More than ever before, many people are finding themselves in a position of step-parenting. Being a stepparent is not a new concept, as remarriage has been around since the beginning of time. Many widows remarried after losing their husbands young to war or dangerous working conditions. Widowers sought out new mates after pandemics stole mothers. Today, as the divorce rate has broken many families, the situation is a little different because we often find our children being raised by two sets of parents. This can be a very tough family structure to navigate so I decided to share a little lighthearted advice I have learned from my own experience.
Being a Young Stepparent
I became a stepparent shortly after I became an adult. Being a stepparent to two preteens, about ten years younger than I, sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Our story is a little different than the one you are imagining because it has a happy ending. The success in our case can be attributed to one thing: ironically, inexperience.
Parenting is Hard – Times are Always Changing
Parenting biological children can be very difficult. The world changes at a rapid pace and parents often find themselves in a strange position where they simply can’t understand their children. Two generations removed, their kids are going through things they personally never experienced. Worries are different, school has changed, expectations and pressures are not the same as when the parent was growing up. The disconnect sometimes creates more problems than solutions, and causes a rift between parent and child.
Being just a decade apart proved beneficial in my personal situation. I was old enough to drive, responsible enough to supervise and smart enough to make good decisions for my stepchildren. But I wasn’t so old that I had forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. I had just recently experienced many of the difficult times that teenagers go through and I knew a little about how to handle those times. Where hindsight is 20/20, I was able to be a really good adviser while not coming off as an ‘interfering parent’. My step children, now grown, may disagree but I was kind of the “cool, young” stepmom who got it. And I wasn’t so confident that I knew all the answers that I tried to own every situation.
Stepchildren Don’t Need More Parents, They Need Support
Outside of basic necessities, the most important things that a child needs today is someone to understand and listen to them. My inexperience as a parent really made me open-minded and helped me listen, not dictate.
My husband often said it was a good thing his children had four parents to get the kids everywhere they needed to go and pay for everything they wanted. That was true in a really humorous way. But really children only need two parents, stepparents are great for support, rides and listening. If you find yourself having opportunity to be a step parent, be a great one. Don’t think those kids need another parent, they don’t. What kids need today from a stepparent is support and maybe some inexperience – if you are willing to keep an open mind and consider what is best for your new kids, you can make a really great addition to a child’s life.
If you are a stepparent, leave a comment with some great advice you have learned along the way.