Do The Right Thing

Email of the Day: Don’t Call Me a “Step-Parent”

By Dr. Laura on April, 7 2021
Email of the Day: Don’t Call Me a “Step-Parent”

I recently celebrated my 13th wedding anniversary. I chose wisely, but I had bad timing. I met my husband when I was 21 years old. He had been divorced for two years and had children aged 5 and 8, but we married anyway. I know you often say that second marriages with kids have a divorce rate of about 70%, and I can attest to that. I wanted to walk away so many times.


Then I found you on the radio, and realized I was being selfish and wanted a marriage as if there were no kids in the picture. But I couldn’t have that, because I chose to marry a man with children! So, I took your advice and over the years, learned to just sit back and not get involved with the parenting. It wasn’t easy. The kids were lucky to have their parents living on the same block, and I did my very best to maintain a good relationship with their mother.


They’re grown and out of the house now, but I look back and realize we shouldn’t be called “step-parents,” because that gives us the false notion that we have some sort of decision-making power. Instead, we should think of ourselves as advisors for the children, like a teacher or a coach. Having pivoted to that mindset, both kids have reached out to me for advice or just to chat, but they both know their parents are there for them at any moment, and I will always defer to what Mom and Dad have to say. With your help, I’ve made a happy and loving home, and the kids are welcome to come and visit any time they want.



Don’t Call Me a “Step-Parent”


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