Many of you know about my children Briana and Joseph. And, if you follow me on this blog or any other social media outlet I have then you also know that I am not the biological father to either child. One child knows and has a great relationship with their dad and the other only knows me as dad. I was never one to say “stepdaughter or godson” when I speak of them because I know my place…which was learned…as a dad in their life. But just like becoming a dad via birth, there is a life change when you marry someone with a child. And this is where I’m going to be speaking from.
I have 10 points that I want to go over and I will mention them a couple at a time.
You can find the first two points here:
3. Don’t try to hard
Trying too hard to make your step or adoptive child love you can backfire in the worse way. Ultimately you can lose respect from them or be manipulated by that child. Wearing kid gloves in the relationship will not help it grow. If you are appeasing or favoring the child your future relationship can be built on fragile ground. Believe me the time will come when you have to be parent and not friend. If you’re the parent from the beginning, the relationship will be as it should. The first…and only time…I didn’t spare the rod to spoil the child, I felt like the world was ending. I knew it had to be done, but I thought the relationship I wanted to have with my daughter would never be. Now did I raise my voice to her after that time or punish her… sure, but it took a while and in the interim my wife was the deliverer of punishment. I have to say my wife was right when she would always tell me to let her be the “bad guy” when it comes to punishment. When Theresa and I married Briana was five years old. I was around her since she was a newborn, but not daily until her mother and I married. It’s difficult to jump in and be “Daddy Punisher”. It’s something that I had to learn to ease into. Now Joseph is a different story. Theresa and I have been involved in his life since he was two days old. So his experience has been his mother and Theresa and I.
I didn’t have to ease into anything there, the process was a natural one. I never wanted to hear the words “you’re not my daddy” from my daughter…thankfully I’ve never heard that verbally. Of course I knew I wasn’t but I still didn’t want to hear that. I found over time that parenting under that fear isn’t parenting at all. I just needed to be fair and honest while overcoming that fear.
I can’t say those thoughts or fear will go away. I guess it depends on how each dad deals with that issue. I found out recently I still harbored those thoughts. My daughter and I did have a fall out of sorts…our biggest. Again I believed it was necessary but yet in the back of my mind those feelings were still there after all those years. But then after a nap and cleaning we were good. That showed me the depth of our relationship and what we could overcome.
I had to learn not to try too hard and it took a while to get “normal” per say but it was all time well spent.
4. Remember there are others involved
My daughter’s father is involved in her life, and though she grew up in our household he was always kept in the loop of her successes and pitfalls. Thankfully her natural dad had the same mindset in regards to her rearing, but I would have had to respect his wishes if we disagreed on how to proceed on some things. Even with that there has to be open communication on what is going on in the child’s life. What’s going on in your home and what can be told from the child’s perspective can tell two entirely different stories. Remember what I said from point #2. Your wife chose you, not the ex nor does the ex have to like you. And if there is some type of friction it can be curbed with proper communication.
Time as well has to be shared. Some birthdays or holidays you will have to be without the child or children. The best-case scenario is having a large family get together but even when the family can get along, my suggestion can’t usually be the case. So the best thing is to be as creative with special occasions with your child before they visit other family. And don’t forget, you get them the majority of the time.