Ah – the never-ended and never-answered question for a lot of people with Step-parent roles. How do you know when to stop “stepping-up” and step back instead?
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the great thing about meeting Monster when he was so small is that I really am part of the furniture, there was no awkward introduction (for him, anyway), there was no finding my role in a very established family or figuring out what I can and can’t say or do. We grew together as a three, and Monster sees me as his family at Daddy’s house – it was automatic, no drama.
So my role at home is very much involved, there are no real boundaries for the day-to-day stuff. I was there for the first overnight, potty training, learning to talk and walk and not forgetting tantrums, tears and pushing boundaries. All of those boundaries and stages of development have been managed in our house by my partner and I together – in fact, its very easy to say I am definitely the disciplinarian in our house, if Daddy says Monster can do something, he often comes to me to double check – much to my OHs annoyance and my amusement!
So, because I’ve always been super involved in everything happening at our house, it can be very hard to step back and say “thats not my decision” or “its nothing to do with me”… and this does sometimes impact things at our house as well as the big life decisions parents should make for their children. Take a later meal out, while I can check the diary and know that we’re available – we have always been very disciplined about Monsters bedtime, so I need to check with my partner if he can be half an hour late to bed. Ultimately, if he says no or yes – that’s what will happen, sure we’ll always have a conversation if we don’t initially agree, but really the decision will be his.
Thats obviously small fry when compared to decisions about education, medical care, hobbies and activities, but here I am very lucky. My partner and I almost always agree on what is best for Monster, based on his personality, apparent interests and a very good dose of research. We will beaver away in the background and he presents his opinion. Unfortunately in the non-custodial household, (thanks instagram Bonus Mums for this term!) none of the adults are actually the decision-makers but knowing we are on the same page is of comfort none the less.
Deciding where that line sits is very tricky, whats a decision I CAN make (screen time, food choices, daily activities etc) and what do I need to ‘escalate’? Neither my partner nor I have worked this out at the moment.. if you ask him I am and should be involved in everything, but in practice he is the majority shareholder in our house – thats the best metaphor I can come up with in the blended family. I’m very happy and proud to have any shares at all to be honest, but a rule book of rights and responsibilities for each stake would be greatly appreciated… until such a thing is published, for us the key is communication and keeping Monster first in the priority list, that way if we don’t agree, we both have the security of knowing Monster’s interests are the priority.