One thing everyone can agree on – raising kids is HARD, especially if you are a stepparent. The duties and responsibilities are endless, but so is the love for your blended family. Most parents can relate to a set of standard grievances when it comes to raising children and teens, however, if you are a stepparent there are unique challenges that only you can understand. It’s important to know you are not alone in your struggles but to also focus on the positives in your family situation as well. So here are two lists – the challenges and the best parts about being a stepparent…
Connecting with Your Spouse
Many couples neglect their marriages in favor of bolstering the bond between stepparent and stepchild. Though it may seem the right decision, it ultimately can come at the expense of you and your partner’s own relationship. Children do always need to be put first, however, it’s important to also remember to carve out time for your own relationship with your spouse.
Feeling like an Outsider
Sometimes there are moments that you don’t get the joke or can’t reminisce about “when they were young”. There are days when the kids wish you weren’t around and they can just be with their parent alone. Often a stepparent lives in fear of that one wrong word, or overthinking of how to make everything right or to even be liked will make the situation worse. Remember to not take it personally (since it’s normally out of your control) and being patient are both the key to these situations. You didn’t create the situation so you can’t fix it, you can only be the support to help it.
When a parent places a child in a loyalty bind, it can be confusing and stressful for the child. Therefore, the child may resist a relationship with their stepparent, or even worse, start acting out against them. The guilt the child feels may be too overwhelming, as they think they’re betraying their other parent. This can be difficult to navigate and cause strain on your relationship with the children and your partner as well. However, as with most situations communication is key. Always address the issue with your partner and possibly your partner’s ex to make sure everyone realizes that the end goal is the same for all: what’s best for the children.
The Reasons it’s All Worth it
The Best of Both Worlds
Though not everyone can say it, you are incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be part of someone’s family and help mold it and write new chapters but you also get the luxury of getting that break. The “time off” moments that every parent wants and needs, you get to have that every week. You have the time to love and cherish the children when they are with you and you also get the time to reconnect with your partner and do things that enhance your own growth. The reasons your new family were made may not have been ideal but the silver lining is that you can have it all. So cherish that, honor the time you get alone and with the kids because time is precious.
The Influence you Have Over a Child’s Life
Children are often most influenced by the family members who live with them in their homes. With the enormity of this undertaking, parents and stepparents have the most serious job but also life’s more rewarding. It will be a proud moment as a stepparent when you look at your kid(s) in awe as they meet life’s challenges and succeed because you know you were a part of that.
Being the Family Unifier
As we know, divorce isn’t just about the parents splitting up, it can sometimes tear whole families apart. Especially in messy divorces, there is a lot of anger and hurt not just in the parent but in the family and friends of that parent. Therefore, as a stepparent, you have the opportunity of bridging that gap and bringing peace and stability into the house. Whether it’s as a sounding board for your spouse, a friend for your stepchildren or a mediator with your spouse’s ex, you can be the neutral figure that reminds everyone that the children are most important.
Did we miss anything? Feel free to leave a note in our comment section and tell us your thoughts!