When my husband & I got together my daughter just turned six, his youngest daughter was still five, his son was eight & his oldest daughter was fifteen and just had a baby. It is hard enough raising your own children but when you start blending families it can sometimes be a rough road. Throw in one ex-wife that is mentally unstable, another ex-wife that is an alcoholic & (so is her husband) , and my husband who also suffers from alcoholism, so for me it was at times a nightmare to say the least! Also my daughters biological father was not part of this picture, he gave up his parental rights and that is due to the fact that he is a drug addict.
To quote one of the family psychiatrists we saw “Being a step-parent is the most thankless job you can have”! For me that was so true, it was a rough heart breaking 12 years to get through. The lies, the disrespect, the bullshit that I went through on a daily basis was sometimes cruel. For us the lies trickled down to our extended family and they were so damaging it caused us to not have contact with my mother-n-law for six years and the rest of the family just went on and believed the lies they were fed. Only one person asked us what the truth was but the rest, well I guess hating me was more justifiable to them. See I had all the responsibilities but none of the authority to do what needed to be done to raise these kids. I was raising my daughter a certain way and that is what I attempted to do with my step children. However my husband is an alcoholic and he wouldn’t let anything get in the way of his drinking, not even his family. You see since he wasn’t home a lot he had this guilt that he couldn’t identify with but if he thought I was being “mean” to the kids then he would jump in and undermine me and allow their disrespect and bad behaviors to continue. That’s not to say that my husband didn’t try to parent because at one point we were a solid team trying to get his son to live with us for his well being but his mom wouldn’t go for it she was the buddy and if he didn’t want to follow rules well by golly he didn’t have too!
Blended families can sometimes be very difficult. I personally had a lot of problems with his 2nd ex-wife over the years because she was the kids friend she rarely gave consequences and when she did she never followed through. I finally said to her one day “I am not their mother but I am their step-mother. We are all raising the same children here, we all want what is best for them, it would be nice if the four of us could be on the same page”! I can tell you that never happened. The trouble we had with my step-son was by far the worst. He started to get into trouble with the law at the young age of thirteen. Destroying property, doing drugs, failing for years in school, he was such a disrespectful kid and it seemed as though I was the only one who was trying to help him.
I am in no way a perfect parent, I made a lot of mistakes myself but you can bet that my beliefs and ways of doing things didn’t change. I believe in consequences, I believe in honesty, I believe that being a parent means you have a child to raise you can be their friend later in life but right now you have the responsibility of teaching them right from wrong. Here in our house I always strived for this……They had chores, they had consequences, they had rules, they did their homework, I also made them read everyday, they had respect, the list goes on and on but it wasn’t consistent with my step children. I was able to be that way most of the time with my daughter because she is the one who lived here 24/7 and nobody was going to tell me what I could and could not do with my child. It does make a difference. My daughter was reading at a college level at a young age. She was respectful, kind, happy. That’s isn’t to say that she never got in trouble because she did but it was nothing more than what you and I did growing up! The inconsistences in my step children’s lives wore on them in the way’s they behaved and the way they were allowed to treat people. It truly broke my heart but whenever they were here I went at it head on no matter what verbal abuse I would suffer because I wanted to make a difference in their lives.
Things got to a point where my step-son stopped coming for visitation because his mother thought it would be okay to “allow” him to make that choice because she said he didn’t like to be at our house because he had responsibilities, what a joke! My oldest step-daughter moved out with her baby about four years after we got together because she didn’t feel like she should be held accountable for things in her life like school because she was nineteen. Over the years his son got into drugs and overdosed, he was in and out of juvenile hall, dropped out of school, his youngest daughter started sneaking out and taking her moms car and so I just snapped. I said that’s it we are getting an attorney we are going for full custody of your daughter this can’t continue anymore! Things I thought would change and at that moment they did somewhat. We were awarded full custody of his youngest daughter and with that I insisted on changing her school immediately and she started to go to school with her sister.
As you can see this is a topic that has many different aspects to it therefore there will be a part two next week to sum it up. For me there is so much to say about being a step-parent. One thing I learned though is I am a human being with a big heart that has been bruised so many times but I chose to do what was right by the kids over what was best for me. Step-parents are not monsters! I suppose we all can be one though but so can a parent, an adoptive parent, a foster parent, and people with no children at all. Being a step-parent is choosing to take on the responsibility of another person’s child and to love them and protect them as your own. We are told all too often that we are NOT their parent, we are told that we are hated, we are told that we have NO right but why don’t we?
Sometimes honestly like in my case I feel like if they just got out of my way and they let me lead maybe things wouldn’t have been so tough on us all. Who is to say if it would have been better or not but I know this, my heart was always in the right place I always did what was best for all my kids even when they thought I was too tough. I loved them all, I protected them and I did the best I could given my situation with so many people against me. I have lost so many tears over the pain it caused me. It is terribly hurtful when someone accuses you of being mean to children when they had no idea what was even going on in our lives! I will close with this thought……If your ever in a situation as a parent judging your ex’s new spouse I know it may be hard but please try and see them as a human being coming into an already made family and trying to find where they fit in to it all and where there place is. Not every step-parent out there is mean. You can’t begin to imagine how they feel. What I am saying is if someone has your child’s best interest at heart and genuinely want what is best for them, they love them and want to be part of their life count your blessings it could be much worse than another woman or man loving your child!
Wishing you Peace & Serenity………….Harmony