Step-parenting 101

Step 1: Read all the books.

Step 2: Worry about how to be a good step-parent.

Step 3: Fret.

Step 4: Realize that no one really knows. It’s just like regular parenting only with the addition of worrying about both of your ex-spouses too.

Step-children hiking

I’ve never felt as though I’m good with other people’s children. I can be tolerant for a short time, but more often than not, I find them to be annoying. (This is why I have mad respect for teachers.) I have a higher tolerance for my nieces and nephews, but if I’m being honest, they drive me a little crazy too.

When becoming a step-mom became a reality, I was worried my step-kids would see me as the evil step-mom all the stories talk about. I make kids do things like eat their broccoli and clean bathrooms.

Becoming a step-mom has been hard. Like super hard. Sometimes, actually, most of the time, I feel like I’m floundering a bit. I’m not their mother. I’m not their friend. But I’m also a little bit of both of those things.

And I got the easy part. I only got two bonus babies. My poor husband inherited 7. Seven. SEVEN.

And he got a crash course in parenting teenagers. His littles were only 4 and 10 when we started dating. My oldest was 18.

I could write an entire post on the adventures of parenting teens. (One teenager learned the lesson of “maybe off-roading in mud is a bad idea.”)


I love my bonus babies dearly. And we are slowly growing together. We don’t have as much time with them as we do with mine, but we are gradually coming together.

I can tell because the littlest now follows me around and asks me a bajillion questions. On our first meeting, he wouldn’t even speak to me. I taught him to play Uno, which is still one of my favorite activities when they are over.

Mostly because when he wins, he bounces about and declares how he “wrecked you.”

His sister will talk to me about all things writing and literary. They no longer look at me like an interloper who stole their dad. I remember skeptical looks from afar and wondering how in the world it would ever work.

And my kiddos…they always tell their step-dad goodbye. They’ve accepted him into our lives in a way that warms and surprises me.

Step-parenting takes a different kind of work. There’s a LOT of communication required. And so much trial and error.

And a lot of head scratching.

A few tears.

But a whole lot of love and trying again.

Step 5: Just love them.

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