Do I love them differently because they are step-kids? Many people have told me if I had my own biological children I would have stronger feelings for them compared to the children my husband brought to our relationship. Why? Is it genetics that makes the bond? Or is Love a choice?
I want the best for them. I spend time loving them, helping with homework, coaching their relationship skills, doing household chores of laundry, cooking and cleaning, creating memories, using teaching moments, taking pictures, and supporting/attending their school or sporting events. Does that make me any more or less of a parent?
Raising a family is a challenging project from managing finances to household chores and coordinating schedules. For many, they also have the added dynamic of children who have two households and are on shared time.
A stereotype has developed that it is a curse to have extra(step) parents. Is that a blessing or a curse? Having grown up in a step-family, I personally found it to be a blessing to have multiple adults setting examples for me. I learned to take the best from my dad, stepmom and mom according to how it would help me achieve my goals. They taught me philosophies on work ethic, creativity, cooking, cleaning, mechanics, gardening, demonstrated friendships and holiday traditions. Sometimes I was even shown what to avoid.
How do I now pass on that opportunity to my family? For starters, I tried to point out that it is a bonus to have extra parents, grandparents, extra aunts/uncles and cousins. There are hard times, there are disagreements and there are differences of opinion, but my family is what it is and I will make the best of it! (Unfortunately, negative stories like Cinderella are easier to remember over positive ones like The Brady Bunch.) I continue to research and look for tools to help us be a thriving family. Some of my favorite examples are the movie Yours, Mine, Ours and the book Pulling the Lions Tail by Jane-Kurtz, which talk about the patience, persistence,and problem solving skills that it takes to make the blended family work. Therefore, I wonder if the success of a family is determined by nature or nurture?