When it comes to step-parenting….there is a lot going on. Not to discount full-time parenting, because we all know that is a crazy world too. But step-parenting is obviously a little different. We have a lot of the same challenges and some different ones. For example, step-parents are bitter-sweetly tasked with splitting their time 50/50 or 75/25 or however you have decided to do it. This means, step-parents get a break, every week just about. Full-time parents have a different story, you have your kiddos ALL THE TIME! Which is wonderful and exhausting. So, when I say there is a lot going on for step-parents, don’t think I have forgotten the wondrous work of full-time parents, I haven’t!
Like I mentioned in my last post, however, sometimes (who am I kidding, all of the time) it just feels like we don’t have enough time to do both the things we need to do and want to do before sending the kids off for a weekend at their mom’s. So we have to be even more intentional with our time than if they were at our disposal 24/7 because, put simply, they aren’t!
So what am I getting at here? I have been kicking myself over and over for not teaching Doodle and Bub some things that I think are important skills for every kid to have. Such as, how to appropriately act in a social situation with people you know and don’t know. And how to handle yourself when something happens that you don’t like. (The later of the two is something I have been slowly working on with Bub, but it just never seems to stick!) My problem? I need to be more intentional with my time with my children.
Realizing this, I sat down with Doodle last night and, in addition to her homework, we just sat and talked. I had told her a few days ago that this is my most favorite time with her is when we just sit and talk. I don’t know if she realized we were doing just that after homework, but before I knew it we had talked right through shower time and up to bedtime. What my goal was during this time was to teach her those important social interaction skills I have been mentioning. I ended up realizing two important things though instead:
- Doodle already knew a lot of the skills we were talking about
- She had a lot of worries and thoughts about social interactions with others
Now, I already knew #2 was an issue, but I thought she just didn’t know how she was supposed to act, and maybe giving her a foundation of how to respond socially would mean she would be more comfortable in those situations. Another thing I learned is that role playing is a fantastic tool to use when trying to grow certain skills in a child. In my case, working with Doodle and having her not only tell me appropriate social skills to use in conversation but also act it out gave her a little more confidence to put those skills into use in “the real world”.
Yet the biggest surprise of all during our time talking last night is the lesson I learned! Really, being a step-parent is all about BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t know if Doodle knew we were doing my favorite thing yesterday when we were sitting and talking. I really didn’t know I was learning a huge lesson either until after it was over. It reminds me of that song “Just Fishing” by Trace Adkins. She thought we were just talking about social skills, little did she know we were learning, and little did I know we were building a stronger relationship.
This is why I love just talking to her. I love hearing about her worries, her ambitions, her thoughts. I love teaching her the things my mom and grandma taught me and I love, more than anything, seeing our relationship continue to grow. As a step-parent I fight against the current constantly. I am always the first one to blame when there is an issue in her world. I am the first one she finds fault in, the first one she jumps to correct, and the one that will never be “mom”. But sometimes, when we sit and talk like we do I feel myself relax and she and I both just flow down the river together in the current.
About a week or more ago Doodle was really giving me a hard time one morning. We went back and forth with asking her to do something and her procrastinating. Eventually this got under my skin and I got upset with her. After the morning was over and we were leaving the house she came in my room and, never ceasing to amaze me, she walked into a hug and said,
“Even though we haven’t been very nice to each other this morning can we still have a good day?”
To which my response was, “Well, of course we can. I love you.”
What came out of her mouth next is something I will never forget. After a few seconds of silence she said, without breaking our hug, “I’m really glad I have a step-mom.”
Those little statements of her just thinking out loud is what it is all about.
She thinks we’re just talking. ❤