Monday, May 18, 2015

My 5 Step-Mom Truths - How I Actively Parent My Step-Kids and It Works

In case ya'll didn't know, I'm a step-mom. A full time step-mom. We have 4 (3 are at home ages 14, 16 & 18 and one is old enough to be moved out on her own). That means we have our kiddos 365 days a year. That means I do everything from cook, to plan Birthday parties, have parent-teacher conferences, do homework at night, attend all the sports events and more. There is nothing I don't do of 'motherly duties' - I just simply did not give birth to them.

Here of late I've seen a lot of articles going viral about the 'truths of being a step-mom' and honestly, most of them have really just pissed me off. Apparently there are a lot of angry step-moms out there and a lot of really ugly shared custody situations. And not that I'm playing that down because I don't know that side of step-parenting. I've been blessed to get to raise our 4 with my husband and have very little dealings with their biological mother.

BUT, I thought I would share my 5 truths of what being a step-mom has been to me. This probably won't go viral, but I think there needs to be another side and perspective out there. Because no two families are alike - no matter if you're a blended family or not. And everyone is handling and dealing with their families and kids in the way that makes sense to them. So some of these articles are really 'irking' me and I've got to put my own truth out there.

So, here you go:

1. No, I'm Not Their Mom, But I'm the Only Mom Roll Model They Have: This one is such a biggie with me. I know I'm not their mother. I know that kids have a bond with their Mom that will not be usurped by me. And I'm cool with that. But my kids have never had and don't have a role model of what a real Mom should look like. And that's me. And I take that role beyond serious. I'm the one that models for them what a marriage should look like and how parents take care of their children. I'm the one that cheers them on in everything they do and directs their path when they get off course. I'm the one that is molding them to be productive, successful, healthy young adults. And that is what they need in their life right now more than anything. So you're right, I'm not their mother. But I'm the only person they have that is currently acting like one. And they NEED that.

2. My Husband and I Parent Together - A recent article stated that the step-mom should defer to the Father in all areas. Basically, just take a backseat. I will tell you, most days my husband defers to me. He works 70+ hours a week. I work from home (most of the time). I'm the one that takes teacher calls, signs report cards, deals with bad behavior, picks them up from practice - and the list goes on and on. My husband wants me to be an active parent. There are more times than not that I've implemented discipline and then fill him in when he gets home. We are a working parental team. When you have kids 365 days a year, you have to be empowered to act like the parent or you will have nothing but chaos in your home. My husband appreciates that I co-parent with him and our kids treat us both the same when it comes to anything.... they are teenagers with bad attitudes! My husband and I both get the brunt of it. At the end of the day, my kids appreciate that I set boundaries and structure in our home. They feel safe -- and that's what parenting is all about.

3. You Don't Have to Be the Evil Step-Mother - From Day 1 I've been so blessed. God's honest truth, I've never once heard from my kids 'you're not my mother.' I don't bad mouth their biological mother. From the beginning I've done nothing but give guidance, structure, discipline and tons and tons of love and support. And they have blossomed and grown into such amazing kiddos. My husband tells me all the time, 'I don't know where they would be today without you.' And I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, I just want people to understand that I don't treat our kids delicately because I'm their step-mother. I don't hold back on anything. I give them all of me. I don't hold back. And I truly believe for that reason, I've got kids who treat me as an equal to their father.

4. Love Your Spouse, Love His Children - I can't speak for other people and their circumstances, but when I started dating my hubby, I knew it was a full package deal. I didn't date him, I dated him plus 4 kids. And when we moved in together, I knew that my life was going to change dramatically. I didn't kid myself to think that everything would be easy. The first 6 months was the hardest of my life. But I was committed. These kids have been let down so many times in life by women figures,  I vowed to myself  I wouldn't be the one to do it. I understand why 70% of blended marriages fail. Because it's hard work! You can't go in thinking the love you have for your husband will be enough. Take it from me, it's not. It's a long tough road. But I committed not only to my husband during our vows 'to love him for life' but I made the same commitment to our kids. If you aren't willing to commit to the kids - you may be in the wrong relationship.

5. It's Damn Hard Being a Mom - I don't care if you're a step-mom, bio mom, adopted mom, gay mom, black/white/purple/blue mom.... this stuff is damn hard. We are all struggling with our own situations - and it's getting tougher and tougher to raise kids in today's society. Moms of toddlers. Moms of teens. Moms of infants. You guys, none of it is easy. We should be empowering each other and building a community. I get told more times than you can believe 'well, you're not a real Mom.' And I let it get to me every single time. The truth is, I'm dealing with the same things as the 'real moms' out there. I have moody teens. I have picky eaters. I have sports injuries and runny noses and sore throats. I have teenage heartbreak and rebellion. I'm dealing with the age of technology and trying to keep up to keep my kids safe. It's hard for us all -- we are all fighting the same battles. Why can't we just support one another instead of tearing each other down.

In the end, I've decided I'm not reading any more 'step-mom' articles, because they don't know me and they don't know our situation. You cannot generalize the role of a step-mom because each blended family is so very unique. We all are finding our own way through what life throws at us.

I love the family we've created and the story we are creating. And that's all that matters.

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