Being a stepparent: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Being a stepparent is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs you can have. Sometimes it is wonderful and other times you think….SERIOUSLY?
I have experience on both sides, my children have stepparents and my husband and I are both stepparents to each other’s kids.
I think the hardest part of being a stepparent is coparenting with the other parent. Kids end up being so much better off if all of the parents are on the same page, especially in regards to respect, values, and rules. The problem, though, is that most of the time you are divorced from the other parent because you didn’t end up having the same values or things in common that you originally thought you did.
Are you surprised if I told you that studies show that a majority of ex spouses are able to co-parent well with each other? (I recently read that somewhere and thought to myself…I know a lot people with healthy relationships so I believe it). Does that make you think, “Wow, I know someone who has an ex spouse that purposely tries to hurt them almost on a daily basis?” Just know that this is not the majority of situations. Most people understand that getting along with the ex is very important to the wellbeing of the children.
I have several friends and family members that have stepchildren and I am amazed at what a beautiful job they do. My friend Diana married Carlos who had no children. He instantly became stepdad to Lanie who now is his real daughter. My friend Robin is the best mom to her two son’s! She is always contacting their teachers and taking care of all of their needs! She brags about her sons all of the time and it makes me smile knowing they have her! My friend Melissa has been in her daughter Emma’s life since she was two. Melissa spends many hours of her life bringing Emma to a million activities.
I look at my friend Anna and I don’t know how she does it. She works full time, volunteers for a million things, and is the mother to a baby, a three year old, and two stepdaughters (16 and 12). You would never know that Anna’s two older daughters are not her biological daughters. Last night after working all day, she took her middle school daughter to see a movie because her older daughter got to see it on the weekend. It didn’t matter that she had worked all day and was tired.
My situation is a little unique. Paige’s stepmom, Tracy has been in her life since she was tiny. Tracy has been such a great stepmom to Paige. I can’t tell you the countless events that Tracy has been to for Paige and the million things that she has done for her.
Paige was one when I met my ex-husband, Matt. Even though we ended up divorcing, he has stayed in her life (She is now 16) It is very unique because she sees him a lot. For her 16th birthday, he and his wife Stephanie took her to NYC to celebrate! Paige is vacationing right now with Matt, Stephanie, Will, and their family in Cabo. Stephanie has been a very good stepmother to Will and to Paige.
I am lucky because if Paige and Will have an issue, I can call up the ex’s or their spouses and they will have my back and help me with whatever is needed. At the end of the day, they don’t really care about me (lol….I am sure they care about me as a human)…but ultimately their number one concern is the children.
- Kids would rather their real parents be married to each other. Do not blame them if they are resentful of you as a step parent. It is not their fault. Hopefully they will get over this resentment and accept your love of them.
- Try to be consistent in rules and consequences in your house. Don’t treat your real children any differently than your stepchildren. It isn’t nice or fair.
- Establish boundaries for your house. If you don’t have a great relationship with your ex, establish boundaries for your house and stick with them. If your ex is constantly trying to hurt you (and indirectly hurts the children), continue to stick with your boundaries. Do not beg your ex spouse to act the way that you think they should. If you ex spouse tries to purposely hurt you, tell them “This is what I am doing. If you will not let the kids participate in this activity, then they will just have to miss out. Then you move on and the kids will just have to miss out. You cannot make other people put the best interest of the kid’s first. You can not make people be mentally healthy enough to put the best interest of the kids first. You can only establish boundaries in your own home and not let people overstep them.
- ALWAYS love your children more than you hate your ex…..ALWAYS….if you can’t do this, get mental help.
- Tell your step children that you love them…and then show them that you love them. Don’t make them feel like second class citizens when they are at your house.
- Try to stay positive! A blended family is hard but it can work!! We are living proof of that!!!
Like I said before, I feel very blessed to be a stepmom to Allison and Abbey and for Brad to be a stepdad to Paige and Will. (Brad even coached Will’s basketball team!!) Having a blended family can be a challenge but don’t give up!!! One day your stepchildren will be so thankful to have you in their lives!