Step Parenting Advice For A Future Stepdad

08/05/2011 07:28 am ET | Updated Oct 05, 2011

By Jennifer Mattern

When it comes to love, I've always believed if it's right, it's right, and that I'd know it. But a good checklist never hurts, either.

A while back, my daughters and I made a list of qualities that were must-haves in any fellow who dared brave our castle:

* Gentle
* Funny
* Kind
* Proactive
* Warm
* Loves Kids
* Likes Travel
* Honest
* Compatible (day-to-day, easygoing)
* Forgiving
* Fun

Enter one very good, very unexpected man. This chap scored high marks on all counts, and a few other counts that Mommy, uh, will be keeping to herself, thankyouverymuch.

To my delight and amazement, he is as right as can be -- not just for me, but for our Girl Posse. As Daughter No. 1 said early on about him, "This one has potential."

It's official.

I choose him. He chooses me, and -- most importantly -- he chooses my girls.

We have begun planning a future, this man of "potential" and I -- a future full of little girls, big dogs, stray cats, juggled schedules, combined households and cluttered bathroom counters. He's in this for all the right reasons, I can tell. And, so far, he's barely flinched, even when I've tried to paint a picture for him of the pink, frilly, froufy, ballerina tutu chaos that will infiltrate his life. Brave, intrepid man!

Note to self: Excellent wedding gift -- look up builders who specialize in add-on "man caves."

The girls have given their blessing. So, now, we enter a new phase: we three girls getting oriented. My daughters and I have had several girl-power pancake summits this past week, trying to come up with useful tips and wisdom to offer to this new man in our lives, a man who looks like he will be around for a very, very long time.

"What does he need to know?" we keep asking each other, scratching our heads. After all, we are used to our messy, funny, active life. He has no kids of his own, so this will be a wild roller coaster ride for him.

We've compiled a new list, one we hope will be useful to him, and to other good men in the same situation. The girls came up with the title, which I quite like.

Tips for a Future Stepdad Who Doesn't Know a Lot About Girls Yet

* If you are a person who marries a lady who has two girls, start to get used to the girlie songs, like Lady Gaga and Hannah Montana. (Daughter No. 2)
* He must not act like an evil stepmother, i.e., make us do chores every single second of the day. (Daughter No. 1)
* Don't yell at us. Only Mommy can do that. Unless we're in danger and about to run out in the street. (Daughter No. 2)
* Don't be too soft on us, or else we'll be miserable. Because then we won't have any discipline, and some discipline is good. (Daughter No. 1)
* Don't act like a baby. Don't whine if you don't get something you want. We all have to compromise. (Daughter No. 2)
* Don't hog Mommy, because then you'll make us very sad and you'll seem evil. Mwah-ha-ha-ha! (Daughter No. 1)
* You should always listen to Mommy. (Daughter No. 2)
* Don't ruin girlie sleepovers by asking us to do boy things like Legos. Legos are fine, just not for sleepovers with our friends. (Daughter No. 1)
* You should be very careful of when the dogs chew up the toys because I don't want your feet to get soggy. (Daughter No. 2)
* Don't try and act like a replacement for our father, but treat us and protect us like we are your kids. And we will treat you with respect, too. (Daughter No. 1)
* Help us with our homework if we need it. (Daughter No. 2)
* Help us laugh if we cry. (Daughter No. 1)
* Treat our mother like she is a mother, and also try to make her laugh. P.S. Beware of my squeaky laugh! (Daughter No. 2)
* I want you to share lots of stories, so we can get to know you better. And you don't have to say anything you don't want to. (Daughter No. 1)
* He also needs to know about little girls that ... sometimes ... they have FITS. But not all the time. (Daughter No. 2)
* Drive us places when our mom can't. (Daughter No. )
* Whenever we need to talk to someone on Skype, you should always let us. And always be there for us. (Daughter No. 2)

Jennifer Mattern is the creator and author of the award-winning blog Breed 'Em and Weep. She writes the weekly column Single Mom at Work at Work It, Mom. A Pushcart Prize nominee for her work at Brain, Child Magazine, Mattern is a freelance writer, playwright and single mama of two daughters.

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