- Family and Parenting
Being a Stepmember
What is it like to be a stepchild?
I met my father when I was 9 years old. Him and my mother picked me up from the airport in NY. That day I met my middle sister as well, she was 5 months old. A little baby looking up at me with these big, brown eyes. That was the day when life changed for me.
You are probably wondering how come I got to meet him at that age. Well, the reason is because that day I also became a stepmember. If you look around in a class full of children, you will be surprised at how many different types of families there are. How many broken homes are present, but my home wasn't broken, it was whole. As whole as it could be. I didn't know it then, but I know now, that my childhood was perfect.
I want to use this lens to talk about what is like being a stepchild and how is helping me deal with a child that is not technically my own. You might be encountering this situation yourself and might not know what to do. Hopefully this lens will help you.
I can't speak for every stepchild, but I can try to explain how I personally felt. At the time not only was I dealing with joining a new family but moving to a new place and reuniting with my mother after 3 years. I was excited but scared. Thrilled and nervous. But most of all, after meeting my NEW father and NEW sister, I felt out of place. They were the new happy family and I was baggage. After meeting his mom, my new grandmother, I felt as if I was being judged. So I felt this way each and everytime I met a different member of his family. I believe it took years and a lot of effort in his part, in order for my father and I to form a bond.
The reason I'm writting all this down, is because I believe that, as adults, we need to be sensitive to that child's feelings. We must understand that a child will analyze every action as either a form of acceptance or rejection. Not only from that step- parent but from their family members as well.
...are you a stepchild?
Being a stepparent
Looking back now, I see that my father dealt with the situation as best as he could. In my opinion, he did a wonderful job! To put it simply I will say that I got spoiled. He made sure that no matter what I got the best he could to provide for me and I'm not just talking about material things. My father always made sure he attended every single activity in school, he was there for practices in sports and cheering me on in games. He took me to the park with my sisters and took me out to eat just because. He rewarded my good behaviors and grades just like he does with my sisters now. He introduced me to my stepbrother and treated us as equals. But the most important thing he did was he never forced the issue about me calling him "dad". So I called him by his name, Felix, until I felt ready and comfortable to call him by his proper title. He, by all sense, is my dad. He provided, he cared, he disciplined and he loved me like his own.
I remember meeting my biological father when I was 21. He asked me if he could walk me down the isle if I ever got married. Without hesitation I simply answered "No". That is not his place nor his earned right.
Are you a stepparent?
I want to thank you for being the wonderful father you are! I love you!
So now I'm in a relationship with someone who has a child. I met her when she was 1 year old and I never thought I would feel so nervous in meetin a child that age. As she got older and started spending more time with me, that feeling never left. I still feel nervous and she's going to be five. I keep waiting for that day of rejection. When she will say " You are not my mom!". But every day I spend with her and everytime I think of her, I think of my dad. She is not in the same situation I was in, both her mom and dad are there and care for her, but I still want to make sure that when she comes in my house she feels like this is HER home too! I now understand how my father must have felt. You love regardless of the blood that flows through our veins because it is irrelevant.
Tips for a Stepparent
1. Do not make too many changes at once.
2. Avoid adding pressure of how he/she should feel or act like.
3. Discipline just as you do your own child.
4. Respect and be respected. Do not allow a child to disrespect you for fear of resentment.
5. Reward only when is due. Ex. Good grades and behavior.
6. Be patient. Do not rush to form a bond. Let it happen at it's own pace.
7. Take time for your stepchild. Take them out with your own kids if you have them.
8. Take interest in their lives and activities.
9. Do not try to buy their love.
10. Love unconditionally regardless of what happens between you and your partner.
Note to Stepfamily Member
Family members, I want to stress the importance of how your actions may affect a child's life. Regardless of you feel (about what your son, daughter, brother, etc., is doing or the person is marrying), a child has no fault or play on the situation. Please attempt to accept this stepchild into your family and make him/ she feel welcomed.
Also be careful of your actions that you may not be aware of. For example, buying a gift for your grandchild and not your stepgrandchild. This is a sign of rejection. Statements made are also important, so think before you speak. Children are very smart and perceptive and may understand the hidden meaning behind your words.