The person who has been the biggest influence in my life is my stepdad, Jeff. He married my mother when I was 8 and continued to raise me until I was 16 and he and my mother divorced. There are many reasons that my stepdad has influenced me; by giving me consistency in life, pushing me to do my best, and teaching me about adult responsibilities.
Before my mom met the man who would become my stepdad, she had several boyfriends. She had been married from the time I was 2 until I was 5 to my first stepfather. After her husband passed away, I met 3 of the men she was dating. None of these relationships worked out. It was stressful, especially since I lived away from her at the time in the care of my grandmother. When I was 8, she bought a home with Jeff and we could live with her again. Of all the men that had come into my life, even briefly, my stepdad stuck around even when times were tough. I have even known him longer than my biological father, who I did not meet until I was 9. My stepdad was an anchor, a consistent male figure in my life. This allowed me to settle into a routine and become comfortable with life.
Jeff also always pushed me to do my best. At the time, I thought he was too strict. I realized that my stepdad saw potential in me and knew what I was capable of. This was why he kept me on track when my grades started slipping and offered me incentives for good grades. He required me to do my homework before seeing my friends and grounded me when I brought home a C. Today, I appreciate him for all this because it has shaped me into the student I am today and I no longer settle for less than my best.
My stepdad also taught me adult responsibilities. He was in the military before he met my mom and it showed in his requirements of us. We were assigned daily chores and were required to do them after finishing our homework. When we were home on summer break or the weekend, he only let us watch TV for 2 hours a day before shipping us outside to be kids. By following this routine, I learned the importance of completing what you need to do as an adult. I hated doing my chores at the time, even though I was paid for them. Today, however, I appreciate him for teaching me how to keep a clean house.
As I reflect on some of the most valuable lessons I learned in childhood, my stepdad was the root of many of them. Though I did not always like his rules then, as a young adult I value them and appreciate him for teaching them to me. By being consistent, pushing me to excel, and helping me learn responsibility, my stepdad has greatly influenced my life.