I’ve been a step parent in the past on two occasions . I’ve had a partner step parent my kids. Collectively, many years of tolerating all there needs to endure surviving the highs and lows of such a situation- it isn’t easy.
Ive concluded that a good step parent must have a few essential qualities to make things work- qualities like nurturing, loves all children, embraces step parenting for the compartmentalise role it is (eg tries not to be the parent) and gives all the latitude to the blood parents needs to be with their children.
The step mother of my children didn’t want my kids around. Over 10 years we flew to holiday destinations without my kids because “they don’t behave themselves” and once in that decade my work left me stranded 4 hours away so I asked her to pick up my kids for the weekend- a flat “No” was her answer. Once my child had a temperature and needed my regular attention but my partner saw that as my daughter taking too much attention away from her. A good step mother would be as concerned as I and work as a team.
Visit well known family restaurants on Friday evenings and tables is filled with parents having picked up their children from their custodial parent. These mums and dads have often waited 12 days to see their kids. Their heart strings have been pulled every day in between. It’s grief really because they have lost a big chunk of their parental connection. That stress alone is hard enough to bare without added stress from the step parent.
A good idea for the SP is to get a hobby for those weekends and even go away visiting for one of the days. Give them space.
Parents also need to be empathetic to the step parents feeling of being alienated and not “needed”. The children already have parents “what good would a third one be”? This is where the step parent ideally should carve their own niche into the children’s lives- their role could include activities the blood parents don’t do eg reading a book, playing a certain game or doing a craft. I tried this with my then 14yo stepson by buying an old panelvan and every fortnight we’d work on it in preparation for his first car.
Step parents can have an approach that can be pivotal to the success of a relationship. My wife of 9 years is step mum to my 32 yo daughter who, not having seen her own mother for 12 years now...calls my wife “mum”.
You reap what you sow- most times!
Your comments are welcome