My father Milton C. Bostock Sr. passed away when I was only 1 year old. My mother Susan R. Bostock was left widowed with 5 young children to raise. I’m sure the last thing my mother imagined was getting married to a man she loved, bearing 5 children by him and then being left to raise them all on her own. Not only did her children lose their father, but also for my mother, she lost her husband and best friend. My father lost a battle to pneumonia, and his dying wishes was for his friend Vermie D. Smith to marry my mother and be a father to his children.
Vermie honored my father’s wishes and married my mother, and was a father to his children until his passing in 2011. My older siblings had recollection of my biological father, but for me, a 1-year-old child, Vermie was the only father I knew. I respected him for honoring my father’s dying wishes by marrying my mother and vowing to act as a father figure to my siblings and me. Him and I weren’t very close, but we were much closer to one another than any of my other siblings, with the exception of my younger brother Joshua, who was his biological son. It was challenging growing up because we weren’t all treated fairly; we were often treated like stepchildren.
My stepfather was a hard worker, he loved to work, was never lazy, and he always provided for us. I had the no issue with the things he did, I took issue with the things that he didn’t do. I never got to play fight with him, ride on his shoulders or have him spin me around. He rarely disciplined me when I did something wrong and needed the authoritative voice of a man to keep me in line. He never celebrated me for any of my academic achievements at school.
What I wanted from him the most was to have a closer relationship. I wanted to engage in conversation and activities, I wanted to see him at my recitals and basketball games, I wanted his advice on talking to girls, how to find a job, how to enroll in college, etc. I wanted him to be a Dad, but unfortunately, that day never came. I had hoped to be led into greatness by him, but over time I think he forgot that I didn’t view him as merely a stepfather. For me, he was my father.
I applaud him for even considering the thought of taking on a woman with 5 kids, for many men would’ve scoffed at the thought. It’s a huge responsibility and to accept it means to be patient, loving, kind, understanding and supportive of this new family. It’s one thing to join a club, but it’s another thing to take on an active role within the club and be a fully functioning member. A husband and a father is the head of the household, he holds the command and is expected to lead. Being a leader, no matter what scenario you’re in requires passion, creativity, and discernment.
Life happens, and when it does, we have to strap up our boots, roll up our sleeves and get to work on building a better one. Sure, we would all like to start our own families and not take on anyone else’s, but that’s not always an option for everyone. Every day families lose brothers, sons, husbands and fathers to different battles. Whenever there is a void in someone’s life, that may be your opportunity to come in and in fill it. You just might be the second chance that a woman needs at a husband, or the second chance that a young boy/girl needs at a father.
It doesn’t take the death of a father or the absence of a father in order for you to be effective. Sometimes a child can be under the same roof as their biological father but never get the love and care that a father should give his child. All it takes is something liquid to be a father, but it takes something solid to be a Dad. Being a Dad is about paying special attention to child, caring for the child, and being actively involved in your child’s life. When you come into a child’s life as a stepparent, they expect you to be several steps above their actual parent.
When I say several steps, I don’t mean that you have to spoil the child or anything, but rather pay close attention to the biological father’s shortcomings. Your job is to be a better man, a better husband and a better father, otherwise you’ll be viewed as no different from the father they already have/had. This is where getting to know the mother comes into play; the more you know about her and her relationship with the biological father, the better you’ll know what role you need to play. This is a case where you have to do considerable research not only on the woman you’re with, but also the history behind her relationship with the child’s father.
You have to think long term when it comes to a woman with children. If your goal is to make it last forever, you need to understand that her children will be a significant part of her life forever. It will give you peace of mind knowing that there is a mutual love and respect amongst you, your lady and the child. It is worth it to take your time and do the necessary research to try and figure it exactly how you can be an effective new addition to the family. Once you’ve figured out your read, start playing it and have faith that they will follow your lead.
It’s only when you don’t have a plan that things will begin to fall apart. If your goal is merely to date and sleep with the mother, you’ll ruin your relationship with the child. If your goal is merely to have a relationship with the child, then that should be discussed with the mother and carried out based on agreed upon terms. Overall, you want to create a balance that works for everyone. Giving the mother and the child equal opportunity to benefit from having a relationship with you and vice versa.
Winning a child over simply takes time and research, but lucky for you, you have direct association with someone who knows more about him/her than anyone else, the mother. In addition, you will have considerable favor with a child simply by treating the mother with love, dignity and respect. Win over the mother and you are one step closer to winning over the child. Children are very smart, they know what true love is, and they can sense when love isn’t present. So if you’re not genuine and sincere in your approach with the mother or with them, that window of opportunity will swiftly close.
Your goal as a stepfather isn’t about what you gain; it’s about what you give. What you want from this relationship is to become a valuable source of knowledge and wisdom that he/she will always seek from you. You could teach him/her how to manage money and be financially responsible, or how to study for an exam, or how to build positive relationships with other people. The fact that you’re taking the time to be a part of the child’s life will be enough to win their respect, finding the angle is the only challenge. They want to have a closer relationship, they want to be understood, and they want someone to care.
No matter how hard the mother tries, she will never be able to deliver a message in a way that a man would. Most often, a child looks at their mom as a nag because she cares so much. In fact she cares so much that it’s overwhelming, smothering and lets be honest it’s annoying. The balance that’s needed here is a gentle, logical and rational approach set forth by a man they love, respect and are willing to listen to. Sometimes a child simply needs a change of scenery, and with a mother always in the picture, sometimes those “heart to hearts” can get quite boring.
So be a man, step in, step up and take charge. Let the child know that you love them, support them and will always be there for them. Don’t miss the opportunity to extend your arms and give them a hug, or listen to their problems, or help them find solutions. As a stepfather, that’s exactly what you are called to do. If you weren’t needed, you wouldn’t have been chosen for the position.
No matter the child’s relationship with his/her biological father, your role in the household is still significant. If the child doesn’t respect you, they won’t respect the relationship you have with the mother. Command respect from the beginning so you won’t have to demand respect in the end. A relationship between a father and son, no matter the science behind it should be healthy and filled with love. They may or may not call you Dad, but because of the significant role you plat in their lives right now, rest assured it will be you that they call on in the future.
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