‘It’s all a learning process, and it’s hard!’: Stepdad candidly shares co-parenting, blended family struggles

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“I am no expert at stepdad life. At the time of writing this, I have only been married for 14 months and have been involved with my wife and her son for over 2 years now. Amidst all the struggles and difficulties the blended family lifestyle brings, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It is a wonderful and rewarding opportunity to be involved in the life of a child who does not share your DNA. I want to share our story and hopefully give you some encouragement and hope for you and your family.

My wife and I grew up very differently. She has lived in Florida her entire life. I have moved around several places. Her parents divorced and remarried which created a blended family for her from a very young age. Fortunately and unfortunately for her, she has seen and been through a lot more than I have. My parents have been married almost 40 years now, and besides moving around the state of Alabama a few times, we haven’t had much hardship to deal with as a family.

Let me put it to you like this. We were living in Huntsville when my dad accepted the head coaching position at Troy University; it was a better job and opportunity for him. The rest of us stayed in Huntsville for a couple of years while he went down to Troy to revamp the program. That was the toughest family circumstance we all had to deal with, and I am so lucky my dad and I still remain very close.

My wife had her son young, and he has been her entire world ever since. They have experienced mental and emotional stress (what some might call abuse), family turmoil, and inconsistencies in the truth for the majority of her son’s life. When I came into the picture, the dad was not around, as he was in a bad place I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. So, being a bit naïve to their situation, I came in and immediately fell in love with my wife’s son who is now 11.

Let me add I was already in love with her before I got to spend time with him. Although he was a bit undisciplined and disrespectful in some situations, giving him stability and direction has molded him into the kind, loving, and respectful young man he truly is today. But, this is also the issue I struggle with as well, and maybe some of you step dads out there can relate.

See, I was raised to be scared of my dad. Almost like I was so scared to screw up because I knew the consequences were going to be so severe you didn’t even chance it. So, with my stepson, my patience for certain things tends to run out quickly. ‘Is that okay?’ ‘Am I being too hard on him?’ ‘This is how I was raised, and it worked for me, my brother, and sister. Why wouldn’t it work for him?’

These are the thoughts that run through my head just about every day. His mom does a great job with him, but things that bother me (like taking shoes off before you get in the house) don’t bother her. So, when he has his shoes on in the house for the millionth time, I get frustrated. And it’s hard!

I think as a stepdad, especially when the real dad is still around, you do have to be careful but also make the child understand this is your home. He needs to know you make the rules and you are in charge. Just like you would if the child was your own, except you have to apply these rules differently. I’ll give you an example. He, like most kids these days, plays Fortnite. He is often too loud when talking to his friends, so I told him if he’s loud again, I will take it away.

One night, around midnight, he woke me up being too loud. I told him politely to get off and go to bed. He refused and it was very hard for me to stay calm in that situation. It never escalated because his mom came in and calmed him down and got him to go to sleep. The reason I am telling you this is, it was so hard for me to not go from 0 to 100! If he was my child, I think I would have gone to 100. And I wanted to with every part of me.

For all you stepdads out there, I’m sure you have wanted to do the same but felt like you couldn’t, and that’s okay. I think sometimes it is okay to go to 100. Again, we’re dealing with kids, and with structure and discipline comes difficulties and hardships. Believe me, there are many situations where I have been too firm and could have handled it differently. I wish I would have handled it differently. But it is all a learning process. I heard an expert say it can take a blended family 3-7 years to really figure out their new situation. That is CRAZY to me. And in many cases, it makes sense.

For you stepdads that are dealing with the biological dad that causes or has caused issues, I feel for you. I tried to shake my stepson’s dad’s hand the first time I was around him and guess what he did? Looked down at my hand and said, ‘I know who you are,’ and walked away talking crap. That’s who I am dealing with and I am sure some of you are too. Honestly, I’m thankful it’s an offseason for my stepson just so I don’t have to see his dad’s face. And that is awful and I hope God can give me the strength to overcome inner blood boiling disdain I have for my stepson’s dad.

I commend the dads and stepdads that get along out there. You guys are heroes in my opinion and I can’t imagine how great it is for the kids involved. I encourage every one of you to sit down and talk things through and try to get on the same page as much as possible. That is one thing my wife and I struggle with and it puts a burden on our marriage.

There is so much hope for all of us though, as this struggle is only temporary and we have to allow everyone time to adjust, adapt, and overcome all barriers. We are to love these kids as if they are our own, and cherish every minute with them. I hope and pray for all of you out there to find people that can give you wisdom, discernment, and encouragement through your journey.”

This article was written by Logan Pierce and submitted to Love What Matters  via Rachel Dunne, the Spiritual Stepmom. You can follow her journey on  Instagram and her website. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Rachel here:

11 Things You Should Know Before Marrying A Man With Children

An Open Letter To Soon-To-Be Stepmoms

Dear Stepparent, Your Partner Will Never Heal From Their Past If You Keep Rubbing Their Nose In It

5 Pieces Of Advice Every Remarried Dad Needs To Hear

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