Lonnie and I did lots of driving and talking over our long weekend getaway. One of our topics was parenting. We started by musing about “good parents” and “bad parents” and how people who achieve the most success in life so often seem to come from bad childhoods. It almost seems like hands-off parents (for whatever reason…self-involved, substance use, emotional issues, hyper career-focused, etc.) build children with greater resiliency and ability to overcome adversity. So what does that mean!? We didn’t figure it out.
We discuss parenting a lot. Probably because we have never, and will never, raise a baby of our own and therefore never worked through the trials and tribulations of co-parenting as equals. I think equality is the main difference between step-parenting and raising a child together as biological or adoptive parents. No matter what your “arrangement” is, or what you PRETEND it is, one of you is “the real parent” who holds the power. It’s a rare person who can come into that scenario and put their ego aside for the greater good of the family. Lonnie comes very, very close. And I work hard to make sure he knows I value his input and opinion when it comes to decisions about the kids. BUT, while it is never really said out loud, we both know at the end of the day, they are my and my ex’s kids and we have all the decision power. Because Lonnie and I are humans, that does cause us some “issues” (pronounced isss-YOUsssss) from time-to-time.
I am fairly certain I would suck as a step-parent and when I divorced, I vowed not to enter into a step-parenting situation. It would be so hard to have no true parenting power coupled with the awareness that everyone involved, including the kids, knows it. There is no built-in bond like there is between a parent and child; so that bond has to be painstakingly cultivated while at the same time establishing a sense of order in the home. Not everyone is willing, or able, to create that tenuous balance. In fact, I would even bet MOST people aren’t able to make it happen because there are so many emotions and factors at play. There’s a reason “You’re not my dad!” has legendary meme status!
So, what is the answer to harmonious step-parenting? Well, we DID figure this one out!! There is no answer because there is NO SUCH THING! Humans are built to interact and have conflicts and “issues” and power struggles and trials and tribulations and “discussions” and ARGUMENTS! AND ALL of these seemingly negative interactions are actually positive because they are how we learn from each other to grow as people and enrich our relationships.
Have you mastered step-parenting? Failed epically? Kinda-sorta got the hang of it? Think I am way off base with anything here? I love a good discussion… argument… power struggle….