This seems like an obvious question doesn’t it? Of course step-parents should attend their stepchildren’s parent-teacher events, you may be thinking to yourself.
As a new stepmom to a 17-year-old stepdaughter, I can tell you that this decision is much easier said than done. There are a few factors to consider that step-parents should take when deciding which parent-teacher events they should attend.
Step-parents, Use Your Resources: Your Spouse (Proverbs 18:21)
Navigating my new life as a stepmom isn’t easy. I had many preconceived notions as to how my relationship would be with my stepdaughter: think Lorelai and Rory Gilmore’s mother-daughter relationship from the tv show, Gilmore Girls. 😊
To be fair, we do have our bonding moments. There are times when we have a blast experimenting in the kitchen, playing card games, watching YouTube videos or reviewing school assignments together.
Let’s be honest though. She’s still a 17-year-old teenage girl. There are bound to be sulky, moody, tantrum-filled days when I’m left scratching my head wondering what happened to the sweet girl of yesterday? 😂
When I’m unsure of something, instead of trying to figure it out on my own, I use the resources available to me. I encourage step-parents to do the same.
If you are contemplating if you should attend an upcoming parent-teacher event, why not ask someone?
Personally, my first and best resource is my husband. He’s the obvious choice because she is his daughter. He has been there for her from the beginning.
Even though he may not understand her as a “female,” he knows what makes her tick: how she thinks and feels, what makes her happy or sad.
To be honest, I felt nervous about attending my stepdaughter’s first parent-teacher meeting. This was something my husband and I discussed in detail.
I wanted to attend but at the same time, I didn’t want to overstep and make anyone feel uncomfortable.
Communication is very important when making major decisions in your stepchild’s life. If I had made the decision not to attend any of my stepdaughter’s school events, but not said anything to my husband, he may have thought I was not interested.
At the same time, you want to be careful of what you say. Proverbs 18:21 warns,
Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Christian Standard Bible)
We can use words to either build up our family or tear it down. If I did not try to share my thoughts and feelings on this matter of attending school events, my family may have felt that I did not care about attending.
This is far from the truth. Having an honest conversation will prevent any misunderstandings from occurring.
On the other hand, you do not want to come across as being pushy. For example, if my stepdaughter’s school had a special event that was of great significance to her and her mother, I would not insist on going.
If my husband or stepdaughter felt that my attending a mother/daughter event with my stepdaughter right after we got married was too soon, I would respect their opinion.
My husband and I decided together that I would use an upcoming parent-teacher event about her last year in high school to show my stepdaughter something vital: that I want to be involved with every aspect of her life and that I care for her.
Since every situation is different, discussing all the ramifications of attending parent-teacher or other school events, is important.
Step-parents, Use Your Resources: Your Parents
I also utilize another obvious resource when I need loving and practical advice, my mom. If you are a step-parent and have children of your own children, use your parenting experience to your advantage.
As I am not only a new stepmom but a new parent, I sometimes feel completely out of my depth. Getting my mother’s counsel of how to help my stepdaughter is ideal as my mother raised three, yes that’s right, three teenage girls all on her own.
I have personally seen how my grandmother’s advice has helped my mom. It makes sense that I discuss my feelings, thoughts and ideas on parenting with both of them.
If you have friends that are step-parents, you can also ask them for advice or consult reputable books and other online articles on the internet.
Consider Your Stepchild’s Feelings (Ephesians 6:4)
Another step you can take as a step-parent to decide if you should attend your stepchild’s parent-teacher event is simple: ask them. I have implemented this practice from I first started dating my now husband.
Whenever there was a major decision to be made, I would pick her up from home, carry her someplace that she likes (ie. the beach, hair salon, nail salon) and be completely up-front with her.
Of course, this may vary based on how old your stepchild is, but I find carrying them to a comfortable and fun environment goes a long way in helping them be honest and open to you.
I also suggest discussing this topic away from your spouse. Children tend to tell you what you want to hear or the “right” answer when they are in front of their parents.
I knew that if I asked my stepdaughter how she felt about me attending an event at her school with her dad present, she would say that it’s “fine” or “ok”.
By asking her privately and in a comfortable space, she would let me really know what’s on her mind and heart. Word of caution step-parents: you may not receive the answer you want to hear. Try not to panic or feel hurt.
Instead, thank them for their honesty and ask them one or two follow up questions. Listen to their response and let them know that you understand and will respect their wishes.
However, this does not mean you are giving up. Let them know there and then that when they are ready, you will be there support them. When the next parent-teacher event is scheduled, sit down with them and try again.
They will see from your determination that you want to be with them on their scholastic journey.
At the same time, you don’t want to force them to talk, pressure them or overwhelm them. Keep in mind the scripture found at Ephesians 6:4 that says,
Father, (or parents), don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Christian Standard Bible)
Did this verse help me? What were the results of my “girl talk” with my stepdaughter regarding her parent-teacher event? I was right there with my husband and the other parents taking notes on what the students can expect for their last year of school!
Was I nervous before speaking with her? Yes! Was I glad I asked? Definitely! I think I will always have butterflies in my stomach when I approach her about major issues.
However, each time I make that big step, I feel a little more confident in my role as a stepmom.
For more ideas on planning activities with your step-child such as meals, you can check out Caroline Vencil’s Meal Planning Made Easy book that’s on sale and includes the following:
- Easy way to save money on your groceries
- Full-color meal planning guide
- Full-color shopping list
- Easy tracking for your favorite recipes
- Easy to use design
- Perfect for people who hate meal planning!
- Can be printed and used again and again
- Looks awesome in full-color but can also be printed easily in black and white
A perfect tool you can use to plan and keep your recipes together is my FREE recipe journal along with 4×6 cards. You can edit them directly or print them out.
Preparation is Key!
Now that you have discussed attending your stepchild’s parent-teacher event with your spouse and stepchild, what’s next? I find that preparing for the actual event is just as important as getting your stepchild’s acceptance.
The worse thing that can happen is that you attend and embarrass your stepchild. Or even you and your spouse. That would make it more difficult for you to attend future school and social events that your stepchild may have.
Personally, I enjoy attending my stepdaughter’s other events. She swims and plays the flute at school events. I would never want to miss out on these milestones in her life.
Preparation for school events can be quick and easy if you know where to look:
- You can either ask your spouse what to expect at these events, find out from the school’s newsletters or emails or you can ask one of the other parents that you know and will also be attending.
- Will there be snacks or drinks served at the event? Why not bring some cookies or cupcakes to show the teachers and other parents that you are now a part of this group? This will give you an opening to get to know the other parents and your stepchild’s teachers.
- I also recommend having a list of questions prepared to ask the teachers, counselor and principal. I find that this quickly forms a relationship with them and lets them know that you care about your stepchild’s education.
- Be prepared to interact during the question and answer session that usually occurs after these events. This means that you should be ready to stay behind after the parent-teacher event to speak to the teachers and get friendly with the parents there.
If you are an introvert, being prepared will be a huge advantage for you, especially when attending your first parent-teacher meeting.
Step-parents, Enjoy Yourself at Your Parent-Teacher Event!
So, to answer the question, should step-parents attend parent-teacher events, my answer is a resounding yes!
If you initially feel uncomfortable attending, talk to someone in your support system, either a close family member or friend.
Better yet, get your stepchild’s viewpoint. You may find that you are anxious for no reason.
You can also find ways to be useful when you do attend the parent-teacher event. Get to know your stepchild’s teachers and the other students’ parents.
These are going to be the people you associate with regularly since your stepchild is attending that school.
If the parent-teacher event also includes your stepchild, use that opportunity to plan the meeting with your stepchild. Find out from them who their favorite teacher is and why. Or you can plan together what fun activity you want to do afterward.
This can be as simple as discussing a recipe to prepare before or after the event. This will give you and your stepchild something positive to focus on before and during the parent-teacher meeting.
If you need wholesome activity ideas, check out my post on Wholesome Summer Activities for Families and Wholesome Fall Activities for Families. Most of the activities found in these articles are free and all are a ton of fun!
Remember that your stepchild’s success through school is a team effort. As long as you look at the event as an opportunity to bring you closer to your stepchild, you will benefit from attending!
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!