May 30, 2018
Step-families. So many things are different in step-families. Like literally so many things. I was standing in the shower thinking about it when I realized Father’s Day is coming up. I started to think about my family and about all the things I’ve experienced from being in a step-family for most of my life. So I came up with some things that you need to know about being in a step-family based on my experiences.
Just because we’re a step family doesn’t mean my parents got divorced. I get that a lot, and it is probably the most common thing to assume when someone says they have a step family. My dad actually passed away, as did my step-dad’s wife. There were no divorces, two houses, any resentment from the ex’s. Be gentle with people who say they’re in a step family. It’s okay to ask about their other parents, but don’t make snap judgments about them just because they have a step family.
My step-dad didn’t watch my mom give birth to my sister and I. He didn’t come into our lives until we were around 10 and 7ish. He didn’t know us growing up as babies and toddlers. Of course he treats us differently, and our mom treats our step-siblings differently. Is that a bad thing? No. It’s natural. We’re not punished harder or loved less. It’s just different. Different doesn’t always mean bad, just that, different. It would be complicated to let people in to your lives and learn to love them as your own kids. I know my mom and step-dad do everything they can to show us all that they love us and care about us. I don’t mind that it’s different, I still feel loved and respected by everyone in my family.
Ah the evil step-sisters in Cinderella cursed everyone’s point of view on step-siblings. That’s not fair. We haven’t always been best friends, or as close as blood siblings, but they’re far from evil. My step-sister is unique, independent, and strong. My step-brother is smart, quirky, and has a heart of gold. I love having them in my life. Siblings fight sometimes, and we will never see eye to eye on everything, but that’s just how siblings of any kind are. I know my step-siblings feel a similar loss and grief that I do, and we’ve all tried to cope and make the best of the way life played out for us. I know I can depend on them if I ever needed anything, and that they will always make me laugh at family dinners.
I can’t even begin to understand how much compromising my mom and step-dad had/have to do when it comes to literally every aspect of life. We lived completely different lives before we became one family. Every little detail had to be compromised and worked through. As a step-daughter and sister, it took a lot of compromising too. My family moved form my home town to be in my step-family’s hometown. I was moved from my dance family, school, friends, and neighbors. I was removed from the privilege of Target and the mall, having neighbors, and having my passion, dance. But, it wasn’t my choice, and my mom thought it best for us. I wished so many times that I wouldn’t have had to do that, but that compromise introduced me to a renewed safety I was lacking, the wonders of living in the country, and a new set of friends and family. Everything has worked out how it was supposed to, and even though I didn’t always love it, it shaped me into a humble, respectful, smart person.
It’s hard to believe, but my step-dad has been in my life longer than my real dad was. My dad died when I was 8, and I’ve known Larry since I was 9-10. He’s been my father figure since I was in 5th grade. He was there for me through lots of the hardest parts of my life. He likes a lot of the same things I do. He’s supported me, taught me, and loved me for a long long time. So, I love him. I miss my dad a lot, but since my dad isn’t here, I don’t think there’s anyone else I’d want to be in place of a dad for me than Larry.
Step families aren’t always glamorous, but they’re not always evil and terrible. It’s such a common misconception based on many shows and movies that a step family is out to get you. My step family helped mend two broken, lost families who were grieving. We’ve filled in the roles of step-mom, step-dad, step-brother, and step-sisters. I love my family so much and wouldn’t change a thing about us, even through our flaws and bumps in the road. So next time you hear about someone being in a step family, don’t assume, and be open to the idea that step families aren’t horrible. If you’re joining a new family and becoming a step-something, it will take some time to adjust, but go in open minded and you’ll make new family who love you for life.