It takes a Village to Raise a Stepson

Guest post by Jessica Chassagne

Most people who know me, know that I had a son before my “real” son. Although he came from a different mom, I still consider him my son. I try not to say “stepson” because I don’t want him to feel like he’s apart from my son or me and my husband.

Me and his dad (now my husband) got together just after my son’s 2nd Birthday. I had NEVER dated a guy before who had a child, nor had I seriously thought about how it would be to date a guy with a child. He only had his son T every other weekend, so I figured it would be like any other guy … only every other weekend, instead of it being just me and my guy, it would be me, my guy, and his son. No biggy.

A couple years went by and an incident came up where my husband got primary custody of his son (…long story!). So, T came to live with him full time. This turned BOTH our worlds upside down. This new way of life was new for all of us — T’s mother (my husband’s ex wife), me, and my husband had to adjust — and it was hard.

I eventually moved in with my husband to help him out. He worked early in the morning so I would get T up in the morning, get him dressed and take him to daycare, since I worked too. Boy, let me tell you how hard that was. I became a full time mom with a blink of an eye.

Did I adjust fast? Hell no! … and neither did T. He went from having his real mom there 24/7 to having someone he only saw every other weekend there taking care of him. It was hard for both of us. I had no idea what it would be like taking care of someone else’s child and didn’t know how challenging it would be once he was here every day.

But eventually we began to bond, and we started getting into a routine. I married his dad, and eventually got pregnant, and T became a big brother. We became a family. T is almost 7 now.

Having a non-biological son is difficult. But I have support. I have my husband and T’s mom (my husbands ex). They play a big role in helping raise him, even though T’s mom only sees him every other weekend. I can honestly say I am friends with my husbands ex, which is a blessing because most ex’s (from what I’ve experienced) do not get a long with their ex’s significant others.

She and I are very civil, we talk at T’s soccer games and when he comes home from her house on the weekends. We don’t hang out or anything, but we aren’t haters either. I am very blessed to have her in T’s life.

The reason I say it takes a village to raise a stepson is because there is lots of emotional baggage that comes with divorce, with parents separating. It’s not easy for a child to comprehend why mommy and daddy aren’t “together” still. It’s hard to explain to a child at such a young age that mommy and daddy just didn’t get along and weren’t meant to be together because they fought all the time.

Children’s hearts are so innocent they don’t understand hate, or anger or separation. Which is why it takes a village — everyone plays a role in seeing that this child grows up in a loving environment. Most stories Ive heard of divorced families are very negative. And I can honestly say we aren’t one of those families.

I love my stepson. I’m not sure if he loves me … he doesn’t say it, but he respects me, which is a form of love in my eyes. Of course there are times when we butt heads (because hes just as stubborn as his father) but every parent will experience that with their child biological or not. He is a great big brother and my son loves him so much.

Comments on It takes a Village to Raise a Stepson

  1. Thank you, Jessica! I came from a similar background… my parents split up when I was 2 and remarried when I was 3 and 6. Like you are doing, my four parents worked hard to raise me as a united team, and I am forever grateful that they did that. I'm sure I'll never know how hard it was to do at times. Even though each of my stepparents are (and were) great, it took me a long time to fully accept each of them. I don't think I really accepted that my stepdad was here to stay until I was about 8 or 9 years old. After all my stepparents put up with, I have to say they are now sometimes closer to me than my biological parents, and they are an incredible resource in my life because they are able to be both my friend and my parent. So– don't worry, he does love you, even if he doesn't know it yet. I think you and T have some wonderful times ahead.

  2. Great great post. I'm also a stepmother to a little boy and it has been, as you said, quite the adjustment for all of us involved. It is a lot of work. I feel like it is making me a better person. I am learning that I can only control myself, and not others. I am learning to be less selfish. I am learning to fly by the seat of my pants. I am learning to be more graceful.

    Sounds like you're on quite the journey too, Jessica. Keep putting out the good word that not all Stepmama's are wicked (or trying to replace the biomom).

  3. Thanks for the replies! I totally agree with you Ginger, being a stepmom has totally helped me be more patient (as I cant really discipline my stepson like it would my bio son) and he has taught me lots of self control. I was a firm believer in spanking *my parents used to spank me when I was little* and my husband is not a spanker *his dad was abusive* so when i had my own son i thought it was going to be a problem. But after seeing my husband discipline his son without spanking, I started to realize there are other methods of discipline better than what ive learned as a child. So I have learned alot from my stepson and im thankful for that!

  4. I love this post!

    My parents married when my brother was 7. My mom never pressured or expected my brother to call her "mom" or to love her the same way he loved his biomom. But, she made the decision that she was going to call him her "son" and love and treat him as such, no matter what. They had their ups and downs, mostly because my Dad was hesitant to discipline my brother, since he only saw him on weekends… But over time, everyone became comfortable with the situation and eventually, when he was older, my brother even asked to move in with my family.

    To everyone, excluding his biomom, my brother refers to my mom as his mom. He says it's because Mom earned the title, she loved him immediately and absolutely and never treated him differently from her other children. He feels lucky to have two moms and two dads who are so supportive and involved in his life.

    In regards to the "evil stepmom" stereotype, when my parents first got married, my cousin Trevor was 5 and an avid watcher of Disney animated films. At a family dinner, a little after the wedding, my mom overheard Trevor interrogating my brother:
    Trevor: Is Malia your sister/aunty/grandma/cousin?
    Brother: No, she's my stepmom.
    Trevor: Your stepmom?! …Is she mean to you?
    Brother: No, she very nice. She plays video games with me. I like her.
    Trevor: Really? Maybe it's cuz you're not a princess…

    My mom says that love knows no limits. When a new family member/friend is brought into our lives whether by birth/adoption/or baskets on doorsteps, our hearts naturally expand to make room for the new loved one. I feel really blessed to have a mother who's so generous with her heart and a brother who was so open to receive her love.

    The only advice I can give is be consistent. You always get back whatever you've been giving, even if it takes longer than you expected.

  5. it's great to see these "it takes a village" step-parenting articles. i think the world at large is woefully undereducated about how this really works, and how incredibly difficult it is (often more so for stepmoms, because women are still expected by the culture to be more parental, nurturing, etc. than men — *in general*). your son sounds lucky.

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