Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how f*cking hard being a step parent can be?! And how hard having a step parent can be!
Nobody talks about it. In fact it makes you seem like a failure to talk about the complexities that come with having a blended family.
It’s not all understanding and happy times like on the ‘The Brady Bunch’. In fact some days it can feel more like an episode of ‘Sons of Anarchy’!
There are so many preconceived notions of what a step-family should look like. It’s all over TV, and you’ll always hear people tell stories of their partners loving their kids like they were there own… If your life isn’t perfect all the time, then it’s pretty easy to feel like a failure in the step-parenting department.
I’m not a step parent…. But my husband is.
He is step parent to my eldest who is now 16, we also have three beautifully feral kiddies together. My son was 6 when hubby and I changed from friends to “friends”. I have known this awesome man for twenty years and we have been together for almost ten, married for almost five…. So we’ve been doing this for a while now.
When his status changed in my life and we negotiated out of the ‘Friendzone’, it was a very complicated time in our lives. Hubby had never had any dealings with kids of really any capacity and I was unsure what was expected of a step parent. Or how much authority I was able to hand over to him. He also entered our little family when my 6 yr old son (now 16) was in the middle of getting an Autistic Diagnosis. Everything my son and I had ever known was different. Our whole world changed in what felt like overnight. We were stumbling through his diagnosis with no clear idea on what was really going on or how to make it better. It was a shitty time for everyone.
Hubby-to-be was really thrown in the deep end with the diagnosis and the Mumma Bear that I can be, and I have struggled over the years allowing my hubby to have any kind of disciplinarian role in my sons life.
Hubby has struggled connecting with a child that has trouble forging connections with people. Some days it seemed like it was just never going to work!
So how do we deal with it?
We push on. Every day, we push on. The alternative is something that we just don’t accept. We all know we want this to work! Some days are great. There are no ego’s or misunderstandings thrown into the mix and we just get on with family life and enjoying being around each other.
Some days not so much. There are hurt feelings, imagined insults and feelings of frustration when we have the same issues that seem to crop up again and again…. It can get so exhausting going over the same problems. You feel like a shit parent or step-parent in the process.
Half the time, it’s just our ideals that are shattered.
It’s difficult to accept someone else’s kids as your own, all the time. Building a connection with a child that can put up so many walls, is like trying to navigate a construction zone…. Messy and just a little bit dangerous.
It’s difficult to come into a ready made family and try and assume the role of parent and it’s really bloody hard to be the person that ALLOWS someone to do that as well.
It’s not always going to go smoothly. There are always going to be issues, especially now that my son is a teenager. His fiery, teenage angst could sear your skin off if you stand close enough some days! Some days he finds it hard to have a step dad, it’s a tricky relationship to navigate. For a long time he felt a lot of resentment towards hubby and had a hard time letting him in. He has a good relationship with his dad and sees him almost every other weekend. So he felt that letting hubby in was a betrayal to his dad.
Hubby, teenager, dad and I focused on these issues and have mostly come out the other side of them. It’s helpful that we all have a respectful relationship and once the dust settled, we all got on with parenting and focused on what was best for our boy.
We try not to think about how things SHOULD happen and how our lives SHOULD look. We love hard, sometimes we fight hard too. It’s all about balance and trying not to let the scales tip into the ‘bad place’.
Above all, don’t worry if your style of step parenting doesn’t look like a 50’s TV sitcom. Life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be lived!
Everyone’s journey is different! Just battle on and enjoy it!