I Only Think Being A Step-Parent Is Easy Because I Forgot How Hard It Really Was
I’m a total step-parent sanctimommy. When I see people talking about being how hard a step-parent is, I think to myself no it is not hard it’s awesome and then I will remember that no, when my stepson was little, and when my own son was little and my husband first had the role of stepdad – it was SO hard! It was awful! It was depressing and crazy-making and amazingly difficult to navigate at times and the only thing that saved me on many a night was realizing that one day our kids would be older and things would get easier. And they did. But having step kids who were barely out of baby age and navigating the relationships between ex-spouses and wanting to do right by your step-kid but having them be a total (normal, and still) monster at times and working out schedules and discipline and wondering what your role is in all of it is can be a total mindfuck. At least it was for me, and it sounds like it is for this dad who posted on reddit:
There’s no worse feeling as a father when you see pictures or read and hear of your Lil girl that you’re raising being enjoyed by another father figure. I sometimes wonder how it feels for him but it must be different as I’m the one raising her and having her live with me since the beginning. I feel like who’s the real dad? Who steps in as dad when it’s dad time. Who’s gona walk her down the aisle, talk to her about father daughter things?
I’ve never heard of a situation like mine. This blended family that I have. It’s hard on me, on us step dads. People need to understand that.
I just want to be happy with my family.
I was so ready to judge this dad, and brush it off like Dude it is no big deal, but you know what? It so is. All of it is. There are so many emotions involved no matter if you are sharing your kid with another adult or sharing your step kid with their parent. You have to navigate your relationship, with your spouse, your ex, sometimes their ex, and all of the kids. And there is no easy answer. And I swear I faked it so many times. But I’d be lying if I said it was easy, because none of it was. All you can really do is fake it at times. And grit your teeth. And try to be civil. And keep reminding yourself that the kids involved didn’t asked to be involved in any of this. And respect them, and their space and never try and replace their parents, but do what you do with your own kids. Make everyone follow the same rules. Hug those who want to be hugged. Always offer a bedtime story even if it’s rejected with a whining no. And remind yourself constantly that it will get better, because kids grow, and they start to sort out in their own little minds the dynamics between parents and step-parents, and even if your spouse’s ex hates you with the passion of a thousand suns – kids are smart and they figure it out.
It will all be okay. But in the meantime, for those of you who are step-parents, I get you. I know it’s not easy.