When I had my first child, I was almost 19 years old going on 20. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. Over time I realized there was an instinct, something natural that came with being a father. Over the course of the next several years I had 2 more kids. As they grew up, ground rules were set from the very beginning on what was expected, allowed, and not allowed. Now as children they argued, fought, and questioned me when they didn’t want to do something they were told to do. Over time though those things slowly stopped as they realized I was willing to do what I expected from them and because of that they had respect for me as their father and an adult. Now 20, 18, and almost 15 these things are pretty much nonexistent. When told to do something, there is no argument or questions why it is just done. Now I know a part of that is also because me and their mother are divorced and they don’t get to see me that often living in Florida and me in Virginia but also I was with them from second 1. From conception to now. Even if I’m not with them everyday I call them I stay in their lives, they know I love them and care about them and their futures and only want what is best. Now what does this have to do with be a step dad you ask? Well let me tell you.
I have been remarried 3 years now and with that came 2 children not of my own. I love them like my own. One thing my own children know is when I say to do something I expect it done, I don’t want an argument, just do it. With step children comes a whole different concept because I have not been in their lives from day one. Does that mean I expect less from them than I do my own children? Hell no. I want the best for them just like my own. Now the dynamic here is a difficult one indeed because I have two children I’m desperately trying to show I want the best for. Two children who call me dad because their own father is not in their lives anymore because he lies, is a thief, drug abuser, and wants nothing to do with them. I am more of a father to them than their real father ever was. Now they are 15 and almost 10. I came into their lives 5 years ago and became their step dad 3 years ago. With that said, it doesn’t change the fact I’m not their real father. I haven’t been there from day 1. On top of that the oldest has ADHD, ODD, and OCD traits, and no executive skills.
So with his ODD everything with him is an argument. He has even said he argues with me just to make me mad. Why? This makes no sense to me. And for someone who does not tolerate arguing and expects you to just do what your told, this makes for a difficult relationship. I do deal with it at times and just walk away or tag team with his mother and let her take over if I feel my anger is going to get to be too much but a lot of times, I end up arguing back. Why? To make my presence know. To say “Listen! I am the adult, this is my house, you were told to do something, you do it. It’s simple. You don’t freaking argue!” Now does it work? Nope but it makes me feel better none the less.
I can’t walk away from what I know is right and has worked for 3 other children and is actually starting to work for the youngest step child to throw it all away and stop doing it. Now I’m not talking specifically about the no arguing thing but just expectations in general, like doing homework, doing chores, going outside to play, not sitting in the apartment in the bedroom all day and night doing nothing but reading, only coming out to eat and bath. These things have proven to work.
They both have their days when they do what they are told, actually act like they appreciate my advise and love me but MY GOD the days they fight me I just want to pull what little hair I have left out. Why is being a step dad so hard? Just like when my first child was born, I am new to being a full-time step dad. I don’t have all the right answers but I am doing my best to do right by them. I am learning as I go. The difference between them and my kids are I came in the middle of their childhoods, not the beginning. I only hope that when they are out of the house on their own, trying to make a living, they realize everything I tried to tell them, do for them, show them, and teach them was all to help them have an easier life as an adult not to have a harder life as a child.