The "Other" Side of Step Parenting
It's not always rainbows and butterflies.
Let’s face it… Parenting is not easy. I must hear that in some form or another at least once a week if not more. Now I do not entirely disagree, there are sometimes when it is difficult but I was blessed with a very easy going, smart and helpful daughter, who is now 11. Sometimes I have so much on my to-do list and all she wants to to “do something” with me. Sometimes she gets sick at very inconvenient times. Sometimes dealing with her father, my ex, is not fun, BUT all in all, I do not believe parenting is hard. In fact it is easy and fun and one of the things I know I was meant to do in my life.
BUT I will tell you what is hard, STEP PARENTING. Now, I have friends who are step parents and fill their Facebook feeds with selfies with their step kids. They love quotes about choosing to love vs. love being obligatory. Maybe it is that enjoyable for them but my story is not all rainbows and butterflies.
Now, before I go any farther, let me say that I maybe the gender of the kids plays a big role. My daughter has a stepmom that adores her and they go shopping and take those selfies, and I see them all over Facebook and the emotions that I feel over that I will save for another blog.
My situation is being a stepmom to 3 boys! With the drop of a shoe I was out numbered! When they were younger (we met when they were in 2nd grade and preschool), things were better. I took care to nurture them and involve them in all aspects of my life. As they grew older, they grew into disgusting males who left messes and only talked to me when they need help with their homework.
Now, don’t get me wrong, they re great boys and SO SMART! However, I do not have the same love for them that I do my daughter. I would crawl to the ends of the earth for them, but my heart does not break when I see them upset. I find myself getting mad at them over things I would not get mad at my own child for. I KNOW this is horribly unfair but I have learned to change my thinking about step parenting.
My new philosophy is that not every situation is ideal. Boys, especially teenagers, are tricky and of course their first love in the house is their father. Instead of trying to be the perfect step parent, I now focus on being a POSITIVE parent. A person in their lives that they know they can trust and who will always have their back. I do not try to force our relationship any longer. I think that this attitude has actually helped me get closer to that ideal vision I had in the beginning. From time to time they will talk to me about things that are personal, or negative feelings that they have towards things going on at their mother’s house. They mentioned once that they were relieved when their mom broke up with her boyfriend but would freak out if their father and I ever split.
I am now trying to just provide a safe place for them to go when they feel like they need it.
My advice to you is, do NOT force a perfect relationship on any child, whether biological or not. Be their safe place, not their best friend and throw all expectations out the window!