The Non-Parenting, Parent


I’ve always wanted kids, but…

Oddly enough even as a young girl I always knew that certain health issues I had, would probably leave me not being able to have children. As it turns out, I was right. With no real reason to point too, as they say ‘it is what it is’.

This has turned out to be a blessing for me. I say that because here we are many years later, and I have found myself in the role of a step-mom. Now this is a very rewarding position to be in, but because I am not one to sugar-coat things… I have to say it can also be challenging as well.

When the girls were little, that was easy. All we had to do was take them out, have a little fun and they were entertained. Now though that they are teenagers, it’s a whole new ballgame!

I was raised by my grandparents, but for all intents and purposes they were my parents. They were definitely from a different generation than my friends’ parents, and I don’t mean just chronologically. The things that they worked to instill in my sister and I include; going to church every Sunday, praying over every meal, to work hard at home, school, and professionally, to be honest and fair, to always do your best despite the obstacles, to respect your elders as well as others and to love freely and unconditionally. Then there were the more physical skills they taught; cleanliness is next to Godliness (hence the white glove room inspections…yeah, seriously!), feed your pets before yourselves always, kids help in the garden, care for the animals, and help in the yard. In my house, manually pulling weeds along fence lines was one of our punishments and though we only had 2 1/2 acres… we despised it!

Children today have changed, heck the whole world has changed from when I was growing up. Today’s world is about instant gratification and with the help of the internet, a lot of it is as easy as tapping a screen. I really think this has affected the way children not only develop intellectually and socially, but also how they perceive and decipher information. Parenting has become more challenging and then throw a step-parent into the mix, yeah…that’s fun. <insert sarcasm here>

Like all families, we have definitely had our challenges…disagreements…and fights. Hey it happens, especially having all girls. This really didn’t become an issue until they began to become ‘young ladies’. It’s like when they get around 13, God flips on this switch and says ‘watch this, this’ll be fun’…and then maybe grabs some popcorn!

At the beginning of this new ‘phase’, to be honest I did not take well to this whole new sense of entitlement that began to appear. Okay, so maybe “did not take well” are not the right words…it made me mad! Nothing was ever good enough, “how come we didn’t have money like their friends’ parents” and how in the world were “we the only poor people around”. You know the typical, ‘I want, I want’ teenage behavior.

Now as a step-parent, I felt that all of this was nothing more than unappreciative nonsense. My husband, though a man generally with a dominant personality, is a big ol’ softie when it comes to his girls. He would rope the moon for them if he could and truly love every minute of it. I suppose it is because he had a very bad childhood. Without going into personal details, he truly knew what going hungry and living without actually was. This is a huge reason that he is the type of Father that he is today.

On to non-Parenting:

What do I consider non-Parenting to be?

First let me mention that this specifically refers to step-parents. Here’s my definition:

“It is being supportive but not letting your own unrealistic personal expectations interfere with your decisions regarding or relationship with, your step-child”.

Basically because of the way that I was raised, I felt that they too needed the same. Things that were not tolerated in my parents house would absolutely not be tolerated in mine; if I had any say in it. I was putting my foot down!

But…this is just wrong. I can not project my own unrealistic expectations onto them, and other step-parents shouldn’t either. I had to learn to let their parents, parent.

Don’t misunderstand, this doesn’t mean that step-parents shouldn’t have a say in making rules or even disciplining the children. You are apart of the family too after all. Instead, it’s usually more beneficial to work alongside the parents in a supportive manner.
Let’s face it, the parents are going to allow things that perhaps you wouldn’t. They’re going to say or do things themselves that you probably wouldn’t. But unless it puts the children or others in harms way, then you and I simply have to let it play out. Even when we might be secretly thinking they’re crazy and that maybe things will back fire.

One bit of advice for new step-parents is: Avoid trying to be a "friend" to the kids. This in my opinion is a terrible idea for parents. It causes children to not see you as an authority figure, and only further convinces them that they don't have to listen to you. Do yourself a favor, and wait until they are grown to try that approach. Friendliness is fine, but playing the "friend role" or being the "buddy"...will definitely complicate things, especially if they confide something that you have to "tell on them" about. (just my two cents, though)

Even with all of that being said, I still feel that being a step-parent is a huge blessing…even when the kids are being knuckleheads!


Oh…and no we don’t do the white glove tests in our home, sorry mom and dad you tried! Smile


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