Parenting. It’s a challenge that is difficult to put into words. You love your kids so much but they can be total messes. If I’m being honest, I was the exact same way when I was a kid, and had the benefit of my parents being there for me. They helped me become who I am today, and while I’m far from perfect, I’m much better off because of their influence.
I was raised in a pretty traditional family demographically though. Mom and Dad were around, were married, and stayed that way. Even when I was young divorce numbers were high, but today it’s even higher. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. Couples with children have a slightly less rate of divorce, but it’s still very high.
Why am I spouting off divorce numbers? Well, because divorce is what leads to step parenting.
I married a wonderful woman with two wonderful boys ten years ago. It was and still is a package deal. And while it was easy for me to fall in love with her, it hasn’t always been as easy to fall in love with being a blended family. After all, there is a specific, natural love that you feel when a child is born. You can’t explain it, it’s just there. And you have another kind of love that you feel towards others, and it’s just a little different.
I love all my boys the same, but sometimes, as a step-parent, it’s tougher to love my step-sons. I have to work at it a little bit more. It’s not because they are bad kids, it’s just tougher. And I think it’s tougher for them to love me in the exact same way. We have come a long way but still have a long way to go.
Our boys spend the majority of their time with us, but their Dad is still in the picture too and loves them dearly. I want them to have both of us in their lives, but we are different people and this can be a real challenge when it comes to parenting. The boys are with us a lot, but we have learned to be able to part with them on some weekends and holidays. After we had our youngest child, those occasions were a more difficult as he was separated from his brothers and didn’t really understand why.
I guess I’m saying all of this to say divorce sucks, but there is redemption and learning that arises from the ashes.
It’s a constant struggle to figure out how to be a good step-dad and I’m just going to put it out there simply. It is tougher than being a regular Dad. It really is!
That’s not to say that regular fathering is easy, it’s not easy at all, but it’s just easier.
Thankfully, I have a great wife, great parents of my own and great in-laws to help make sense of our blended family. It’s been ten years and we are still doing our best to figure this mess out.
In conclusion I guess I would like to hear from other Moms and Dads from blended families, I know you are out there and none of us can do this without the encouragement of each other.