Learning to Play the Step-Parent Game

Learning to Play the Step-Parent Game

I’ve written about step-parenting before (pageants and learnings). It’s an interesting animal.

There are similarities to parenting the children I’ve birthed, and there are differences. When I think about how each of my three lovelies challenge me (in ways that push me to grow as a human being — while I may inwardly curse in the moment, I do appreciate eventually, most of the time), the lessons on the step-mom end are probably the most challenging and, ultimately, useful.

I’ve known this for awhile, and sometimes ponder why it is.

During a recent pondering, it struck me that when I’m going through the step-mom lense (versus the mom lense), I have to check myself more. A lot more. And this makes me think and forces me out of the “that’s how I’ve always done it/all I know” rut. This is a good thing.

Being a step-parent is like coming into a game as an outsider, where there is already a set of ground rules in place (and I wasn’t on the initial rule-creating committee). Some may be clear, others not so much — I learn as I stumble my way through. The rules may change over time or not; TBD.

All of this isn’t good or bad; it just is. In any case, I’ve been invited to play the game. And so I begin, with some attempts filled with flubs and missteps and others followed by ahas and moves forward. I learn to move cautiously and let go of what I thought I knew (e.g., “my parents did this growing up so I should too as a parent!” — this kind of thinking has to be checked for relevancy to THIS situation). While this game goes more slowly and sometimes feels painful to play, I begin to notice I’m uncovering strategy and learning to be a more effective player, and I’m learning things about myself that are useful to all of the games I’ve got going on, not just this one.

In the meantime, I begin another game close by and am on the initial rule-creating committee. In some ways this makes the game more of a breeze to play, though I begin to see that it can lead me to be lazier, relying on things I’ve learned in the past that may or may not be actually helpful in the current situation. It’s easier to react without thinking and feeling. While I may be able to take my turn more quickly, I can also miss picking up on learnings to become a better player and future moves that could be useful and strategic. Surprisingly, the step-parent game is proving to be rather useful to this game — the strategies, tactics, and skills are helpful in ways I wouldn’t have anticipated.

Okay, some thoughts for today. We’re going to have the power shut-off shortly due to some electrical work on the neighborhood, so I’ll close up shop for now. 🙂

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