There were some other things that got us off to a good start with our marriage. As for me, although I had never been married before and had no children, I was a teacher. I had and still have one philosophy about kids. Treat children with the same respect that you treat or should be treating everyone else. Especially in a disrupted family, when they misbehave, ask them what they are upset about. Listen. Listen. Even if they don’t say anything, pay attention to what makes them happy and sad. Encourage and support your spouse in giving his first attention to his kids. In second marriages the children are the meal and the new spouse is the dessert. What I mean is that the kids come first. I am always saddened by second spouses that are jealous of the time spent with the children.
How to be a step mother can be tricky. It is not a relationship to rush into. It’s better if you are invited in. My stepson was nine and my stepdaughter was 14. She asked to come live with us. We bought a house (thank you to both our mothers for their help) and we all started fresh, together in our new house. I was lucky. Nathan told the kids that “What Merle says is law”. And he always stuck to that. So there were never any conflicts.
I was very careful to be inclusive of their mother at events after the children came to live with us. Never, never bad-talked about her, and never asked the kids about their life before me. But I always listened. And how did that turn out? Awesome! Notice, I didn’t say perfect, because they weren’t, their father isn’t, I’m not, no one is. They were great kids; they are great adults and parents; and we have great grandkids. Definitely awesome!
Here’s the funny thing, since we’re talking about kids. Nathan and I had a child together. The strangest thing happened. All of a sudden we were arguing about the little one. That never happened before. After a few years of bickering about the best ways to raise a child, I figured it out. Deep inside, Nathan thought that he had to agree with me about raising ‘his’ kids to keep things smooth so I wouldn’t get too annoyed and leave him and the kids. Wow, to have that always at the back of your mind. But with ours, he knew I wouldn’t abandon my own son, so he could push back about parenting styles. See, you never know what painful thoughts are going on in someone else’s mind.
For me kids are kids however they come to you, they are to be respected, loved and enjoyed. And a family is one unit, no matter how many parts it is made of.
Another interesting fact I learned from those years is that some of Nathan’s stupid ideas weren’t so stupid, and not all the things I absolutely knew to be true were true.
Who’da thunk it?
What are your experiences?