New Year’s Parenting Resolutions of a Soon-to-be-Stepfather

Becoming a Co-Parent Means It’s Time to Bring Your “A-Game”

The woman I plan to wed is smart, gorgeous, funny, hardworking, and sweeter than her favorite Splenda. She also has a four-year-old son, who is a great kid. He is smart, well-adjusted, and precocious. But it’s obvious that I need to keep some New Year’s resolutions in mind as I prepare for step-fatherhood in 2019.

1.) Become more comfortable with assertive fathering. As the non-parent, it is easy to sit back and let the parent step in when the kid gets out of line. Certainly, and especially as a male, I do not want to be seen yelling at a tyke in public, lest people worry that I am some sort of child-abusing criminal. I often stand by, mute, as my fiance chastises her scowling son for whatever misbehavior or tantrum he has just committed. She has told me that I need to “step in” and be more comfortable with ensuring good discipline. I feel confident that this is a scenario that makes many soon-to-be stepfathers a tad uncomfortable: What is acceptable in “ensuring good discipline” of a young kid? What is acceptable to the mother, and what is acceptable in the public eye?

Be sure to talk to the mother so expectations are synced.

2.) Become less squeamish. Four-year-olds are masters at unwanted and unexpected bodily functions. Let’s just say that one day, when the going got tough, I froze and let the kid’s mother handle it. I realized that I should be more proactive about cleaning up kiddie messes because, when she and I have our own kids, I’ll want some experience under my belt instead of being hit unawares.

We should all buck up a little, because kids can be gross. Fact of life.

3.) Budget better. Kids are expensive, so I’m maximizing my pre-wedding bank account by cutting back on inefficient spending. To help pay for child care services (my new wife and I will both be working full-time) I have dutifully cut out my energy drink fix (Red Bull costs a pretty penny!), limited my use of bottled water, and am planning to cut out cable TV. It’s a small sacrifice to help the pinch of child care spending feel more tolerable.

Who shouldn’t resolve to be more thrifty? I think that’s a good resolution for anyone.

4.) Think safety. As a single, twentysomething guy, safety is often not in the front of my mind. I disconnected my smoke alarm because the battery was low and the machine started beeping…and did not exactly replace said batteries promptly. Smoke inhalation could’ve gotten me, but I was not concerned.

It’s different when you’ve got a kid in your home. I need to think more about safety, as should we all.

5.) Maximize free time. With a kid about to be a permanent addition to my lifestyle, I need to be able to keep my sanity and retain my invaluable “down time.” Right now I am woefully inefficient at this. For instance, I should go straight to the gym after work instead of loafing around for an hour at my apartment. I never manage to pick up a book, truly relax, or even watch a good TV show during this hour, therefore making it rather wasteful.