Life With Stepparents: Learning To Love The New Normal

by Jessica Hoefer-Land
Originally Published: 
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Two weeks ago, my son had his final band performance of the year. He plays trombone, and while at the beginning of the year his future in instruments was a bit, shall we say “uncertain,” he’s now making some music and has graduated to seventh-grade band.

The auditorium was packed, and as I looked around at the various families in attendance, it was pretty obvious that ours looked a bit different.

Instead of one set of parents present, my son had two. While I know divorce is common — way too common — it still struck a nerve with me, and I felt awkward.

We had all managed to find seats in the same area, and as we watched my son play his trombone, I looked at our new version of family. If I hadn’t gotten divorced, our family would look normal. From the outside anyway. And after all, that’s what counts. Right?

I felt a sense of grief at the huge effect divorce has on children — any children, not just mine. I am grateful that my children have made the most of the situation and have displayed resiliency and acceptance, despite a life-altering change in their home life. They are incredible kids that are developing into outstanding young adults.

I looked at our little group and instead chose to find gratefulness in the midst of our new normal.

My children’s family has extended to include two sets of parents who love them so deeply that we can’t imagine what or who we would be without them.

My children have an incredible stepmother. She loves my children and goes out of her way to show them devotion, support, and stability. She has created a nurturing environment and my children love her. She provides guidance and counsel and has beautiful interaction with my kids. I couldn’t ask for a better woman role model in their lives. Best of all, she respects the fact that I am my children’s mother.

Same goes with their stepfather, my husband. He loves my children as his own. He had tattoos made in their honor. He has given them unconditional support in every endeavor and interest they have. He protects them fiercely. He loves them and believes in them and is proud of who they are becoming as young adults. He also respects my children’s father and acknowledges that he is an amazing dad.

Not many families can say this, even the traditional ones. I know my kids are better people because of the loving investment their stepparents give in their lives. Often there is a great divide, two entirely separate families. Each with their own style of parenting, rules, and beliefs. I am grateful that we, for the most part, agree on parenting in a way that is consistent at both homes. We try to support each other and communicate in order to be on the same page.

It hasn’t been easy, not by a long shot. There has been a tremendous amount of change these past few years, and I’ll always regret my children had to experience the one thing I said I would never do — divorce.

New homes, new schools, new stepparents, new friends, new routine — all of this equates to a tremendous amount of stress in a child’s life. I’ve always wanted to avoid anything that would cause unhappiness in my kid’s childhood. However, I know that isn’t reality, because we live in a world that is wracked with hurt and turmoil.

I am thankful my children have four parents when so many don’t even have one. My children know they are loved, no matter which home they are in.

As my son’s band launched into a cover of Pharrell’s “Happy,” I found myself a bit teary as I watched all of us cheer and clap for the boy that four parents are blessed to call “son.”

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