I felt my chest tighten as my son kept telling stories about his new stepdad.
A mixture of panic and jealousy flooded my mind and I desperately wanted to remind my son how much I love him and how much cooler I am.
But I sat, listened, and did my best to affirm the relationship with the other man in his life.
Intellectually, we all know not to create unnecessary strife and tension between the two residences…especially when we know, as custodial parents, our kids will spend the majority of time with us. But, man it is hard to do.
So what are some of my lessons learned?
- Don’t freak out if stepdad’s job is “cooler” than yours. My son has recently been talking about following in the other guy’s footsteps. Nothing hits you in the gut quite like that. My son is 11, and (in addition to stepdad’s occupation) he still kind of wants to be a lumberjack, baker, or Navy SEAL. The best course of action I have found is to begin to ask questions about each of the possible occupations and give him the opportunity to learn more and inform his eventual choice.
- Don’t try to control the situation when your kids are not in your custody. You may want to try to dictate how much time your kids will spend with the other guy (and in some cases…depending on your particular legal situation…you might actually have some control), but if your custody decree is anything like mine, your ex is the one determining what happens during her visitation time. I know…easier said than done…but my stress levels have noticeably dropped since letting go of stressing over something I cannot affect.
- You are the parent figure in your kids’ lives. You likely have your kids the majority of the time and, therefore, have more influence over them. The less time you spend thinking about what you do not control, the more time you can spend investing time and energy with your kids when you do have them.
Do your kids spend time with a stepdad or significant other at their mom’s home? If so, what have you learned about having another man in their lives? What has been most challenging for you?