Am I Ready To Be A Step-Parent?
Children are the beauty of this world. They are imaginative, curious and unburdened. Being able to support them and see the world through their eyes is one of the greatest joys that one can experience. When it comes to being a parent, in today’s society there are many ways to take on that responsibility. It can be a blended family, grandparents being the primary caregivers, single parents, or the typical nuclear family. But the responsibility of caring for a child is one of the greatest and most encompassing duties that one can bear.
A few months ago, I started dating a man with a 9 year old son, Jack. For the purpose of this article I will just refer to my boyfriend as “Dad” :). Dad and I worked together for a while before we made the decision to start a relationship. During that time, I had the privilege of getting to know his son. And I stress the word privilege. It is a joy to know Jack. He is smart and kind. He is a wonderful artist and a funny kid. One of the greatest parts about him is that he enjoys the simple things. A nice walk to the beach or a game of chess are some of our favorite past times. Because of the pandemic and schools being closed, Jack had to come into the office everyday for a while, so I got to spend a lot of time talking to him and learning his interests.
But the weight of responsibility of caring for a child, even one that isn’t biologically yours is heavy. Heavy in a good way. You are responsible for nurturing them with food and positivity. With teaching them about the basics of caring for themselves and others. Hopefully teaching them to be kind and respectful individuals. Introducing them to all the great things in life and teaching them new skills that will better themselves. Sometimes as adults we can get caught up in the bustle of life and lose sight of seeking out those peaceful moments. But children help us slow down and remember to look a little closer at the world around us with fresh eyes.
Dating someone that is a single parent is a slippery slope. It is a big commitment for everyone involved. I felt the need to ask some big questions and have some deep conversations with Dad to make sure that we were all on the same page about our wants and needs. Is Jack ok with us spending more time together outside of work and possibly in his home environment? Is he ok with sharing his personal time with Dad with someone else? Is he ok with all of us potentially traveling together? What does Dad expect of me as far as discipline and other responsibilities goes?
Dad also asked me some great questions. Was I ready emotionally to get into a relationship with someone that is the primary parent? When you’re in a new relationship you want to find time to have more personal conversations with your partner but that can be difficult when you don’t have that much private time to do so. He asked what kind of parental responsibilities I would be willing to help with. Would I be willing to walk Jack to his sailing classes in the afternoons or pick him up from school if Dad is busy at work? It is a big step to be asked if you want your name put on a list of approved adults that can be responsible for school issues or sports. But I am glad we had the conversations we did because it allowed us to communicate well and set some healthy expectations for our relationship early on.
Things are constantly changing with the ongoing pandemic and recently Jack tested positive for Covid. Because of my exposure to him we all had to quarantine together and it turned out to be a blessing. We were able to spend some great quality time together and it definitely gave me more of an insight on what it is like to be a parent 24 hours a day and if I am ready for that. I also believe it helped my relationship with Dad grow because it gave him more of an opportunity to see his partner in more of the parental roles and what that means for our future.
It can be a risky step to take dating someone that has children. One has to potentially be ready to quickly take on a lot of extra very important responsibilities. Luckily, in my case it has proved so far to be one of the best choices I have made!
(written by Julia)