My ol’ Pappy used to say (as Rockford would put it) if any of the neighbors ever get a puppy that has any chance of turning into a big, mean dog, As quick as you can, get to their house with some hamburger and a doggy toy.
That way, when that puppy grows up and gets out (and he will get out sometime!), he’ll always remember you as his buddy and be less inclined to rip you limb from limb.
Well, the same holds true – for those of you with the common sense not to get bit by a mean dog – for stepparents and stepkids.
If you marry someone who has a child you don’t get along with too well – which is to be expected since you’re the stranger who’s intent on stealing their parent – you might do well to keep on that child’s good side. Because one of these days that cranky-but-small child will turn into a large, sullen teenager, then a larger, sullener adult.
I’m not talking about bribery … not out right, anyway. But, just as it makes sense to get the puppy on your side with some hamburger and a play toy so he won’t bite you later – it also makes sense to be the person who that large, sullen teen has a good relationship with.
And, besides just protecting your own rear from getting chewed off by a full grown attack dog, that teenaged boy or girl may need an adult they can trust when the mean-uglies come calling at 13 or 16 years of age. Many a grown-up attributes their salvation to an adult friend when they were in the crabby years. You could be that savior who keeps them from melting down.
Your spouse – the puppy’s stressed biological parent – will undoubtably appreciate your efforts too, which can only mean good stuff for you. Some bio-parents have been known to get all moony eyed and cuddly at the sight of their new spouse and their child happily involved in any activity that keeps the child quiet and off their back.
So instead of seeing that stepchild as a challenge and a potential improvement project, try looking at him or her as a soon-to-be play buddies whom you can take to ball games, movies, and out for pizza. Mom or Dad will love you even more, the puppy in question will feel less need to chase you away, and you an feel good about yourself for avoiding a daily battle with a big ol’ hairy attack dog!
Bless each other (or else!),
STEPdad Bob Collins