Stepmoming A Pre-Teen
Stepmoms (and moms), get freaking ready for the wonderful PRETEEN years, LAWD HELP ME!
I met Deagan when he was 3 so it's always been "don't eat dirt", throwing tantrums because he can't have a cookie or testing the waters to see if he'll get in trouble for saying "stupid" and for nearly a decade he's been a pretty easy kid. He's genuinely a big-hearted individual and always has been but preteen has brought out a side of him that makes us think someone has literally corrupted his fun-loving spirit.
In all honesty, we're not dealing with anything different than any of other parents of an 11-year-old so I won't sit here and complain. I will, however, tell you how I roll with it as a stepmom.
The first word of advice, take a freaking step back.
I've always been super involved in Deagan's life because I've been invited to be involved but we've now entered a whole new stage of life where I've let go of the reigns and let his mom and dad be the primary disciplinarians and I'll continue to support. We're dealing with real life situations that may require consequences larger then I'm willing to enforce.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still a respected parental figure in my stepson's life but I've cautiously taken a step back and became more of a friend, per se.
Why? Why have I made such a drastic decision to take a step back from parenting our preteen? Besides an effort to withhold my sanity, I've done it to save my marriage and my relationship with my stepson.
I've taken a step back to save my marriage. I've guilt-fully told my husband many of times that we do not parent the same because realistically, we don't. I'm tough, demand respect, don't tolerate the bulls*** and believe in consequences in order to raise level-headed, genuine little humans. Don't get me wrong, my husband doesn't tolerate nonsense and when he feel undermined by my stepson he's not afraid to put forth disciplinary action that show Deagan he means business (which means taking away his Xbox and TV because if you have an 11 year old boy, you know those two things define life). Arguments would erupt because I didn't think my husband handled a situation the way I would have. When I look back I think to myself that the hurricane sized argument we just got into over spilled milk wasn't worth going to bed ignoring each other or trying so hard to give him the silent treatment. He is Deagan's father and I need to trust in his disciplinary actions because we both want to raise one stand-up gentleman.
I've taken a step back so I can continue to have a good relationship with my stepson. Deags and I have quite the bond. I mean, he didn't get his love for animals from his Dad! I have always taken my role as a stepmom seriously and wanted him to always feel as though he's my own. As a child of divorce not once but twice, I knew what it felt like to not be accepted by my ex-stepdad. Although Deagan has a lot of respect for me, he envies his Dad so the words and advice that come from Josh have more meaning then they would from me. Also, when Josh gets mad at Deagan (which isn't all that often), it means that he's really mad so I allow Josh to be the mad guy. In my opinion, children are more forgiving of their parents then they are their stepchildren and I don't want to do anything that could potentially break the bond we've worked so hard to build. I would be freaking devastated if I didn't make the "My Family" poster this year because of disciplining Deagan for something this Summer!
I've taken a step back for my freaking sanity! Yep, parenting a tween can make a glass of wine sound pretty dang good every night but step-parenting a tween makes you down an entire bottle. Although, we have a say, we don't really have the final say. We can voice our opinion but it doesn't mean it's going to be heard. I spent so many hours being so angry in my head about something Deagan did or because the way I thought he should be disciplined wasn't the way his parents chose to discipline him. I would literally drive myself crazy so after some self-coaching I said THAT'S IT, I'm going to moonwalk out of this role and become a supportive standby when my husband needs reinforcements.
I still love my life and my role as a stepparent but the situations that require parental guidance have changed. Before my parental responsibilities included reminding them to put their clothes in the laundry room, nagging about cleaning up after himself or coordinating activities with friends or at school. Now we're dealing with lying, back-talking, behavior that require more then a simple reminder to be nice.
In my new role as a friend to Deagan, I offer guidance, advice, my opinion, my thoughts but not discipline. I retired from that role until my daughter hits her preteens and when that time comes JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL because I will have a full head of hair but the time she's 13.