As a step-parent, we are often caught in a Catch-22.

What ends up happening is we are expected to be one way by our spouse, kids, ex-spouse and society.  Then, when we act the way they expect us to, we are told, no – you can’t act like that, you’re supposed to act like this.  So we end up riding this pendulum back and forth and I for one am getting dizzy!

On one hand, we are told that we are to treat our step-kids equal to that of our own kids.  Seems fair, right?  After all, it IS the evil step-parent that allows their bio-child ice cream while telling their step-child they can never have any.  I would never think about allowing different standards to happen within the walls of my own household just because the child living with me didn’t pop out of me.  That is just wrong. 

Most decent step-parents feel the same way.  And this is fair that all children within the same household are treated equally – until – you get to the not-so-fun parts of family life.  You know the parts I’m talking about – discipline, morals, and treating each other with respect.

This is where the other hand comes in to play – we are told we are not our step-child’s parent.  We cannot and should not interfere with the parent/child relationship.  We are told to butt out and let the parent do the actual parenting.  We have no rights and no say-so in how the child is expected to act.  Any acting out by the child is expected to be tolerated, understood, and condoned.

This is not fair.  Not for the children involved and not for the step-parent desperately trying to treat the children equally.  This creates a divide inside the household where one child is expected to act one way while the other child is allowed to act in another.

It’s called attempting to have your cake and eat it too.  

This is where I am currently with Rowdy.

He expects me to treat him the same, if not better, than his own mom treats him.  He wants me to care about him, to worry about him, take him to his activities, to make sure he has proper clothing, food, medical attention and school supplies.  He wants me to be there for him in all aspects of his life.  Unless it comes to actions that he doesn’t agree with; then I’m not his mom, I can’t tell him what to do, I need to respect him and his choices, he hates me and he wishes he never met/knew me.  I must treat him like my own son, but he believes he’s allowed to treat me however he chooses.

What’s also sad is Jetsam feels the same way.  I’ve been screamed at in the past that I am not their mom, so quit trying to act like a mom – but when a medical question comes up she asks me my opinion on how to handle it.  I’m not their mom, but they need shoes.  I’m not their mom, so I’m not allowed to tell them I love them because I can’t possibly know how – yet, I’ve been told I don’t tell them I love them enough.  HUH?

Well, which is it?  Do you want me to care for you like my own child or do you want me to get out of your life since I obviously don’t belong in it?

I have been asked by other parents – how would I handle the situation if it were my own son?  That’s tough to answer.  If Rowdy was my own son, he would have learned a long time ago that Momma doesn’t put up with the disrespectful crap he’s been laying down.  The first time he did it, the consequences would have been severe – they were for Buddy.  Since Rowdy is not my own son, I cannot do the same thing – even if Hun agrees with me, Rowdy tattles to Jetsam and we have a big bruhahah over the perceived double-standard that I am being too hard on him.  So I am left with little option in a case like this.

The disrespect has become unbearable to me from Rowdy lately.  I cannot continue in the current way – something has to give.  We go round and round that if only I’d respect him first, then he’ll respect me – never mind that he’s 13 to my 36 – he knows more than I do.  I will not continue subjecting the other kids in the household to the attitude, disrespect and arguments that have become commonplace in the last several weeks.  My blood-pressure cannot handle it any more.

Yesterday, I put my foot down and made a decision.  Hun’s not happy about it, but he understands why I’m at this point and has agreed to back me up.  We’re less than 24 hours into the decision – we’ll see how it progresses as we go along.

What have I done?  I have disengaged from Rowdy.

He wants me to have never existed – he’s got his wish.  Anything he wants, needs, requests, asks for, begs for, comments on, etc – will all go through Hun now.  Barring a life threatening issue – I will not speak to Rowdy, I will not acknowledge his existence – I will act like he is not there.

It pains me to reach this point.  I love Rowdy and he’s great to be around when he’s not trying to push the limits.  But, he’s attempting to assert his dominance over me and it’s not going to happen.  When I laid out to him exactly what I was doing and why (with Hun sitting there), the full impact of what was about to happen hit him.  He knows that I do about 90% of the things that directly benefit him.  He knows he is losing out on a lot.  He knows because he could not hide the emotions on his face when he realized I was serious – prideful as ever, he still stated, “Good, I don’t care!”

I let him know that at any point he wanted me to re-engage with him, I would be more than happy to – but he has to apologize for his disrespect and attempt to work with me on improving it.  His response was, “Not until you respect me first!’

So be it.  I will respect him by giving him his space.  I hope he doesn’t take too long in realizing how lonely it is being on his own.