Blended Fatherhood

Building Trust with Stepchildren Through Apologies

December 01, 2023 James Ferris Season 1 Episode 8
Blended Fatherhood
Building Trust with Stepchildren Through Apologies
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever found yourself tangled in the complexity of step parenting with a feeling of being lost? Struggling with frustrations that often result in misunderstandings with your loved ones? Let's embark on a journey of self-improvement and relationship building together. I'm your host, James Ferris, and this time we're addressing the elephant in the room - owning up to our missteps and the power of saying "I apologize" over simply "I'm sorry". We explore how this shift can bring about a wave of sincerity and commitment to change, ultimately strengthening our bond with our stepchildren. 

Navigating the knotty terrain of blended families, we underscore the vital role of a father figure in mending fences and fostering harmony. I’ll share personal anecdotes of how I've handled tough situations and the lessons I've learned along the way to build trust. We'll also confront the challenges of putting pride aside and taking on the mantle of leadership in the household, even if it means admitting to being wrong. Join me as we untangle the complexities of step parenting, learn to lead with love, patience, and understanding, and turn our blended family journey into a fulfilling adventure. It's about fostering healthier relationships, and appreciating the difference between being frustrated and unfairly taking it out on the ones we cherish.

James Ferris:

Hello and welcome to blended fatherhood. I'm your host, James Ferris, and on today's episode we're going to be talking about quality and forgiveness, especially when you're dealing with your kids in general. And I know as a step parent, when you're dealing with your step kids or just any kids in general, that you are the parent for you can make mistakes and then you can think in your head, well, I don't need to apologize for that because I'm the parent and that can lead to a lot of troubling situations in the future. It can also lead to a lot of mistrust and just overall some bad things that we don't really want as parents and it also isn't a really good example for them. And as someone who is a step parent, this can be kind of troubling because if you do this enough with your step kids and like your non biological kids I know in previous episodes I've talked a little bit about like the idea that biological children have a little bit of grace to things that a parent does just because there's a natural sort of connection and that doesn't necessarily exist for your non biological kids or your step kids and because of that connection not really existing and you're just kind of in this relationship. That's. I was going to say force, but force is the wrong word, it's just something that's like it's a chosen relationship that has to happen and exist.

James Ferris:

You have to be very careful how you interact because, let's say, it was just like you and a friend and you were rude to your friend and you never apologized. And you're rude multiple times or you said things that you didn't really mean but you never apologize for them to your friend, like that person would not be your friend anymore, unlike with your children, right, they still have to kind of live in the same household as you. They still have to interact with you, you know, and, depending on how custody works, they have to go back to the house that is with you and they might not want to do that. It's like saying, ok, here's my friend, I'm rude to them all the time they decided, hey, they don't really want to be my friend anymore, but they are then forced to go back and hang out with them person, like that's weird, right, they wouldn't really want to do that. And so it kind of works the same way. We're like if you are rude and kind of insulting or you say things that you don't really mean in the heat of the moment and you don't really apologize for them, then it can.

James Ferris:

It can cause a really big rift, and so, especially as a step parent, you need to be very well aware of how that works, and when you are in a position to be like, hey, I really need to apologize and, to be honest, I do this all the time and I don't necessarily do it right away, but I do make a point of like hey, you know, even if it's later today, be like hey, you know the situation that happened this morning. I am sorry that I did that and I want to make sure that it's clear that that was a mistake on my part. You know, and I've done that more than I thought I was going to do, especially as a parent. I thought I was like well, look, no, you are being irresponsible. I'm telling you you're being irresponsible, you really need to fix it and work on this. But I'm doing it my own way and I'm using kind of like a little bit of my frustration, which, again, I am allowed to be frustrated, but I'm not allowed to be frustrated and then wrongly take that out on the person I am frustrated at, like it's okay to be frustrated, but it's not okay to be mean about it or use that frustration in a negative manner. Right and so for me as a parent, I kind of in my head was thinking well, no, it's I'm the parent, like, it's okay, I'm going to say this it doesn't matter, it's fine. But it's not fine, you know, it does affect their perception of the relationship with them and how things go forward. So you need to be aware of how that works.

James Ferris:

Now an apology can be really simple. You just say hey, here's a situation that happened. I am sorry that this is what I did. You know, I realized that this affected you this way. This caused this thing to happen and I did not mean for that to happen and this is what I'm gonna do to fix it.

James Ferris:

And typically, when you do something that's saying like hey, I apologize and you should use the words I apologize, don't really use I'm sorry that's one of those things. That's like I say I'm sorry, but I say I'm sorry for everything, like, oh, I accidentally made an accident and I, you know, put too much food or put too little food, and you're like oh, I'm sorry, you know, like, so it doesn't have as much weight. Say I apologize, it's good and it actually means like, hey, I'm being serious. And it also means that, like I'm actually gonna try to not do that thing again. Right, and you might. You were human, we make mistakes, so you might do it again. You'd be like, look, I'm really trying that Again. That's on me, I apologize. I hope you can forgive me and go on from there. So a great situation or good, this is not a great situation.

James Ferris:

A good example is in the morning, and I think any parent can kind of attest to this we're like you have your own set of things that you do to get ready in the morning and you have a schedule and you're like, hey, this needs to happen and we're gonna do this, this, this and this and this. But then your kids get in the way and you have to, like they have to get their shoes, or you have like they forgot the jacket, like, hey, get your jacket. They make you late. Whatever doesn't matter, it can happen.

James Ferris:

You can get really frustrated in the morning, especially because everybody's like, whoa, and let's say you're late, and then just like it causes the situation to kind to get, like you know, up a level, and so that'll happen, and sometimes I just am like, I'm frustrated, and then you know, my son does something and I'm like, man, we are gonna be late because you are not being responsible and I'm sitting here going like he should be responsible what is going on, and I say something that's wrong. And I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just being like dude, you need to be responsible. That's what the message that I wanna be is like you need to think about these things next time. That's what the message I wanna say. I don't wanna say it in a mean way, really, but I do. I'm frustrated and I take it out and whatever. And it's not a good thing, you know, and I have apologized to him multiple times because I'm like, I'm still working on it and I really don't like it and I've had conversations with them. People like, hey, dude, like I do think you are responsible and I'm holding you to that. It's a high standard of responsibility and that's why I get really frustrated and I apologize for the way that I said this and how it came all across and I realized that that totally hurt you and I did not mean to hurt you and I don't think whatever is it that he thought that I said to him and I've done that several times.

James Ferris:

There's other times, too, where it's like this is getting really frustrated. I am really frustrated and I'm just getting and I just take it out on the situation, and then a couple hours go by or whatever, and I'm contemplating and I'm talking and I'll ask my wife to be like hey, was I a little bit too harsh? And she'll be like I mean kind of, and the tricky part is that those situations will happen between my wife and the kids or whatever, and there isn't a moment of like kind of anger, desperation, like I really don't like you, like, yes, there's frustration on both sides, but there's not a lot of like this reconciliation that comes across with like an apology and that's what I mean by it can get really discouraging because if you see it from the biological side of your blended family, kind of cohesively fixing some of these problems, even if it's not 100% fixed, you have to take the extra step and like manually, make things work manually, make a point of it and say look, I am sorry, I apologize that this happened and I did this and it caused this reaction, or that I hurt you because I did this in this way and you're apologizing. You're manually, physically doing the work and making sure that it is kind of very clear that you made a mistake. It sets a good sort of basis of like I am human, I will make mistakes, I am not perfect, and I am modeling my acceptance that I am not perfect. I make mistakes and this is how you fix it by owning to your mistake and apologizing. And you have to manually do it.

James Ferris:

Sometimes, on the biological side, it doesn't necessarily happen and, to be honest, like going up, I don't really remember if my dad apologized for any of that stuff. I love my dad, great person. He might have done something that he told me he should apologize for and I just not thinking about it. Or he did something to one of my siblings that he needed to apologize for and again, I'm not thinking about it. I don't know, it doesn't really matter. What I'm saying is that he probably did something totally wrong and he'll probably tell. If you asked him he would just be like, oh yeah, I totally screwed this up when I was parenting, which is great, fine for him to own that now, sure, or whatever.

James Ferris:

But even in the moment, like I probably, as just I just was like, no, it's whatever, it's fine and I'm not harboring any sort of anger for it and I just kind of brushed it off, some of the small things, you know, and that's really easy for me to do, because I'm like well, no, he's my dad. Like, there's this really easy, simple thing for me to be like ah, no, it's okay. But when I look at situations between me and my stepson or me saying something, there's a definite feeling of like hey, no, that was not okay and I know it and he knows it, and I need to manually fix this. I need to manually go and be like hey, look, I apologize, that was a bad situation, we're gonna get this and I love you and it's okay, I'm still here for you. You know, and again, you're just building that trust up and up and up and you just need to own some of that responsibility of just being like no, hey, I made a mistake here, like I took this out on you and I apologize. And be very well aware of like and easy to forgive and apologize.

James Ferris:

You know, I think that's one of those things where it's like you have to set your pride aside as a dad, like this is a dad thing. I think that I, you know, you're like you're the man in the household, you're the person who's supposed to kind of lead the household, whatever. All those little social kind of contracts that come with this just idea of being the father, all are fine, but that adds pressure and it's like well, hey, I'm leading this household right. So what I'm saying is go and like this can bring a lot of pride, which is a downfall for most, I think, fathers are like sort of upper heads of family or whatever. It's like you're not in a position like this is not your position to be like super prideful, all high mighty, whatever, like you're a leader, but you're a leader by humbly serving the people that you're leading. That's your job. It's not something where it's like no, bow down before me, like I'm the dad, you know bad, that's not it. It's more like I'm gonna serve you.

James Ferris:

And so then when you get prideful and you're like man, I'm frustrated. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, this is how this is gonna work. And then you take it out Right, that's it. You've immediately totally done the opposite of what you're supposed to do, which has been like hey, you know, you're right, I should be calm, I should be serving you. Like yeah, we're in a rush, I get it, I'm not taking it out on you. How can I help you so we can get this all and we can get going?

James Ferris:

You know, using my example of like in the morning trying to get out the house, and that comes with time, that comes with practice, you know, just making sure that you kind of think through like, hey, I don't need to be frustrated there and I was frustrated and I took it out on you and I apologize for that and I'm gonna work on it. And I need you to also, like you can call me on it, like we can have a conversation, I will own it. I, you know, I'm a human and I'm gonna be kind of that um, court of sound and board and be like, hey, you know, like I am not, I am not perfect, and just go from there and that's okay, you know. So again and this is a little bit of a short sort of concept, but I think it's one that just like needs to be in your forefriends, like if you're dealing with your step kids or any kids in general not everything you say is 100% perfect, not everything you say is the law, and you can deal with disrespect, you can deal with frustration, you can deal with discipline and things in a manner that respect your kids and still kind of make sure that things are good to go.

James Ferris:

I'm not saying like your kids get away with everything and they're allowed to just frustrate you. That's not at all what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to say is that it's okay for you to be frustrated and handle the situation appropriately. And if you don't handle the situation appropriately, modeling correct behavior of apologizing when you do something that is wrong is important, because then it makes it so your kids know that, hey, if I say something wrong, I should apologize. And it's a work in progress. Nobody's gonna be perfect at this. I am 100% not perfect at this. I will probably screw up tomorrow Probably hopefully not, but maybe Either way I'm gonna make a mistake and but I need to own that. And, as a leader, owning your mistakes, showing that you own your behavior, is a way better thing to do than just being like no, that's the way I said it, that's the way it goes. Done, boom, okay. So don't try that. Own your mistakes.

James Ferris:

Be able to apologize, be able to read the situation and know that like, hey, this is not going to blow over. This actually affected the relationship way more than I thought it was going to or should, and manually make those corrections because it'll help your relationships in the future grow, because over time and this is a long period of time it's not fixed in the day, nothing's fixed in the day, but over the course of time, if you never make those corrections it causes a bigger, bigger wedge between you and your step kids instead of bringing you closer, whereas, like you can cause a divot. But then you can fill that hole and kind of patch things over If you manually do the work and say, hey, I was in the wrong, instead of just being this like outside figure, that's like he's never wrong, he never treats me correctly. You know that's not a good thing, so we don't want that. You know, manually do the work manually, think about it, be okay with apologizing for some behaviors and talk with your spouse about it. Make sure that, like hey was this wrong. Like get her feedback If she thinks, yeah, that was probably overdone.

James Ferris:

Be like hey, you know what? Yesterday I apologized for that behavior. It's not too late. You're doing the act of like hey, saying I'm apologizing, even if it's a day, couple days, whatever, you're still putting in that work to manually fix it instead of just letting it blow over. It's not a good idea. I mean thanks for listening. I know I've been away for a while. If you could like subscribe, send a comment over to James at blendedfatherhoodcom. I mean fantastic and I hope to hear from you next week, hopefully gonna have an episode out. I'm gonna try to get a little bit back into more of a schedule. But really appreciate it and see you next time.

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