I'm probably not the only step child who has ever had "issues" with their step-parent. My "issues" were nothing too serious, but it's enough to say that there were lots and lots of arguments, resistance and frustration for most of my childhood.
My step-father came along when I was about 7 years old and was my Mom's first marriage. Until then, it was me and my mom, with loads of help from my Grandma and Grandpa. At first, getting a "Dad" was like opening a Christmas present. Finally, I would have a Dad like the other kids. In many ways it was kind of like the way a new romantic relationship goes (minus the physical part obviously.)
I was so excited about having a Dad and all that I thought that meant. Recently, I was reading some school papers from 3rd grade (around the time my step-dad came along) and I saw that I had wrote that I wanted to be a Sheet Metal Worker (like my step-dad) and that the Los Angeles Dodgers were my favorite baseball team (like my step-dad).
Please do not mention to anyone else that I said the Dodgers were my favorite baseball team. I was confused and age 7, and it was extremely fleeting. :)
However, as I read that paper, I realized how deeply connected I wanted to be to my step-father, as indicated by saying something as sac-relig as liking the Dodgers over my beloved (to this day) St Louis Cardinals.
As I grew older and began to take more responsibility for the arguments, resistance and frustration between me and my step-father, I realized how much of a role I had in creating all of it.
I became aware of the standard I had created for what a "Dad" should be like. (For more on that, check out a previous blog called "Fantasy Dad.") Prior to my step-dad showing up in my life, I had created an intense picture of what a father was supposed to be like. A complete fantasy where my dad played catch with me everyday, never got angry, loved me, counseled me, coached my little league team and made millions.
Essentially, anything that could be construed as perfection by a man, that's what I thought a dad was. Dad's, in my mind were like super heroes and definitely not human beings with all of our "imperfections."
Unknowingly, throughout my childhood, I held my step-dad to this unattainable standard every minute of every day. My step-father is a wonderful man, an honest and loving man, and a man of integrity. From an outside perspective and the healthier one that I have today, I can see that I got really lucky to have such a great model of a man in my life.
He claimed me as his own from the beginning and treated me as equally as his other children from the very first day. It was such a gift.
And, because of who I thought he should be, I couldn't experience that gift until many years later. Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to let him know that and apologize for the hard time I gave him. Our relationship has never been better.
Having this insight has helped me see how I do this to other men and people in leadership positions. Where I decide that anyone in a leadership position should be perfect at all times.
Notice where you are holding human being to super hero standards. If we can let those standards down, we can experience them for the magical gifts they are.