Having divorced parents is a topic that comes up pretty often in casual conversations here and there, however the topic of stepparents is very rarely mentioned. Many of us had to grow up much too early as an effect of our parents divorce or a hard home life as a child. As for myself, I felt five to ten years older than most of my peers throughout my years in elementary and middle school. Sometimes even highschool. The experiences some of us faced as young children at home are some that we now joke about as an easier way of coping and healing from our childhood traumas.
While the hardness of divorce numbs after a while, we enter an entire new phase of the divorce when we are introduced to the idea of a stepparent. My poor, poor stepdad. I remember like it was yesterday when he first started coming around. I made that man’s life so incredibly hard. I did everything in my nine year old, little girl power to get him out of my mom and I’s life. I failed… miserably. Here I am at 22 years old, and he is still here going strong! But the thing is, I could not be any more thankful for this man. My mom has had it so far from easy or fair in her lifetime, and I truly believe my stepdad is everything and more that she deserves. He is truly a blessing to us from God. I never have to worry about my mom while I am away at college, because I know that she is being cared for. You could say I hit the stepparent jackpot… and that is rare for us kids of divorce.
However, I have a much different story to tell when it comes to my dad. I consider my dad my best friend; the love of my life. However, his choice in women really makes me question his sense at times. I have lived with my dad for many, many years, and we have had our fair share of women come through our house. We have had the police at our house, broken doors, broken tv’s and holes in the walls. You name it, and I have most likely experienced it. However, the one thing that these ladies have all had in common is the jealousy they seem to have over mine and my dad’s relationship. Almost like I am in their way, you know?
Growing up, it was like I looked for “home” anywhere but home. I looked for home at my friends houses and even at my boyfriend’s house. I looked for home when I ate dinner with my friends’ families; everyone gathered around one table, eating and talking about their day. This is something I didn’t have growing up. In high school, my dad’s girlfriend and I argued so often that I would stay in my room anytime I wasn’t out doing something. I even ate in my room. It was always so frustrating for me; to feel like I was in the way in my very own house… the house that I moved into to be with my dad. It felt like it was never really my house. Anytime I tried fixing the issue and talking to my dad about how I was feeling with his girlfriend, I was very quickly shut down and told I was being dramatic. But are our feelings dramatic about our stepparents? I truly don’t believe they are. And, truth be told, most of our parents do not come from divorced families. The generation in which our parents were growing up is a generation of life long marriages for the most part. I guess that’s what shocks me about everything I have gone through in life with my dad. Can you relate?
There is good news in this for you, though. High school really is as hard as it gets with most things in life; family included. You’re at home, you have a curfew, you live by your parents rules and you’re told you aren’t yet old enough to make your own decisions. But that is about to change. Graduating from high school is leaving behind so much more than just the school work and the high school drama. For a lot of us, graduating high school means gaining freedom, gaining independence, and finding ourselves outside of our parents house.
However, everytime I go home from college for a weekend or a school break, I find myself almost having to mentally prepare myself to be at home. I have to go back into the “at home” mindset. I have to know that yes, there is going to be tension when you walk in the door. You are going to feel uncomfortable and like you are in the way. However, I also know that because of everything I have gone through in my life, this is only temporary for me; this is only a short visit home to see my dad. Because of all I have gone through in my young years, I know exactly what I want out of my own life, and I am going to get it. And I want to encourage the same for you.
Yes, you may come from extreme childhood trauma; abuse, neglect, alcoholism, evil stepmothers and divorce. But, what are you going to do with it? What are you going to make of it? Are you going to let it bring you down and ruin your perception of love, or are you going to decide what you do and don’t want in your future and make it out to the other side?
I have learned through counseling, church, and great friendships that life really is what you make it. Your circumstances, past and present, do not define who you are. You are strong, and you have so much more in store for you! I encourage you to do your part, if possible, to strengthen your relationship with your step parent(s) and do all you can to keep the peace. At the end of the day, it never hurts to be the bigger person. You got this!