The Power of a Permanent Marker

As you may know, I have a blended family. My older 2 are two years apart and my younger 2 are two years apart. One thing that we have done over the years is mark the tags on the kids clothes. With boys so close in size and age, it helps keep up with who they belong to.  (My dear clueless husband can’t keep up with what size clothes the kids wear, so he always has clothes in the wrong dresser. )  It also serves to remind the other parent who they belong to when the kids go for a visit.

This past week I was folding laundry and was hit by the power of the permanent marker I keep on my dryer.  The reaction we received is a prime example of the insecurity I discussed earlier this week.  An innocent means of identifying the clothing we had purchased became an ongoing center of conflict.

The Issue

I know that sounds a little crazy, so let me explain. It is standard language in a court order that children are to be returned with the possessions they are dropped off with at exchange. At some point there became an issue of getting our clothing returned. So it just made sense to make sure the kids clothes were labeled. It eliminated the argument of “I didn’t know it was yours”. (It still doesn’t solve the issue of getting possessions returned, but that’s another story.).

The question we faced was how to mark them. Most people just put their kid’s initials in their clothes. That works for two of the children.  However, that probably wouldn’t work for the other two. My husband and younger two children all have the same first and last initial, meaning for every day purposes, it wouldn’t tell you which kid it belonged to.  It was also likely that the other parent would use the child’s initials. It needed to be something unique that the other parent wouldn’t use, which also eliminated using all 3 of the child’s initials.

The Solution

We decided that for Boy #1 we would use his initials. For Boy #2 we do not label his clothes, and for Boy #4 we use his initials. We also decided that for Boy #3 we would use my husband’s middle and last initial.

Totally made sense to us. As in, it was clearly labeled who bought it. No big deal right? WRONG. Unfortunately, we deal with a high conflict co-parenting situation. My husband and I always say that we should never be surprised by the behaviors we are faced with, but you just can’t expect everything. 

I have learned that people exhibit their insecurities in many ways, and when we began marking clothing we had no idea the drama and passive aggressive behavior it would elicit.

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The Conflict Begins

It began with snarky messages implying or directly saying that one of us is purchasing the clothes, and the other must not be capable of providing for the child. Our reaction was literally 🤯mind blown🤯. We are a married couple who provides equally for all the children in our blended family. Where is this hostility coming from? Why is there a need to belittle who you perceive purchased the clothing?  

Next it was making indirect, negative comments about our clothing at exchange.  Then there were comments to the child, so that the child wouldn’t want to wear the clothes. It even went as far as refusing to dress the child in the clothing, and abandoning the clothing in the mailbox or at the place of exchange.  Then it became flat out refusing to physically take our clothing in hand at exchange. 

The clothing from the other parent contained their SO’s initials, and/or their first initial with the SO’s last initial. Connecting this with the comments, behaviors and messages and it basically boiled down to insecure behavior.  An attempt at retaliating to a perceived injustice.

Through all of this our reaction was thinking, and finally voicing that this is not healthy behavior to exhibit in front of the child.  

The Perception

beautiful blue eyes close up dhyamis kleber
Photo by Dhyamis Kleber on

My first, last initial is the same as my husband’s middle, last initial. So it was perceived that I was labeling the clothing with my initials, and somehow intruding and overstepping my boundaries.  Boundaries that the other person had established in their own mind to make themselves feel secure in their role as parent, for a child that lives with me.  A child that I have cared for as my own since he was an infant.  I have been there for every important moment, no matter if this person participated or not.     

The insecurity of this person blew something so minor out of proportion. Instead of appreciating my place in this child’s life, this person felt jealousy and perceived conflict that didn’t exist.  Which lead to an attempt of controlling the situation with the extreme behavior and a passive aggressive attempt at making my husband feel inferior as a father by using the SO’s initials. 

My point is that because of their insecurity, this person allowed a permanent marker to have so much power.   They lost control of their emotions and created a situation that has had a negative impact on the child.  When your so overly sensitive, it can have a huge impact on your life and those closest to you.  If you’re experiencing feelings like this, it is time to look for a support system that will help you in achieving a healthy mind frame.         


2 thoughts on “The Power of a Permanent Marker

  1. Goodness I LOVED this post! You’re right too – if you let small things like that mess with your life then it will ruin you for SURE!!!
    Following your blog now!


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