As a stepfather, I know and understand the trials and tribulations of stepping into an "already created" family by another man. It's a landmine waiting to be stepped-on by unsuspecting single males.
As a divorced single male with no children, I stepped into my current wife's family with two boys ages 8 and 11.
You cannot imagine the kinds of challenges that await you as a stepfather. You've got to contend with their biological father, good or bad, along with his emotional makeup in the mix. You've got to contend with emotions of your new girlfriend as to her relationship with her ex-husband"the father of her children. You also must contend with the fact that they want to be with their father and not so much with you. You must also deal with their young emotions that have been torn to pieces by the divorce.
The one nasty aspect about divorce on children: it breaks up the structure and "security of constancy" in their lives. It leaves them unsure, afraid and insecure. Oftentimes, in acrimonious divorces, the parents pit the children against the other parent. Sometimes, violence dominates, and the children cower in the corners of the house. They also cower in the corners of their minds. They never forget the yelling, screaming, fights and tension.
When the biological father of my two stepsons met a new girlfriend, my stepsons wanted me to date her and him to get back with their mother. Also, I carried a 'high energy' and optimistic, action personality whereas their father read books, very quiet man and watched TV. Thus, they contended with a calm biological father as opposed to a mountain climbing, backpacking and wilderness man.
Two decades later, I am thankful to have endured my stepsons' teens, twenties and thirties. Both are fine men productively living their lives. I am thankful because if those kids got into drugs and alcohol, or crimeI would have to deal with their mother bailing them out of jail or dealing with their drug addictions.
At the same time, I've got a friend who stepped into an "instant" family 20 years ago, and his situation didn't turn out so well. He poured his guts out to me after a game of tennis one day.
"Hey, Frosty, how'd you get through your step kids' lives in one piece?" he asked.
"In many ways," I said. "I was just lucky. Both my stepsons are doing just fine."
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