Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lessons Learned: What I Hope To Share With My Step-Daughter

My step daughter's second visit to our new home is one that will always stick with me. On the days when I question my place in her life, more than anything else its this memory that brings me back.

There was nothing especially significant about the day we spent together. We went to the park, treated her with McDonald's and watched a movie. When it was almost time to go she decided to take a bubble bath and get cleaned up before going back to her mom's. 

I was in the living room straightening up when my (then) fiance came in telling me that she was refusing to get dressed and asked if I could help. Confused as to why an eight year old would refuse to get dressed, I went in to her room to find her sitting on the floor wrapped in a towel. 

The look on her face was one I related to with every fiber of my being. Uncertainty. Its a feeling that most children who are products of two families can relate to. And it was in this moment that I felt I was in this child's life for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, I could share with her some of the things I wished I had learned earlier in my own life. Lessons that I wished someone had known to teach me when I was that little girl, sitting on the floor refusing to get dressed. Not sure why the world was so unfair, only knowing that it was.

And while I'm certain this list will change and grow over the course of time, these are a few of the lessons learned that I hope to share with her.

1. Never apologize for your feelings. The way you feel in any given situation isn't something you should ever feel the need to apologize for. That being said, regardless of the way you feel, you are always responsible for your actions. And sometimes we all need to apologize for the way we act. That's okay too.

2. You can never have too many people in your life that love you. It may complicate things like birthdays, holidays and special events... but there can never be too many people in your corner.

3. Embrace the differences between your two families. Through out your life you will find yourself surrounded by a variety of people with different belief systems, cultures, traditions, economic status, etc. The fact that you are growing up with two unique families will only benefit your ability to adapt in the long run.

4. Your Mom and Dad made the decision to bring you in to this world. Together. No matter what anyone tells you or how hard it is to believe, at one point the three of you were a family. That's a part of your history that no one can deny you.

5. No matter how mature you are, you are not an adult. And your biggest responsibility? To be a kid as long as possible.

6. You are an equal part of our family. You may not be here everyday but that in no way makes your place in our home any less significant. One day you will have siblings and you may think because they are with us full time that makes their role in our lives more important than yours. That will never be true. And if ever you feel differently- speak up!

7. We miss you. Your mom and step-dad miss you. But never let that make you feel guilty. You didn't create this situation. Once again focus on being a kid.

8. Be yourself.. You have the very best of your mommy and daddy in you. Plus you have all of these wonderful, unique qualities that make you one of a kind. Never try to be anything other than the very best possible YOU.

9. Never let yourself be a victim. Life can suck. It has a way of twisting you inside out. Its that way for EVERYONE. Yes even kids whose parents are married and madly in love with each other. Don't let bad situations victimize you. Instead let them shape you in to a strong, compassionate person who lives every day without apology.

10. Sometimes a girl needs her mom. Sometimes she needs her dad. That's why you're blessed with two parents. In your case you are doubly blessed. Accept that there are certain times you will want a specific parent. Count on the fact that you can come to any one of us, for any thing, at any time. And if you are worried about hurting the other parent's feelings- don't. Remember #5? You're not an adult. Let us deal with our feelings. I promise we will be just fine.


  1. I love this. Every single one I love. Especially #2: You can never have too many people in your life that love you. We tell my stepson this every chance we get. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Katie, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I agree that #2 is especially important. As a kid it's sometimes hard to realize that. Especially when you feel torn between so many people. But once you're an adult and you need the support in your life even more all the sudden you "get it"! :)

  2. I wish at the beginning of my role as a stepmother, I had the resources that you all have now. This list is enlightening and most of these steps I have done over the past 18 years. I am blessed with a different relationship with my stepdaughters than most have with their stepchildren and never found advice that allowed me to grow. I had to learn on my own. I have cried many tears for, worried many hours for , and loved wholeheartedly these children who may not be of my blood, but are of my soul. Thank you for being here to help those that are going through this now. They don't have to feel alone in their struggle to love another's child and they can know it is OK to love them. I applaud you for this and am grateful to you for them! The children and the stepparents. God Bless you!!!!!

  3. This is beautiful. My almost-step daughter is having a difficult time with her mom getting remarried and her parents having recent arguments. Thank you for actually putting into words all the things I wish I could tell her.