“Raising someone else’s kids” will try your patience in a thousand ways you didn’t expect.
According to our very own Pseudo-Pop (my kids’ pet name for their stepfather), a lot of questions go through your mind as a new stepparent. Maybe some of these ring true for you, too:
Will the kids like me?
Ah, there’s a question. Everyone wants to be liked, especially when they’re anxious to impress. But getting to know somebody takes time. You can’t expect the kids to like you instantaneously. Like a fine wine, relationships have to b-r-e-a-t-h-e for awhile.
We were lucky in our case, because the kids and my husband hit it off well from the start. But that isn’t always the case.
Though we generally get along famously, there are times when it’s hard for my husband to play the role of Pseudo-Pop. Specifically, he loves and adores our daughter, yet sometimes feels he gets about as much recognition from her as she might give a phantom limb. There are days he’s ignored when he walks in the door and overlooked when the daily “have a good days” are dispensed.
She often tells her Pseudo-Pop that she loves him, but occasionally has been known to dismiss him by saying, “This is between me and my Mom so stay out of it!”
It could be that this is residue from unresolved anger playing itself out, or just garden-variety teenage rudeness. Whatever the cause, it’s unacceptable and we’re working to correct it.
What if my step-kids confide in me about risky behavior?
“Please don’t tell Mom!”
There are certain “secrets” that can be kept confidential between the kids and one parent (“girl” talk, “guy” talk, Birds and Bees stuff that they’re not comfortable talking about with the parent of the opposite gender), but when their safety is at stake, these secrets need to be revealed to both parents.
My husband is honored that the kids trust him enough to confide in him about actions that could get them into trouble, but this has occasionally put him in an awkward position.
He has figured out a way of dealing with it that’s been fairly successful. He explains that there are no secrets between him and their Mom, but that he doesn’t have to be the one to tell her, as long as they will. He also offers to be there with them to help “soften the blow” by explaining to me that they came to him with the information first.
So far this strategy has worked out well, though thankfully there have only been a couple of occasions where it was an issue (at least, as far as we know).
Oops, we’re out of time! To be continued tomorrow…