My wife of six months and I leave for three weeks in the Philippines next week. I've met her mother, one brother, and two sisters; now I will meet her father, another brother, and her five children -- my stepchildren. In my life until now, I have only been an uncle -- to, depending on how you consider my relationship to my double cousins, four or twelve. (I claim all twelve.)
With my wife's two adult children, I expect to be fine. They're married, starting families, and need my support much more than any guidance. Her daughter from elementary school effectively never had a father; filling those empty shoes should not be too terrible a task, and at any rate I have years to
screw her up fix any mistakes I make.
Between the aforementioned are two middle-teenagers -- both bright, lovely, and spirited girls with whom I have had a decent stepfatherly relationship on the phone and in e-mail thus far, though one that is of course limited by our not yet having met. And I want some advice, especially from the women here. Not advice with any problem in particular; none so far exist. But advice in general, from their virtual aunts, uncles, and cousins here.
This diary not associated with any candidate or campaign, and the campaign will be just fine in my absence, by the way.
Just as I will be moving suddenly into fatherhood, they will soon be moving suddenly into American residency. Having grown up here, I don't even know how to tell them what the transition will be like. Whether they are in high school or community college, it will a different and much less traditional culture. Kids grow up earlier here; communal ties are weaker in our variegated culture; they will have to deal with ethnic and racial minority status for the first time; being attractive and "exotic"-looking, they will suddenly have to deal with much more aggressive boys than in their previous experience. (I'm not prudish about things; my wife and my main concern is their not getting hurt too badly, unusually, or permanently.)
I want them both to survive and to thrive. My very open-ended question for those of you who were once mid-teenage girls, or who have raised them or grown up with them: what worked for you? What do you wish had been done differently? If any of you have come to the U.S. in similar circumstances, what words of wisdom do you have? If you're a long-time resident American woman, what advice can you offer that I (being male) and my wife (being so new to this country) cannot?
I'm not sure what to envision out of this diary (except that I expect that it may turn into a wonderful conversation. I've thought about cross-posting to MotherTalkers, but not being a participant there I'd feel a bit like an interloper.) What I'd like, I suppose, is something that I can print out for them once I arrive in their home and say: these are my people, and these are the things they have to say to you as you prepare to come to the U.S.
If being part of that appeals to you, then please jump right in.
: 45 minutes into this diary everything that I've seen written looks as wonderful as I could have expected. I'm not going to reply to each comment because that will start to look awkward and get boring, but please know that what thanks I give a few people below could apply to all of you who have written.