Good Evening Ladies and Germs!

It doesn’t matter why he’s there.. what matters is that he’s there and he needs you.

I remember reading an article in Dear Abby (or was it Ann Landers?) when I was a teenager. A stepmother wrote in and divulged a story about her young stepson and herself.

In the stepmother’s words:

I was having lunch with a close friend of mine. I was complaining to her about how my stepson’s mother would drop him off when he was sick and when it wasn’t our turn to have him and what an inconvenience the whole thing was. My friend stared me straight in the eye and said very firmly, “it doesn’t matter why he’s there. What matters is that he’s there and he needs you.”

The stepmom went on to say how those words hit her like a ton of bricks. It was actually just a healthy dose of reality. She immediately broke down crying and suddenly realized how selfish she’d been acting. She had been unable to see it in herself until it was pointed out to her. She said everything changed after that and she was able to develop a wonderful relationship with her stepson.

I do give that woman credit for being able to see her selfishness and hopefully being able to change her ways permanently. Though it’s unfortunate she didn’t have that attitude from the start. I knew if I was ever in that situation I would remember that simple phrase. It doesn’t matter why he’s there.. what matters is that he’s there and he needs you. All step parents, step parents-to-be, and anyone dating single parents need to remember that phrase. My hope is that anyone reading this knows that already and gets nothing out of this blog post. That’s the way it should be.

Fortunately for me I never had to work very hard to remember it. When I was in high school and dated girls with younger siblings they’d jump all over me when I walked in the house and wouldn’t leave my side. As I got older and would sometimes date single moms, I found myself in a  familiar situation. Still, kids will test you. Kids will challenge you. And kids will try your patience. Remembering that phrase is important during those trying times. And I realize it comes more naturally for some than for others. But it’s something that everyone can improve on.

You don’t get awards or medals for being a great step parent. You get something much more valuable, a chance to build an everlasting bond with your stepchild. Fortunately for the stepmom at the beginning of this post, she realized that before it was too late.

Dr. B