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When I was a little girl, I dreamt of the day that I would become a stepmom/second wife. I longed for all the ups and downs that I would learn to embrace in my role as a stepmom.
I don’t think anyone plans to become a stepmom/second wife. It is not for the faint of heart. However, despite its challenges, I love being a stepmom to my bonus daughter.
Step parents navigate their roles without a compass. We try to make the best decisions we can with the limited resources we have. There are a few key things that can generally help new stepparents have a more smoothing course of raising their stepchildren.
It doesn’t matter if a birth parent is being selfish, a narcissist, or manipulative; kids are going to be loyal to their birth parents. They will. It’s important to not put pressure or increase tension between you and your stepchildren by trying to have them side with you. The best thing you can do is love your stepchildren unconditionally. Don’t allow them to be in the middle of a tug-a-war rope. Be better.
They Want to Feel Loved
All children want to feel loved. I can’t imagine that anyone could argue that. Stepchildren aren’t any different. However, affection will come in its own time. It cannot be rushed.
I will never forget the first hug I got from my bonus daughter. I followed by her lead instead of trying to force a relationship early on. Now, we have a beautiful and solid relationship that we both have built on, together.
Two Different Homes. Two Different Lives
Children of divorced parents go from living in one home with joint rules to living in two homes with usually two different set of rules. It’s hard for children of divorced parents to transition between homes and meet every expectation Give them some slack.
Don’t Force It
Like affection, don’ force a relationship with your stepchildren. This is all new territory. It’s important to follow their lead. Always offer to include them in activities but don’t force them to participate.
Don’t Expect Perfection
Don’t expect perfection. Blended families will forever be on an emotional roller coaster. Feel blessed by the good times and embrace the rough times. Most importantly, DO NOT compare your blended family to another. This is your perfectly imperfect blended family life.
What is the Right Thing to Do?
How many times have you asked yourself, “Should I do as the birth parent wants or focus on what my stepchildren need?”. The thing is no child deserves to feel unloved for any reason. The right answer is to do right by what your stepchildren need in your care. Of course, keep in mind the feelings of the other birth parent when you can but remember that your stepchildren come first.
Stepchildren may have grown up with holiday family traditions before their parents divorced. You, as a stepmom, may have traditions that you would like to implement in your blended family now that a new chapter has begun in your lives. Holidays are already stressful without trying to balance a blended family. Try to figure out a way to combine aspects of past traditions with new ones. Incorporating traditions is a great way to make stepchildren feel loved and accepted. Have your stepchildren be involved in the process of creating your perfectly imperfect blended family traditions.
Not a Messenger
Children should not be messengers either directly or indirectly from one home to another. As hard as it may be in a current situation, one must refrain from making comments or speaking ill of the other birth parent in front of the kids. Remember, the loyalty lies with the parents. However, it goes both ways. Should your stepchildren confront you about something their parent said about you, do not take any action on it. They will not understand what is going on or how they are being used. Do not blame or feel negatively against your stepchildren for the actions and words of the other birth parent. Instead, address the situation with your spouse so that he may address it with the other birth parent.
There may not be a user manual on how to raise stepchildren but these tips will help navigate you on your step parent journey.
Check out How To Save Your Sanity As A Stepmom for more tips on how to thrive as a stepmom!
How do you balance your blended family?