I recently attended my stepdaughter’s school play, Annie, and learned a lot as a stepmother and wife. This was the first play production that my stepdaughter’s high school has put on. As with any new experience in my recent stepparenting world, I had no clue what to expect.
Would it go smoothly? Would my stepdaughter want me there around her schoolmates and their parents? How would the other parents react to me? Here’s what I went through, learned and want to share with other stepparents to help them if they are worried about attending their stepchild’s school events.
How to be Supportive During Your Stepchild’s Play Rehearsals or School Event (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
I never realized how much work goes into a school play. I should not have been surprised since the play the school chose was Annie. Meaning? A ton of young children!
As the stage manager, my stepdaughter was responsible for making sure the young ones followed their cues, stage placements and learned their lines. This was no easy task. This involved many after-school rehearsals and Saturday morning practice sessions.
How did I show my support for my stepdaughter? By encouraging her and working along with my husband to be there for her to offer advice and suggestions. We also made sure that she was able to attend each rehearsal they had which was a sacrifice on our parts, especially the Saturday morning sessions.
Another way I assisted my stepdaughter in preparing for her plays was by keeping in mind that her time was more limited. The amount of time spent rehearsing meant that she would have less time to do her chores including walking her dog, assisting with duties in the kitchen and so on.
The entire family made the effort to pitch in to cover some of her duties while making sure she learns how to balance her schedule. The school play is important but should never come before her education. A great scripture we encouraged her to keep in mind is found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New International Version):
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
This is a great teaching point for Christian parents. Life will always bring new and unexpected experiences. Children, especially teenagers in their last year of school need to learn how to balance all aspects of life so that nothing suffers.
If your teen is getting ready to graduate and go off to college, there will be many distractions they will encounter including team sports, rallies, sororities or fraternities, job internships, parties, and the list goes on.
They need to be given the tools before they leave home so that they can continue to get a good education, work hard while never neglecting their spirituality. This, however, does not mean that they cannot also enjoy life or that you should discourage them from taking part in school events. What else can help you?
The excitement my stepdaughter showed in conquering this new role was catching. I would encourage stepparents to allow the elation your stepchild is experiencing to also affect you. Recall how excited you were in school to be a part of different events or plays.
Look back at your old school pictures or videos of you singing, dancing, acting, or volunteering. You want your stepchild to look back years later and remember the emotions they felt during their upcoming school production.
Attending Your Stepchild’s School Event (Proverbs 15:22)
Rehearsal is one matter, actually attending my stepdaughter’s school play was a different matter altogether. I had so many things to consider, especially since this was my first school play and my stepdaughter, Paige, had such an important role.
Can you imagine being in charge of 20 kids under the age of 12? Making sure that they didn’t miss their cue, ensuring they were able to quickly make their costume changes and still entering the stage on time?
Your stepchild should NOT have to worry about whether or not you remembered the tickets, seat assignments, date, time and so on. Below are the tips that I found to be helpful and that also reassured my stepdaughter:
Prepare in Advance
- Mark the school event on your calendar, phone, planner and wherever else you note important dates. The worst thing you can do is forget something so important to your stepchild’s school event.
- Make sure you have the time off from work. In my case, I informed all of my coworkers about that Tuesday evening’s event so that they were well aware that I would not be working overtime. In fact, you may also need to request that you skip your lunch hour and leave an hour early to avoid traffic, get ready and arrive at the school event on time.
- Get the exact location of the school play. Will it be on the school grounds? At a local theatre? Which hall at school?
- Find out where you will park before the night of the event.
- Find out if you need to be there earlier than the show starts to help with any last minutes details.
- Arrange a meeting place for after the event. Trust me, there were a ton of parents, siblings and other students at the school play. It is easy to get lost at crowded events. Do not depend on cell phones. The noisy event will make it difficult to hear ring tones.
Things to Consider
- Find out if there is an after party planned for the students involved in the play production. If so, are the parents welcomed to join? Do the students have a ride to the meet point? Do you need to pick up your stepchild afterward? These are great details to discuss.
- Get together with your spouse to find out how you will celebrate with your stepchild. Do you need to order a bouquet of flowers? Pick up a box of chocolates? Make dinner reservations at their favorite restaurant?
- You may also need to find out details about the location itself including: is in indoors or outdoors? Will there be a concession stand with snacks? This is important especially if you are bringing younger children with you to the event.
- If you do have other children to consider, make a list in advance of everything you need to bring. This will minimize distractions once the production begins.
- Make a note of the nearest restroom and emergency exit.
Interaction with School Faculty, Classmates and Parents
- If this is your first school event, you want to be as comfortable as possible. It may be a good idea to find out if there is a dress code. You do not want to meet other stepmoms in dresses while you’re in jeans and a blouse (unless you do not mind.) Personally, I’m always self-conscious about small things like that.
- In another post I wrote titled Should Stepparents Attend Parent-Teacher Events, I state other tips you can benefit from when meeting your stepchild’s teacher, guidance counselor, principal, schoolmates and so on. For example, what made me feel more comfortable was finding out information about my stepdaughter’s main teachers and of course, her friends at school who I had not met yet.
Everyone should take a role in planning the event before and after to make sure the event is successful. The scripture that comes to my mind that helped me is found at Proverbs 15:22 (New International Version):
Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.
The entire planning process will be worth it when your entire family comes together after the event; smiling and happy.
After Your Stepchild’s School Event
As mentioned earlier, determine in advance what you all will do as a family after the school event. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed my stepdaughter’s school production of Annie. The student who played Annie is truly talented. All of the kids did an amazing job remembering their lines, choreography and of course, singing!
We spent the evening at home after her play cooking, drinking apple cider and commending Paige for the amazing job she did as stage manager. We even briefly discussed her career change from wanting to study business in college to becoming a stage production manager for Broadway shows in New York. She was truly motivated by helping put the play together and found something she really enjoyed doing.
I am happy that I got to be a part of such a major event in her life. I hope she always looks back on this memory as a time of joy with her family and remembers the support that she received from us, from start to finish.
FYI, I’m STILL humming the song “Tomorrow” from Annie. It’s always a daaayyyyy, aaaaa-wayyyyy!! 🎵🎶
Do you have any other tips for step-parents who are contemplating attending their stepchild’s school events? Please share them in the comments below!