Steps

Bob and Cami

Blended families can have such a complex dynamic, and it takes patience,
understanding, and more patience. We all try to see from one anothers’ point of
view. This teaches our children to identify with others and to not always view
the world in tunnel vision. It is so easy to only see what is right in front of
you and to not see the others around you. I keep hearing from other blended
families who are at odds.

It is hard to be a step-parent, walking into a new relationship with children, not knowing whether they will accept you or reject you. Step-parents accept this, and choose to stay anyway. I think that is incredibly brave. They are often the first person to be blamed for things that go wrong, by the children, the biological parents, the grandparents of the biological parents, etc. They are expected to take care of their step-children without stepping on the toes of the biological parents, without showing their children special treatment. I am not a step-mom, and I can’t imagine how hard it is to parent under a microscope. Everyone in the family is constantly watching and critiquing the way you parent.

Biological parents, and I am only speaking from my experience, have to learn to let go of some of the control. When your marriage ends, there can be so many unresolved feelings left in the rubble of the relationship that we don’t always even realize the feelings are there until we lift each stone. I think that the underlying feelings are usually based on fear. There is nothing more terrifying, as a mother, than the possibility that your children may identify more with a step-parent than they do with you. You are scared of being replaced or of not being needed. You and your ex both loved one another at one point. The best thing you can do for your children is to forgive your ex, and to allow your children to love every member in your family, including their step-parents. This is not only good for your children, but it is good for you. You can never truly move on and be happy if
you don’t first let go of the past and learn from it. Forgive, forgive,
forgive.

The amazing thing about children is that they are so resilient,
and accepting. The biological parents will not be replaced if they remain active
in their children’s lives. The step-parents will not replace you. In fact, if
you let them, they will enhance your family. Your children will get another
person in their lives who love and accept them. Children have the capacity to
love more than one parent, and they have the right to love everyone in their
family, including step-parents, step-grandparents, step-siblings. It is hard to
let go, but I promise it’s worth it.

One thing I try to continuously ask myself is, is this working for me and my family? Is my behavior benefiting my children? Is my behavior bringing me positive results? If the answers are no, it is time to change the behavior.

We rarely choose our parents, grandparents, siblings or any other family member, but that does not make us love them, any less. You may not have chosen the step-parents in your life, but if you work with them and treat them with respect only good things can come from it. You can’t control the way anyone behaves, but you can control your reaction.

I’m grateful for the steps in my family, and the title step-parent hardly gives
them the credit they deserve. They are my daughters’ parents in every sense of
the word. They help with homework, scare monsters away, tuck them in at night,
hold them when they are upset, feed them, laugh with them, and teach them what
they have learned in their lives. Try being cooperative and see where it leads.
One step in the right direction is sometimes all it takes to move toward
something wonderful.

Do all of the parents in your family cooperate with
one another?

To read an interview with the step-parents in my life, check out this article on Her View From Home.

Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of ten and fourteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.

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