Parenting is among the most beautiful and rewarding jobs one can ever have. Unfortunately, not everybody can experience the joy of bringing a child into this world. When you first read this title, you’ve probably had in mind a child from an orphanage or a foster care facility. But that is not always the case.
Since half of the marriages end in divorce, many children have to go through this emotional trauma. According to the US Census Bureau, there were about 11 million single parents with children under 18 last year. In 80% of the American single-parent families, the mother is the head of the household. Over 16.4 million children live with their mothers. This means that men have to be more open about raising someone else’s child and prepare themselves for the job. At the same time, roughly 3.2 million children lived with their fathers, so women must also learn how to raise a child they didn’t give birth to.
The challenges of being a step-parent
John was 12 years old when his father left his mother. For three years they knew nothing about him. One day, his father returned unexpectedly and sat down crying in the bedroom. His father might have had a rush of mixed emotions and feelings of remorse and regret. But John looked at his father as if he were a stranger. There was no connection between them. Surprisingly, his mother decided to forget the past, so they made up and started all over again. After three years, for John, his father still felt like a stranger to him. In his teenage years, John has a hard time accepting the new situation. He was very cold with his father and angry at his mother – reactions that might stem out of jealousy. Today, John is a completely different person since his family dynamics have changed.
Do you think this story is pure fiction? Ask any real estate agent listed on RealEstateAgent.com and you’ll find that this scenario is not far-fetched from what is currently happening in many homes. They deal with single-parent families on a daily basis. In some cases, children hardly accept the new member of the family as their new parent. Of course, this also depends on the age of the children. The younger they are, the easier it may be to steal their hearts and make the transition stress-free. However, step-parents fit better the description of a bosom friend – a person children can trust; someone they can open up to about topics they might feel uncomfortable to discuss with their parents.
So, not pretending that we’ll do this topic justice in this article, the main minuses of parenting someone else’s child could be:
- You have to try harder. There’s no guarantee that your partner’s child will welcome you with open arms in their life. Some children need more time than others to adjust. Don’t force them to accept you! Let the time work its magic.
- You have to deal with ignorance and disrespect. Every child reacts differently when their normal lives are perturbed. When you disrupt the parent-child intimacy, you’ll get in return cheekiness, talk-backs, ignorance, and an overall unfriendly attitude that may hurt your relationship as a family.
- You might feel guilty. No matter how long ago your new partner split up, the child might blame you for the fact that his/her parents are no longer together. When these words come from a child, it’s heartbreaking.
Shaping a child’s life
Of course, when the child accepts you, they make your life a lot easier. Raising someone else’s child allows you to have a significant impact on their development, carving their personality, their values, and their careers in the end. All parents are concerned about how their children will turn out, but parenting is supposed to keep you involved; actively and constantly molding your child. Someone who doesn’t have kids may fall in the trap of behaving bossily. The worst thing you can do is to force things. Parenting is more like flying by the seat of your pants.
After years and years, when the child is ready to move out and start his/her own family, you’ll get along well. Coming of age, children get a better understanding of their past; they learn to forgive and move on. So, whether you’re a stepfather or stepmother, let time be the best healer.