Step-mother may want to realign her expectations…….

by Rod Smith

“I met my husband when his children were 3 and 7. I thought that I would learn to love someone else’s child and that it would just take time to bond. We are now married with a child of our own. Their biological mom is and has always been trouble and does nothing but try to put both my husband and me down in the kids eyes. The kids are sweet and loving but I still find it hard to bond to them. It’s always ‘my mommy this’ and ‘my mommy that’ and it makes it hard to bond. At times I want it to be me and my child and husband. I know how this sounds but seriously can you tell me I must immediately love and like everyone just because they happen to be smaller. I am not a bad or evil person I simply dislike having to be caring and attentive to another person’s child when I get none of the reward. They will always love their mother more and that’s the way it should be, but I can only take so much rejection. Eventually my heart turns off and I am left wondering why I thought being a step parent would be great.”

Blending families is one of the most difficult relational challenges humans face. Everyone in the family faces difficulties, even the children.

If you feel “unrewarded” you might want to reconsider some of your expectations. Any awards ceremony may only occur, if it ever does, when the children become adults and they reflect that you were a non-possessive, non-anxious, steady presence in their lives at time when their lives had been hit by several large blows all seemingly accosting them at the same time.

So, hold off on expecting much reward. It’s not that you won’t be rewarded; it’s that expecting it in itself suggests you might want to realign the understanding of your role.

Asking young children to love (embrace, accept) a stepmother without feeling disloyalty to their biological mother is asking children to do emotional acrobatics that most adults could not do.

If you want your “new” family to survive the continued presence of his “old” family, then I’d suggest you do not make too much of the distinction. “Us” and “them” doesn’t bode well for any human community let alone a blended family. Also, stay out of being the front line of discipline for “his” children: messing with invisible loyalties is a sure fire way to detonate the anger abiding already in the family system.

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