Growing up in a stable Catholic family where divorce was never an option, I never thought I would become a step-parent. But, I guess the good lord has his own plan on how your life should be and you can’t help who you fall in love with. I grew up in a home where I saw my father always respect my mother; they never cursed at each other, they put each other’s feelings first, taught us how to settle disagreements, be fair, and move on to better things instead of dwelling on negative pasts. When I became a step-mom I knew that my husband was a packaged deal; it was not only him that I was going to love, support, respect, and care for, but his daughter as well. The older you get and more you grow as person, you start to really use all of the teachings and morals your parents instilled in you without even realizing it. I feel very fortunate to have the parents and siblings I do; it’s not only helped me be a better person, but it’s also helped me deal with the trials of being a step-parent.
Let’s talk about the packaged deal thing for a bit; like I said before, when you marry someone with children, they are a packaged deal. What biological parents sometimes fail to realize is that when their ex spouse remarries, they are also a packaged deal as well, whether they have children involved or not. The same way your ex spouse’s new significant other has accepted your children, you should accept your ex’s spouse and respect them the same way. In a blended family, everyone should be treated equally and with respect because they all contribute and hold their role in the family. Not including your ex’s spouse in your child’s life cannot only be detrimental in your child’s relationship with their step-parent but also with their biological parent. I know many blended families that don’t agree with this and their relationships are not great ones at all. Battles should be picked and chosen carefully and I think many people in blended families are immature and feel empowered to nitpick at any little thing. Nothing gets achieved that way and for those that constantly act out this way are only setting a poor example for the children involved.
There should never be any criticizing of other parents and/or step-parents. No discussions regarding disagreements in parenting in front of the children either. Cohesiveness and consistency between all parents, step-parents included, regarding all aspects of child rearing is a must. Everyone must be on the same page for all to run smoothly; this way, everyone is included and more so because the children involved will learn how to be more open-minded and more accepting of whom the discipline is coming from. Also, family is about togetherness and bonding; with parents and step-parents not getting along just shows the complete opposite of that. No step-parent wants to hear that what they say has no importance and there is nothing more disrespectful to a step-parent than a step-child saying they don’t have to listen to anything they say. If that type of behavior is allowed and/or encouraged, how are the children going to treat other people in their lives? My husband being the non-custodial parent, I can’t even imagine how he’d feel hearing his daughter say she didn’t have to listen to anything he or I said. Also, it can be discouraging to the relationships between the biological parents when their spouses are not included or acknowledged.
As a biological parent, if you are blessed and fortunate with step-parents that love, support your children, want great things for them, and are actively involved in your kid’s lives, you should feel lucky. Not only is that rare, it takes someone with a big heart to love a child that is not biologically theirs. I myself feel blessed and fortunate because my immediate family loves and accepts my step-daughter just as she was their biological family member. My family and I were the example of what family closeness should be for my husband and I was excited and eager to show the same values to my step-daughter.
A close friend of mine gave me some very valuable advice; she believes its exemplary behavior on how children should treat others. She is raising her children to treat, respect, and listen to both their biological parents and step-parents equally. She sets a prime example herself of class, maturity, family values, and that everyone focusing on the positive growth of all relationships is what’s best for the children and everyone involved. That not only takes heart, that also takes courage, because no matter what, she is sticking to what she believes is right for raising her children to be good people. And that is something I not only admire about her, but have so much respect for her as well.
What I envisioned and what the reality is are two different things. As a step-mom I want my step-daughter to be a caring, kind, individual. To always appreciate what comes her way and not dwell on the negative things in life. When she is with me, I teach her how to cook and make easy things to eat so when her mom isn’t feeling well she can take care of herself. I teach her that even if she’s having a bad day, there’s nothing a little lip gloss can’t fix (I guess that’s the beauty pro in me), that girls can wear dresses, be beautiful, and still play sports and run around like an athlete. I have welcomed her into my home, my family, and most of all my heart. I know what I bring to the table as a step-parent and I can honestly say it’s definitely rare. My husband not only appreciates all I have done, but is very good about including me in all decisions and his outlook on family values has changed drastically since I first met him.
I’m the step-mom that thinks of both parents. When it comes to gifts, pictures, and overall communication, I feel that everyone should be included. After all, it’s both sets of parents that care for the child when they are with each of them. As long as my step-daughter is under my care, my roof, my presence, it is my responsibility as a good step-parent to lovingly embrace the opportunities to help in raise my step-daughter to be a good, kind human being however sparse or short the visits are. I am an all or nothing person, and I choose all. My all is filled with goodness, family morals, love, faith, and those are all things no one can take away from me, my husband, or my step-daughter, as long as we are family and have the same last name, even if they aren’t appreciated, respected, or acknowledged.
No matter how I am treated by my step-daughter’s family, good or bad, my main priority is being a good step-mom. At the end of the day, my relationship with her is what matters the most. She is a big part of my husband just as I am and I want her to grow up knowing there is plenty of love and admiration for all of us to share. There will not be any competing, jealously, anger, or immaturity displayed on my end; the examples I show her will always be positive because I will always be the bigger person. I know one day she’ll appreciate all I have given her and what she has learned being a part of my family.
To the biological parents: Always include your spouse and your ex’s spouse in decisions regarding your children. Be the best example you can be to your children and show them that even though mommy and daddy didn’t remain married, they are still going to have lots of love and are blessed with more people in their lives to give them just that. Teach your children to love and respect those that love and respect them too. Not all step-parents are monsters and divorce shouldn’t prevent them from being honest, kind, and most of all loving people.
To my step-parents: You are just as important as the parents. You chose to love these little human beings that came as a bonus to your life when you married their parents. Though you may feel unappreciated at times, know that your good intentions, time, attention, and love do not go unnoticed by your step-children. If anything be the bigger person and never allow your step-children to see you angry and fighting over nonsense even if their parents are. Even if the biological parents of your step-children don’t appreciate you, never stop being a good thing in your step-children’s lives.
To my step-daughter: I had no idea I was going to fall in love with you but I did. You are bright, beautiful, and I am honored you are a part of my family. As much as you love having fun on girl’s day out with me, little do you know that I am teaching you the family values my mother and father have taught me; we are learning more from each other than we probably even know. I look forward to many more fun outings with you. Never forget to “Shine Beautifully” wherever you are in whatever you do.
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