I am a step mother to a vibrant, beautiful, smart 6 (almost 7) year old girl, Nylah. The delicate dynamic between her parents has made the bond her and I share, very unique and special. I was also able to parent Nylah, for a time, before I became pregnant and had Yamina. So, in a way, she was my first child, by way of circumstance, and not birth.
Step parenting is different from regular parenting, in the sense that you are the satellite parent. Orbiting around your step child and their “natural” parents to contribute when and if you can. This can be confusing as to where you stand on the parenting front! This is not for the faint hearted. So, If you are a step parent, or soon to be, this is my advice based on my own experiences.
1. From this day forward, they are always yours
As a step parent, you don’t get to re-nig when things get tough or when you feel your feelings are hurt (which will happen), your step child is looking to you for consistency, validate how much you care because now until forever they are yours. I had a step mother, who, after my father and her divorced I remained very close with. I was still hers, regardless if she was no longer his. It meant the world to me everyday, and as a step child that was invaluable to me. I imagine my step father would be the same, even now, if it came to that. I’ve made sure Nylah knows how much I love her, always. Because you are not their “natural” parent, always reassure them with a little extra love and support That’s all kids need.
From my experience it can be hard to step parent a child whose other parent is not willing to co parent with you, or they aren’t your biggest fan, for one reason or another. It will lead to you having to combat a fair bit of negativity… I beg you to not succumb to this. Stay positive and only respond to such negativity with positivity. Your stepchild will see this & later will appreciate you (that’s what I’m noticing anyway).
3. Don’t push something that feels unnatural
I let Nylah call me mom IF she WANTS to (which she will do, occasionally), I never tell her she HAS to. Because that is the truth of it, I am equally as much her mom as I am not her mom. She can come to me with and for anything. I love her like my very own, but she has a mother, who she loves and I would never want to make her feel in a position where she is feeling disloyal to her mother. As a step parent it’s not about YOUR feelings… consider THEIRS first, always.
The gist of all this, is just be decent human being and step parenting will come naturally, although not always easily! If you are already a parent before you become a step parent then it’s even easier! Imagine your child in the hands and care of someone else, how would you want that interaction to be? BE THAT! It isn’t without incident or trial. It’s a hard role, sometimes challenging but ultimately rewarding and fulfilling!
Here’s to being Step Parents!!