How A 49ers Starter Jacket Taught Me How To Be A Better Step-parent
Updated: Jan 28
*Full disclosure* Yes, I am a die hard 49ers fan and I couldn't be happier that we're back in the Super Bowl! Alright, now that we got that out the way let's move on.
It's crazy how fashion comes back around. In the late 80's and early 90's Champion athletic clothes was an off-brand that you got at discount stores like K-Mart and Marshall's. Champion was what you got when you couldn't afford Nike or you wanted some true workout clothes that you didn't want to mess up. Now Champion is a popular name brand that is sometimes more expensive than Nike and is now sold at the "cool" stores like Zumies and Foot Locker.
When I was in junior high school, Starter jackets and hats were everything. Kids rocked the jacket of their favorite sports team and if you were really fresh, you had the matching hat with the tag still on it (of course).
As I previously stated before, The San Fransisco 49ers were my favorite team since I saw them beat The Cincinnati Bengals in the 1988 Super Bowl. I still remember to this day how badly I wanted a Starter jacket.
The cool kids at my school had Starter jackets, hats, and Jordans. I remember when Tupac came out with the "Brenda's Got A Baby" video and he had a UNLV Starter Jacket with the matching skull cap on. The ultimate burn came when one day I was taking a nap after coming home from school. I woke up to my cousins, who were more like my brothers, ranting and raving about how their parents just got them the latest Jordans and L.A. Raiders Starter Jackets with the matching skull caps. In my mind, I'm like, "Why can't my aunt and uncle adopt me?", while I'm congratulating them with "That's dope" and "I like that".
At the time my family didn't have money. Instead of a Starter jacket, I was probably rocking a London Fog coat that came from JC Penney or Burlington Coat Factory. And it wasn't until I got a job working at a shoe store in high school, that I got my first pair of Jordans. Although I was very thankful, I got the "regular Nike's" they sold at JC Penny that my grandma got on her charge card.
Growing up, my mother had a boyfriend named Henry McCullough. He and my mother had a long-term relationship that lasted from when I was in the 2nd grade, up until a couple years before mom passed away when I was 25.
When you are in a relationship that long and don't get married, they call it "common law marriage". So basically, Henry was my Stepfather. As I think back, that man taught me a lot. He taught me how to play football and baseball. He was even my coach for 1 year when I played little league football. He taught me how to tie a tie and how to shave, before it was needed, lol.
But it was one thing that he did that I will never forget and always be grateful for. I had put a 49ers Starters jacket on my Christmas list and didn't get it. I was so hurt that I didn't get that jacket. I would have sacrificed every other Christmas gift just for that one item.
One random day in January, he took me to the store downtown where everybody bought the hottest gear and bought me a fresh 49ers Starter Jacket! You - couldn't - tell - me - nothing! He already was a stand up dude, but after this, I had the utmost respect for this man.
Now that I am married and have been a stepfather myself coming up on 11 years, being a step-parent and having a blended family has been a challenge to say the least. It wasn't until the other day when I was having a conversation with my wife that I realized how good of an example Henry was.
Here are 3 three biggest things that I learned from my "Starter Jacket Step-father":
Respect- He respected the fact that he was not my real father and never tried to be a replacement for my father. And as long as I respected him and his position in the household, we were all good.
Results- Being a Step-parent can oftentimes be a thank-less job. You are frequently nobody's favorite. No matter what you do or how much you do, you will never take the place of your stepchild's real parent. Whether that real parent is in their life or not, they will always hold a special place in their heart for them. As a Step-parent, shoot as a parent in general, you have to focus on the positive results of you being in that child's life. From financial support to teachable moments, those positive results will often be your "thank you".
Relationship- A Step-parent and a Step-child have their own unique relationship. You can't force the relationship and try to make it something that it's not. Patience is a virtue is an understatement with blended families. Relationships often take time to build and can change with different time periods and seasons in a child's life.
The biggest advice I can give is that it helps to put your self in the shoes of the other person to understand and give you a better perspective to have healthy relationships.