Is That Other Parent Really Your Enemy? – Part 5
You must stop competing against your ally. Competing against who? Get ready for some uncommon thinking. Why would a mom and step-mom have to compete when it relates to their child? Why would a dad and step-dad find themselves trying to outdo the other when it relates to their child? Sounds weird as I say it, right? The truth is, it’s common. This is the normal behavior found between a parent and a step-parent. Naturally a parent will compete to win their place in their child’s life or to just “show up” the other parent. However, this competition doesn’t have to exist and this is exactly what this lesson is about. There is a way to define each person’s role so that no one has to compete and your child(ren) doesn’t have to see a battle go on between the one he/she loves.
You must be you and they must be themselves.
Honestly, all your child(ren) wants from you is to be you. The competition that your child(ren) sees between you and the other parent is actually a result of the parents themselves. Be yourself and let your characteristics be the difference maker. Each person is unique and can’t be duplicated. Therefore, the child you share doesn’t expect the same from either parent unless the parents themselves set such expectations.
If you will for a second think back to when you were in grade school. Remember the teachers you had? Each year, you had a different teacher. On day one of class as a student, you might have compared the previous teacher to your current teacher, but after a week or so, that comparison went out the door. It went out of the door because your current teacher wasn’t trying to be or outdo your last teacher. He/she was simply herself/himself. As parents we must do the same if we want to make this thing called a blended-family work.
You have your own special place in your child(ren)’s life.
Never try to take anyone else’s place. When you do this, you begin to erode your own place and that erosion begins to build up in the place held by the parent whom you’re trying to trade places.
Be an addition (add value) if you need a place. You are needed in your own position. All other positions are taken. What I mean here is, by you being secure in who you are, you’re establishing your own place in your child(ren)’s life. Normal thinking would have you believe that someone else can take your place, but that’s not true. No one can replace you or what you bring to the table. Allow me to now help you define the roles at play.
When mentoring others, often we (Pamela & I) encourage other shared-time parents to never refer to being with their other parent as if they are going to spend time with the other parent. Rather we choose to say our child is going home and coming home. You see we tell our child(ren) that God has blessed them with two homes and with that blessing comes a lot of responsibilities and benefits.
You are blessed to have a child who has two homes.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said, “to whom much is given, much is required.” If you have been given much which most people would love, the side-effect is that it requires more of you, which very few desire. For example, one of the benefits of having two homes is you generally get two of everything; like birthdays. The side-effect to having two homes, for example, is making sure your school books are with you or your athletic bag is at the right home at the right time. Also, your child will have to understand that the rules for each place can and do differ. Since we’ve covered the physical aspects, let’s discuss the personal or relational aspects of having two homes.
This next concept isn’t always an easy one to accept. However, the sooner that you do, the better life becomes for you, your child(ren) and the rest of your family. Pamela and I sat down and began strategizing; we formed a plan which we will share.
As far as it relates to your child(ren), the basic roles are that of mother and father. The simple definition of father is a male who is in relationship with their child(ren). A mother in simple terms is a female who is in a relationship with their child. This being the case, a child can have a mother who is not a blood relative. In other words, a person who is not a child’s biological mother can take on the role of mother and likewise a male who is not the biological father can assume the role of father. Since this is the case, then an uncommon perspective would be that two individuals can perform the same role. We tell our child(ren) in this case you have two people who hold the role of mother. So our child(ren) may have two fathers, but only one daddy. In the same way our child(ren) may have two mothers, but only one momma. Because we decided to define these roles as such, we created names for the step-parent relationship (i.e. our boys call me KAC) so that each person remained unique and no one fights for a role.
Now that each father or each mother has a unique name, each person can play their own role in the life of their child within their own blended-families. This process is so effective that most onlookers don’t know the differences and we’ve often received appreciation from the biological parent for how well we’ve participated in parenting with them.
The fact is this. If you want to be different, you must become different. If you want it to work, then you must work it. If you want to succeed, then you must have a plan. Just because you have “a situation” that’s not ideal doesn’t mean it’s not grounds for others to envy what you have. In fact, our daughter once had a relative say to her, “I wish I had your ‘situation’.” Imagine that, a child in a non-blended family desiring to have what a child in a blended-family has. It’s time to put aside the excuse or limiting belief that’s holding you back and create a blended family that the world envies.
Question: what can you make happen if you stop competing with each other?