How do I know if I’ll be a good parent?

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Casual scribe

How do I know if I’ll be a good parent?

This is my first post and I had no idea where to put this, so I put it here.

 

I’m 38 years old and have never had kids, but I’ve been seeing a woman with three kids for about two years that I’m seriously thinking of marrying.   I have completely fallen in love with these kids (ages 16, 9 and 5).  Their own father is a domineering jerk and nobody wants much to do with him, so these kids are entirely mine if I wish it.  Part of me is eagerly looking forward to it, but an even bigger part of me is terrified of the prospect.  I want to be the best father I can to these kids, but a large part of the reason I don’t have my own is I never thought I would make a good parent. 

 

My own childhood was traumatic and dysfunctional.  My mother was a vindictive, sadistic, emotionally stunted bible thumper that never learned to think for herself, and she had a special hatred for my younger brother.  She didn’t want a second child and resented his existence, so she systematically tortured him mentally and physically his entire life (he died at age 14 in an accident that, surprisingly, my mother had nothing to do with).  My father was way more interested in his hobbies than his family, so he was a ghost for most of my childhood.

 

My maternal grandfather was an intolerant, domineering, narrow-minded racist that demanded instant and unquestioning obedience from his children, and beyond that didn’t give much of a **bleep** about them.  He had absolutely no tact and would spout off at anyone anywhere if they were doing something he disapproved of.  The older I get the more I hear his voice coming out of my mouth as if I’m channeling him, and it scares the **bleep** out of me.  I do not want to be anything like him, and I certainly don’t want to subject my kids to that sort of person.

 

I’ve never had to live with kids for any extended period of time and I’m scared **bleep**less that I will start treating them the way my parents treated me.  As much as I think it will kill me to do so, I would rather walk away than subject them to that.  I want to go into this with some confidence in the matter.  How on earth do I know?

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Parent Community Champion

Re: How do I know if I’ll be a good parent?

Hello @Bambalamba, and a big welcome to the ReachOut parents forum Smiley Happy 

Congratulations on what sounds like a beautiful relationship with your partner!

And thank you for sharing with us your situation  - I can hear how torn you are about becoming a parent to your partner's children, it must be daunting!  It might help to break it down into smaller stages, rather than thinking of it as one big "becoming a parent" moment. 

It sounds like you are already playing a significant role in their lives?  As with all step-parents, building up trust and getting to know each other, takes time. How do you think your relationship is with them at the moment? 

 

I'm sorry to hear about your childhood, the abuse of your mother towards your brother, and the loss you suffered. Have you ever connected with a counselor or psychologist to talk through any of these experiences, or your current worries about being a parent? 
I'm also wondering if you've spoken to your partner about these fears? 

 

 

 

 

Casual scribe

Re: How do I know if I’ll be a good parent?

Hello Gina-Ro,

 

Thank you for taking the time to respond. My lady and I have talked about this at length, her childhood was nearly as messed up as mine. Her father was a career petty criminal that died before she was a teenager (she would tell me stories of these completely random Christmas gifts he would get her, things he had obviously stolen), and her mother is a self-centered drama queen with a string of failed marriages behind her. Her oldest child is the product of a brief affair she had with a much older man when she was in her teens, and he vanished without a trace as soon as he found out she was pregnant. She was forced to drop out of high school, but has since gotten her GED and an associates degree in medical technology and now works as a hospital lab tech. In short, we're both damaged goods that are trying to make the best of things.

 

I have an excellent relationship with these kids. Her 16-year-old son is extremely overweight and what I would describe as a 'gamer dork'. Most of his friends are in the same boat as him, boys living with single mothers that never knew their fathers. He and I have spent a lot of time bonding while fixing her mother's house or her piece-o-crap 18-year-old minivan. Her mother says I'm the first positive male role model he's ever had, and he's making a genuine effort to lose weight and stop holing himself up in front of a video game console.

 

Her 9-year-old daughter is, as she describes, a carbon copy of herself at that age. A sweet girl, but very neurotic and hard on herself. She cries a lot and is very skilled at finding faults with herself. She's quite bright and gets good grades in school, but her self esteem is fragile and she's vulnerable to mean coments by some of her classmates. I suspect it's going to be a long and laborious process to teach her to go with the flow and stop worrying about ultimately insignificant things.

 

Her 5-year-old is my favorite. She's happy, precocious, and fearless. She takes unbridled joy in simple things, very energetic and bounces from subject to subject with dizzying speed. Her innocent exuberence and laughter is something I want to bottle up and preserve forever. Her favorite toy is a bag of beat-up Hot Wheels cars that she's named and assigned genders to, and she has them go on dates and kiss and then collide with each other. I've nicknamed her 'Skeeter'.

 

These kids see me as some sort of hero, which is flattering but also totally unrealistic. Right now we're all in the 'honeymoon' phase, and I just hope my opinions of them don't change after the novelty has worn off. I feel as though I'm in a position to make a positive impact on these kids, and I lay awake at night terrified that I'm going to screw it up somehow.

 

I have gone to counselling on occasion, and I've found it to be a waste of time. My opinion of most counsellors is that whether you walk out of their office a changed man or go and harm yourself, it's all the same to them so long as they're making their $125 an hour.

Parent Community Champion

Re: How do I know if I’ll be a good parent?

Hey @Bambalamba  - Thank you for sharing that -  you and your partner have both been through so much in your lives - its amazing to hear how much you're both achieving despite all of that Heart

 

Your descriptions of your partners kids and your relationship with them are wonderful -it sounds like you have such a rich and positive relationship with each of them. 

I hear what you're saying about the honey-moon phase, and worrying that you won't live up to the "hero" perception they have of you - but it seems that you have set the groundwork to have honest and open communications that is realistic about what they can expect from you, and vice versa. Of course like every human, there will be positive and negative things about each of them, and about you. That's where the real relationship growth happens I guess.. in patience, tolerance, and forgiveness for those more negative actions and traits. 

 

Is your fear about messing things up about something specific or mostly an anxiety? 

 

That's a real shame to encounter counsellors like that - sadly there are good and bad in every profession, and counselling isn't for everyone. 

 

Do you have any friends that you talk to about these concerns or anxieties?