Before we made the agreement with Rowdy and Jetsam, Hun and I were attempting to figure out a plan.  After all, what’s the point of calling a meeting of the minds if there are no new ideas to present for a problem?

One of the ideas Hun and I discussed and dismissed was allowing Rowdy to move back in with his mom.  We dismissed the idea because of several reasons.  The biggest reason is there is no room for Rowdy at Jetsam’s current residence full time.  She told us this herself.  The conversation we had with Jetsam where I suspect her Boyfriend told her it wasn’t going to happen anyway led to us believing this theory was correct.  Another reason is because we feel like Jetsam doesn’t actually influence Rowdy like she believes she does.  He plays her like a fiddle and it is very obvious if you pay attention.  She gives in to his pleading, but doesn’t hold him accountable to his actions.  Not a good combination in Hun and I’s opinions.

In attempting to come up with new ideas, I talked to several people, mostly guys, to get their perspectives on the situation.  I got some useful and not so useful feedback.

I’ve been thinking about the suggestions ever since.

One of the suggestions I received (from multiple people) was to just give up and allow him to move back in with his mom.  That Rowdy was not my child and if he wanted to ruin his life, then let him.  He has two parents and if they weren’t putting in the effort to get him on the right track for life, that wasn’t my problem.  It was pointed out that I have been stressed for a while and part of my stress stems from the issues we have with Rowdy and it was time to just cut the cord and let him go.  It was touted as “tough love”.

I cannot wrap my mind around this thought process.

To me, Tough Love is different than just “giving up” on a child.

Tough Love is allowing a child to reap the consequences of their actions, no matter how painful that consequence may be for the parent to watch their child suffer.

Like – refusing to rescue them and allowing them to go hungry if they forget their lunch money or refuse to pack a lunch for school.

Or allowing them to get a failing grade on an assignment if they forget to do their homework – or failing the grade all together (for reasons other than learning disabilities) and having to repeat and graduate later than their peers.

These are “Tough Love” situations in my mind.  Parents have faced far harder choices with their kids.

Now I was being asked to just give up on him and it was being rationalized as tough love.

This is part of the problem with being a step-parent.

As a step-parent, I’m told by society that I need to love the child as my own, treat them equally as I would my own child, and in all ways be a parent to the child.

But on the other hand, I’m told that I’m not the parent, that I can’t BE the parent, that I’m to be involved only to a certain point and then it’s hand’s off lest I upset the child or bio-parent.

Think about it – how would you feel as a bio-parent, after helping to raise a child from toddler age, then the going gets tough, you’re told to just give up, the child isn’t worth the effort or the stress?

How is the child supposed to feel about this?  A parent that says they love them and then just gives up?

Why am I supposed to feel differently about the child just because I am a step-parent?

In my mind, Rowdy is every bit my child (as well as LaLa and Monkey).  I have been in their lives for most of their lives.  I have been with their dad for as long as they can remember.  I may not have given birth to any of them, but I am involved in their lives, I celebrate their successes and mourn their struggles.  I want them to succeed with all of my heart.

I am more than willing to deal out some actual “Tough Love” to all of my kids.  I am not willing to give up on any of them.  That’s the coward’s way out.

I love Rowdy even though he claims he doesn’t care if I’m in his life or not.  And if I love him, but give up on him because he’s trying to figure out life in his own way, how is he going to feel if I give up on him?  Someone who claims to love him one minute, but tosses him aside when the going gets tough?

Giving up is not an option.  It never was.  It never will be.