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.
5. Let the relationship grow at it’s own pace
I love my daughter, but I’ve had difficulties in how I raised her because of unresolved issues with my dad and me. Briana was a self-sufficient young lady and still is to this day. I only remembered the harder side of my dads rearing of me and thought that was how I should raise her…Not a good idea.
Since I couldn’t see the love my dad was giving, I didn’t know how to give love to my daughter properly. Over time I got better but for quite sometime you wouldn’t see a #1 Dad cup anywhere in the house. I knew I loved her…she’s my heart. But I didn’t know how to express that to her for comfort and safety. As time went on and I realized my errors I became overly loving…Not a good idea, remember #3.
I was trying to force a relationship like it was there all along. I had to and you will have to learn how to build trust. Take turns being good cop bad cop. But always express your love for your child constantly.
6. Mistakes will happen, it’s how you respond
We often times want our children to apologize to us for their wrong doing. But we often times don’t think we need to apologize to them. We all know that no parent is perfect, even if we think so in our minds. If we’re honest our mistakes can cover the length of a football field. And that’s no different for any category of parent, but many times mistakes by step-parents are magnified and how we respond should be the same. It was long overdue, but I apologized to my daughter for the years of my misunderstanding in parenting. I’ve talked to individuals from the penthouse to the projects, from small groups to huge auditoriums but asking her to forgive me was more unnerving than any of that.
That taught me to do things a little differently with Joseph. I attempt to quickly make good on my mistakes. I don’t leave a lot of time in-between my mistake and possible correction so whatever negative emotion I could have left with him is smothered before it begins to grow.
We all know it can take years before our children understand what we attempt to do for their well being. But I believe how we respond to our mistakes will help them realize that much sooner, and with step-children the trust will grow faster.