I WAS IN PRISON DOCUMENTARY

Know your place!

When first entering the world of step parenting I was reluctant. I didn't know what my role should be in my step daughter, Breanna's life. Things became clearer to me after having my daughter. I realized that it was not fair for me to take a back seat in my step daughters life yet give myself 100% to my own daughter. It is not right for Breanna to suffer because of her parents incompatibility.

I remember being so scared to step on anyones toes. I was afraid to give all because I knew that would mean pissing some people off. I was torn because I knew what was best for Breanna in her life over here with us, but didn't want to over step the boundaries. In getting to know my husband better, and realizing what he wanted for his daughter and for our new family I felt more confident in my role. I know now that the best thing I can do is treat her as if she were my own. It is not my job to worry about pleasing her mother, my husband's family or my family. My job is to do my very best, for both Breanna and our family and if that means stepping on some toes, then so be it. No decision regarding Breanna ever effects just her. It effects all of us.

Has this caused some waves? Yes, but that is ok. I sleep well at night because I know that I am doing everything in my power to have a happy, healthy family. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and I know that someday all the energy I have put into Breanna will be rewarded. Step parents need all the support they can get so the best way to be a good one is to block out all the negative people! Stand your ground, fight for your family, and surround yourself with people who build you up, not break you down. I want to encourage the step parents out there to follow their heart and do your absolute best. If your best makes people mad, sounds like a personal issue they need to deal with. Your loyalty was never to them anyways! Much love friends!

When the fit hits the shan.

I believe there are certain rules when it comes to discipline and step parenting. I know that being a step parent to older children is a totally different ball game, but getting into the child's life at a younger age brings different challenges. When the kids are older (as I was when my mom remarried) the step parent is more of a friend and not so much like a "parent." In my opinion that is the way it should be because the children already have a "mom" and "dad" that they answer to and do not need a new person coming in trying to change that. I don't believe it is ok for the step parent to do the disciplining in this case. When someone is dating a person with older children, they need to decide before thinking about marriage if they can handle the way things are without coming in and trying to change everything.

What about with younger ones? In this case the struggles are not going to be with the child because they will never remember a time without you. I have no issues getting my step daughter to listen to me (actually sometimes she listens to me better than her father, hehe.) The relationship with a step child should be a strong one before you think about any sort of discipline. Of course every family has their own ways of disciplining their child and while I may give my daughter Hazel a smack on the hand or butt, I am not going to do that with Breanna. Why? Well it is a personal thing. My husband wouldn't do it either, and we are able to get results from putting her in her room or taking away a privilege. I have to admit, I am really lucky to have such a well behaved step child. Don't get me wrong, she has her moments where she tries to be the boss, but we get her in check real quick. Until I was comfortable with Breanna's and my relationship I would play tattle tale to daddy to get her to listen, but now we have a mutual respect for each other and she knows I mean business.

"Will you marry us?"

Family has taken on a new meaning in todays society. It is not the norm for there to be a mom, dad and two kids anymore. Divorce is more common than ever, and people are having children with partners they are not married to. There are all kinds of variations in a child's home life, and with that comes new challenges. Nobody day dreams when they are little about growing up to be a step parent, or dealing with crazy exes, but this is reality for many of us. This is my story.

My husband and I met and fell in love just like any other couple. After our first couple dates he tells me he has a one and a half year old daughter! I was pissed. Not because he had a beautiful and sweet little girl, but because he didn't tell me from the start!!! This was the first person I ever dated with a kid (and the last, hehe) so I had no clue what I was getting into. I didn't meet Breanna until a few months later when we both knew our relationship was getting more serious. I thought to myself , "I love kids, how hard could this be?"

Over the next year I grew attached not only to my handsome boyfriend, but his little girl as well. I knew that I wanted to be a part of their lives, and that I found them for a reason. I knew I could bring something to them that nobody else could and they could do the same for me. On November 8th, 2009 all three of us said "I do." It was the start of our lives and the beginning of an adventure. Breanna is now five and a half and the main piece of advice that I can give any step parent is to always put the kids first. Simple as it may sound, you can never go wrong when you follow that advice.

People often ask, "How can you love someone elses child the same way that you love yours?" I have always thought that it would be awesome to adopt a kid and while being a step parent is slightly different than adopting, it is also very similar because you still want to treat them as if they are your own. Here is the thing..... Loving a step child doesn't have to "feel" the same as loving a child that came from your own body. Don't beat yourself up about it. When my husband and I had our baby girl, I was filled with emotions that I never felt with Breanna, and that is ok. Loving a kid isn't all about a feeling, it is about your actions toward that child. I have always treated Bre as one of my own, and done everything the same as I would with my own daughter. I have always gone out of my way to make her feel special ,even after the baby got here, and she hasn't had a single jealous moment, so I know I am doing something right. It all goes back to putting the kids first. While they may be innocent and naive little souls, they will know deep down that you are doing your best and they will love you for it.

Bre and I have a great relationship, I love when she crawls up on my lap and tells me she loves me. Ever since our daughter Hazel was born Breanna says she should call me mommy too since that is what Hazel calls me. I am fine with that. I am not going to tell her what she can and can't call me. I want her to call me whatever feels right to her, sometimes its mommy, and sometimes its Courtney, I answer to both.

Throughout this blog I will share with you my experiences, and lessons I learned from them, in hopes that you won't have to go through some of the not so fun stuff that I have in this journey. If you find it beneficial or know someone who would benefit from reading, follow me! We will adventure through this together!

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