Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tomo (the challenges of step parenting)

“No matter how he tried, David never broke through. Tomo put up with his presence and was pleased to cooperate and be nice when it suited: if there was, in his eyes, sufficient return on his investment. To purchase something for him, he would happily go to the mall.  He refused to go grocery or clothes shopping, but, when he did, he showed the enthusiasm of a dog asleep in the shade on a hot day.

Though David was no psychologist, he knew at least this much: Tomo blamed the world and everyone in it for taking away his father. The chip on his shoulder was more like a sack of potatoes.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 6

I think one of the reasons The Brady Brunch was so popular is because it presented such an idyllic view of what has become known as the blended family. The Brady family had their problems of course, but nothing that could not be sorted out in a 30 minute episode. Reality is not quite so cut and dried. My comments here are based on observation not experience. Roughly 50% of marriages fail. Many people remarry and so we have many families where two worlds have collided, or are colliding. Step parenting throws up many challenges but they seem to fit into two, not unrelated categories: discipline and acceptance. (There is a third category which covers sexual abuse but I find that too distasteful to write about.) I cannot deal in any depth with these issues, but if you have been a part of a blended family, either as a child or a parent, then you know what I’m talking about and I would be interested in hearing your views. In Loathe Your Neighbor, David feels that his stepson, Tomo, tolerated his presence and used David’s goodwill to his advantage. As soon as Tomo could leave home, he did. His attitude towards David can be summed up by “You’re not my father, you can’t tell me what to do!” Does that sound familiar? Parenting requires, hard work, love and grace. How much harder is step parenting? Is it harder? What has been, or is your experience?



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