted: February 25th, 2014
My fam 2014

Clockwise, from bottom left: Andrew and Devin Parker, Chris Parker, Matthew Parker, Kim Parker, Nick Carmosino, Kelly Eckert, Mo Parker (with daughter Mia on her lap) and Ryan Eckert. Missing: Howie Eckert.

I have a lot of friends who are closing in on merging blended families together. Discussions with them remind me of some painful times when my husband and I tried to merge everyone together into one family 11 years ago. There were times when we didn’t all get along. But look at us now.

No experts had any great advice at that time. Some people advised that we would all get along eventually. Books and Intenet articles taught me next to nothing. I did discover one tidbit of info: An article advised that your kids would be respectful of their boyfriend or girlfriend’s family. They should be equally tolerant and respectful of stepfamily members. Good advice and something everyone can identify with — and solid recommendations for the future with in-laws. I’m no expert, but after 11 years of marriage, here are some other things that work:

1. Remember that every person is an individual with an opinion. When it comes to kids — you have rocked their worlds. No matter how old they are — you have changed everything for them. But on the flip side, those kids will have their own lives when the high school years start, and you will be relegated to a low priority. It’s a good thing — they grow up, and it doesn’t hurt to remind your kids of that. A lot of eyes opened around here when we asked if a concerned kid would prefer that Mom or Dad be all alone while they went off to school. Parents are adults and they deserve to be happy.  smiley-face

2. Find some common ground. Things like Krispy Kreme donuts, no-bakesRascal Flatts and Pop Tarts can bring a family together. This might sound ridiculous, but any common ground is good ground.

3. There will be times you don’t get along. Let it go. If you try too hard, you will make it worse. Believe me. We have some very strong personalities in this crew. We had months where someone didn’t speak to someone else. It might have been years. In the end, every one of the six kids has lived with us. We still have disagreements, but we can respect one another’s opinions.

4. Get help. Go see a professional counselor — if for nothing else than to vent to someone who is totally objective. I vented to family and friends with credentials. You’ll feel better, and you might realize that you are making more of something than you should. There are times that kids say hurtful things that cut deep. Really deep. But get over it. They are kids — even when they are adults!  On the other hand, don’t force your kids to go to a counselor — they might see that as punishment. You might start a convo with a school counselor or teacher or family member or someone that you and your child mutually respect. You may need to work toward professional counseling, but kids need to know you want to help them — and a few sessions with a counselor can help just about anyone. No one should be miserable. Remind your kids of that.

5. Remind your kids that you love them no matter what. Start conversations with that, and end conversations with it. And share your feelings. If you feel neglected or hurt, share it one-on-one — sometimes when family members get busy, they aren’t necessarily ignoring you — they’re just strapped for time.

6. There are no perfect families. As the kids got older and shared some of the “behind the scenes” of families we thought were perfect, we all realized our imperfections aren’t so bad. “Modern Family’s” Gloria says it best: “Family may not be the same people you started with. It’s all the people you end up with.”

Finally — focus on the good stuff. Always. It will bring you all together. Although the bad stuff has brought us together in unity a few times. And it makes you cherish the good.

Pam Parker is the editor of Lake Erie LifeStyleHer Times and House to Home at the Erie Times-News in Erie, Pa. She is mom to three, stepmom to three and GramPam to one.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 3rd, 2013

49ersIt’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I grew up loving football with my dad Walt Strosser, a legendary high school football coach. My hubby is an assistant football coach and all five boys in this blended family played the game.

My oldest has been a San Francisco 49er fan since he was a tot. We’ve been to San Diego — but not San Francsco, and today our hearts are close to San Francisco — hoping for a win over the Baltimore Ravens.

My son has had a 49ers baseball cap every year that I can remember. They aren’t easy to find around here. He started as a fan in the glory years of Jerry Rice and Steve Young.  He lives in Virginia, and I know his girlfriend has already taken care of the hat for this year.

One of my daughter’s friends loves the team too. It’s kind of in the family — except for my youngest’s love of Green Bay Packers — but even he is rooting for San Francisco today.

I don’t know much about the players for either team in today’s game. But I do know the coaches are brothers. That in itself is an interesting story.

Tony Bennett, will hopefully sing “I left my heart in San Francisco” at some point during today’s festivities. If not, watch the video of a 1960s version here. And here’s his 1982 version on Johnny Carson. It’s associated more with the San Francisco Giants than the Niners, but who doesn’t love Tony Bennett? He first sang the song in 1961.

Good luck to both teams, and Go Niners!

Pam Parker is the editor of Lake Erie LifeStyle, Her Times and House to Home at the Erie Times-News in Erie, Pa. She is the mom of three, stepmom to three and step-grandmom to one.  Her oldest son has been a San Francisco 49er fan for more than 20 years. 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: January 9th, 2013

Student Wearing a Backpack

Kids often want to make a change. It happens in a lot of blended families — ours included. All of our kids are now age 20 to 28, so hindsight is 20/20.

I can confirm that it was a good decision each and every time one of the kids moved.  My kids’ dad passed away 13 years ago, so my kids were kind of stuck with my hubby and me, but we had a revolving door for my stepsons. It may sound silly, but it worked.

I was reminded of all of this when I read one mom’s struggle of  letting her 14-year-old daughter go live with her dad on Blogher.com.

The story is thoughtful and insightful — a great read and a reminder that kids are way smarter than we think they are.

Pam Parker is the editor of Lake Erie LifeStyleHer Times and House to Home at the Erie Times-News in Erie, Pa. She is the mom of three, stepmom to three and step-grandmom to one.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 23rd, 2011

With apologies to Norman Rockwell, (I’ll get to Edgar Allan Poe), I don’t remember Thanksgiving feasts that looked anything like this. When I was a kid, my brother, sister and I were dragged from one grandparents’ home to another to eat until we gagged. My maternal and paternal grandparents lived blocks away from one another — over the hill and through the town (kind of like over the river and  …), but it was always separate meals, and I never understood why we just couldn’t all get along and eat together.

After the grandparents passed on, and I had my own family, I refused to give in to that drama or the “one house at Thanksgiving and the other at Christmas” or any of  that other hoopla.  I cooked for everyone. Sometimes 23 people … in a kitchen that would flip a breaker if the toaster and coffeepot were on at the same time. I entertained step-in-laws and people I didn’t even know. And we had good times.

Now, as a member of a blended family, it’s a struggle to schedule a dinner. But it’s OK. I’m cooking this year, for the first time in a long time. We usually attend the George family feast in New Castle, Pa., a gathering of 100 of my brother-in-law’s crazy kin, but since we have a stepwedding this weekend, a quiet day at home is on the menu.

One time we did this at-home cooking thing, the harrowing schedule of “who gets the stepkids and at what hour” turned into yet another laughable equation of a 15-minute window when we were “allowed” to eat so not as to interfere with the other family dinner. Someone should have told the turkey. “Nevermore,” quoth the Pamela (that’s me). “Nevermore. ”

This year, we are cooking a bird and eating whenever that bronzed beast is baked to perfection. And I don’t care who shows up or when. Thanksgiving in a blended family isn’t about ridiculous schedules of who gets the kids when or any other hooey where people want to control one another’s lives. It’s about being thankful and being together whether it’s over a baloney sandwich on a Tuesday or a tofu platter on Saturday, rather than the big day.

Last Saturday, we saw Thanksgiving in action. My husband and I had the privilege to share a Thanksgiving meal that Dick Hiles and Bonnie Zahn host annually at the Rotary Pavilion. We gathered with a bunch of people neither one of us knew, and everyone had a story. I discovered my former neighbors from when I was a kid, and my tennis buddy Dave Burton and his wife were in attendance. And we met a couple with a disabled foster child who will forever be in my heart. Everyone was thankful for what they had.

So am I. I’m sitting here at 4:30 a.m. with my neighbor’s Christmas tree lights twinkling on their outdoor tree. My husband is the most giving man on Earth, and my three kids are all together for a week for the first time in years. And as my older kids are living in different cities, I know future holidays may not be this “together.” My family has survived some incredible odds, tragedies, loss and  more. And thank God we are all together.

On Thanksgiving, I will hoist a glass — a big one — to all the ancestors, all my family we’ll miss this year  and all the stepfamilies who need to skip the drama, the unrealistic expectations of a Rockewell Thanksgiving and enjoy the fleeting moments of togetherness meant to be cherished for what they are — moments. Forevermore.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 22nd, 2011

After watching the premiere of ABC’s “Modern Family” last night, I have to say I love this show. I’ve always loved the show. It is the first show, I think, that gives a somewhat accurate portrayal of blended families. As a member of a blended family, I can vouch for the funny moments, the tender moments and the irritating moments.
On last night’s double episode of “Modern Family,” I was fascinated with little Lily, the adopted child of two male partners. Last year, Lily never spoke, smiled or even showed emotions. This year, she made up for it, much like a few of the kids in our family. For a laugh, even if you aren’t in a blended family, take a look.
It always makes me smile.