Let’s get the intro out of the way so we can proceed with my rant.
My name is David Dennis. I’m a 26-year-old stay-at-home writer. I have a six-year-old stepdaughter and have been married a year. I also have a son coming in October.
So, to answer the question in your head: no, I have no idea what I’m doing. That’s why we’re all here, for me to talk about what I’m going through, what I’ve been through and what I expect to go through while I embark on this journey with my family. Of course, you’ll learn more details about me as we keep it going, but for now that’s all you need.
The hardest adjustment I had to make after getting married was becoming a stepdad. The “dad” part wasn’t that difficult, as raising an intelligent five-year-old is relatively easy. I basically helped raise a niece and two nephews so I got a firsthand look at that age group.
Here’s what I learned: from ages five to, say, 12 or so, all you have to do is make sure your kid doesn’t die and does her homework. From birth to five, you need to feed the child and keep her alive. From 12 to 18 you have keep her from killing herself. But in between those ages? Just make sure she’s adding and subtracting at a decent rate and not throwing the toaster in the bathtub with her. A breeze.
So while being a dad hasn’t been too tough, being a stepdad has been a learning experience that challenges me every day. My stepdaughter’s father is very much in her life. Even though we live in different cities, the distance is close enough for them to see each other every other weekend and they talk on the phone throughout the week. My parents divorced when I was 11, yet they still came to my parent/teacher conferences together and handled raising me like a team. That’s why I understand the importance of a united front for the kid even though we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye all of the time.
This, though, created an issue for me in my rookie year as a dad. No matter what you do, as a stepdad you’ll be on the third string at best of a kid’s hierarchy of importance. While our relationship has always been loving and positive, there existed a wall that I never seemed able to break through. When it was time to tuck her in, she wanted mom or a phone call from dad. She was more hesitant to open up to me, and made it known she’d rather be with one of her parents when it was just the two of us. Let me be clear: she was always respectful, not acting out with rebellion or disobedience. She’s just an honest child, telling me where she’d rather be. While we still had a bond, there was a pedestal reserved for mom and dad that I could never occupy.
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