Parenting vs. Step-parenting

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By Lylah M. Alphonse

I was watching my kids interact recently, and it occurred to me that they’re like a bunch of magnets, shaken up in one of those cups you use in Vegas to roll the dice before spilling them out onto the table. Sometimes, they’re all glommed together, five wildly different kids at five wildly different stages, somehow forming a cohesive unit. Other times, it’s as if they’re all negatively charged, scattering throughout the house, caroming against and away from one another.

Call me idealistic, but I’m pretty sure the latter happens because of their ages and developmental stages—we’ve got two teenagers, a tween, a preschooler, and a toddler right now—and not because only two of them were born to me.

As a step-parent, the “step-kids vs. bio kids” issue is something that’s always simmering away on the back burner. It comes up in day-to-day life, to some degree, all the time. A few weeks ago, a single mom friend of mine blogged post about her top five tidbits of single-parenting advice, and her post got me thinking about the subject some more. I was nodding along, agreeing with everything she wrote, until I read this:

4. Realize that no partner you’ll ever meet will ever love your child like the father of your child.

My first thought: Well, their bio mom and I are two pretty different people, of course we love them in different ways.

My second thought: Hmmm… I’m both a bio mom and a step mom; are those two different types of love?

My third thought: Has my relationship with my step kids changed now that my youngest two are here?