When you’re a step-parent, there’s a good chance that the other biological parent is still in the picture. If you’re lucky, the other parent is a good co-parent. They help out when things come up and you need them to watch the kids for an evening, they’re willing to assist with things like school clothes and supplies, and other random stuff that pops up. You WANT the other parent to be a good co-parent. If your partner and their co-parent are able to maintain a friendship, that’s even better. I think it’s wonderful for the kids to see that two individuals who have decided to end their marriage can still be friendly. It doesn’t always have to be full of anger and frustration.
But what happens when the co-parent oversteps boundaries? When they start crossing lines?
What happens to a blended family when the relationship ends? It’s not something anyone ever wants to think about, but if we’re going to be realistic then we need to acknowledge that not all things last. Even if you want them to.
When there are no kids involved, it takes some of the pressure off the couple. When there are biological or adoptive kids involved, when both adults are on birth certificates etc, then both parties know that there needs to be discussions regarding custody, visitation and the like. But what happens when we’re talking about kids who are not biologically, or legally, linked to one partner?
As an entertainer and a step-parent, there is an understanding between my partner and myself that on weeks we have the boys I will forego any opportunities to perform, so that it won’t take away from time we have with the kids. In the four years that we’ve been together there have been very few exceptions to this.
There are a few performers in our community who juggle a family along with everything else.
When I get an invitation to perform at a show or fundraiser, the first thing I do is check my calendar. If it falls on a kid week, my immediate response is, “Sorry, we have kids that week. I won’t be able to be there.” Most people are ok with that response. However, there have some that just don’t get it.
“It’s only one night.”
“Can’t they entertain themselves?”
“They’re not even your kids!”
Kids are tricky entities. They can be moody, mouthy, and full of attitude.
Especially if they’re not your own.
Finding a balance can be difficult, especially if both parents are still in the picture. There is a constant struggle in our house in regards to discipline and chores.
What is a “typical” American family? It used to be a mother who stayed home and baked cookies, cleaned and made dinner, a father who went to work from 9am to 5pm in the city, who came home to dinner ready and waiting on the table, and 2.5 children, at least one girl and one boy.
At least, this is what it USED to be. But times they are a changin’.