You are raising a human being — Remember that.

remember

In the shower (where it seems my clearest thoughts prevail) I was thinking about how many people lose out when they simply don’t allow, encourage or welcome a relationship with their step-children. Many times I overhear that they don’t accept them due to manners, dislike for the other parents, their behaviors etc. When your family includes either your own children and a new spouse, or the children between you only, that is not a family and you are not only hurting the children you are hurting yourself.

I have a friend that I adore, she and her husband were granted full custody of a boy about 10 or so, due to a mother that just left him one day. My friend was less than pleased, this boy dressed scroungy, he had different manners, picked on her kids, and she felt he was more of a hassle than a blessing. Her husband worked nights, and she would complain and feel that she was raising “his” child, and it wasn’t her responsibility.

She would come to me and ask how come it was so easy for me, with my prior stepson, and how did I do it without getting upset – her biggest question was “How can you love him?” My answer to her was that for me, it was easy to love him – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have hard times. We all come around to things differently. Now in my current relationship, I went from raising a one year old to a nine year old. HUGE difference, difference in parenting, difference in attitudes, lifestyle and to be honest he isn’t used to have a mother type figure – let alone a steady one. We have our days of where it is real work, and there are days I am sure he doesn’t like me. But, tomorrow is a new day and I am not giving in. One day, one step at a time.

While being able to understand her frustration, I never could see how she could dislike this boy, because she had such a wonderful heart. After awhile I noticed she complained about him less, and he appeared in more photos, and the stories she shared were about him and the great things he was doing.

Fast forward a couple of years, and she and her spouse are now divorcing. Something that needed to happen a few years back, but when I say she has a great heart, I meant an extremely forgiving heart. Of course, I asked about her stepson and her response warmed my heart ” He goes with me of course, he is my son — it is written in our agreement that when the kids are with me, they are ALL with me.”

She took on a situation that wasn’t hers, she often did it alone, however the resentment wasn’t put on the child, the discipline, the nurturing, the love and care that she at times wanted to withhold – she never did. In the end, this boy grew into a young man who gained a mother and a sense of worth because someone who he fully expected to let him down, instead lifted him up.

My point here I guess is not just to share how easy it was for me, or how difficult it can be these days in a new relationship or how she was able to come around. But, more in that you all stand to lose when you choose to divide your family, solely due to the differences in hygiene, clothing, manners, attitude, or because they are simply not your responsibility. The truth is, that any child inside your home is your responsibility – whether it be a friend of your child’s, or niece or nephew, or a stepchild. And, the real question is why would you choose to shut out a child in any manner any how? Simply because you don’t like him or her – a child is a product of their environment – show them a positive environment – and watch that child make positive changes.

If not, you and your spouse or significant other will have an endless battle on your hands, there will be underlying resentment around every corner, and hidden under every argument, every family discussion – because you are not truly a family. Being a family doesn’t mean that you will agree, or that everyone ends up happy – it means that all are considered an important viable interest in your choices.

If you get to the point where you don’t like her/his kids, and they never say thank you, they will never be as good as your kids, and your spouse will never be as good a parent as you are – Is it time to ask yourself a different question like what am I doing with this person, is this the relationship for me? Seriously sit back, and ask who it is that you are hurting, because no one wants to be with someone like that. If your complaint is constantly their kids, that is a problem that needs fixing instead of complaining.

Do you want to fix your relationship with a stepchild or maybe build one? If so, here are some great ways to do so:

Sit and talk – even observe – see what they have to offer, a talent they possess and get involved.

Listen – put yourself in their shoes, remember they are a child.

Go on a date together – you, your spouse and them. Just you – not your kids at first.

Then go on a date with them all together.

Then go on  a date just you and them.

Eat dinner together as a family – sharing your day or something that happened that made it great.

At the end of the day – your family gains the world by simply trying. Have you given your all?

Bio-Parents & Step-Parents: Get over yourselves – it’s not about you.

It’s not about being a Bio-mom or a Step-mom – it’s about being a parent either way. My opinions on this are very strong – because I am both, and my children have both. Our children, my biological, my husbands biological, my ex-husbands biological child from a different relationship and his wife’s biological from a previous marriage – do not give a care about who is who – they only care who is there for them – who cares about them – who they are safe with.

The children do not care about child support, or who used to be married to whom – or why one parent dislikes the other. They are children – they care that their parents show-up, that they be involved, that they support them in sports, academics, and in their lives. They care that when there is a Christmas recital, and they peek through the curtains – all of the people they love are there – without fighting, for the best interest of the child.

My children’s step-mom and I have talked maybe twice – she has formed her opinion based on my ex-husband and there is nothing I can do to change that – and honestly I won’t try to. Over the years, I am confident she will witness enough for that to change on her own. As a bio-mom there are only two things I would appreciate her doing for the children 1) Love and care for them as her own 2) Be there – all the time – supporting them. In my opinion that is her role, she is in there lives, and is their fathers main person in his life – together they make their home, a place that is a home to our children.

In our home, I feel it is my job to be the same for my stepson – to always look out for his best interest. He came into our home with a mother already – but not by his side during our time. My place isn’t to replace hers – but it is to fill in the void temporarily. Why should I not? Is it not my place to love him, to teach him little things here and there, to show him love, compassion and understanding? My husband is a wonderful man, but he is also a man. No disrespect to the fathers out there, because I know that some are sensitive & snuggly, but women are able to teach certain things that men can not. When my stepson came into my home for the first time, he was only one – not potty trained, cried all the time, he was a baby – and I was already a mother. It is only natural – to mother the child, it would be unnatural for me to not have.

The problem with society or the bio-mom vs step-mom or even bio-dad vs step-dad is not the role they play and who over steps who, the problem in the involvement – and who is and who isn’t. The “other” parent can only be seen as over-stepping when there is room to do so. If things were covered, the role was fulfilled completely – there would be no room, to step in or take over as many feel the other parent does. There is also the part of partial involvement – the parent who is never there for the child – but is hurt because one parent has made it so. Take for instance my children’s Bio-dad and his wife. For my daughter, they have not been involved. They missed the entire year last year of anything that was important to her, and rightfully so she was upset. Softball is something my daughter loves, and she plays in a competitive league – its nine months out of the year – and her father didn’t support her – at all, even using it against her. Her stepmother was not involved at all either, though I don’t know if it was her choice or not. Today, is try-outs and they are both there as it is their weekend. On one hand, I was impressed they stayed, because they never have. On the other hand, I’m fearful that the involvement will not be permanent. The involvement needs to be permanent.

Children need consistency and permanency of being supported for all involved. There are times when you have to work, or something important comes up, that is understandable. However, a vendetta, or personal adult problem shouldn’t interfere with a parents involvement with a child. Don’t you remember being in a game, or a recital and looking for parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles? Why are step-families – not part of that group? Because we came after, or because we are seen as second.  A step-parent is no different from a friend that comes into your child’s life and loves them, only to be called an aunt or uncle – even though not blood related. They still care for your child, they love your child, playing with them, teaching them – doing what adults are supposed to do with children.

If parents spent more time addressing the real facts – instead of labeling the nasty role of a wicked step-parent on the “other” parents forehead – they might be surprised that they have something to not only offer your child – but maybe yourself. Who cares if another woman or man loves your child, plays with your child, or builds a healthy relationship with your child – either way your child is benefiting. Did you read that? YOUR CHILD IS BENEFITING. That’s whats important – nothing else.

Do you think your child is benefiting or losing because of your situation?

See you next blog, Jess~