The three things I’m most happy about are that I never MARRIED, never got tattoos and I never SMACKED my kids.
I’m against the ‘step-parenting’ as much as I am against marriage. I’m not into enforced relationships. Automatic defaults settings? Forget it. A person’s partner is their partner. Their kids are their kids. Why should two people fall in love, decide to be in a relationship and then the kids have no choice? Or the adults?
We’re all against arranged marriages. Why are we not against these bizarre and forced arranged relationships.
The kid and adult should determine their own relationship. It shows a lack of imagination and agency for people to immediately assume the only relationship between an adult and a child can be that of a parental one. My partner is not the boys step-father. He is my partner. He loves them and has a warm, friendly relationship and helps out with the bits and bobs (drop offs etc) but never feels OBLIGED to. The boys have a father. To my partner’s kids I am ‘Dad’s girlfriend’. To mine he is ‘Mum’s boyfriend’.
Names and titles make a difference. As soon as people become step-parents and step-children an unhealthy and default setting occurs. Best these important people who have to spend time and space together decide what their relationship is as opposed to be told what it is.
I don’t just think the ‘step parenting’ factory settings is bullshit, I think it’s damaging. It foists expectation on all parties which only ends up turning into resentment.
I am your step-father! You do this!
I am your step-daughter! I HATE YOU.
Because that’s what ‘fathers’ are supposed to do and that’s what ‘daughters’ are supposed to do.
Adult authority and parental authority are two different things.
You know what? Some kids and adults will choose this step-parent step-child relationship. Yes they will. Given the choice. The child and adult may feel they want that separate connection. Not this is my mum’s partner, this is my partner’s kid. It’s about choice. Active choice.
All relationships should be opt in.
At our place we help out with each other’s kids a) because we both like helping out anyone when we can. He can fix computer issues, I can cook. My three sons are part of my pile of stuff I need to attend to. He has stuff he needs a hand with too. I drop stuff off to the dry cleaners for him and pick up his hayfever pills. He folds the boys clothes and drops one of them off somewhere. Not because they are his ‘step-sons’ or has a responsibility or expectation but because we all help each other out. Because that’s what humans so.
It’s lovely for the boys to think that when my partner does something for them or with them it’s because he wants to and chooses to as opposed to because he has to and is expected to.
Deciding you are going to be in a relationship should not immediately lasso anyone else in. Artificial confected traditional family structures don’t work. Happy households and consensual relationships do.