10 things no one tells you about being a stepMother

Being a stepmother is challenging

A happy and complete family is important for any child. The term complete in this case refers to the presence of a father and a mother. These are figures that play vital roles in raising an all-around healthy child. Children cannot develop without the support of their parents as they act as a guide in exploring the world around them. They absorb and mirror behaviors, habits, manners, choice of words, and everything that they see their parents do. But what if this structure is broken due to circumstances like divorce, separation, or the death of a parent? According to annual reviews, parent-child separation consistently negatively affects the child’s social-emotional development, well-being, and mental health.

The effect on the parent is equally negative and overwhelmed. One parent is now tasked with the responsibilities of two parents. Additionally, there is the personal life of the parent to tend to.  For most parents, this is difficult to handle and the aspect of bringing in another partner comes in.

Remarriage can include children from previous families and blending in will take time. However, there are a few things that people never talk about being a step-parent. Some of those include;

1) You will be met with a lot of resistance at first

Marrying into a family and being welcomed with an open arm by your spouse’s children is not common. This is because they feel like you have come to take their parent’s position and completely kick them out of the picture. 

You will have to deal with a lot like hearing the kids mention their parent’s names often, asking you not to sit on their mother’s favorite seat, or even comparing her cooking to yours. 

As the step-parent, it is important to focus on developing a friendly way of interacting with the stepchildren. It should involve establishing respect and affection. Using disciplinary action will be met with resentment, and undoing this will be next to impossible.

2) Sometimes you have to step aside and let the biological parents make the decisions

Stepparents who have kids of their own naturally feel the need to put in their opinion when it comes to parenting decisions involving the stepchildren. However, sometimes you will need to unplug your inner parenting instinct and allow the biological parents to decide what is best for their children.

Decisions can include which school to enrol their child, the best hospital or decisions that look so basic that your input could have helped. However, it is important to step back and not feel bad about it.

The earlier you acknowledge that there are two biological parents who have all the rights to raise the kids the best way they see fit, the easier it will get for you. This will often be at odds with what you would do, but it is what it is. 

3) It will take time to develop a relationship with your stepkids

In as much as you see yourself as a qualified parent does not mean everyone else sees the same. Your stepchildren too will not see you as that parent too. Most of the time you will be like the second-class citizen in the family making you feel left out. 

The kids will ignore you no matter how good you are. Most of the decisions in your life will be dictated by an ex-spouse who society upholds. You will be thought of as a homewrecker- even though you met your spouse years after their separation. 

It may make you feel left out, unrecognized, and like your role has been minimized. If you have little self-esteem, this situation will have you second-guessing yourself. This can be hard and will be amongst the issues that will lengthen the time it takes to develop a relationship with them.

Relationships take time to develop, and that brings no exception to you and your stepchild. Do not have expectations when joining your spouse’s family, as they may end up making things worse when difficult situations arise.

4) The age of the children matters

The age of a child makes an enormous difference. Most conflicts arise in families where the stepchildren are between the ages of nine and thirteen. The more the conflict in the blended family, the more challenging it will be to manage.

 It is easier for a young child who is still a dependent child to adjust to a step-parent than for an independent and wilful adolescent. If there is a child who is ready to accept and welcome you, they are likely to face resentment and resistance from the rebellious adolescent.

5) If the biological parents divorced, the children will blame and punish you for what happened

Children will never outgrow the desire for their parents to reunite. They will always feel that your presence is hindering that from happening. You will be viewed as the only stumbling block that exists between their parents.

Your stepchildren may gang up against you in an attempt to “punish” you for the divorce or separation of their parents. Most of the time, they do not consider that you weren’t a part of their life until the paperwork was finalized. 

6) The moment the stepchildren include you instead of their parents will bring the best feeling in the world

The step parent-child relationship is one that takes time to build. Before it gets to the place where you are comfortable with each other, the children will keep going to their biological parents for everything. 

You will look at the whispering playfully into their parent’s year, they will go out together, they will ask their biological parent to help them out with problems that were best handled by you. 

You will yearn for the day that you will have your chance. When that day comes, it will bring you the best feeling. A feeling of accomplishment. You will have conquered and won their hearts.

7) Your spouses bond with their children will be stronger than your relationship

It should not come as a surprise to you that your partner is closer to their children than you. There is probably no time this will change. The bond between them and the kids is probably 30 years old. Trying to compete with this is difficult and shouldn’t be an option to consider. 

 Do not confuse this to mean that your spouse doesn’t love you, no. You are their spouse and those are their children. The love they feel for each of you is different and incomparable. 

8) Their ex will affect your relationship

A marriage or partnership may end, but parenting roles continue. You will find yourself dealing with your spouse’s ex every so often. It will start from issues affecting the children’s day-to-day life to huge decisions like where to go for vacations, birthday venues, and so on.

Mary decided to take her stepdaughter for a manicure, and hell broke loose later that evening. Her husband’s ex-wife was accused of spoiling the plans she had for her daughter. She demanded to be asked and involved in all outdoor plans involving her daughter.

We all know that this is difficult, but at some point, healthy boundaries have to be established for the sake of peace.

9) You don’t have to love your stepchildren.

Love is a choice. It is also normal to love your spouse and not love the stepchildren. You may have great affection for them but not feel unconditional love for them because they are not your children. 

However, if you cannot stand them, it’s important to consider if the relationship is worth it and will survive. Seeking help from a therapist would be a great idea if you choose to stay and work through your feelings. 

This is a huge undertaking and sacrifice. Be patient and hope for the best after all kids graduate and move on to create a life of their own in most cases.

10) Step-fathers have it easier

Stepmothers have to try more than stepfathers at bonding with their stepchildren. This is because they experience significant challenges caused by a number of reasons. Children and young adults have a harder time accepting a stepmother than they do a stepfather.

This hostility will be trigger by issues around their mother rather than what the stepmother is doing or not doing. This makes the stepmother have a harder time because of being rejected by the step-children.

Young girls model their mother’s feelings as well as her beliefs regarding her broken marriage. This coupled with the ex-wife’s resentment of her husband’s re-partnering will aggravate the stepdaughter’s hostility towards her stepmother.

Blended families are becoming increasingly common and becoming a stepparent should not freak you out. A survey by Pew Research Center showed that at least 42 percent of adults had at least one step relative and 13 percent had a stepchild.

Approximately 70 percent of adults with step-relatives noted that they were satisfied with their family setup. If you are uncertain about being a step-parent, this survey shows that people’s perception of blended families has changed over time.

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