After 15 years of step parenting I have heard it all. The good, the bad, the plain ridiculous. But nothing upsets me more than the completely ill-informed know-it-all. You all know the type – they tell you everything about everything all the time.
I have coined the term “bush step parenting” to describe these people. It’s a take in the Australian term “bush lawyer” which describes someone who gives an opinion – often a legal opinion – when that person is patently unqualified to do so. Too often this opinion is accepted by even less informed listeners and takes on a legend of its own – often down at the local pub!
Mostly it is harmless banter but as step parents we know how hurtful and how dangerous such ill-informed opinions can be.
Step Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing to actually do!
Everyone means well but only another step parent knows the sacrifices you make and the challenges faced in your step parenting journey to try and make a positive difference in the lives of your step children whom at the end of the day are not your children.
In many cases, even the most loving and understanding partner doesn’t quite get it because they aren’t standing in your shoes.
All the step parent wishes for is that there is a workable co-parenting relationship between their partner and the partner’s ex.
The step parent sees the wars going on and just wishes they both would see co-parenting not as a competition between two homes but instead as a united front doing what is best for the children involved.
Sadly, that wish is not granted until far too many years have disappeared down the track and by then, while better late than never is always a positive, in the case of step and blended families it is too late to have made that difference.
If you are one of those people who has an opinion about step parenting but has never been a step parent, it is best to follow some school yard advice: zip it, lock it and put it in your pocket.
Please remember that the side of the child you see (whether they are your niece, nephew or grandchild) may be entirely different to that seen and experienced by their step parent.
Stepchildren can test the patience of their step parents in ways you could never imagine.
And sometimes that is a difficult thing to accept for everyone involved in the new family dynamic.
So please … don’t be that “bush step parent”. Leave it up to the actual step parent.
Is the author of “Step Parenting with Purpose; Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask”.
This book provides invaluable insights and advice to those beginning or already on their journey in the step parenting/blended family world. It recently attained a number 1 ranking on Amazon.
It is also available from her website, which during Covid-19 disruptions to deliveries is very useful.
Karalee is a mother of 3 children and stepmother of 2 young adults. Karalee is also a sought-after news and current affairs commentator on television, radio, a regular columnist and a senior executive media trainer.