The best thing you can do for your stepkids? Gross them out.
Yup. You read that right. The more eye rolling, and “Eww!’s” you get, the better.
Kids with divorced parents spend years feeling the aftermath of a broken marriage. They are the ones whose world gets rocked the most while also being the ones with the least say in what happens. You can have the most civil divorce on the planet and have a successful parenting relationship with your Ex that allows your kids to thrive, and their minds will still be witnessing situations and forming their own opinions on love and marriage. They will be skeptical of a “happily ever after,” and they may begin to doubt the entire sanctity of marriage altogether.
What can you do? As a stepparent, you cannot change the past and what happened before you entered the picture. But the future is a wide open space, ready for your influence and participation in your kids’ lives!
How do you combat disbelief in marriage? By showing them a successful one. Kiss your spouse in front of them, hold their hand in the car, leave them post-it notes of love on the coffee maker. Gross them out and make them want to cover their eyes! It is the best way you can help them have a healthy outlook on love. Sometimes the wrong people get together, and it can have an awful outcome. But sometimes two very right people find each other, and the outcome can be spectacular.
My family knows I am not a morning person. My husband makes my coffee almost every day because he knows that is like gold to me. My stepdaughter has seen this act of love so many times that she has started to participate in it, and her tiny hands have handed me a warm mug of java followed by a high-five to her dad, as if to say “We did it. We showed her we love her.” Language is a very strong communicator of love, but I believe actions speak louder, and she is starting to agree with that belief.
The next time you’re cooking dinner, turn some Sinatra on and slow dance in your kitchen. I can’t tell you how many times Stepdaughter has rolled her eyes at the sight of us swaying to the music with oven mitts on my hands. But after about a minute of her pretending to be grossed out, all of a sudden her little face will be pushed between our bellies swaying right there with us.
Showing your children the beauty behind marriage can be one of your greatest gifts as a Stepparent. I was lucky enough to have an incredible example of true love growing up, and my parents still act like two crazy teenagers on their first date every day. As I sit here writing this, I see my mom whipping up a dessert, and giving my dad the beater to lick. I see them overcome anything that gets thrown their way, including the world’s most stubborn child (again, sorry about that guys…). Because of their constant attention to their marriage, and their desire to romance each other any chance they get, I grew up wanting that for myself. Thankfully, I found it.
So the next time you find yourself wanting to embrace your spouse and plant one on their lips, don’t stop yourself just because the kids are there. Kiss them! The next time you catch them washing the dishes, smack their booty and tell them how handsome they look washing that spoon! Give yours kids an example in your home that they will want to copy. Their parents’ divorce rocked their beliefs on “for better, or for worse.” Show them second chances can be wonderful, and hopefully they themselves will build a first marriage that will last a lifetime.