This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

Archive for the tag “parenting”

Step-In-Parenting (try this at home)

As a step father or step mother, you are actually stepping IN, not aside of a unique parental role.  You’re not replacing their other bio parent, but stepping in as a parental figure to fill in the gaps as much as you can.  These thoughts are a work in progress, but here are some guidelines coming from a bio-mama who loves her children and wants what’s best for them and their childhood that includes growing up in blended families.

You can customize this list for you and your own household, because each family —especially blended families, have their own unique set of circumstances and needs to meet in order to make their family work in a healthy way.  And these needs and circumstances evolve just as the children and hopefully, the adults do.

  • First and foremost:  Love these children as if they were YOURS.  This is not on the condition of whether or not their other bio parent is “in the picture” this is something you can consciously commit to regardless of the degree to which the other bio parent is involved.  There’s an emotional adoption that needs to happen from the beginning.  There is no “probationary” period for the kids, you aren’t becoming a foster parent, you’re a step-in parent that’s being grafted into this family tree.  Just as kids are adopted by their adoptive parents by the initiation of the adoptive parent, there is a stable and UNCONDITIONAL commitment to the kids.  To not have this happen is to create rifts out of your own self-protection.  You could be rejected, or not.  It’s not on the condition of them accepting you.  You’re not applying for this job, if you’re married or fully committed to a partner with kids, this is the deal.  You’re all in, or your not in at all.  Some things really are all or nothing.  Kids are extremely sensitive, their resilient but sensitive and will feel this sense of insecurity if you have not emotionally adopted them into your heart.  As far as your heart is concerned, these children are as if they are your own flesh and blood.  They aren’t “his” or “her” kids as far as your heart is concerned.  Legal custody and emotional adoption are two different matters.  You don’t need a court order to emotionally adopt these children you share a home with.  You need resolve.  You need a conscious investment of being all in, just like you would if they were your bio kids.  Many weddings where there are non bio children of either the bride or groom include making vows not only to their bride or groom, but to the children of the bride or groom, it’s a beautiful thing.  This is a stance you take internally to make this level of commitment to the children.
  • Ask your partner what they want and expect from your role as a step-parent.  Share what you see as your role also.  Identify parenting philosophies and parenting/family values and work as a TEAM and PARTNERSHIP in building these into practice.
  • Be open and humble.  You are learning how to build a relationship with children who didn’t get a vote in having you be in their own home and lives.  If you’ve never been a parent, be willing to place any preconceived notions about how children “ought” to behave and how parents “ought” to parent in one hand, and then open the other hand to receive new insights from your lived experiences with these children.
  • Know these kids well.  Most likely, you weren’t there from the very beginning, but you can invest in discovering on a regular basis how these young and growing beings tick, just as their bio parent hopefully does with them also.  The deeper you know and understand them, the better.
  • Reserve discipline for the bio parent unless there is a very deep and secure attachment or emotional bond that you’ve created with these children.  Support their bio-parent’s discipline, but save the most confrontational enforcement of it or initiation of it for their bio parent unless you have this secure attachment where they feel safe enough to just be themselves even if it’s not how YOU want them to be, which takes a lot of time and trust to develop.
  • If you have shared children with their bio parent, do NOT show favoritism to “your” child.  It hurts the whole family.  It creates wedges between your child and their siblings just as it would in non-blended families.  Be very self-aware and intentional about with this.
  • Your partner shouldn’t feel like a single parent when you are with them, or you’re not doing your job unless they want you to leave the parenting up to just them.  But if not, this will put a strain on them and your relationship because single parenting is one of THE hardest jobs on the planet.  This is why I call it a step-in parent, because they shouldn’t feel like a single parent if you’re there stepping up or stepping in, unless your partner doesn’t want you to be very involved.  Hopefully this won’t be an area of ambiguity, and if it is, talk and clarify as you go.

Your role as a step-in-parent is tremendously important and valuable, though it is often so under-appreciated and under-recognized.  It’s tough, it’s challenging, and will cause you to grow, but the reward is having the very fulfilling and satisfying feeling of building your family UP, no matter what DNA comes from where or who.  You are leaving a legacy that goes above and beyond DNA, but is made by sweat and tears from the labor of LOVE.  It will strengthen your marriage, your family, and yourself.  It’s not for the faint at heart.  It takes tremendous courage and commitment to be a step-in parent, but don’t all things in life that mean so much?



Innocent Bystanders of Parental Wrath

poison injectionThe unfortunate phenomenon of kids being poisoned by a parent’s (or any adult caretaker’s) rage towards another adult in a kid’s family is so nasty, but all too common.  Why are parents so oblivious to the damage they are inflicting onto their child out of their anger towards someone other than their innocent child?

Seriously.  Wake Up.  Open your eyes and look at who the recipient of your rage really is -your innocent child.  Such seething and reckless anger dangerously injects the wrong target – your children – when it is acted out by them being dragged into something that is really none of their business.  Please – for the sake of these children, own your anger, work through it in conscious, productive, and healthy ways.  Find it worthy to muster up enough courage to get help as needed in order to do this.

Common scenario:  A kid’s parent (or adult caregiver) becomes embittered towards another adult in their child’s life — perhaps their other parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc., and the embittered parent responds by injecting the CHILD with harmful anecdotal accounts portraying the other adult as not loving the child in some way.  This is done to rally support, garner sympathy, and often in older children can nurse a grudge or put a wedge up in between the child and the other adult where there otherwise would not be one, while simultaneously coercing the child to choose loyalties and protect the parent who is in fact the one injecting them with this poisonous vengeance.  This is often done in the guise of being a victim.  It’s highly effective with children because it exploits their innocence, vulnerability, and dependability on the adult who is initiating this tactic.  It’s sickly manipulative when it continues as a pattern after chances to correct and amend it have been neglected.

I realize there are indeed incidents where a parent in a child’s life truly makes the outright decision to abandon and abdicate their rights and responsibilities that come with providing care for their own child.  That is not what I am referring to in this post.  When that happens, the adult(s) that remain in the child’s life who want to support that child need to intentionally provide healing for the abandonment and neglect of the parent that fled.  This often involves sharing the hurtful truth in a sensitive way that is focused on the child’s feelings and self-concept following parental abandonment.  This is not done by emphasizing how the parent who left did not love them or want them.  That is not why a parent fleas, it is because a parent does not have the wherewithal to be a parent.  This has nothing to do with the child’s loveability or worth.  It is about the parent’s extreme limits, not about the limits of the child’s worthiness of love and care.

When one parent is hurt and angry by the other parent, and they turn around and tell their child that daddy or mommy doesn’t love them and want to see them, that is injecting the child with poison because you’re angry at the other parent.  The child is an innocent bystander that has now become the recipient of your wrath.  How is this loving and fair to the child?  It’s not at all.  It is harmful, and though it is hard and often requires a ton of courage and help to avoid doing – it is completely preventable and up to you to take on, for the sake of your own child as well as your own well being.

I get how difficult it is to not act out of spite when you are hurt and feeling completely wronged by your ex or some other adult in your child’s life.  But your child shouldn’t be expected to be so understanding as they get dragged into something they didn’t cause.  They are innocent and do not need to get dragged in the middle.  So please – get help to keep them out of it.  Get honest with yourself.  If you’re struggling to protect your children from your own pain and bitterness, no matter how valid your pain and bitterness may be, it is never valid to throw your child in the midst of it and inject them with poison as you seethe with anger towards your ex or whomever the adult is that you are actually angry at.


Post Navigation