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Someone who thought I was a successful stepfather asked me for my secret of success. I hadn't given it any thought until then. I had to think.
Yes, I was a successful stepparent. There were only two simple things that ensured success. One was never to think of my children as stepchildren. The other was to add but never take away.
When I met my future wife, I assumed she and her two daughters, aged 2 and 4, were a package deal. I wouldn't have had it any other way. I never looked upon her children as my "step" children. They became my children. I never liked the word "step" as such a term meant "removed" and never had a feeling of being removed. They are my children in my mind, heart, and soul.
On the other hand, they also have a father who is not me. I would never take that away from them. It was vital for all of us that he remain an active part of their lives. There were inevitable problems and felt sympathy towards both my children and their father. It was obvious that the non-residential parent faced difficulties I never faced. Living with me on a daily basis, my children had their friends and interests in our neighbourhood. My children found it inconvenient to visit their father when they wanted to stay here and play with their friends and take part in local activities. He, too, understood the difficulty and did well in accommodating them. I felt happy and comfortable that my children continued to maintain a close relationship with their father. Because of this, my children became closer to me, and later realised that they also considered me their father. There was no contradiction or conflict recognising that my children had two fathers. There was never a need to take away. Only adding to the relationship made better and stronger people of all of us.
My wife and I separated when our children were in their early twenties. Did that affect the relationship with my children? Yes -- we became closer than ever. Both are married and live within blocks of me. We communicate regularly. I look forward to the calls that ask "can we meet for dinner tonight?" They have surprised me by making much-needed renovations to my home while I was away on vacation. One will soon make me a grandfather and has informed me that she signed me up for a course "for grandparents who will be extensively involved with child care." It seems that I must relearn the truly important activities of life: pushing a swing in the park, catching a ball, and building castles in the sand.
- Jim Low
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