Monday, June 8, 2009

"Step" Parenting

I've got to get personal for minute (or two).........I've had my ups and downs with my soon-to-be step son. Lately it's been nothing but "downs" with him and I'm really close to my wits end. Being a step mom (or soon-to-be) puts me in an odd position, parenting-wise. I have to walk a fine line of being a parent to children not-ours-but-ours. It can be like walking through a mine field sometimes. The threat of being at odds with your fiance because you're at odds with his son is ever-prevalent.

I've tried giving him the cold shoulder and not interacting with him when I'm upset in hopes that he will learn that I will not tolerate certain behavior. He needs to understand that I will not be treated with disrespect and that there are consequences for such behavior. Note: This has not been as successful as I had intended.

I really want to handle this the right way, so I decided it was time for another family meeting. We all sat in the kitchen yesterday and I hashed out my concerns and so did my fiance (in agreement with me on most topics). I just wish I could get inside this little teenage head and see what is going on.

After buying my house and having the fiance move in, we had our first-ever family meeting with his son. We incorporated this document into our household and for quite some time it went over very well:

Parent/Child Household Rules and Responsibilities Contract
Because I am part of this family I understand the following:
· I will be responsible for completing my chores each day by 6pm. This will include such things as, picking up after myself, dishes, garbage and yard work. I will do my best to do this task without being asked.
· I will keep my room tidy with bed made and laundry taken care of. Dirty clothes will be put in the hamper and clean clothes will be put in the dresser/closet.
· I will take good care of the pets by making sure they have food/water. I will let the dog outside when needed and make sure fish tank is always clean.
· I will complete any additional chores or tasks that my parents assign me, beyond the list above, without whining, complaining, throwing a fit, etc. And I will always do these tasks to the best of my abilities.
· I will always put 100% effort into school and homework. All homework will be completed after I return home from school.
· I will keep my body, hair and teeth clean. Showers or baths will be taken at least every other day and teeth will be brushed daily.
· I will eat all meals (including snacks) at the kitchen bar or dining room table. I will ask permission before eating any snacks and will clear my dishes after each meal and rinse clean.
· I understand that bedtime is 9pm on school nights and 12am (midnight) on weekends.
· I will talk nicely. No cussing, inappropriate language, yelling or interrupting conversations.
· I will receive permission before using the computer and my usage will be monitored accordingly.
· I understand that “No!” means “No!” and I will not ask again.
· I will always respect other family members by knocking on the door before entering.
· I will always receive permission before playing the Wii and all equipment will be taken care of properly when I am finished.
· I will remove my shoes at the door.
· I understand that I must receive permission before going anywhere at any time. A curfew will be set at a specified time.
· I will be truthful at all times.
· I will receive permission before using the phones to make a call.
· I will maintain a good relationship with my sister and respect the family at all times.

If I fail to abide by these rules, my parents can and will take away privileges as appropriate. This can include taking away my cell phone, restricting my computer/tv time, restricting my social time including skate boarding, and any other privilege they decide upon.
My parents reserve the right to make exceptions to these rules at any time, for any reason.

The above document has been re-introduced and I'm hoping this will eliminate my need to yell, to feel like a prison guard or cleaning police. I do not want to engage in any more stressful arguments but would rather walk away with some success stories to share.

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly some benefits to being a step mom....You don't have to give birth, go through an uncomfortable pregnancy, gain weight, retain water or have a hard labor. I also don't have any of those poopy diaper changes either!! But in the same breath, I've also never been a "mother" before and I'm not sure if I'm doing this right. I think being a first-time-mom to a teenage boy who isn't biologically yours, is tougher than I ever anticipated. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.......

Love the step kids like you gave birth to them and respect that you did not"

1 comment:

Chris said...

All I can say is good luck Amy , it doesn't matter if they are yours or not the list you made out will be broke time and time again so be prepared. For the most part all kids are good. But you will always have those shouting matches and he or she is always right and you are wrong. Heck I still go though that and my kids are all grown up and moved out of the house. Just remember if you get to mad to just walk away and then cool down then go talk to them because you don't want to say anything you don't mean and hurt their feelings and you feeling bad after. Just my 2 cents Good luck Amy you will do fine I am sure