Family/business…

A few notes on a favorite subject:

I was really impressed by Dustin Wax’s recent post on Lifehack.org, “Becoming a Great Step-Dad.”The lessons he’s learned in that role so far are equally applicable to step-moms, and the post is a quick overview of the basics every stepparent should know:

  1. The natural parent has more authority over the kids than the stepparent, so take your cues from, and consult with, him or her
  2. If the kids still have both parents (you’re a stepparent due to divorce rather than death of the previous spouse), understand that you’re not replacing anyone…
  3. …but act in an appropriately parental manner anyway
  4. Spend time with each of your stepchildren one on one (I’ve been better about this with my stepdaughter)
  5. Listen and share
  6. Don’t try to buy them off!

I was a parent for a long time before I became a stepparent, but there are definitely some differences in the job description.
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When you work anywhere other than your own business where you’re the only employee, you probably spend more of your waking hours with your co-workers than you do with your family or your friends, and they become another “family” in their own way. (You didn’t choose this family? Well, for the most part, we don’t choose our relatives either.) I’ve yet to work anywhere that the office crowd has become the basis for my social life as well – the kind of thing frequently seen in ensemble, workplace-set TV shows – and I don’t really know anyone else who has either. (Maybe it’s just that none of us have ever worked in a setting suitable for a TV show, with a bunch of other young, single, TV-style people?) Kathy Howe’s recent post on her Work It, Mom! blog talks about her own experiences with this, and some good reasons why we might want to leave the work “family” at work.
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I wasn’t sure I’d enter an essay for this week’s Speak Your Mind contest at Work It, Mom! – not necessarily because of the topic itself, but more that I’m really not that interested in the prize. I don’t know if it’s for one or both of these reasons, or some other entirely, but not many site members seem to be contributing their thoughts on the subject of “how you maintain your marriage/relationship as you juggle work, kids, and other responsibilities,” and I decided I might have something to say about that after all. The key factor – sense of humor! (But I’m still not likely to use a 6-month subscription to the Sittercity.com database.)

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