Interview with a Stepparent...

No, I couldn't find a vampire who was also a stepparent. So I decided to interview a real, live one. This interview is important so that others can understand the experience of what is is like to co-parent as a stepparent and maybe feel less alone, find some parallels through other people's experiences, and maybe figure out how to improve their own parenting situation. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kenni J. from Florida. She is a soldier, wife, and mom to 3 kids, two of them being her stepchildren. 

Lotus Therapies|Interview with a stepparent|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

What is the biggest struggle when adjusting to being a step parent?

                The largest struggle is learning to be an additional co-parent. Loving a child is easy, as children, especially young children, tend to offer unconditional love to anyone they feel deserving. The most difficult aspect is proving yourself to the other parent. Adults tend to still have residual emotions following a divorce and may inherently dislike their former spouses' new partner for any numerous of reasons, which may place an additional strain on your current marriage. As a step parent, you must accept that you cannot coerce the other parent to be receptive and approve of you. The other parent must decide to accept the step parent on their own volition and the reality is that the other parent may never accept the step parent.

How has stepparenting altered your view as a parent to your biological kid?

                For quite some time I was unsure if I was capable of having children. Therefore, I have loved my stepchildren as my own. I have always considered my stepson as my first child as I was a part of his life since he was a toddler. When I was blessed to have a child of my own my perspective remained the same and I still want the best for all of my children.

What would you change about challenges?

                In hindsight, the other parent in my relationship is simply unwilling to have a relationship with me therefore any changes to previous interactions would be futile. If you are dealing with a reasonable other parent, whom is not consumed by emotions, I would recommend being polite, making an introduction, and simply being respectful to the other parent. It is not necessary for you and the other parent to be the best of friends, but it is important to be cordial, especially in front of the children. If you are dealing with the spawn of Satan, simply do not engage. All interactions will be viewed as hostile and disrespectful regardless of the intent.

What is the ideal picture of your blended family?

                Ideally, my spouse and the other spouse would have a workable parenting plan that involves very little communication between the two of them. They currently have a toxic relationship that is basically unsalvageable. The best thing for all of us would be an exceptionally detailed parenting plan that allows both families to function with limited interaction. At this point, any interaction typically leads to a full-blown argument between the biological parents and exacerbates stress within the family.

Advice for step parents?

                Be prepared to be a flexible and understanding spouse. Understand that your stepchildren may not accept you or like you for quite some time. Do not attempt to “win over” the other parent with overt gestures of kindness as this will be perceived as you being disingenuous. Introduce yourself to the other parent, be respectful, and do not discipline your stepchildren without the presence of your spouse. Be aware that all of your interactions, both good and particularly bad, will be shared with the other parent. Don’t create more tension in the relationship by causing strain on the parent-child relationship.

Information like this is valuable in appreciating the difficulty of being a stepparent and seeing how you as coparent in this situation can make the experience more bearable and productive for all paries involved.