Transcript: Blended Families And The Holidays | Dec 13, 2000

(music plays)
The opening sequence shows a wooden table with a small lit candle as several words fly by - nutrition, medicine, prevention, treatment, health, caregivers, home, family. Fast clips show different sets of hands performing activities on the table such as pulling petals from a daisy, drawing a big red heart, tuning a violin, flipping through the pages of a book, cooking, and pouring a glass of red wine.
In animation, the title appears inside the shape of a house - “More to Life.”

Maureen Taylor sits in a studio with yellow walls bearing the logo and pink curtains in the background.

Maureen is in her late thirties, with wavy red hair in a bob. She’s wearing a dark gray coat with a pink-spotted neckerchief.

Maureen says HELLO AND WELCOME TO “MORE
TO LIFE” I'M MAUREEN LORE.
THE HOLIDAYS ARE ALMOST HERE,
AND FOR SOME IT'S NOT SUCH A “HO-HO-HO” TIME.
BLENDED FAMILIES ARE
BECOMING THE NORM WITH STEP,
ADOPTED AND FOSTER CHILDREN
ALL UNDER ONE ROOF.
MAKING IT WORK DURING THE HOLIDAYS IS A GRUELING TASK.
HERE TO ANSWER YOUR
QUESTIONS ABOUT FAMILY
RELATIONSHIPS AND STRESSES
THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS IS
FAMILY COUNSELLOR PEARL LANGER.

Pearl is in her forties with bobbed blond hair and wears a dark gray top with an open neck, a light blue sash around her waist and a blue pearl necklace.
The cover of her book appears.

Maureen continues PEARL RECOMMENDS THE BOOK
CALLED “THE GOOD DIVORCE.”
WRITTEN BY CONSTANCE AHRONS.”
WE'VE GOT COMPANY PIECE OF
THE BOOK TO GIVE AWAY TO
FIVE CALLERS WHOSE QUESTIONS
MAKE IT TO AIR.
SO GIVE US A CALL -
OUR NUMBER IN TORONTO IS 416-484-2727.
IF YOU'RE CALLING LONG DISTANCE, DIAL
1-888-411-1234, AND IF YOU HAVE EMAIL,
YOU CAN ALWAYS SEND YOUR QUESTIONS FOR
PEARL VIA THE INTERNET TO MORETOLIFE@TVO.ORG.

Turning to her, MAUREEN says AND PEARL,
WELCOME BACK IT “MORE TO LIFE.”
HI - THANK YOU.

PEARL says HI.

MAUREEN says WHAT WOULD YOU
SAY IS ONE OF THE MOST
COMMON COMPLAINTS YOU GET
FROM FAMILIES DURING THE
HOLIDAYS?

At the bottom of the screen, a caption reads “Pearl Langer, Family Therapist.”

PEARL says THEY REALLY
OFTEN TELL ME THAT THEY
DON'T KNOW HOW TO DIVIDE
THEMSELVES UP INTO TWO DAYS'
WORTH OF FESTIVITIES AND
IT'S JUST LIKE A THREE-RING CIRCUS.
AND SO THAT MAKES IT VERY
STRESSFUL TO FIGURE OUT, YOU
KNOW, HOW THEY'RE GOING TO
DO THAT.

MAUREEN says THAT'S PROBABLY
TRUE FOR INTACT COUPLES AS
WELL AS DIVORCED COUPLES.

PEARL says IT IS.
BUT THERE ARE SO MANY MORE
PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH, AND
THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT MORE
STRESSFUL FOR COUPLES WHO
HAVE UNITED WITH OTHER
FAMILIES SO THERE'S MANY
MORE TO DEAL WITH.
PLUS THERE OFTEN IS THE
HIDDEN PIECE OF LOYALTY
ISSUES AND ALL OF THOSE
THINGS, CONFLICT THAT MAY
NEVER HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED.
AND PARTICULARLY FOR PEOPLE
WHO ARE IN A PHASE WHERE
IT'S A VERY NEW PIECE FOR
THEM, THOSE PEOPLE ARE JUST
LEARNING HOW TO DO THIS AND
TO HAVE THE NEW PEOPLE IN
THEIR FAMILIES AND HOW TO
REDEFINE THE RITUALS AND
WHO DOES WHAT, THE ROLE PIECE.

MAUREEN says YES.
LET'S SAY THIS IS THE FIRST
CHRISTMAS SINCE A DIVORCE,
AND THERE ARE CHILDREN INVOLVED.
WHAT WOULD YOU WARN MOM AND
DAD THAT THEY'RE GOING TO
FEEL OVER THIS CHRISTMAS?
WHAT SHOULD THEY BE AWARE OF?

PEARL says IT'S
INTERESTING.
I GUESS WHAT I WOULD SAY TO
THEM IS THAT THEY ARE GOING
TO BE DEALING WITH EMOTIONAL
ISSUES AROUND THIS BEING THE
FIRST CHRISTMAS THAT THEY
HAVE NOT BEEN TOGETHER.
THAT'S NUMBER ONE.
AND THAT IS GOING TO IMPACT
ON HOW THEY ARE WITH THEIR
CHILDREN AND WITH THE OTHER
PEOPLE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO
BE WITH.
AND HOW THEY HANDLE THIS TIME.
THE OTHER THING THAT I WOULD
WARN THEM IS THAT THEY ARE
GOING TO NEED TO ESTABLISH
VERY FIRM BOUNDARIES AND
RULES AROUND THIS AND BE
ABLE TO SIT DOWN LONG BEFORE
CHRISTMAS HITS AND FIGURE
OUT WHO'S GOING TO BE WHERE
AND WHO'S GOING TO DO WHAT?
AND THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE
TO PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO
THE CHILDREN'S NEEDS.
THAT'S TOP PRIORITY HERE.

MAUREEN says AND WHAT DO THE
CHILDREN NEED AT CHRISTMAS?
DO THEY NEED A BUNCH OF
PRESENTS FROM BOTH PARENTS NOW?

PEARL says WELL, I
GUESS AS YOU ASK THAT, I
THINK THE WORD THAT COMES TO
MY MIND IS CONTINUITY.
IN AS MUCH AS THE CONTINUITY
AROUND MAINTAINING
ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIP,
GRANDPARENTS, UNCLES AND
AUNT, FRIENDS, PARENTS, AS
LONG AS THAT CAN BE
MAINTAINED IN AS GOOD A WAY
AS POSSIBLE, THE CHILDREN
WILL DO BETTER.
BECAUSE CHILDREN -- AND
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT YOUNGER
CHILDREN, BUT WE'RE ALSO
TALKING ABOUT ADULT CHILDREN.
THERE'S OFTEN AN ANXIETY
THAT PERVADES THIS IS WHOLE
ATMOSPHERE OF COMING
TOGETHER IN A NEW WAY, AND
NOT BEING THE KIND OF FAMILY
WE ONCE WERE.
THEY'RE STILL FAMILY, BUT
IT'S DIFFERENT.
AND SO THE SAFETY FACTOR
OFTEN IS - LET'S HAVE A
STRUCTURE THAT'S VERY CLEAR,
HAS BOUNDARIES, AND THAT THE
KIDS HAVE A SAY IN WHAT'S
HAPPENING SO THERE'S A
COLLABORATION BETWEEN
PARENTS AND CHILDREN AND A
VERY CLEAR DEFINITION OF HOW
WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS.
AND THAT REQUIRES
FLEXIBILITY.
SO BEFORE CHRISTMAS HITS,
START SOME PLANNING.
THIS IS PART OF THE
PARTNERSHIP DEAL.
COMMON GROUND.

MAUREEN says AND WHAT'S YOUR
ADVICE WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR
STEP CHILDREN?
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU'VE
GOT YOUR OWN CHILDREN YOU'RE
BUYING GIFTS FOR, SHOULD YOU
SPEND AS MUCH ON THE STEP
CHILDREN AS YOU DO ON YOUR
OWN CHILDREN?
WHAT IF THEY DON'T LIVE WITH
YOU FULL-TIME?
YOU KNOW, HOW DO YOU DEAL
WITH THAT?

PEARL says RIGHT.
I GUESS, YOU KNOW, I KIND OF
SEE GIFT-GIVING AS SOMETHING
FROM THE HEART.
NO “SHOULDS” HERE.
A GIFT CAN COST 10 DOLLARS AND BE
THE MOST HEARTFELT GIFT,
SOMETHING THAT SOMEBODY HAS
LOOKED INTO, THAT IS VERY,
VERY MEANINGFUL, VERSUS
SOMETHING THAT COSTS 200 DOLLARS.

MAUREEN says MM-HMM.
THAT'S TRUE.

PEARL says SO FIRST OF
ALL I WOULD SAY LOOK INTO
YOUR OWN HEART AND WHY
YOU'RE GIVING A GIFT.
AND THE SECOND PIECE HAS TO
DO WITH THE STEP CHILD
HAPPENS TO BE THE CHILD OF
YOUR MATE AND HIS OR HER EX-MATE.
I DON'T LIKE THE WORD EX,
BUT THERE IT IS.
WE DON'T HAVE A LOT OF GOOD
LANGUAGE AROUND THIS.
AND I THINK IT REALLY
BELONGS IN THEIR BALLPARK TO
DECIDE WHAT THEY WANT TO
GIVE TO THEIR CHILD AND AS
THE STEP-PARENT, I THINK
IT'S REALLY LOVELY TO SAY “I
CAN CHOOSE TO GIVE THE KIND
OF GIFT THAT IS MEANINGFUL
FOR THIS NEW RELATIONSHIP.”
RELATIONSHIP THAT WE HAVE
WHICH I THINK IS VERY SPECIAL, YOU
KNOW? AND --

MAUREEN says BUT DIFFERENT
THAN THE RELATIONSHIP THAT
THE CHILD HAS WITH --

PEARL says DIFFERENT.
EXACTLY, EXACTLY.

MAUREEN says OKAY, WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT FAMILY
RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH THE
HOLIDAYS THIS AFTERNOON.
DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A DIVORCE SITUATION.
I KNOW LOTS OF FAMILIES
WHERE WHEN SIBLINGS GET
TOGETHER, AND POLITICS OR
SOMETHING COMES UP, THERE
ARE HUGE FIGHTS.
PEOPLE DON'T FORGET THINGS
FROM YEAR TO YEAR, SO IF YOU
HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT HOW TO
HANDLE A CERTAIN FAMILY
RELATIONSHIP, GIVE US A CALL.
MY GUEST IS PEARL LANGER.
AND WE HAVE FIVE COPIES OF
THE BOOK “THE GOOD DIVORCE.”
TO GIVE AWAY TO FIVE CALLERS
WHOSE QUESTIONS GET TO AIR.

Maureen holds up the book and repeats the phone numbers and e-mail address.

MAUREEN says AND ANDREA IS IN
SCARBOROUGH.
HI ANDREA, WELCOME.

Andrea says HI THERE.
MY QUESTION IS WE HAVE GOT
AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER
AND THREE TEN-MONTH-OLD BOYS, TRIPLETS.
AND AROUND HERE THINGS ARE
PRETTY STRESSFUL PRETTY MUCH 24-7.
NEVER MIND THE HOLIDAYS.
BUT I WANT HER NOT TO FEEL
RESENTFUL TOWARDS THE BOYS.
I MEAN, SHE'S BEEN THE ONLY
CHILD FOR SUCH A LONG TIME,
AND SHE WAS A CHILD FROM A
PREVIOUS MARRIAGE, ALTHOUGH
THE ONLY FATHER THAT SHE HAS
NO ONE HAS BEEN MY PRESENT HUSBAND.
ALTHOUGH HE CAN'T GIVE HER
THE SAME KIND OF ATTENTION
THAT HE GAVE HER BEFORE
AND -- I MEAN, SHE LOVES HER
BROTHERS, BUT YOU CAN SEE
THAT THERE IS A BIT OF
RESENTMENT AND I MEAN, I'M
TRYING TO SPEND TIME WITH
HER AS FAR AS DOING STUFF,
LIKE BAKING COOKIES AND, YOU
KNOW, ONE-ON-ONE KIND OF
THING, RATHER THAN
PURCHASING STUFF?
AND I WAS WONDERING HOW TO
TRY TO LESSEN THE STRESS
AROUND HERE THIS TIME OF
YEAR AND HELP HER, I GUESS,
FEEL SPECIAL DURING THE
HOLIDAYS AND NOT HAVE TO
FOCUS -- NOT HAVE TO FOCUS
SO MUCH ON GIFTS AND THINGS
LIKE THAT.

MAUREEN says AND I'M SURE
TRIPLETS GET A LOT OF
ATTENTION, JUST FROM PEOPLE
PASSING YOU ON THE STREET.
AND IT'S SO RARE TO SEE.
PEARL WHAT DO YOU THINK?

PEARL says RIGHT.
I GUESS, I'M LISTENING TO
YOU, AND THINKING THAT
YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT ALREADY.
YOU'RE VERY AWARE OF HER
POSITION IN THE FAMILY, WITH
THIS TRIPLE THREAT.
BUT I DON'T LIKE TO SEE
THESE NEW BABIES AS A THREAT,
AND NEITHER DO YOU.
AND YOU'RE ALREADY GIVING
HER SPECIAL TIME WITH YOU, WHICH
I THINK IS ABSOLUTELY
WONDERFUL AND IS ONE OF THE
THINGS I WOULD HAVE SAID,
TOP OF THE MARK, YOU KNOW?
THAT'S VERY, VERY IMPORTANT FOR HER.
I'M THINKING ABOUT HER AGE
AS A TEN-YEAR-OLD, AND I
THINK PART OF IT IS TO
REALLY FIND OUT WHAT SHE
WOULD LIKE DURING THIS
PERIOD OF TIME WHEN SHE'S
GOT, YOU KNOW, YOUR
ATTENTION IS REALLY WITH NEW
BABIES, BUT YOUR ATTENTION
IS ALSO WITH HER.
SO YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO HER.
HOW WOULD SHE LIKE TO BE
INVOLVED IN THE CELEBRATION?
WHAT WOULD BE SPECIAL FOR HER?
YOU CAN'T DO THAT WITH YOUR
TEN MONTH OLD CHILDREN BUT
YOU CAN CERTAINLY DO IT WITH
A TEN-YEAR-OLD.
AND SO IT'S MORE OF WHAT
YOU'RE DOING THERE, WHICH IS
BEING WITH HER, WHICH IS THE
MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ALL.
AND THIS IS -- I'M JUST
THINKING, IT'S HER FIRST
CHRISTMAS WITH THE OTHER
CHILDREN.

MAUREEN says WITH HER
BROTHERS.

PEARL says SO HOW
COULD SHE BE INVOLVED IN
PLANNING THE CHRISTMAS
CELEBRATION? WHAT WOULD SHE
LIKE FOR HERSELF AND HOW
WOULD SHE PERHAPS LIKE TO BE
INVOLVED WITH THE REST OF
THE FAMILY?
IN WHAT SPECIAL WAY?
INCLUDING HER BROTHERS?
I THINK THAT'S A GOOD PIECE
FOR HER.
'CAUSE SHE NEEDS TO KNOW
THAT SHE HAS THIS SPECIAL
PLACE, WHICH SHE DOES.
IT'S VERY UNIQUE.

MAUREEN says YEAH. OH, BOY.
THEY'RE GOING TO JUST LOVE
HER WHEN THEY GET OLDER.

PEARL says YEAH.

MAUREEN says OKAY, SO ASK HER OPINION ON
THINGS, EVEN THOUGH SHE'S SO YOUNG.

PEARL says YEAH, HOW
WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO THIS?
OH, YEAH, TEN-YEAR-OLDS WILL
GIVE YOU AN OPINION, AND
THEY NEED TO.

MAUREEN says JAN WRITES “I
HAVE A QUESTION CONCERNING
MY PARENTS.
I'M AN ADULT CHILD OF
PARENTS WHO JUST SEPARATED
DURING THE PAST WEEK.
OUR CHRISTMAS SEASON IS
GENERALLY FILLED WITH
FESTIVITIES.
MY PARENTS ARE BOTH TELLING
ME THEIR VERSIONS AND STORIES.
I FEEL REALLY PULLED IN
DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.
MY CHILDREN ARE UNAWARE OF
THE SEPARATION, I HAVE NO
IDEA TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUES.
MY PARENTS WANT TO PRETEND
THEY'RE STILL TOGETHER FOR
OUR CHILDREN'S SAKE FOR CHRISTMAS.
I FEEL VERY STRESSED-OUT AND
ANY SUGGESTIONS WOULD BE HELPFUL.”

PEARL says YOU'RE IN A
VERY DIFFICULT POSITION, AND
IT'S A VERY NEW PIECE.
SO YOU'RE DEALING WITH THIS
TERRIBLE SHOCK.
AND THE AWARENESS OF A HUGE
SHIFT IN YOUR LIFE.
SO NUMBER ONE IS THAT YOU
NEED TO BEGIN TO TAKE CARE
OF “YOU” WHILE TRYING TO
FIGURE OUT HOW YOU'RE GOING
BE WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND
WITH YOUR PARENTS.
YOU'RE KIND OF THE SANDWICH.
THE FILLING IN THE SANDWICH.
BUT IF YOU DON'T TAKE CARE
OF “YOU,” YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE
A HARD TIME WITH THE OTHER
TWO PARTS.
ADULT CHILDREN, WHEN THEY
HEAR ABOUT AN IMPENDING
SPLIT WITH THEIR PARENTS,
OFTEN ARE SHOCKED, DISMAYED,
ANGRY, SOMETIMES THEY'RE
RELIEVED BECAUSE THEY FEEL
THAT IT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED
A LONG TIME AGO.
BUT THEY STILL HAVE TO DEAL
WITH THIS ENORMOUS PIECE
COMING DOWN IN THEIR LIVES.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU CAN DO
ABOUT PARENTS WHO WANT TO
PRETEND THAT THEY'RE STILL TOGETHER.
THAT'S THEIR DECISION.
ALL YOU CAN DO IS SPEAK TO
THEM ABOUT WHAT IT IS YOU
FEEL YOU NEED DURING THIS PERIOD OF TIME.
WHICH IS GOING TO BE
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN
ANY CHRISTMAS YOU HAVE EVER
EXPERIENCED BEFORE.
IF YOU HAVE A MATE, THEN YOU
NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS WITH
YOUR MATE.
ABOUT WHAT WILL BE THE BEST
PLACE FOR YOU AND YOUR
CHILDREN AND YOUR MATE
DURING THIS CHRISTMAS PERIOD.
WHILE STILL SUPPORTING YOUR PARENTS.
I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT
TO BEGIN TO TALK ABOUT VERY
CLEAR BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR PARENTS.
YOU'RE HEARING STORIES ABOUT
WHY THIS HAPPENED, AND
THEY'RE VERY DIFFERENT.
YOU MAY WANT TO SAY THAT
MAYBE YOU'RE NOT READY TO
HEAR ALL OF THESE STORIES AT
THIS POINT IN TIME, BECAUSE
IT'S TOO SHOCKING, AND YOU
DON'T WANT TO BE IN THE MIDDLE.
ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES FOR
ADULT CHILDREN AND FOR MANY
CHILDREN IS TO BE IN A
TRIANGLE, AND THAT'S
EXTREMELY STRESSFUL FOR YOU.
SO PART OF TAKING CARE OF
YOURSELF IS TO BE VERY CLEAR
WITH YOUR PARENTS THAT WHILE
YOU LOVE THEM, AND YOU CARE
ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE GOING
THROUGH, YOU'RE GOING TO
NEED TO TAKE CARE OF “YOU.”
AND THIS IS GOING TO BE A
VERY DIFFICULT BUT NECESSARY
LEARNING PROCESS FOR YOU.
SO THAT YOU CAN GIVE TO YOUR
PARENTS, AND YOU CAN GIVE TO
YOUR FAMILY, BUT YOU NEED TO
GIVE TO YOURSELF.
IT'S HARD.

MAUREEN says YEAH, IT IS.
GOOD LUCK, JAN.
THANKS FOR YOUR E-MAIL.
LEANNE IS IN KITCHENER.
HI LEANNE.

Leanne says HI THERE.

MAUREEN says HI.
WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION,
LEANNE?

Leanne says MY QUESTION IS
ABOUT CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS
WITH MY DAUGHTER'S FAMILY ON
MY SIDE AND HER FATHER'S SIDE.
HER FATHER AND I ARE NOT TOGETHER.
I HAVE SOLE CUSTODY.
HE GETS ACCESS FOR BOXING
DAY TO CELEBRATE HIS CHRISTMAS.
HOWEVER HIS FAMILY DOESN'T
DO A FORMAL CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION.
THEY REALLY DON'T GET
TOGETHER MUCH AT ALL.
SO WHAT I'VE DONE IN THE
PAST IS I'VE ALLOWED HER ON
CHRISTMAS DAY TO GO TO HIS
FAMILY'S FOR A COUPLE OF
HOURS, THEN COME BACK TO ME
AND THEN WE GO TO MY FAMILY,
SO SHE'S ACTUALLY HAVING
THREE ROUNDS OF CHRISTMAS IN
ABOUT SIX HOURS.
AND I FIND SHE'S HAVING
CHRISTMAS OVERLOAD.
SO I'M WONDERING SHOULD I
CONTINUE TO ALLOW HER TO GO
TO HIS FAMILY TO HAVE THAT
CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION WITH
THEM OR SHOULD I STOP IT AND
THEN HOPE THAT HE COULD
SOMEHOW INCORPORATE A
CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION WITH
HER AND HIS FAMILY?

MAUREEN says SO LET ME GET
THIS STRAIGHT.
SHE GOES THERE ON CHRISTMAS
DAY FOR A COUPLE HOURS AND
AGAIN ALL DAY ON BOXING DAY.

Leanne says NO, SHE DOESN'T GO ON
BOXING DAY.

MAUREEN says BUT YOU SAID
THAT'S WHAT HE GETS.

Leanne says HE GETS HER BOXING DAY
BUT HE DOESN'T INCLUDE HIS
FAMILY WHEN HE HAS HER.

MAUREEN says OKAY. OKAY.
SO WHICH PART WOULD YOU LIKE
TO CUT OUT?

Leanne says I PERSONALLY
WOULD LIKE TO STOP HAVING
HER GO TO HIS PARENTS, BUT
I'M THINKING MAYBE I'M BEING GREEDY.
I'M NOT SURE.
I'M FEELING THAT IT SHOULD
BE HIS RESPONSIBILITY TO
INCLUDE HIS FAMILY WITH HER
AND CHRISTMAS.

MAUREEN says SO YOU WANT HIM
TO DO THAT ON BOXING DAY.

Leanne says I WOULD LIKE TO
SEE THAT HAPPEN, YES.

MAUREEN says I SEE.
OKAY, PEARL, WHAT'S YOUR --

PEARL says OKAY.
WHAT'S THE AGE OF YOUR CHILD?

Leanne says SIX.

PEARL says SHE'S SIX.
HAS SHE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT
THIS BEING OVERLOAD FOR HER?

Leanne says SHE'S NOT
VERBALIZED ANY FEELINGS BUT
YOU CAN TELL BY THE THIRD
ROUND AT MY FAMILY'S THAT
THERE'S NO EXCITEMENT LEFT.

PEARL says NO.
SHE'S TIRED.
SHE'S REALLY TIRED.
SO I HEAR YOU SPEAKING AS A
CONCERNED PARENT.
DOES HER FATHER KNOW OF YOUR
CONCERN?

Leanne says I'VE MENTIONED IT
TO HIM, AND HE'S JUST -- HIS
REBUTTAL HAS BEEN WELL SHE
WANTS TO GO TO MY MOM AND
DAD'S AND MY MOM AND DAD ARE
ALSO LOOKING FORWARD TO
SEEING HER.

PEARL says UH-HUH, AND
HE'S RIGHT.
SHE PROBABLY DOES, AND THEY
PROBABLY ARE LOOKING FORWARD
TO SEEING HER.
I WONDER HOW ACCEPTABLE IT
WOULD BE FOR YOU TO DISCUSS
ALTERNATIVE YEARS, DOING
CERTAIN PIECES, GOING TO HIS
PARENTS AND CUTTING OUT THE
BOXING DAY AND HE'S WITH HIS PARENTS.
I DON'T KNOW IF HE GOES TO
HIS PARENTS WHEN SHE'S THERE.
DOES HE ATTEND?
DOES HE BRING HER?

Leanne says UNTRADITIONAL
RELATIONSHIP. THEY DON'T CELEBRATE
CHRISTMAS MUCH, AND IF THEY
DO GET TOGETHER IT USUALLY
ENDS UP IN SOME SORT OF CHAOS.
IT'S NOT A HAPPY RELATIONSHIP.

PEARL says I SEE.
OKAY SO, THAT'S A DIFFICULT
PLACE FOR HIM TO BE.
SO HE CAN ONLY GO FOR A
SHORT PERIOD OF TIME.
I THINK IN ORDER TO DO
SOMETHING HERE AS A
CONCERNED PARENT, YOU NEED
TO REALLY SPEAK WITH HIM AND
DISCUSS WHAT COMMON GROUND
YOU HAVE FOR KEEPING YOUR
CHILD PROTECTED FROM THIS OVERLOAD.
HE WILL BE SENSITIVE TO WHAT
HIS CHILD NEEDS, AND I
WONDER IF YOU HAVE A HISTORY
OF BEING ABLE TO DISCUSS THIS.

Leanne says UNFORTUNATELY
HE'S A VERY DIFFICULT PERSON
TO DISCUSS ANYTHING WITH.
A LOT OF TIMES IF IT'S IN
HIS FAVOUR HE'S MORE THAN
REASONABLE TO DISCUSS IT BUT
AS SOON AS IT'S NOT
SOMETHING HE AGREES WITH,
THEN THERE'S NO NEGOTIATION.

PEARL says OKAY, YOU
MAY TRY THIS AND IF IT
DOESN'T WORK, YOU MAY TRY TO
MEDIATE IT THROUGH A THIRD PERSON.
A MEDIATOR OR A THERAPIST.
THAT'S -- I MEAN, THAT'S FAR
END OF THE POLE.
IT WOULD PROBABLY BE MUCH
BETTER IF YOU COULD WORK OUT
ARRANGEMENTS THAT ARE A
LITTLE MORE FLEXIBLE HERE.
BECAUSE YOUR DAUGHTER IS IS
REALLY GOING TO HAVE A
DIFFICULT TIME OTHERWISE,
AND SHE'S ONLY SIX, AND IN
MY OPINION, A SIX-YEAR-OLD
NEEDS A REST IN BETWEEN THE
FESTIVITIES.
AND I THINK IT'S WORTH
TRYING TO WORK SOMETHING OUT
WITH HIM WHERE HE FEELS THAT
IT'S “FAIR.”
FAIR TO HIM, FAIR TO YOU,
BUT ON THE MOST, THE MOST
IMPORTANT THING IS - IS IT FAIR
TO THE CHILD TO USE HER TO
SHUFFLE AROUND SO THAT
EVERYBODY IS HAPPY BECAUSE
SHE'S THERE?
THE CHILD HAS TO COME FIRST.
THAT'S BOTTOM LINE.

MAUREEN says AND BEING FAIR
THOUGH, WE SHOULD WARN
LEANNE, THAT MAY INVOLVE HER
EVERY OTHER YEAR GIVING UP
THAT DAY WITH HER CHILD.

PEARL says IT MIGHT.

MAUREEN says IT MIGHT,
ABSOLUTELY.

PEARL says ABSOLUTELY INVOLVE THAT.

MAUREEN says DO YOU TAKE YOUR
CLUES FROM A SIX-YEAR OLD?
IF SHE DOES SEEM TO WANT TO
GO TO THESE GRANDPARENTS'
HOUSE EVEN THOUGH WE MAY
THINK THEY'RE DYSFUNCTIONAL,
SOMETIMES KIDS ARE OKAY WITH THIS.

PEARL says IT'S THAT
CONNECTION PART THAT MAY BE
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR THE CHILD.
AND IF THAT NEEDS TO
CONTINUE, AND THE CHILD
WANTS IT, THEN IT'S TO FIND
A BETTER WAY TO DO THAT.
I BELIEVE THAT IT'S GOOD TO
HAVE THE GRANDPARENTS
INVOLVED IN SOME FASHION.

MAUREEN says OKAY.
ALL RIGHT, GOOD LUCK.
THANKS LEANNE.
LORI IS IN THUNDER BAY.
HI LORI.

Lori says HELLO, HI, HOW
ARE YOU?

MAUREEN says GOOD, THANKS

Lori says GOOD.
I GUESS MY QUESTION AND
COMMENT IS AROUND
FAMILIES THAT HAVE LOST
MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILY
DURING THE PAST YEAR.
I RECENTLY -- I LOST MY
SON -- I LOST MY SON THIS YEAR.
AND I KNOW THAT IN CHRISTMAS,
IT IS DIFFICULT FOR FAMILIES
THAT ARE GRIEVING, AND FIRST
CHRISTMASES ARE, I THINK,
ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT FOR
FAMILIES THAT ARE GRIEVING.
AND I GUESS I WOULD JUST
LIKE TO -- I MEAN IT'S HARD
TO GO CHRISTMAS SHOPPING,
IT'S HARD TO GO -- YOU KNOW,
YOU SEE THE TOYS, YOU SEE
THE -- YOU SEE ALL KINDS OF
DIFFERENT THINGS.
AT THE SAME TIME YOU'RE VERY,
VERY GRATEFUL FOR THAT CHILD
THAT HAS BROUGHT SO MUCH JOY
IN YOUR LIFE.
AND I GUESS I WANT SOME, I
GUESS SOME COMMENT ABOUT
FAMILIES THAT ARE IN GRIEF.

MAUREEN says I'D LIKE TO ASK
YOU, LORI, WHAT WOULD YOU
LIKE FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO
SAY TO YOU ABOUT YOUR SON
THIS CHRISTMAS?
BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL TEND TO
TRY --

Lori says I KNOW PEOPLE
ARE -- PEOPLE FIND IT
DIFFICULT.
THEY WONDER WHETHER THEY
SHOULD COME AND TALK TO YOU
OR WHETHER THEY SHOULD AVOID YOU.
OR WHETHER THEY SHOULD
MENTION OR -- YOU KNOW --

MAUREEN says AS IF YOU COULD
EVER FORGET.

Lori says THIS CULTURE IS
REALLY IN DENIAL AS FAR AS
DEATH GOES, AND THAT'S MY EXPERIENCE.
AND OTHER PEOPLE THAT I KNOW,
THEIR EXPERIENCE.
AND I MEAN, YOU KNOW, I MEAN,
WHEN YOU SAY “I HOPE YOU
HAVE A REALLY GOOD CHRISTMAS,”
I MEAN IN A SENSE, LIKE, YOU
KNOW, WELL, I'M DOING THE
BEST I CAN. YOU KNOW?

MAUREEN says SO LORI, PEARL,
WOULD APPRECIATE HEARING
PEOPLE TALK ABOUT HER SON
THIS CHRISTMAS.

Pearl says THAT'S GOOD FOR HER.

Maureen says IS THAT GOOD FOR MOST
GRIEVING FAMILIES?

PEARL says I THINK
EACH PERSON IN EACH FAMILY
THAT HAS SUFFERED A GRAVE
LOSS, AS YOU HAVE, AND I'M
SORRY TO HEAR THAT YOU LOST
YOUR SON, IT'S THE MOST
DIFFICULT THING TO LOSE A CHILD.
THERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE THAT.
AND EACH PERSON MUST DECIDE
WHAT THEY NEED FROM THE
OUTSIDE WORLD.
IT'S VERY UNIQUE IN THAT FASHION.
MOST PEOPLE WANT TO BE ABLE
TO SPEAK ABOUT THE PERSON
THAT THEY HAVE LOST.
CHRISTMAS WILL BE VERY
DIFFICULT WITHOUT YOUR SON.
AND IT'S THE FIRST OF MANY
CHRISTMASES, AND IT'S GOING
TO BE VERY, VERY HARD.
BUT IF YOU NEED TO SPEAK
ABOUT YOUR SON WITH OTHER
PEOPLE, THEN YOU LET THEM
KNOW WHAT YOU NEED.
IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT.
IS TO LET PEOPLE KNOW.
AND SOMETIMES YOU MAY NOT
EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU NEED.
UNTIL YOU'RE DEEP INTO IT.
YOU'RE REALLY JUST BEGINNING
THAT GRIEVING PROCESS ON
ANOTHER LEVEL.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
PARENTS WHO HAVE LOST A
CHILD FIND HELPFUL IS TO
DEVISE SOME KIND OF RITUAL
TO INCLUDE THE CHILD, THE
MEMORY OF THAT CHILD IN
THEIR CHRISTMAS.
AND WHATEVER THAT IS,
WEATHER YOU WRITE SOMETHING,
AND SPEAK ABOUT HIM OR HER,
WHETHER YOU LIGHT CANDLES,
WHETHER YOU INVOLVE FAMILY
IN THAT RITUAL, IT'S PULLING
IN YOUR CHILD AT A VERY
SPECIAL TIME, BECAUSE HE OR
SHE IS THERE.
AND IT'S HONOURING THAT
CHILD AND WHO THEY HAVE BEEN
AND STILL ARE IN THIS FAMILY
AT THIS TIME OF GREAT JOY,
BUT OF ALSO GREAT SORROW.

MAUREEN says I REMEMBER WE
HAD A MOTHER ON THE
PROGRAMME TALKING ABOUT
GRIEVING FOR A CHILD.
SHE LOST A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD
SON TO BRAIN CANCER.
IT WAS AWFUL.
AND HE DIED NOT THAT LONG
BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
SHE HAD TWO OTHER CHILDREN,
THOUGH, WHO WANTED TO HAVE
CHRISTMAS EVEN THOUGH SHE
DIDN'T TO WANT CELEBRATE IT
AT ALL.

PEARL says RIGHT, RIGHT.

MAUREEN says SO I REMEMBER
WHAT SHE TOLD ME SHE D SHE
TOLD THE KIDS “LET'S PUT
CHRISTMAS IN YOUR BEDROOM.”
AND THEY PUT THE TREE AND
THE PRESENTS IN THE BEDROOM
AND THEY DECORATED THE
BEDROOM, AND THEN IT WAS
THERE FOR THEM BUT SHE
DIDN'T HAVE TO CONSTANTLY
WALK THROUGH THE HOUSE AND
SEE ALL THESE REMINDERS THAT
SHE JUST COULDN'T BE HAPPY
ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR -- IT
GOT EASIER, OF COURSE, AFTER THAT.
BUT I THOUGHT YEAH, YOU HAVE
TO REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE
OTHER PEOPLE, BUT YOU HAVE
TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR GRIEF
ABOUT IT, TOO.

PEARL says THAT'S RIGHT.
AND I THINK SHE DID WHAT WAS
GOOD FOR HER AND WHAT WAS
GOOD FOR HER CHILDREN, AND
IT'S FIGURING OUT THOSE TWO PIECES.
FOR BEREAVED FAMILIES IT IS VERY,
VERY HELPFUL.

MAUREEN says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

PEARL says DURING
THESE TIMES.
AND THEY HAVE A CANDLE
LIGHTING CEREMONY WITH A
TREE, USUALLY RITUALLY EVERY
YEAR AND THEY'RE VERY AWARE
OF WHAT WAS DURING THESE
TIMES, SUCH AS CHRISTMAS FOR
FAMILIES.

MAUREEN says I THINK THAT
RITUAL IDEA IS A GREAT IDEA.
LORI, I THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR YOUR CALL. I DO.
JULIE IS IN SUDBURY.
HI JULIE.

Julie says HI TO YOU BOTH
AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR
THE VERY IMPORTANT SHOW.
I'D JUST LIKE TO ASK A
QUESTION, WHAT IS THE ROLE
OF A NEW GIRLFRIEND WHEN YOU
HAVE A VERY YOUNG WIDOWER
WHO HAS A SEVEN AND A HALF
HALF-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WHO
WANTS YOU AND THEIR FAMILY
AROUND CHRISTMAS TIME, BUT
FEELS RESENTFUL THAT YOU'RE THERE?

MAUREEN says SO THE DAUGHTER
RESENTS THAT YOU'RE THERE?

Julie says YEAH, BUT SHE
ENJOYS ME AS WELL.
LIKE I DON'T KNOW IF I
BELONG THERE AT CHRISTMAS - IS
THAT A SACRED TIME BETWEEN
HIM AND HIS DAUGHTERS?
HE WANTS ME THERE, SHE'S NOT
SURE, SHE DOESN'T WANT TO UP
HER MIND.

MAUREEN says HOW OLD IS THE
RELATIONSHIP?

Julie says TWO MONTHS.

MAUREEN says HMM. OKAY.

PEARL says IT'S A VERY
FRESH RELATIONSHIP.
AND IT REALLY SPEAKS TO THE
CHILD'S NOT KNOWING EXACTLY
WHAT'S COOKING HERE.
IT'S A VERY NEW PIECE FOR
THIS DAUGHTER.
AND SO YOU'RE FEELING IT, OBVIOUSLY.
IT MAY BE THAT YOU WILL HAVE
TO SPEAK TO YOUR BOYFRIEND
TO FIGURE OUT WHAT HE THINKS
IS MOST COMFORTABLE FOR HIM
AND HE NEEDS TO FIND OUT
WHAT'S MOST COMFORTABLE FOR
HIS DAUGHTER.
BECAUSE THE CONTACT MAY HAVE
TO BE MINIMAL, AND IT'S KIND
OF THIS DISTANCE CLOSENESS PIECE.
TWO MONTHS IS REALLY A VERY
SHORT PERIOD OF TIME FOR A
CHILD TO ADJUST TO SOMEBODY
NEW IN THEIR LIFE, AND NEW
WITH THEIR DADDY.
AND THERE ARE OFTEN LOYALTY
ISSUES, I DON'T KNOW WHERE
HER MOTHER IS, BUT OFTEN
THERE ARE LOYALTY ISSUES.
THERE IS THE FEELING THAT,
OH, YOU KNOW, THE SEPARATION
OR DIVORCE OR THE --
WHATEVER HAS HAPPENED IN
THIS RELATIONSHIP CAN'T BE
PUT TOGETHER AGAIN SO, ANY
HOPE SHE HAD MAY BE DASHED
BY A NEW PERSON IN THEIR, IN
HER LIFE.
THERE MAY BE FEELINGS THAT
SHE'S NOT SURE IF DADDY'S
GOING TO BE TAKEN AWAY BY YOU.
YOU KNOW, THERE'S KIND OF
THIS AMBIGUITY.
I LIKE YOU, I LIKE YOU, BUT
I'M A LITTLE BIT NERVOUS AND
ANXIOUS ABOUT WHAT THIS IS
ALL GOING MEAN FOR ME AND MY
RELATIONSHIPS.
SO GO EASY ON CHRISTMAS.
GO EASY ON CHRISTMAS, BUT
PERHAPS FIGURE OUT SOMETHING
THAT MIGHT BE ABLE TO BE
SAFE FOR HER BUT INCLUDE YOU
IN SOME KIND OF CELEBRATION.
IT'S GOING TO BE AN
INTERESTING PIECE FOR YOU.
BUT GOOD TO TALK ABOUT IT.
WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND, AND
PERHAPS AS A THREESOME.
WHAT DO WE WANT TO DO HERE?

MAUREEN says AND I SUPPOSE
IT'S GOING TO BE HARD FOR
JULIE NOT TO FEEL OF OFFENDED
IF HER BOY IS FRIEND SAYS
“YOU KNOW, I REALLY THINK
CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE WITH ME.”
YOU SHOULDN'T BE OFFENDED BY
THAT, RIGHT?
BECAUSE THIS RELATIONSHIP IS
ONLY TWO MONTHS OLD --.

PEARL says YOU KNOW,
YOU COULD SAY YOU SHOULDN'T
BE OFFENDED, BUT THERE'S
OFTEN THE LONGING TO BE INCLUDED.
BUT IT TAKES A WHILE BEFORE
THE INCLUSION OF AN OUTSIDER
BECOMES EASY, AND SO JULIA
SHOULD KNOW THAT THIS IS --
THIS IS A “SHOULD,” THAT VERY
OFTEN IT TAKES A WHILE
BEFORE THAT BECOMES
NORMATIVE AND A REGULAR PIECE.
SO IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT'S
ABOUT HOW THE CHILD FEELS.

MAUREEN says RIGHT. LET'S DO THIS
E-MAIL FROM ANNE IN WINDSOR.
“MY HUSBAND COMES FROM A HUGE
FAMILY, TEN KIDS AND HIS
YOUNGEST BROTHER IS IN HIS
MID-20s AND A TOTAL LOSER.
THROUGHOUT MY TEN-YEAR
RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS
FAMILY, THIS BROTHER HAS
DONE DESPICABLE THINGS, SOME
OF THEM CRIMINAL.
I CAN BARELY STAND TO BE IN
THE SAME ROOM WITH HIM.
HE'S AWARE HOW I FEEL, AS IS
THE OF THE FAMILY. ALTHOUGH
MY HUSBAND AND HIS SIBLINGS
HAVE ANIMOSITY, THEY SAY
NOTHING TO HIM ABOUT HIS ACTIONS, IN ORDER TO
AVOID CONFLICT FOR THE MOTHER.
THEY LOST THEIR FATHER THIS
YEAR - THIS WILL BE THE FIRST
CHRISTMAS WITHOUT HIM.
I DON'T WANT MY
BROTHER-IN-LAW INTERACTING
WITH MY CHILDREN, YET I
DON'T WANT TO CAUSE A
SCENE EITHER.
EVEN IF I TALK TO HIM IN
CONFIDENCE, I FEEL HE WILL
CREATE A SCENE.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTS AS
TO HOW TO HANDLE THE
HOLIDAYS WITH THIS SITUATION?

PEARL says IT'S VERY INTERESTING.
I HEAR YOU SAYING YOU REALLY
DON'T WANT TO HAVE TOO MUCH
TO DO WITH THIS
BROTHER-IN-LAW, AND ALTHOUGH
YOU HAVE MANAGED TO BE AT
CHRISTMAS IN THE PAST, I'M
NOT REALLY SURE WHETHER
YOU'RE ALLOWING HIS PRESENCE
TO BE TOO IMPORTANT FOR YOU.
YOU'RE THERE FOR A SPECIFIC REASON.
YOU'RE TO BE THERE WITH YOUR
MATE, WITH YOUR KIDS, AND
WITH THE REST OF THE FAMILY.
AND THEY'RE IMPORTANT FOR YOU.
IF YOU'RE REACTIVITY LEVEL,
EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY LEVEL IS
TOO STRONG ABOUT YOUR
BROTHER-IN-LAW, YOU'RE
PUTTING YOUR EMOTIONS AND
YOUR ENERGY IN THE WRONG PLACE.
THIS IS FOR YOU TO CELEBRATE.
AND TO PUT A BOUNDARY
EMOTIONALLY BETWEEN AND YOU
YOUR BROTHER-IN-LAW, HE IS
NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, AND
YOU HAVE LOVING PEOPLE AROUND YOU.
HE IS NOT GOING TO BE
CRIMINAL TO YOUR CHILDREN,
AND IF THEY HAVE ANY
QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS
BEHAVIOUR, THEN YOU AND YOUR
MATE NEED TO ADDRESS THAT.
YOU HAVE YOUR MATE BESIDE
YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN THAT'S
WHAT'S IMPORTANT.
AND IF YOU MAKES THAT UP
WITH YOU PAYING TOO MUCH
ATTENTION TO THE
BROTHER-IN-LAW, THEN YOUR
ENERGY IS NOT IN A GOOD PLACE.

MAUREEN says OKAY.

PEARL says SO THIS
PREVENTS YOU FROM ENJOYING YOURSELF.
SO I HOPE THAT'S HELPFUL.

MAUREEN says STRESSES THROUGH
THE HOLIDAYS.
THEY'RE OUT THERE FOR MOST
FAMILIES, AND WE HAVE FAMILY
COUNSELLOR PEARL LANGER HERE
TO TAKE YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT
HOW TO HANDLE THOSE
SITUATIONS.
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION,
WE'RE ALSO GIVING AWAY
COPIES OF “THE GOOD DIVORCE.”
BY CONSTABLE STANDS AHRONS,
A BOOK PEARL RECOMMENDS.
SO GIVE US A CALL WITH A
QUESTION.

Maureen holds up the book and repeats the phone numbers and e-mail address.

MAUREEN says PAULA IS IN
CAMBRIDGE.
HELLO, WELCOME.

Paula says HELLO.
I HAVE QUESTION AND
HOPEFULLY MAYBE PEARL COULD
SHED SOME LIGHT OR GIVE ME
SOME GOOD ADVICE ON HOW TO
HANDLE THIS.
I HAVE TWO STEP CHILDREN.
THEIR AGES ARE 12 AND 10 AND
THIS YEAR WE PICK THEM UP --
WE HAVE THEM FROM CHRISTMAS
EVE UNTIL CHRISTMAS DAY AT
TWELVE NOON.
NOW MY HUSBAND AND I ALSO
HAVE TWO CHILDREN TOGETHER,
A TWO-YEAR-OLD AND A FOUR-MONTH
OLD, AND THE PROBLEM
THAT WE'RE HAVING IS MY
HUSBAND'S EX-WIFE -- WE WILL
BE DROPPING THEM OFF AT
TWELVE NOON ON CHRISTMAS DAY,
AND THE GIRLS HAVE
EXPRESSED THAT THEY WOULD LIKE
TO STAY HERE UNTIL 2-30,
THREE O'CLOCK BECAUSE THEY
DON'T GET TO OPEN THEIR
GIFTS UNTIL FOUR BECAUSE MY
HUSBAND'S EX-WIFE'S PRESENT
HUSBAND'S CHILD DOESN'T
ARRIVE UNTIL THAT TIME.
IT'S BEEN A TAD STRESSFUL
BECAUSE THEY'RE TELLING US-OR
SO-CALLED DEMANDING THAT
“THEY'RE NOT LEAVING THIS
HOUSE” BECAUSE THEY WANT TO
STAY HERE AND THEY WANT TO
BE WITH THEIR BROTHERS,
BECAUSE IT'S THE FIRST TIME
THAT ALEX IS REALLY, YOU
KNOW, CHRISTMAS IS A BIG
THING FOR HIM.
AND WE'RE JUST HAVING A
REALLY HARD TIME TRYING TO
DISCUSS IT WITH HER, TO SEE
IF WE CAN COME TO SOME KIND
OF AN AGREEMENT, BUT FROM,
YOU KNOW WHAT THE CHILDREN
HAVE SAID TO US AND WHAT SHE
HAS SAID TO US, THEY'RE ONLY
REALLY THEIR HALF-BROTHERS,
SO BASICALLY I JUST FEEL
LIKE HER FAMILY IS COMING
FIRST, AND I HAVE TWO LITTLE
GIRLS THAT ARE JUST
ABSOLUTELY DISTRAUGHT
BECAUSE THEY WANT TO STAY,
BUT YET THEIR MOTHER DOESN'T
FEEL THAT THERE'S A NEED.
AND I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT
TO DO.

MAUREEN says MM-HMM.
OKAY, PEARL?
CAN YOU HELP?

PEARL says YOU KNOW,
THESE ARE THE CHILDREN OF
YOUR PARTNER AND HIS EX-WIFE.
AND THE AGES THAT THEY ARE
ARE DETERMINING THEIR WAYS
OF SPEAKING ABOUT WHAT'S
COMFORTABLE FOR THEM.
AND THEY ARE KIND OF TRYING
TO CHANGE SOMETHING TO -- SO
THAT THERE'S MORE
FLEXIBILITY.
THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE IN
THEIR LIFE.
THE FIRST THING THAT I HEARD
YOU SAY WAS THAT YOU'VE
ALREADY GOT A STRUCTURE IN PLACE.
YOU KNOW, WHO GOES WHERE AND WHAT.
THE GIRLS ARE NOW SAYING
THEY WANT TO CHANGE THAT
BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO WAIT,
NUMBER ONE, UNTIL THEY OPEN
UP THEIR PRESENTS.
I WAS WONDERING IF IN FACT
THEY COULD HAVE SOME
PRESENTS THAT THEY ACTUALLY
OPEN UP WHEN THEY'RE WITH
YOU AND HAVE SOME PRESENTS
THAT THEY OPEN UP WHEN
THEY'RE WITH THEIR MOTHER.

MAUREEN says IS THAT WHAT
WOULD HAPPEN, PAULA?

Paula says YES, YES.
BUT WHAT THE GIRLS HAVE BEEN
TELLING ME IS THAT -- OR US,
I SHOULD SAY, IS THAT THEY
DON'T GET TO, EVEN THOUGH
THEY'LL BE DROPPED OFF AT
TWELVE NOON AT THEIR MOM'S
ON CHRISTMAS DAY, THEY'RE
NOT ALLOWED TO OPEN ANY OF THEIR
GIFTS UNTIL JESSE, WHO IS
THEIR STEPBROTHER ARRIVES
AT FOUR O'CLOCK.

MAUREEN says WHICH MAKES
SENSE REALLY, DOESN'T IT?

PEARL says SO HAVE YOU
ASKED THEM WHAT THE PROBLEM
IS FOR THEM IF THEY HAVE TO
WAIT FOR FOUR HOURS?
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS?

Paula says WE HAVE ASKED
THEM AND THE ANSWER THAT
THEY GIVE US IS IT'S NOT
REALLY THEM OPENING THE GIFT,
THEY JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND
WHY THEY CAN'T STAY HERE FOR
A COUPLE HOURS LONGER AND
SPEND TIME WITH THEIR
BROTHERS AND THEN GO TO
MOM'S AND PARTICIPATE IN HER
ACTIVITIES.

PEARL says OKAY,
THAT'S THE REAL ISSUE.
THAT'S THE HIDDEN ISSUE.
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE PRESENTS.
IT'S ABOUT THE FACT THAT
THEY WANT TO HAVE A LITTLE
MORE FLEXIBILITY IN THIS
BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE WITH
THEIR BROTHER.
AND THIS IS A NEW PIECE FOR THEM.
SO I'M WONDERING IF IT'S
POSSIBLE -- IT MAY NOT
HAPPEN THIS CHRISTMAS, BUT I
WONDER IF IT'S POSSIBLE FOR
THE PARENTS TO COME TO SOME
KIND OF AGREEMENT WHERE THEY
COULD BE SOMEWHAT MORE FLEXIBLE.
SOME KIND OF GIVE-AND-TAKE
FOR BOTH OF THEM SO THAT THE
GIRLS CAN HAVE MORE OF WHAT
THEY WANT.
I KNOW THAT AS CHILDREN GROW
AND GET OLDER, THEIR NEEDS CHANGE.
AND THESE GIRLS ARE SAYING
“OUR NEEDS HAVE CHANGED.”
AND IT'S IN THE CHILDREN'S
BEST INTERESTS TO -- FOR THE
PARENTS TO LISTEN TO WHAT
THE CHILDREN ARE SAYING AND
TO HELP THESE KIDS FIGURE
OUT HOW DO THIS.
AND IF IT BECOMES A POWER
AND CONTROL STRUGGLE, THE
CHILDREN ARE GOING TO FEEL
THE STRESS OF THE PARENTS
AND THEY DON'T WANT THAT.
IT'S NOT GOOD FOR THE CHILDREN.
SO IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF
THE CHILDREN, THE PARENTS
NEED TO HEAR THAT THERE
NEEDS TO BE SOME SHIFTING OF
THE RULES IN THIS RITUAL CELEBRATION.
AND SO THAT'S -- YOU CAN
TALK ABOUT THIS WITH YOUR
HUSBAND, BUT IT REALLY
BELONGS TO THE TWO PARENTS
OF THE CHILDREN TO DISCUSS
WHAT THEY COULD DO TO MAKE
THIS BETTER FOR THEIR DAUGHTERS.

MAUREEN says IT ALMOST SOUNDS
LIKE THE MOTHER OF THE GIRLS
IS EXPERIENCING SOME
JEALOUSY BECAUSE HER EX HAS
NEW CHILDREN WITH ANOTHER WOMAN.
NOW BECAUSE SHE REFERRED TO
THESE BOYS AS “WELL THEY'RE
ONLY HER HALF-BROTHERS.”
SO YEAH, IT'S -- I MEAN, IF
THAT'S STILL GOING ON, EVEN
THOUGH SHE'S MOVED ONTO A
NEW RELATIONSHIP, THERE'S
STILL THIS OLD SORT OF
RESENTMENT-JEALOUSY THING THERE.

PEARL says I LIKE WHAT
YOU'RE SAYING, BECAUSE EVERY
TIME SOMEBODY NEW COMES INTO
A FAMILY --

MAUREEN says OH, YEAH, IT
COMPLICATES THINGS.

PEARL says IT
COMPLICATES PIECES AND OLD
LOSSES AND OLD HURTS COME UP.
SO SHE'S PROBABLY DEALING
WITH SOME OF WHAT YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT.
SO TO BE AWARE OF THAT IS
VERY IMPORTANT.
AND TO HELP HER TO
UNDERSTAND THAT, THAT
FAIRNESS IS AT THE TOPMOST
PART OF THIS LIST, AND THAT
IN FACT THE CHILDREN NEED TO
BE LISTENED TO, BUT HOW CAN
WE BE FAIR TO YOU?
WHAT WOULD MAKE IT ALL RIGHT
FOR YOU TO BE MORE FLEXIBLE?
YOU KNOW?
IT'S THAT KIND OF PIECE.

MAUREEN says AND WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT -- IN THE END
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THREE
HOURS, IF IT KEEPS PEACE IN
THE FAMILY --

PEARL says YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.

MAUREEN says IT'S HARD.
THANKS PAULA, GOOD LUCK.

PEARL says THANK YOU.

MAUREEN says NICOLE IS IN
OTTAWA. HI NICOLE.

Nicole says YES, HI THERE.
I HAVE A QUESTION, I'M
ASKING FOR SOME ADVICE ABOUT CHRISTMAS.
MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE ONE
SON AND HE'S THE ONLY
GRANDCHILD IN THE FAMILY.
SO EVERY CHRISTMAS WE'VE
BEEN TRYING TO GET BOTH
SIDES TOGETHER, BECAUSE WE
BOTH HAVE SMALL FAMILIES.
THIS YEAR, OF COURSE, I HAVE
TO WORK EVENINGS SO WE
PROPOSED A BRUNCH, AND AT THE
LAST MINUTE MY HUSBAND'S
GRANDMOTHER DECIDED TO HAVE
SUPPER AT HER PLACE,
EXCLUDING MY PARENTS, AND OF
COURSE I CAN'T GO BECAUSE
I'M WORKING.
SO IT'S RAISED SOME PROBLEMS
IN THE FAMILY AS MY HUSBAND
DOESN'T KNOW IF -- HE'S JUST
FOUR YEARS OLD, MY SON, AND
WITH ALL THE EXCITEMENT OF
THE MORNING, MY PARENTS ARE
COMING OVER BUT NO ONE ELSE
WANTS TO COME OVER.

MAUREEN says HMM.

Nicole says SO IT'S RAISED A FEW PROBLEMS.

PEARL says YEAH.
YOU'VE TRIED TO DO SOMETHING
TO INCLUDE THE FAMILIES AND
PUT THEM TOGETHER.
AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE
HISTORY IS OF THESE FAMILIES
COMING TOGETHER AT CELEBRATIONS.
HOW HAS IT BEEN IN THE PAST?

Nicole says IT'S BEEN FOUR
YEARS SINCE WE'VE GOTTEN
TOGETHER, BASICALLY SINCE MY
SON WAS BORN.
AND IT'S BEEN A TIGHT
SQUEEZE BUT WE'VE MANAGED TO
GET ALONG FOR MY SON'S SAKE,
JUST SO THAT HE CAN SEE EVERYBODY.
BECAUSE EVERYBODY'S SO
EXCITED, IT'S HIS CHRISTMAS.

PEARL says OKAY, SO
BASICALLY YOU'VE MANAGED TO
HAVE CELEBRATIONS TOGETHER,
AND THAT'S HAPPENED.

Nicole says FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS.

PEARL says FOR THE
PAST THREE YEARS.
GOOD FOR YOU. ALL RIGHT.
SO IN THIS PIECE YOU'VE
TRIED IT, BUT IT ISN'T QUITE
WORKING OUT.
YOU'RE HAVING TO WORK IN THE
EVENINGS, YOUR
GRANDMOTHER HAS DECIDED TO HAVE --

MAUREEN says HIS GRANDMOTHER.

PEARL says HIS
GRANDMOTHER HAS DECIDED TO
HAVE A DINNER AND THE
BRUNCH -- THAT'S NOT GOING TO
TAKE PLACE?

Nicole says WELL MY PARENTS
ARE COMING OVER FOR BRUNCH,
AND HIS FAMILY HAS DECIDED
“WELL NO, WE'LL SLEEP IN AND
WE'LL JUST GO TO DINNER.”

PEARL says OKAY.

Nicole says SO I DON'T GET TO SEE ANY
OF HIS FAMILY OVER CHRISTMAS.

PEARL says SO THAT'S
DISTRESSING. IS IT HURTFUL TO YOU?

Nicole says IT'S HURTFUL MORE TO MY
HUSBAND BECAUSE HE WANTS ME INCLUDED.

PEARL says HE WANTS
YOU INCLUDED. ALL RIGHT.
SO I GUESS IF IT'S REALLY
HURTFUL FOR YOUR HUSBAND,
THEN HE'S GOING TO NEED TO
DEAL WITH HIS FAMILY AROUND THIS.
TO BE VERY CLEAR THAT YOU
ARE HIS MATE, AND HE WOULD
LIKE THAT TO BE RECOGNIZED
AND WHAT HE HAD HOPED FOR,
HE NEEDS TO BE TELLING HIS
FAMILY, AND PERHAPS IF IT
CAN'T HAPPEN THIS YEAR, THEN
COULD THEY ALL BE AWARE OF
THIS SO THAT NEXT YEAR MAYBE
SOMETHING -- WHERE EVERYONE
IS INCLUDED, AND THAT MEANS
YOU, BECAUSE YOU'RE THE
IMPORTANT WOMAN IN HIS LIFE,
WHERE THAT HAPPENS.
AND I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN
CHANGE IT FOR THIS YEAR, BUT
IF YOU COULD MANAGE TO
FIGURE OUT SOMETHING FOR THE
NEXT YEAR, THEN THAT WOULD
BE IN KEEPING WITH
CONTINUING WHAT HAS HAPPENED
IN THE PAST, WHICH HAS BEEN
FAIRLY GOOD.
AND FOR THAT I CONGRATULATE YOU.
IT DOESN'T GO THAT EASY FOR
MOST PEOPLE.

MAUREEN says MAYBE AS MORE
GRANDCHILDREN GET ADDED TO
THE BUNCH THEY WON'T ALL
ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO BE THERE
ON CHRISTMAS DAY WITH HIM.
THEY CAN DO A CHRISTMAS EVE,
BOXING DAY, SOMETHING OR OTHER.
IT'S GOING TO BE HARD TO
MAINTAIN THOSE TWO FAMILIES
COMING TOGETHER AS MORE
PEOPLE GET ADDED.

PEARL says RIGHT.
SO IT REQUIRES A LOT OF
FLEXIBILITY.
AND MAYBE GIVING UP
SOMETHING TO GET SOMETHING.
BUT I THINK THE MAIN PIECE
HERE IS THE DISAPPOINTMENT
THAT YOUR HUSBAND FEELS AND
NOW THAT YOU FEEL.
SO THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED.

MAUREEN says I CAN SEE WHY THAT
WOULD BE.
SHE'S GOT TO WORK THAT NIGHT.
THAT CAN'T BE ANY FUN.
GOOD LUCK, NICOLE.
THANKS FOR THE CALL.
HERE'S ONE -- I'D LIKE TO
TELL YOU, I APPRECIATE YOUR
TOPIC TODAY.
“WE HAVE FOSTER KIDS.
MY QUESTION IS WHAT TYPE OF
ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A
FOSTER PARENT AT CHRISTMAS TIME
WHEN IT COMES TO GIFT-GIVING.
OFTEN THE KIDS ASK FOR A
VERY REASONABLE GIFT THAT
THE PARENTS PROMISE THEY
WILL GET. HOWEVER TOO OFTEN
PROMISES FROM THESE PARENTS
ARE NOT KEPT AND THE CHILD
IS LEFT HEARTBROKEN.
UNFORTUNATELY I DO NOT GET
KIDS THAT I CAN TALK TO THE
PARENTS TO FIND OUT WHAT
THEY'RE GIVING.
I TEND TO GET MORE EXCITED
ABOUT CHRISTMAS THAN THE
KIDS, AND I JUST WANT
EVERYTHING TO BE PERFECT.
WE ALSO HAVE TWO VERY YOUNG
CHILDREN OF OUR OWN, AND WE
LIKE TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL
IS EQUAL.”
SO THEY'VE GOT FOSTER KIDS
WHO SHE CAN'T CALL UP THE
PARENTS AND SAY “DO YOU
INTEND TO GET BOBBY THAT
HOCKEY STICK AFTER ALL.”

PEARL says AND I GUESS
PART OF FOSTERING CHILDREN
IS KNOWING WHAT YOUR LIMITS ARE.
THEY ARE -- CHILDREN WHO
COME INTO YOUR HOME FOR YOU
TO PARENT ON A LIMITED BASIS.
AND VERY OFTEN YOU HAVE
LITTLE CONTROL OVER HOW THE
BIOLOGICAL PARENTS ARE BEING
WITH THEIR CHILDREN.
THERE IS A REASON WHY
THEY'RE BEING FOSTERED.
AND SO THERE IS A DISTANCE
THERE. YOU DON'T HAVE THIS
FRIENDSHIP BASIS.
IT'S MORE OF AN ARRANGEMENT.
AND I GUESS TO KNOW WHERE
YOUR LIMITS LIE IS VERY
IMPORTANT, SO THAT THE IDEA
OF PERFECTION, AND I HEARD
YOU SAY THE WORD “PERFECT,”
THAT IS NOT ATTAINABLE IN MOST
FAMILIES. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “A
PERFECT” FAMILY OR A
PERFECTLY ARRANGED FAMILY
AND IF YOU STRIVE FOR THAT
YOU'RE GOING TO BE DISAPPOINTED.
IF YOU COULD TREAT THESE
CHILDREN IN A WAY THAT YOU
FIND FAIR AND LOVING AND
EQUITABLE, IN ANY WAY, SHAPE
OR FORM, THAT'S WHAT YOU
HAVE CONTROL OVER.
THAT'S WHERE YOUR LOVE LIES.
AND THAT'S WHAT A FOSTER
PARENT CAN DO.
AND TO RECOGNIZE THAT IN FACT
YOU MAY HAVE TO DEAL WITH
PROMISES THAT AREN'T KEPT,
AND DISAPPOINTMENTS THERE,
BUT YOU'RE THERE FOR A
REASON, SO THAT YOU CAN KEEP
A PROMISE.
AND SO THAT YOU CAN GIVE THE
LOVE THAT SAYS “I AM HERE
FOR YOU.”
BUT AS FAR AS THEIR PARENTS,
YOU HAVE NO CONTROL.
IF YOU HAVE THE KIND OF
RELATIONSHIP WHERE YOU COULD
SAY “THIS IS WHAT I'M HEARING
FROM YOUR CHILD, AND IF YOU
WANT TO ADDRESS THAT, I CAN
FACILITATE IT OR YOU NEED TO
KNOW THIS,” THEN THAT'S FINE ALSO.
OR TO ENCOURAGE THE CHILD TO
SPEAK CLEARLY TO THEIR PARENT.
THAT'S ALL YOU CAN DO.
I DON'T KNOW --

MAUREEN says DOES SHE NEED TO
WORRY ABOUT HURTING THE
FOSTER CHILDREN'S FEELINGS
IF SHE BUYS HER OWN TWO
CHILDREN MORE GIFTS?

PEARL says I'M -- IT'S
THIS MORE GIFTS - FEWER GIFTS
KIND OF THING.
YOU KNOW, GIFTS TAKE ON LIFE
OF THEIR OWN, AND I THINK
YOU HAVE TO MEASURE WHAT
YOU'RE DOING VERY CAREFULLY
AND WHAT IT WOULD FEEL LIKE
IF YOU WERE THE FOSTER CHILD
IN A HOME WHERE YOU'RE
GETTING FEWER GIFTS OR NOT.
THERE'S A VALUES ISSUE HERE.
AND EACH PERSON HAS TO
DECIDE THAT.
OR DO GIFTS MEAN THAT “I LOVE
YOU ANY LESS OR ANY MORE?”
AND FOSTERING DOESN'T
NECESSARILY MEAN THAT YOU
LOVE THAT CHILD AS MUCH AS OR
MORE THAN YOUR OWN CHILD.
I THINK YOU HAVE TO BE VERY
CLEAR ABOUT WHY YOU'RE FOSTERING.
WHY YOU'RE PROVIDING THAT
KIND OF PARENTING EXPERIENCE
FOR A CHILD.
SO IT'S, IT'S A TRICKY ONE.

MAUREEN says SURE SOUNDS LIKE
HER HEART'S IN THE RIGHT PLACE.

PEARL says YEAH, YEAH, GOOD LUCK.

MAUREEN says GOOD LUCK.
HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS.
MAGGIE IS IN KITCHENER

Maggie says HI, I
WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD HELP ME.
MY FAMILY HAVE BEEN SPLIT UP
SINCE I WAS VERY YOUNG.
MY FATHER -- MY SISTER IS
OLDER, SO SHE WAS CLOSER TO
MY FATHER.
AND JUST RECENTLY HE TOOK
VERY ILL WITH HEART PROBLEMS,
RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL OUT OF TOWN.
MY SISTER WAS INFORMED OF
THIS AND DIDN'T GIVE ME THE MESSAGE.
WE HAD A MAJOR BLOW-OUT.
THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME
THAT SHE HAS, RATHER THAN
SAID “I'M SORRY, I WASN'T
THINKING,” - WHAT-HAVE-YOU,
SHE TELLS ME I CAN'T SEE HER KIDS.
I'M VERY CLOSE TO HER TWO
DAUGHTERS AND I HAVE LITTLE
TODDLER THAT THEY JUST ADORE.
AND MY MOTHER, NOT WANTING
TO GET IN THE MIDDLE, HAS
SPOKEN TO MY NIECES JUST TO
CLARIFY, TO MAKE SURE THAT
THEY UNDERSTAND THAT MY
INABILITY TO SEE THEM OR
CONTACT THEM WASN'T OF MY WISHES.
SO NOW THAT CHRISTMAS IS
APPROACHING, MY NIECES HAVE
BEEN IN TEARS, THEY WANT TO
SEE US, THEY WANT TO SEE
THEIR COUSIN, AND VICE-VERSA,
OF COURSE, AND I FEEL THE
ONLY WAY THAT WE CAN GET
TOGETHER IS BY ME ONCE AGAIN
JUST IGNORING HER BEHAVIOUR.
BUT IT'S BAD ENOUGH THAT SHE
DIDN'T INFORM ME OF MY
FATHER'S ILLNESS, NOW SHE'S
USING HER CHILDREN IN SPITE AND TO HURT,
AND HURTING MY CHILD AT THE SAME TIME.
AND I WAS JUST WONDERING, DO
YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON HOW
I CAN SEE THEM?

PEARL says IS THAT
WHAT YOU WANT MOST OF ALL?

Maggie says OF COURSE. OF COURSE.

Pearl says OKAY.
THIS IS AN OLD ISSUE BETWEEN
YOU AND YOUR SISTER, AND IT
COULD GO ON UNTIL THE END OF TIME.
UNLESS THE TWO OF YOU
ADDRESS IT, PERHAPS THROUGH A
THIRD PARTY.
USING CHILDREN AS POWERPLAY
OR INSTRUMENTS TO GET BACK
AT WITH IS VERY BAD FOR CHILDREN.
BUT YOUR SISTER SEEMS TO
THINK THAT THAT'S A GOOD
THING TO DO.
AS THEIR AUNT, YOU CAN BE
THE FORCE FOR HEALING OR THE
GOOD PIECE OF CARING.
YOU DON'T WANT TO USE THESE
CHILDREN IN THAT WAY BUT YOU DO
WANT TO SEE THEM.
I THINK THE ISSUE ABOUT YOUR
SISTER INFORMING YOU -- AND
THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME,
THINGS HAVE HAPPENED LIKE
THIS, HAS TO BE SEPARATED
FROM “DO YOU WANT TO SEE YOUR
NIECES AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE
FOR YOU TO SEE THEM.”
I LIKE THE FACT THAT YOUR
MOTHER WITHOUT GETTING IN
THE MIDDLE HAS SAID THAT YOU
STILL WISHED TO SEE THEM.
THAT'S A GOOD PIECE, AND
THAT SHE DOESN'T WANT TO BE
IN THE MIDDLE.
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN
SPEAK WITH YOUR SISTER TO
LET HER KNOW THAT YOU WANT
TO PUT THE ISSUE ABOUT YOUR
DAD ON THE BACK BURNER FOR
NOW, AND TO ALLOW THE
CHILDREN TO BE TOGETHER FOR
CHRISTMAS, IF SHE COULD DO THAT.
IF THAT WOULD BE A POSSIBILITY.
WHAT DO YOU THINK SHE WOULD
SAY IF YOU SAID SOMETHING
LIKE THAT TO HER?

MAUREEN says MAGGIE, ARE YOU THERE?

Maggie says YES, I'M HERE.
I WAS JUST THINKING.
I DON'T -- UM - SHE MAY DO
THAT. THAT IS A POSSIBILITY.
BUT I -- AS I SAID, MY MOM
HAD TO CLARIFY, BECAUSE SHE
MADE THE CHILDREN BELIEVE
THAT -- SHE SENT ME AN
E-MAIL SAYING THAT KIDS GOT
YOUR NUMBER AND THEY DON'T
WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO
WITH YOU AND WHEN MY MOM
JUST SAID TO THE CHILDREN
THAT, YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW
WHAT YOU KNOW, BUT YOUR MOM
IMPLIED THAT YOUR AUNT
DOESN'T LOVE YOU AND THEY
STARTED CRYING, “NO, WE LOVE YOU,”
THEY LOVE MY HUSBAND, THE BABY, THE DOG, THE CAT,
AND YOU KNOW, SO IT WAS EVEN
HARD TO DO THAT BECAUSE I
WAS WORRIED THAT NOW MY
SISTER'S GOING TO CONTACT MY
MOM, AND “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

PEARL says RIGHT. IT BECOMES VERY --

Maggie says I DON'T WANT TO HURT THE KIDS.
I WAS EVEN AFRAID NOT TO --
FOR MY MOM EVEN TO DO THAT,
BECAUSE THAT THEN MIGHT --
MY SISTER WOULD GET ANGRY
AND TAKE IT OUT ON THE
CHILDREN, BECAUSE I'M NOT
THERE, RIGHT?

PEARL says YEAH.
THERE'S ONLY A CERTAIN
AMOUNT OF CONTROL YOU HAVE
OVER YOUR SISTER'S ACTIONS.
AND I DON'T KNOW, SOMETIMES
IN THESE SITUATIONS PEOPLE
FIND OUT IF THEY CAN
ACTUALLY SEND A GIFT, RATHER
THAN BEING WITH THEM, THE CHILD.
YOU KNOW, IF THERE'S SOME
SMALL WAY THAT THE CHILDREN
CAN KNOW THAT THEIR AUNT
LOVES THEM AND THAT THEY'RE
THINKING ABOUT THEM AT THIS
PERIOD OF TIME.
YOU WERE GOING SAY SOMETHING,
MAUREEN.

MAUREEN says I WAS GOING TO
SAY, TOO, THE PRESENT OR THE
CARD IS A GOOD IDEA,
PROVIDED THE SISTER LETS
THEM OPEN IT.
I DO KNOW PEOPLE WHO HAVE
USED THEIR KIDS TO GET BACK
AT OTHER RELATIVES THAT
THEY'RE MAD AT.

PEARL says IT'S VERY,
VERY HARD.

MAUREEN says AND IT'S VERY SAD.

PEARL says IT'S VERY
HARD BECAUSE THE CHILDREN
AREN'T YOUR CHILDREN, AND IF
THEY'RE YOUNGER, THEN YOUR
SISTER IS IN CHARGE OF THEM.
AS THEY GET OLDER, AND MAYBE
THAT'S WHAT YOU MAY BE
LOOKING AT, THEN THE
CHILDREN WILL BE ABLE TO
DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES
HOW INVOLVED THEY CAN BE
WITH YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN.
IT'S A VERY TOUGH SITUATION.
I ACTUALLY WOULD PROPOSE
SOME FAMILY COUNSELLING FOR YOU.
BECAUSE OTHERWISE IT'S GOING
TO GO ON AND ON AND ON AND ON.
AND MAYBE THERE COULD BE
SOME MEDIATION IN THIS SO
THAT IT DOESN'T ERUPT CONSTANTLY.

MAUREEN says WE'RE GOING TO
HAVE A NUMBER FOR YOU TO
CONTACT TO FIND A THERAPIST,
TOO, IN JUST A FEW MINUTES,
MAGGIE.
BEST OF LUCK.
THANKS FOR THE CALL.
JILL IS IN SUDBURY.
HI JILL?

Jill says I HAVE A QUESTION,
OR A COMMENT TO ASK YOU.

There are interruptions, evidently due to weeping.

Jill continues UM - SORRY ABOUT THAT.
I'M GOING TO SAY MY DAD HAS
RE-MARRIED LAST YEAR.
AND I DON'T -- EXCUSE ME.
IT HAS BEEN TWO YEARS.

MAUREEN says SINCE YOUR MOM
PASSED AWAY?

Jill says YES, AND IT'S VERY
DIFFICULT DEALING WITH THE
CHRISTMAS SEASON.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS,
AS MUCH AS IT IS SO DIFFICULT?

MAUREEN says YEAH, WITH YOUR
DAD REMARRIED.
SO IT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE
HE -- IT SOUNDS LIKE HE WAS
READY TO REMARRY BUT YOU
WEREN'T READY FOR HIM TO REMARRY.

Jill says LIKE IT WAS SO FAST.
MY MOM PASSED AWAY LAST
JANUARY AND THEN HE GOT
REMARRIED IN OCTOBER.
SO WE HAD TO GET ADJUSTED TO
MY DAD'S NEW LIFESTYLE, BUT
IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT
BECAUSE AT CHRISTMAS TIME WE
DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO MOURN
OVER MY MOM'S FIRST
CHRISTMAS WITHOUT HER, AND
SO THEN WE HAD THIS
SITUATION WITH A NEW WIFE,
AND WE'RE TRYING TO DEAL
WITH THAT AND IT WAS JUST
TOO MUCH, NOW THIS IS AGAIN,
THE SAME THING AGAIN WITH A NEW WIFE.

MAUREEN says YEAH. OKAY.

PEARL says YEAH.
IT'S A HARD ONE.
I HAVE A FATHER WHO REMARRIED.
I KNOW THIS PIECE VERY WELL.
AS AN ADULT CHILD.
IT CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT
BECAUSE, FIRST OF ALL, YOU
DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO MOURN -
EVERYTHING WENT TOO FAST FOR YOU.
SO PERHAPS, AT THIS PERIOD IN
TIME, THE SECOND CHRISTMAS
AROUND, MAYBE YOU NEED TO
TAKE SOMETIME TO SLOW THIS
DOWN AND TO FIGURE OUT
WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU AND WHAT
IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING FOR
YOU AROUND THE ISSUES OF THE
LOSS OF YOUR MOTHER AND THE
FACT THAT YOUR FATHER HAS
DECIDED THAT HE NEEDED ANOTHER
PARTNER. AND THERE'S A WHOLE ISSUE
AROUND THAT AND LOYALTY TO
YOUR MOTHER, AND WHO YOU ARE
IN ALL OF THIS AND WHAT DO
YOU DO WITH THE MEMORY OF YOUR MOM.
SO AT CHRISTMAS TIME,
PERHAPS YOU HAVE SOME TIME
NOW TO THINK ABOUT WHAT
WOULD BE MOST HEALTHY FOR
YOU AT THIS TIME, AS YOU ARE
DEALING WITH A CHANGE IN
YOUR FAMILY LIFE.
AND PERHAPS YOU COULD TALK
ABOUT THIS WITH YOUR FATHER
SO THAT HE COULD UNDERSTAND
THAT, WHILE HE HAS ENTERED A
NEW RELATIONSHIP, YOU ARE
STILL MOURNING THE LOSS OF
YOUR MOTHER, AND THE
RELATIONSHIP THAT YOUR PARENTS HAD.
THAT'S A VERY HARD ONE TO DO.
SO IT MAY BE THAT YOU CAN'T
SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH
YOUR FATHER'S NEW MATE AT
THE CHRISTMAS, BUT PERHAPS
HE'LL BE ABLE TO NEXT CHRISTMAS.
OR MAYBE THERE'S A WAY THAT
YOU CAN BE WITH THEM SO THAT
IT FEELS SOMEWHAT BETTER FOR YOU.
I THINK IT'S A GOOD TIME TO
REMEMBER YOUR MOTHER ALSO,
PARTICULARLY -- I DON'T KNOW
IF YOU WANT TO DO THAT WITH
YOUR FATHER IN A PRIVATE FASHION.
YOU KNOW WHAT YOU MISS ABOUT
HAVING HER AROUND, AND
WHAT'S GOOD FOR HIM AT THIS
TIME, AND HOW HE'S MANAGING THIS.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE IN IT.

MAUREEN says NO NO, I'VE
HEARD OF THIS A LOT.
ALL RIGHT, WE'LL HAVE TO
LEAVE IT THERE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR ALL
THE CALLS.

PEARL says THANK YOU.

MAUREEN says AND THANK YOU,
PEARL, FOR BEING HERE.

PEARL says YOU'RE VERY WELCOME.

MAUREEN says PEARL LANGER IS
A FAMILY COUNSELLOR IN
TORONTO, AND WE HAVE WINNERS
OF THE BOOK “THE GOOD DIVORCE.”
THEY ARE ANDREA IN
SCARBOROUGH, LEANNE IN
KITCHENER, JULIE IN SUDBURY,
PAULA IN CAMBRIDGE, AND JAN
VIA E-MAIL.

A slate appears on a brown background, with website addresses and the caption “Blended Families Information.” Maureen reads off it.

Maureen says IF YOU NEED TO FIND A
THERAPIST OR A COUNSELLOR,
CONTACT “THE ONTARIO
ASSOCIATION OF MARRIAGE AND
FAMILY THERAPISTS AT
1-800-267-2638.
OR ON THE INTERNET, VISIT
WWW.PARENTINGTOOLBOX.COM.
OR THE CANADIAN BLENDED
FAMILIES FORUM AT
WWW.FAMILYLAWCENTRE.COM

MAUREEN says AND THAT'S ALL THE TIME WE HAVE FOR THIS EDITION OF “MORE TO LIFE” BUT I HOPE YOU'LL CHECK OUT OUR GUESTS AND TOPICS ON WEEKDAYS ON T.V.O. AT ONE O'CLOCK.

Watch: Blended Families And The Holidays