Well after 8 years of being a stepparent I think I’ve figured out a thing or two and I also think I should be awarded a GIANT crown for my efforts.
All kidding aside, I have learned some valuable lessons and thought I’d share.
1. It’s not personal. You may have to repeat this to yourself several times a day, but the fact is that nothing that another person does is personal. So in my case, my step kids don’t do things to get back at me, they simply don’t do things for whatever reason they have. Anything from ignoring a chore, to ignoring me. It’s not about me, anyone in my role would be the target.
2. They are a family. I had this idea that I was going to come along and enter in and be loved and love and we would all be one big happy family. When that didn’t happen, I became resentful. Guess what? Just as my kids and I were a family, my husband and his children were a family. They had their own dynamics, in other words, they had a way of doing things that whether or not I agreed with, had already been established. My job wasn’t to change their family, it was to learn to adapt within the system of their family, and come up with a workable solution. That meant that if I didn’t want food in the kids room and dad would allow it, I really had no say. Of course when the smell of rotten eggs that had been hidden and forgotten reached the bottom of the stairs, I had a right to complain and my husband had to go on a scavenger hunt to find them. Well, ’nuff said about that as I’m sure you can imagine. 😀
3. Learn boundaries. Just because it was okay to go through dad’s drawers in his bedroom, doesn’t mean that it’s okay to go through mine. Clear cut boundaries had to be set, no matter how ridiculous the bio-parent may think the boundaries are you have a right to them. We had to learn to respect each other’s bondaries.
4. Take a deep breath! Find some time alone, even bio-kids get on your nerves sometimes. It’s not a crime to decide that you are going to go shopping for the day alone. Learn to have YOU time. It can de-stress a situation and it can give you perspective.
5. It’s not a reflection of you. I think as mothers we see our children as a reflection of us. The problem here is that step kids aren’t always. I see my step kids now after 8 years quoting me or I see mannerisms of myself in them but it wasn’t always the case. If they act up or do things out of the character of your family remember that it’s not on you. You are a mentor. You were called to be a solid godly mentor.
Finally, pray, pray, pray and then pray some more. The fact of the matter is that blending a family is not for wimps. You will have challenges, you all will say things you don’t mean from time to time, and forgiveness will be a daily ordeal, but you can and will get through it.
After 8 years, I love my step kids. They aren’t perfect, neither am I. We have learned to dwell in love and peace. Of course we have our moments, everyone does. When you take the ultimate responsibility off your shoulders, and put them squarely on the shoulders they belong on, the bio parent, you will find you aren’t feeling so trapped and resentful anymore.