Project Nathaly: Learning How to be a Stepfather without Completely Screwing Up

Confucius said that while at home, a young person should serve their parents. In all major religions, it stresses the importance for children to show respect to those responsible for bringing them into the world. The Quran writes, "Be good to your parents," while the Old Testament preaches to "Honour thy father and thy mother." With such clear messaging, one would think parenting should be easy. Unfortunately, it's anything but. Add the word step to the front of either Mom or Dad's title, and the challenge escalates exponentially. At least, that was the case for this stepfather.I hadn't planned on adding that position to my resume when I turned forty-five, but as the Yiddish adage goes, "Man Plans, and God Laughs."The woman I fell in love with was a single mom with a ten-year-old daughter named Nathaly. I had never met anyone who was so genuinely kind and beautiful before. Of course, I'm referring to Nathaly's mom - my future wife, Diana - and not the little tornado who was as warm as a bucket of ice the first night we met. However, it made no difference. I was committed to making things work no matter what it took. It's been over a decade, and I think maybe, just maybe, Nathaly is beginning to realize that I love her as if she was my own.As for my fellow stepparents, here's what I learned over those years when dealing with a child who wasn't shy to remind me that I wasn't her father. Be authentic, set the example by following good morality, control your emotions and not the other way around, and above all, humble yourself when you screw up - because trust me, you will screw up!Enjoy the read!

by D.D. Simpson, PhD

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