It’s no secret that being a stepmom isn’t easy. And if you went into this relationship like most people, you were blind to the difficulties to come–the moments and circumstances that seemed to strike you when you least expected it.
Even if you were one of the wiser ones who did their homework ahead of time, there isn’t enough shelf space to hold all of the books needed to cover each family dynamic. Most books and articles out there support a stepmom rolling over, stepping aside and praying that the years fly by and hoping that things change. They also encourage you to put this big stupid smile on your face and pretend that your lives aren’t being screwed up by a lack of proper training.
If the saying that every family is different is true, then the saying is doubly true for stepfamilies. As I am sure you have learned there are so many varying dynamics, and those dynamics can change in a heartbeat, for the better or for the worse.
Raising children can be very rewarding and many stepmoms attempt to step in and take over in a parenting role to which they were never invited. You may not have realized this: You have to be invited. Biological children don’t have a choice—their moms are their moms whether they like it or not. But stepchildren have a choice and they don’t have to let you in if they don’t want to.
You may be blessed to be one of those stepmoms who has an emotionally stable biological mother to work with and you all do your best to create a family with two homes, but for many of us, that hope has long sailed away.
One of the best things a stepmom can do is to step out of the “pretending” mode and call things as they are.
- No one wants to hear about your woes. So many families today are blended families that it’s almost a given that you will run into someone who has a bad situation. Trust me, there’s no sense in talking about it to everyone. It actually just fuels your anger. Consider talking about with people–close friends and counselors–who can help you grow through it.
- You would get more thanks trying to raise alligators. Raising stepchildren can be a thankless job peppered with only occasional glimpses of hope. Everyone around you will say, “Oh, those kids really do love you.” But at the end of the day, they don’t go home with you. I see too many stepmoms just trying to be nice hoping that everything changes for the better. Stop it. I’m not suggesting being cruel but it’s your job to teach these children. Raise them to be decent members of society and stop trying to get kisses from alligators.
- The bio mom would love to see you burn. Many women are phony. There, I said it. They will smile to your face and say how much they appreciate you in their children’s lives, but inside many of them are seething with anger, jealousy and unresolved issues. Don’t be fooled by a big smile and a high pitched voice.
- Stepparenting puts a toll on your marriage. In a traditional family, the typical timeline goes something like this: husband and wife marry, take a few years to settle into their home and get to know each other before they decide to have children and they all grow together. Not so with a blended family. Stepmoms, you are newly married and delivered smack in to the middle of all of life’s responsibilities, because, “POOF,” you have an instant family that you have to treat as your own. Wow, that’s a lot of pressure and worse if hubby doesn’t understand that it’s a huge transition. The sooner you admit that this puts a tremendous toll on a marriage, the sooner you can take a step back and tend to priorities.
- Some kids are fools no matter what you say or do. Any stepmom will tell you this if you have a close enough relationship with her. Some stepkids think foolish, act foolish and wouldn’t know a good thing if it slapped them in the face. It makes matters worse when they get their foolishness from their mom. In these cases, prayer is your only recourse. When someone is acting like a fool or buying into someone else’s line of bologna, the only person who can truly help is God.
- Kids don’t come first. Stepmoms know this full well. In a traditional family you would never think of putting your kids above your spouse (at least I hope you don’t or it could explain some problems you’re having). Your marriage needs to be honored, cultivated and grow roots before you can withstand the storms. And believe me; you’ll have storms. If you don’t create a united front, the stepfamily dynamics will knock you down faster than a house of toothpicks.
Being a step mom can actually be extremely rewarding if you put your role into perspective. Until you do, you will never have peace in your home.
God bless you, stepmoms.
What secrets have you learned in your journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.