It is true that being a parent is a difficult job, but being a stepparent of an adolescent boy is even more challenging.
I am a stepparent of a ~14 years old boy. I know him since he was a baby and have always had a loving and caring relationship with him. However, I must admit that our relationship has changed over the last 4-5 years. Many changes have occurred in our lives over the last few years. I am not certain why, but I feel that neither he nor I have completely adapted to all these changes. My stepson is going through the changes associated with adolescence while I am experiencing the changes that characterize the menopausal years. So, our moods are sometimes very unpredictable. We both tend to be hypersensitive and easily affected by comments or any criticisms made by the other person.
A Continuous Adaptation to Life ChangesOne of the biggest changes that occurred in our lives was without any doubt the birth of my son. During the first years, it was not easy for my stepson to share his "dad" with his brother, but with time he has adapted to the situation and things are fine now. Although the usual rivalry exists between them, the two boys love each other very much and are always able to spend wonderful moments together.
Few years ago, I decided that my ultimate goal with respect to my stepson was to have a positive influence on his life. I don't want to be his mother because he has one and doesn't really need a second mother. All I want to be for him is an adult who loves him sincerely and want to be there for him when needed. But, there are days that I feel that I am doing exactly the opposite. During these days, I find myself questioning each one of my interactions with my stepson and stressing myself even more.
My Biggest Challenge: Don't Cross the "Boundary Lines"The fact of the matter is this: stepparenting can be confusing, blurred and very frustrating. One of the most difficult things about being a stepparent is not crossing the imaginary "boundary lines" that separate stepparents from biological parents. Although I am expected to participate 100% in the guidance and caring of my stepson, I am not his biological mother. Yes, invisible lines will always differentiate me from his biological parents...frustrating feelings!
I am the first one to admit that I am not a perfect parent. I tend to lose my patience with both boys, particularly when they are lazy, rude or when I see that they don't value what they are given. Please don't think that I am trying to excuse myself for my lack of patience or parental skills, but believe me parenting is not easy.
From my point of view, the difference between parenting and stepparenting is that if I make a major parental mistake with my son or if I am too hard with him, my son will forgive me for my shortcoming if I apologize and spend quality time with him. But, the same situation is different with my stepson. If I make a parental mistake with him, I am not always certain whether or not he would forgive me. I really hate this because with my stepson, I often find myself worrying that I may at any moment make an irreversible mistake that could cause a permanent bad animosity or bitterness.
Learning from Step-parental Mistakes
Last week was a rough week for me because I made several step-parental mistakes with my stepson. Although my intentions were always good, I know that the way that I approached the situations was not the best. I did apologize to my stepson and I honestly hope that he forgot me for my bad step-parental decisions/actions. Unfortunately, I will never really know if he forgot me or not - a very frustrating feeling.
I know that we should always try to learn something from our mistakes. In this case, I learned that I have to work on my patience and compassion - My stepson is a great boy and I am very lucky to have him in my life.