The Ups and Downs of Step-Parenting

Written by Kari West

One evening, shortly after Richard and I married, he settled into his lounge chair to read – oblivious to my 14-year-old daughter’s piercing scowl and clenched fist as she stomped into the bedroom. But he heard her words. Melanie flung her body face down onto my bed, muttering, “It’s not fair, Mother! Richard is sitting where my dad is supposed to be. I’ll never accept him – and don’t expect me to either.

I wondered if we were doomed from the start, while Richard wondered if his friends’ advice had been right. “I’d wait to marry after her daughter is grown,” one said.

“I wouldn’t get involved at all,” another said.

Against a backdrop of tension, nonacceptance, and few legal rights, this 42-year-old bachelor had committed to financially supporting and educating another man’s child with unresolved issues hovering in each corner of our lives. As the son of an alcoholic father, his own childhood had left him cynical, untrusting and bitter. He doubted himself and his parenting skills, yet longed for a loving family and a peaceful home. Needless to say, Melanie’s resentment bothered him and placed our new family in jeopardy.

Looking back, I believe the wisest decision we ever made was discussing our relationship with a Christian psychologist three months before our engagement. For weeks we sifted through our expectations and our fears. Individually and as a couple we discovered we needed an attitude adjustment: Richard had to be No. 1 in my life, and I had to be No. 1 in his.

I remember tears rolling down my face when I told Melanie, “Honey, Richard must come first in my life now. That doesn’t mean I love you any less. I’m not rejecting you or leaving you. You are part of our family now. Richard is not trying to replace your dad. He wants to be your friend. All I ask is that you respect him.” That commitment stabilized our relationship and supplied consistency to our co-parenting. Assured that he was No. 1 in my life, Richard knew he stood equal with me, so that together we could present a united front for the rough teen-rearing years ahead.

Here’s what he says:

  • “I reminded myself that God had placed me in this new family because He wanted me there. So I couldn’t allow anything or anyone to deter me from being the best husband and stepfather I could be. Reading Ephesians 6:10-18 taught me to ‘put on’ God’s armor and ‘stand,’ helping me control most of my angry, impatient or negative thoughts that sometimes invade my mind. I realize that I don’t have to win – I just have to stay. That’s what Melanie needs most.
  • I didn’t hesitate to involve myself in her activities, showing up at softball games, videotaping horse shows, taking Melanie and her friends out for ice cream after church youth-group meetings, and sitting in the passenger’s seat as she learned to drive a car.”
  • “I listened to what Melanie said, conveying to her that she is important and that I want to know and understand her. One Saturday, while running errands a store clerk asked, ‘Is this young lady your daughter?’ and I answered ‘Yes’ without hesitation, unaware that Melanie would later joyfully exclaimed to her mom: ‘Richard claimed me!'”
  • “Eventually, I realized that Melanie’s initial resistance to me stemmed from a conflict of loyalties. Her biological father was her idol despite his earlier decision to leave his family, yet I took better care of her than he did – because I was there. I let Melanie know from the beginning that I wanted to be her friend, not replace her father; and along the way to today Melanie has become my biggest fan.”

4 Responses to “The Ups and Downs of Step-Parenting”

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Beeba, I see your message got moderated. That’s why I said this isn’t a site to try and find adoptive parents. If you would like to talk with a mentor by email, you can fill out the Mentor Request Form at http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/ and one of our mentors will contact you by email.

    I was wondering about your age because if you are 12 or under by law your messages will be removed and you will not be able to talk to a mentor.

  • Beeba Rana says:

    Please email me
    [it is our policy not to publish personal contact information]
    i will tell you more about me.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Beeba, I can totally understand why you would want to find a family that would adopt you. I am sorry but this site is not a place where that can happen. Unfortunately, their are evil people in this world that can do hurtful things to others. So this site does not allow personal contact information to be made public. Perhaps the people who care for you have some ideas of how to pursue adoption. That would be better than looking on the internet like this.

    I am very glad to hear that you believe in Jesus. I do too, and one thing that I know about Him is that He has a plan for each one of us. In the Bible God said, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) You can know that Jesus loves you very much and will lead you into that plan that He has for you. Keep trusting in Him and learning to follow Him more and more. He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) The more you look to know Jesus better, the more you will be prepared to follow where He leads you; and you can know He will supply everything you need.

    Let me pray for you, “Dear Jesus, I pray for Beeba that she would continue to follow You and trust Your plan for her more and more. Bring loving, godly people into her life who can help her know You better. I pray that she would find a loving family that would allow her to grow and mature into a healthy godly woman. In the meantime, be near to her and comfort her in all circumstances. Amen”

    I will be praying for you Beeba, and I will ask some of my Christian friends to all pray for you. Can you tell me how old you are?

  • Beeba Rana says:

    Iam orphan since my age of 2 years . I didn’t see my dad and mom and any of my other brother and sisters. i was taken to orphanage and now i feel to have one lovely mom and dad for me . Please if some one there who wish me to adopt as daughter.
    I am from Nepal.I wish if i had a mother and dad. I believe in jesus.

Leave a Reply