encouragement to step parents

28 06 2009

Alcoholism destroys families. My family has been effected by this insidious disease for as long as I can remember. Since 1982, when Ed and I got married, it has been my goal to break the curse of this dysfunction over my family. The process has seemed like three steps forward and two steps back many times, but we press on toward the goal.

Ed and I had been clean and sober and married for five years in 1987. We each struggled with learning how to be good, effective parents and step parents.  Personally, I have made a ton of mistakes and bad choices born out of my own dysfunction. My daughter, Fawn was 15 years old and she was dealing with her own pain. Our family life crashed into the wall that year when she ran away. Over the next couple of years, we all had to look closely at who we had become, and then, become willing to make some difficult changes in our behavior. No matter what we think, we are not born with the innate ability to parent. It is a learn as you go endeavor. 

Ed and Fawn have given me permission to share this Father’s Day message that she wrote. My purpose in sharing this is to encourage the parent that feels like they are swimming against the tide with their teen age children. From 1987 to 2009, we have come a long way! To God be the glory!

Dear Dad,

Being a parent is tough. Being a step parent is even tougher.

In all these years that you’ve been my Dad, it is only now, as I’ve taken on the mantle of being a step parent myself, that I can truly appreciate how great a job you’ve done.

It seems an almost cruel injustice to expect a person to live with, love and accept an attitude wielding, teenaged female – especially in cases where that person did not have the benefit of bonding with said child before the attitude emerged.

I didn’t understand what went into things from your end. For example, I had no idea how cool it was of you to include me in your time with Crissy and Cheryl. I have great memories of walking through malls with you and the girls, eating at McDonald’s and just “hanging out”. Thank you so much for sharing those times with me, for including me.

One of my most cherished memories is the night I brought my “date” in to meet you and Mom. You were sitting in your recliner watching TV in your moose head slippers.

Your reaction to that young man and to me after he left planted a seed of thought. You made a crack about how hard it is to be intimidating while wearing moose head slippers. For years I didn’t get it.

I know you’ll be shocked, but I was a dumb teenager who thought she knew everything when, in reality, I was completely clueless. I couldn’t think of a reason you’d want to seem intimidating.  It wasn’t until many years later that it dawned on me. You were being my Dad, protecting something of value.

I couldn’t appreciate the difficulties you faced; living separate from your own children but still expected to open your heart to me. I am so sorry for all the years that you poured in to me that I was not able to appreciate. Instead of gratitude, I dished out teenaged ‘tude. Still you love me – which is mind blowing -and proof that you truly have a father’s heart.

I love you, Dad. You are a man deserving of honor.

Love Fawn

So, if you are feeling inadequate and inept at parenting, be encouraged. God can use you where you are at.