web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Under One Roof


Blended-Family-logo

Share Button

Had I been told a year ago that in a short amount of time my husband and I would have all of our children living with us under one roof, I would have thought it was a joke. Although my husband and I had been working toward this goal for all the years of our marriage, with each passing year it seemed less and less of a possibility.

Several years ago, after a grueling and extensive trial in family court including a number of professional evaluations, my husband ultimately was granted residential custody of his children. The only catch was that we had already relocated our family to Israel and the judge would not allow them to even visit with us here due to concerns for their “safety.”

Once again it seemed as if a cruel prank was being played on us. Either move back to the U.S. with our (then) five children and be able to parent my husband’s two children as we had hoped, or stay in Israel that we believe is not only a realization of a dream but a religious obligation – and try to parent from afar. We lost many nights sleep over this decision, and after seeking advice from several rebbeim who we respect the decision was made to stay in Israel. We tried to stay as connected and involved as the distance would allow, but basically we were in a wait-and-see mode. And as frustrating as that was for all of us, we had emunah that Hashem had a greater plan.

As some of you may recall, last summer, soon after my stepdaughter turned 18, she chose to join our family here in Israel. It was difficult for her to leave her brother behind (she worried about his future as we all did), but felt that her moving here may pave the road for him to come when he reached adulthood and could decide for himself.

After my stepdaughter’s daughter’s arrival, our concern for my stepson only increased. It seemed more difficult to reach him by phone, the messages we left for him went unanswered, and the news we were getting from his hometown about him did not sound good.

For many years, communication with the children’s mother had been difficult at best. Now that my stepdaughter made her choice to be here with us, any possibility of exchanging information seemed completely lost. We were worried and concerned for my stepson but felt helpless in changing his fate from so far away. The best we felt we could do was to keep trying to get through to him on all levels and to make sure he got the messages that we were here for him and loved him. And of course we prayed.

As I said, apparently Hashem has his greater plan. And now, just one short year later, due to changes in his home life and his mother’s remarriage, my 16-year-old stepson was granted permission to join us and arrived just a few weeks ago.

That first Shabbat, looking around our table at all eight faces and having flashbacks about all the events that have led us to this point, was overwhelming. Watching my husband bless each one of our children in age order, without any “missing” pieces, brought tears to my eyes. Hearing the children reminisce about the times we shared when we were all together before our move, and how vivid and special these memories are to all of them, made me feel that all of the hard work leading up to this time was worth it. Seeing my stepson reconnect with his brothers and sisters and actually meeting the two littlest ones was an incomparable feeling. As much as we had hoped, prayed and sacrificed so much to achieve this, I don’t know if I ever really believed it would happen.

The odds had been stacked against us. Fathers do not often get custody of their children although I hear the tides have been changing over the last few years. In our situation we were not only up against my stepchildren’s mother in our efforts to gain access to and/or custody of the children, but her entire community backed her without questioning or understanding all of the important aspects of our case. They felt sorry for this single woman living among them trying to raise her children. They believed all the propaganda against my husband and me that are the usual and often false accusations tossed around in divorce and custody battles. The reality is often far from how the situation is portrayed.

Parental alienation, where one parent tries to alienate the children from their other parent, is not always easy to spot. People who pride themselves on doing chesed and think they are helping out in difficult family situations may, in reality, be hurting the situation and enabling the alienation to continue. The end result is that the children can be damaged permanently by the efforts of the very people who are claiming to care for them.

Within the last few years, Baruch Hashem, after years of searching and hoping, I was able to find some wonderfully helpful and open-minded people within the community where my stepchildren were living. They were willing to take a look at things in a new light rather than, at face value, believe all that they were told. That is when things really began to change for my stepchildren. They finally felt safe in sharing how they really felt and what had been really going on in their home life over the years. With their assistance, along with our reassurance and constant devotion and love for the children, we were able to break down the barriers created by the negative messages they were receiving.

As happy and excited as we all are regarding our new chapter as a family – one where we are all living under one roof – we recognize that there are many challenges ahead for us. With no friends or family members who have lived through an experience like this that can tell us what lies ahead, we are swimming in uncharted waters. For now we are doing our best to take things one day at a time, and are trying to put out the “fires” as quickly as possible.

Allowing each child space and time to readjust to this new “blend” is also important. The key for us is making sure that each child knows that he/she is an important part of our family and is loved unconditionally. As hectic as life can get around here these days, we recognize that each and every day that we have a chance to create new and loving memories together as a family is a blessing to us all.

Dear Readers,

It is my hope that the preceding story regarding Parental Alienation Syndrome will give those of you dealing with it on a daily basis some chizuk (strength) along the way. I also hope that it will help open the eyes of people – including parents, rabbis, teachers, family and friends – who enable these situations to continue.

Yehudit Levinson welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the blended family. She can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com.

Share Button

About the Author: Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Under One Roof”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ukraine Shul Firebombed
Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Yehudit Levinson
Blended-Family-logo

This particular article has been on my computer for quite some time now – incomplete. What compelled me to complete it was my son’s 19th birthday. Born of my first marriage and raised solely by my husband and me for the past seventeen-plus years, my son has only a few memories of time spent with his biological father. My children have made me acutely aware of Parental Disconnect issues. I hope that sharing my thoughts on it will help save others from the pain and confusion we have had to work through.

Blended-Family-logo

Family court, visitation and child support are all unavoidable realities for divorced parents. One particular rule that would be wise to heed is that child support should be less about dollars and cents and more about dollar and “good” sense.

Journaling, putting your feelings down on paper, is a well known method of coping with difficult or traumatic experiences. In fact there have been studies done that seem to prove that people who “journal” live happier, healthier lives. In his book Writing to Heal, James Pennebaker, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, explores this concept. He stresses that when we write about trauma, emotional upheavals or difficult issues we are struggling with, the “heart rates slow, blood pressure drops and immune systems strengthen.”

In all honesty, I really do feel blessed. Interestingly though only someone in a family situation like mine could possibly comprehend this particular “blessing,” and many would not consider it a blessing at all. You see I feel fortunate to have not one, but two wonderful women in my life – both of whom happen to be my mothers-in-law, one from my first marriage and one from my second.

Recently a popular Jewish weekly magazine featured a story depicting the life of a young boy whose parents were divorced. Each parent had re-married, establishing new families. Their shared custody of this son, and he spent substantial time with each of his parent’s new families. Giving a voice to the child of divorce was the intention of the story. It highlighted the distress children feel as well as the confusing messages they often receive from the adults in their lives.

When an opportunity for a fresh start is handed to us, when that new door opens, it is often viewed as a gift from Hashem. In most cases in order to completely realize it, we must fully embrace it. For people transitioning into marriage the second time around this is often the reality they face: a new opportunity seldom comes without a price, without us having to, in some way, compromise the life we were accustomed to. Seamlessly blending “pre re-marriage” life with “post re-marriage, new blended family” life is difficult at best and often times takes many years to sort its’ way out.

It still amazes me how the Internet has completely changed our lives and how we view communication these days. My children hardly believe me when I tell them that there was a time when being in touch with someone, meant we actually saw them, spoke to them on the phone, or wrote them a letter and mailed it.

Sixteen years ago, when I married my husband, I did not give much thought to whether he was Askenazi or Sefardi. Having grown up in what was then a small close-knit Jewish community, it held little importance; my concerns were focused around whether or not my bashert (intended) was Jewish according to halacha, someone who was upstanding in both ideals and actions, and a man solidly committed to a Torah lifestyle.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/blended-families-under-one-roof/2007/08/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: