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I have never read any of the books I've seen on the website here. I just wing it. I was a stepdaughter and had less than zero understanding or relationship with my SM, and I just try to do better than her. Anyway, my main question I ask myself in most situations regarding things that don't seem the way they should be is this:

If this were a nuclear family, how would things go?

I let all the stuff I possibly can go through asking this question. Most times, things are just bugging me because she's not my kid, and I feel uneasy because rather than her seeming like a member of the family, she's like an intrusive guest. I have to remind myself of when I was a kid and had a constant feeling of being a stranger in my own home.

I never want her to feel that way because it *sucked*

I don't want to feel that way *now* because I grew up that way and...it *sucked*

So, when SD has been in the bathroom for 20 minutes for no apparent reason, I simply ask myself, what would happen in a nuclear family? Someone would be banging on that door telling her to get out. So I simply go knock on the door and ask her if she fell in, and if the answer is no, I tell her to get out.

If she is doing something that bugs me, I tell her to knock it off. If she is whining, I tell her to go find something to do. If she wants a drink, I tell her she knows where the kitchen is. If she is hogging the television and there is something I want to watch, *I* decide, being the grown up, whether I want to let her do her thing, or whether it's my turn. She has to learn that this household is no different than anyone else's just because she and I are not flesh and blood relatives.

Likewise, I feel as a grown up, it's my job to ensure that she is allowed to be a kid, to have a relationship with her dad that does not consist of the house being Disneyland and that she is not allowed to act like Queen Sheba and crap all over everyone. That is a disservice to her. I need to see to it that she feels welcome but is not allowed to steam roll us.

The fact is, there are going to be uncomfortable moments, there are going to be wonderful moments. There are going to be fights, and drama, and bad grades and after school detention. There will be happy birthdays and fun family outings. There will be periods of not speaking to each other. There will be temper tantrums, teenaged attitudes, and defiant behavior. There will be cookie baking and homework assignments and parent teacher conferences and pets and muddy footprints after you wash the kitchen floor.

BUT...aren't there all those things in a nuclear family? My point is, there are problems with BM that will cause stress. There are problems with court and child support that will cause stress. But when it comes to small stuff, try to imagine that you are in your skid's shoes and how you behaved at their ages. Did you stand in front of the fridge with the door open for 10 minutes and finally get yelled at for it? Did you bug your brothers and sisters? Did you try to pull the wool over your parent's eyes? Did you get in trouble in school? Did you do things for attention?

I think that every situation is different, and most of us are just doing the best we can, but sometimes we get so bogged down in laundry and dishes and toys that we forget that if we had married these men years earlier and had only had kids of our own, we would have 90% of the same problems.

So, I know what it's like. I'm doing it and having trouble, too. But all we can do is our best!

The author of this essay is Beenonbothsides (BOBS). She is a regular contributor to the StepTogether Message Board.