To my fellow Stepdads,
Like you, I made a choice to take on two precious angels as my own, and I’ve never looked back. To all of you with that same commitment and understanding, I salute you.
My Dad (“Step” Dad) chose my sister and I, but it took me a long time to contemplate our relationship from that perspective. Of course once I did, my respect and admiration for my Stepdad (Dad!) grew immensely. It also helped me appreciate the depth of my own commitment to these girls. Great Stepdads are an absolute blessing. I should know. My stepdad is a boss.
I am not the richest, smartest, strongest, fastest, best-dressed, most stylish, funniest, or any other “est” that might apply as a descriptor here. What I am, among stepdads and men in general, is as bad-ass a stepdad for my daughters as there ever could be on this earth.
That isn’t bragging either, guys. That’s just my certainty in my commitment, and my love for these girls speaking out loud. They might even tell you the same thing. My daughters don’t call me Daddy because they were forced, asked, or even encouraged to. They call me Daddy because I earned it, and have kept earning it.
What Every Stepdad Dreads
Yesterday, my daughters spent the better part of the day fighting… something I believe all stepdads dread. One daughter got a bad attitude when it was time to sit down and do school, and that bad attitude shadowed over the entire house like a dark cloud that refused to leave. I have learned a variety of techniques to squash situations like this. I know how to make my girls laugh, and once they begin to laugh, the tension eases… and we can begin to discuss the issues with a clearer frame of mind.
Yea, it takes a long time, and a lot of patience to do things this way. That’s part of this commitment I made to them: I will not use force, violence or coercion on my daughters for any reason. We don’t use guilt trips, shaming, restriction or any of that. For stepdads in particular, discipline and guidance can be a tricky area. Though it has indeed been the more challenging route to take, I am seeing almost precisely the fruit I thought we would see in them when we decided on this peaceful parenting approach.
More about that in another blog post or podcast…
How I Persevere
After a particularly difficult day trying (unsuccessfully) to break the fight, then the tension, then the attitudes, I took a long and well-deserved shower. It hurt to watch my daughters suffer through their fighting and attitudes, but I know they have to experience these things in order to further their self-mastery, and have opportunities to apply what we’ve tried to teach them.
In my mind, I was struggling, then I heard my own higher consciousness say “What the hell are you upset about? You asked for this, didn’t you? Don’t you thank these girls on the daily for choosing you to be their Daddy? For enabling you to live your dream?”
Standing there in the shower, I laughed out loud and muttered the words, “You’re right.” All of the sudden, I was nearly overwhelmed by the same gratitude I feel for them when they draw a picture for me, or tell me they love me. It didn’t make what I endured during the day any easier, but it reminded me why I’m not just happy to deal with those things, but anxious to for the influence I can have in their lives.
Stepdads, you are SO vitally important. If you have committed to your “step” kids, then you’ve made as noble a choice as a man can make. That promise carried a “no matter what” commitment with it. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Could you make a lesser commitment to a child you love like that?
When those trials come, I would ask you to just remember that you made a choice, too. Inherent in that choice was a commitment. They depend on you, no matter what. I hope what I’ve shared here helps you maintain that same commitment to them. Whether rain, shine, sleet, snow, hail, fire, fighting, fussing, PMSing, they depend on you. Isn’t it a wonderful thing? Aren’t the rewards so much more than worth it?
Stepdads, I would love for you to leave pearls of wisdom you’ve learned over the years. Drop us a comment!