What ever made you think it wouldn’t be hard?
When I was still only contemplating this step-mother idea, my lovely friend Ying told me very sincerely, “In China, step-mother always bad.” She went on to offer the example that when your own precious child spills milk, you will just mop it up with mild grumbling, or you may even comment that they have made a perfect circular spill. When your step-child does the same thing, you will scowl and grumble in a much-diminished style of forgiveness. Bad baby spilled the milk.
That is exactly what makes blended family life so challenging. The urges to be protective, effective and fair parents collide with the needs to be favored, nurtured and understood children. Madness.
Family life is already very complex, when you add differences of blood and culture, with a sprinkling of parental bias you are cultivating chaos.
It certainly doesn’t start off much like blending. It was more like smashing at first. Remember when I killed Santa Claus? Everything was an emergency back then.
At this point, yerdad and I both sit back, nearer the finish line, and wonder how the hell we did it.
I think I misunderstood Ying, though. I think by “step-mother always bad” she was telling me not to be a step-mother. I took her to mean that I shouldn’t be bad. I’ve tried super-hard not to be bad.
If any of you decide to do this step-parenting thing, I have a suggestion. For all the difficulty of parenting kids you do not understand on a very basic level, there is a counterpoint that can make everyone’s life much better. Even as you struggle to communicate with them, recognize that you have a wonderful impartiality toward your step-people, it just comes with the situation. As a step-parent, if you can express your step-parent thoughts gently and the other parent can listen, the result will be a much better understanding for everyone.
For example, some kids need to be protected from over-protective parents. No one is better able to recognize mistakes like that than a step parent or a step kid. They are viewing the situation from a step back, so to speak. The tricky part is to step in gently enough that everyone can steer into a healthier course.
That’s blending–definitely more graceful than smashing.
We still smash from time to time, but it’s for your own good, I bet.