Step-parents! I salute you….I know first-hand that it’s not easy being a parent. So, imagine how difficult it must feel being a step parent in a lot of blended families. I’m not one, but I’m understanding more and more that most of these step-parenting roles take courage, understanding, and definitely love. I can never question my husband’s love for me, because the way I see it, it takes a VERY SPECIAL person to help raise someone else’s child. I hear of beautiful, ideal, and seamless circumstances where the step-parents just jump right in and never miss a beat. While that is a beautiful thing and is every blended family’s dream, the truth of the matter is, that the struggle is real for some families and the road to blending a family can get quite bumpy. Here are a few reasons why I think being a step-parent is so special and I’m singing the praises of all the step-parents out there:
You have never been without children. From day one, its been you, your spouse, and YOUR KIDS. True enough, your spouse knew what they were getting into, but if you think about it, your relationship with your spouse in these types of situations needs even more TLC that a traditional marriage, because throughout your entire relationship, your focus can never be 100% on each other because you’ve always had your kids to consider.
You often live in a state of uncertainty and ambiguity. Even if you try to spell things out, step-parents can easily be confused about where they fit in, or better yet, HOW they fit into their step-children’s lives. If the kids are young, they may be resentful. They may act out or be difficult to deal with. Sometimes, if the biological parents are still active in the child’s life this too can potentially cause even more chaos and turmoil if all parents involved are not on the same page. It helps when all parents communicate often and support each other’s households and not speak negatively of the other spouse.
Because you’re “damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Step-parents get a bad rep sometimes for being mean or crass, even when they’ve done nothing differently than the biological parents would have done. Whether they admit it or not, biological and sometimes custodial parents are keeping an eye on the step-parent. It’s like they live under a microscope. If you take a laid back approach, then you’re blamed for “not caring or loving enough.” If you’re being a disciplinarian, then, “you’re mean.” It’s kind of hard to win, don’t you think?
Sometimes, you are the forgotten parent. I once read a quote that said, “Being a step-parent is like working as a late night convenience clerk. You have all the responsibility and none of the authority.” I have heard similar gripes form several step-parents that I know. Even if your spouse gives it (authority) to you, there is still an unspoken spirit or sense of a lack of true authority over that child. No one likes to hear those dreaded words: “You’re NOT my real mother/father.” Yes, that may be a true statement, but the usual context of this is rarely ever nice.
I mean it. I really and truly tip my hat to all the step-parents out there. The tough job of parenting can sometimes pale in comparison to this other thankless job of helping to run an automatic family. We, as biological parents, know the perils that we sometimes face raising our own kids, and can certainly appreciate how hard it has to be to raise someone else’s. Step-parents, you don’t always get the praises that you deserve, but please know that you, your love, and your efforts are not in vain, nor do they go unnoticed.
BMWK, do you agree, is being a step-parent oftentimes a “thankless job”?