Mallary M. is sick and tired of step-parents getting a bad rap. A step-mom herself, this Circle of Moms member feels that step-parents are uniquely qualified to play a significant role in blended family decision making. "Half the time it's the step-parent who is the only one who can look past the issues and fighting going on between the biological parents and actually see what is best for the child," she says.
Here, Mallary and other Circle of Moms members share five reasons why step-moms have a key role to play in family decision making — and why everyone wins when they participate fully. (For another perspective, see 3 Parenting Situations Off Limits to Step Parents.)
1. We're a Family
Many moms believe that taking on the role of step-parent means sharing in all decisions with your spouse. "As a step parent, I am as much involved with decisions as my husband and vice versa since there were kids on both sides," says Traci M. "After all, if you marry with children you not only marry that person, but their children as well. Sometimes, there are no brilliant answers for making children see the importance of what you are asking if it's different from [what goes on in] their other home. Open lines of communication and making yourself available at all times is the best you can do.”
"Parents, step or biological, should have equal rights to decision making," Dawn A. tells moms. "The decisions I make with my oldest daughter will affect the next four children growing up in our family. If I step out of the role of parent because a child is not my biological child you are only asking for problems with the boundaries for any children in your home."
Sunshine R. agrees. "I believe they should have just as much [authority] as the biological parents do. If it weren't for my step-dad, [who] I firmly believe he is my ‘real’ father, I wouldn't have any direction or discipline in my life. He has been there since I was six-months-old. So I think the step-parent should have just as much say."
2. The More Parental Figures The Better
Ultimately, having step-parents join biological parents in the decision making can be a positive situation for kids. "The fact is, when there is divorce, there is potential for other ‘parental’ figures to come into our children's lives," shares Donna W. "The main objective remains the same: making sure the kids have a safe and happy home in each home they are in. The words 'mom' or 'dad' don’t mean biological parent. I went into my relationship knowing that he had little ones. I knew that would mean that I would need to love them unconditionally, no matter what, that's what all children need. And I made that choice."
3. All Parents Should Share in Decisions
“My opinion [is that] ‘yours’ or ‘mine’ just doesn't seem like the best way to go. I prefer ‘ours,'" says Shannon H. "All four of us are equally important in [my step-daughter's] eyes, all four of us are involved in some aspect of her life, so all four of us have a say of what goes on in her life. Yes, our rules are different in each house, and yes, we don't always agree. Sometimes we have arguments, sometimes misunderstandings. But in the end, all four of us are raising her, so all four of us have a say of what goes on in her life."
4. My House, My Rules
"As for the discipline in our house, I have just as much say as my husband," states Emily B. "Sometimes, I am referred to as the 'step-monster' because I have rules and it does cause conflict between myself and my step-daughter and her mother at times. But...it is my house, so if you don't like it then don't come."
5. Treat all Kids Equally
When it comes to blended families, especially if there are kids from both sides, it's important for the step and biological parents to share in the discipline, says mom Jennifer L. "I have treated both the boys (my own and step-son) equal," she declares. "I love his son as my own. I feel making decisions is important to do equally, [my husband] for my son, and me for his."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.