A Guide to Step-Parenting.

I am here. Feb 5, 2011, my daily blogging continues.

Parenting I understand is a difficult job. Step parenting has an extra touch to it. I am a step father, my 9 years old step son, is a very sweet child like any other 9 year old is, over the last 2-3 years we have developed something cool between us, but when it come to matters of discipline we hit a zone of discomfort.

Tonight along with his friend, three of us went to snow sledging, my first time snow outing, It was very much fun. Children like it when adults have fun with them. I first said no to going out playing with him and his friend, but later agreed, it wasn’t much cold outside, so around 8pm we started snow sledging. He had a ball with his friend, sometimes three of us would ride downhill together, and race against each etc.

I found the key to sledging is to remain as the breath as you rush downhill, no room for thinking of course. Have to ride along with the momentum, any jerky movements against the momentum is asking for trouble. A cool simple sport to remain within the physical and not think for god sake.

But like all fun activities, there comes a time to go home, the fun ends, got go home and do home stuff. So when i say, time to go home, we hit that discomforting area of discipline. I know, when I was a kid, no one could stop me from playing cricket, weekends i would play sometimes 8 hours a day, coming home just to grab  a bite, then back to the fields of endless joy of playing cricket. Only thing would actually make me go home would be the sunset, when darkness is here and you cannot humanly look at that cricket ball anymore, when such eventual sad fate arrives here, we would very unhappily declare that its now time to go home. That was back in the late 70s and early 80s in Sri lanka, So naturally, kids love to play, and they just can’t take the word ‘enough’ to end their party.

I take it personally his apparent disobedience, and apparent ‘not listening’ to my instructions, though what i am asking him to do is within the sphere of practicality and common sense. This ‘not listening to me’, ‘not listening to my instructions’, ‘must follow the set rules’ etc, are clearly my bullshit mindfucks that i accepted and allowed within me.

Step parenting is an ex-ordinary art, on the one hand, i must develop a bond with him as a natural father would, and yet on the other hand, i cannot be seen as uncool or mean by imposing any form of discipline upon him. If there is any issue between us, my wife would pick up very quickly and of course things then can compound.

I could risk a double loss by been a strict or disciplining father. I can ask but cannot demand. Hence, more often I take a light hearted and fun loving approach with him, and i like that too. our father-son relation is more fun in nature, than the old style imposing strictness and discipline etc. I am not a father-figure, i am actually a fun-figure, i give him lots of attention, yes there are things i am responsible for, not just always having fun.

Having fun is the easy part with him, the moment I ask for discipline, we hit that discomfort. And i get bit angry too, not very cool. So what i found is, effective communication, no emotion, no drama, simple effective direct communication and a clear understanding of his responsibilities and possible consequences if things are not in line.

Sort of an agreement just for the specific task at hand. Once we went on a road trip to Baltimore from Ottawa, so before the journey began, we came up with a road-trip-agreement, god help us, it actually worked. Everything was already discussed and written on paper. It help me prepare myself too, allowing me check my bullshit mind patterns that gets kicked by the child.

Sometimes when father-child issues between us pop up, my wife would ask me this question, “would you do this to your own child?” . Standing for equality, i must be very clear on how I will answer that question.

My own son, or a step son, what difference is there? Are they not equal and one as life as me ? Will i deny one and favor the other? Will i support one more than the other? Here equality equation requires a direct application in my immediate reality. Some questions of course, i cannot answer as i don’t’ have a child of my own,  but i do know, “what i do unto my step son, I do unto myself’. that is the magical guide to step parenting. Another a great reason to live as the breath of life, for within the breath no such concepts such step parent or step child exist, because simply i am here as the breath of life, and here is the child, and there exist responsibility, no need for ‘step’ or ‘my own’ concepts.

Life is indeed indivisible, all is one and equal.