As I rummaged the internet for research, and advice on step-parenting I couldn’t help but snicker to myself as the many Do’s and Don’ts of step parenting popped up with the hundreds of different search options. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely cynical I do think that some of them are in fact good tips but I also feel that a lot of the do’s and don’ts are based on the perfect scenario. Ya know, the ones where the parents bow out gracefully, and decided that the separation is best for both them and the kids. Ha, not that that doesn’t happen but I know a lot of separated couples and it didn’t exactly go down that way.
In my experience most divorces are made up of police calls, divorce layers, thousands of dollars wasted, custody battles, bitterness, and revenge. And then we come in, the innocent by-stander who seemingly fell for the right person at the wrong time. News flash step parents, this isn’t your life it’s theirs and your just living in it.
As step parents we have no idea what we’re getting into until we are already too deep into it. Step-parenting is similar to parenting except with parenting you generally aren’t dealing with another parent who tries to un-do everything you do, belittles you, or objectifies you into an alienating pawn.
The many self-help books, and check-lists warrants not taking it personal, knowing boundaries, getting on the same page, having low expectations, participating in family meetings, etc. And that’s great and all but it’s harder to see the end when you are smack dab in the middle of all the chaos.
You’re going to question the point, even if this is all worth it. That’s okay, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t.
You’re going to get angry, even resentful, and that’s okay too. Just make sure not to hold it in, or allow it to explode towards the children. Find an outlet. Anything to destress. Believe it or not, I found Buddhism during my journey I relied heavily on Buddhism books to help me let go of my anger, and find happiness in myself. Make sure to talk about it with your spouse, and when they don’t want to listen, maybe try therapy.
You’re going to feel lost, confused, and alone. In your family dynamic you are, you’re the outsider. But find a support group, a friend who has been through it, an online community, anything. Because although you are the only one in your family that understands how you’re feeling you’re not completely alone.
You’re going to want to over compensate. Try not to, I think I did a bit too much in the beginning, and as the many self-help books state don’t overstep boundaries, I did. The problem is, as I stated above far too often you are in over your head before you know it, try taking a step back especially when you feel yourself slipping into it all.
In my journey as a stepmom I have seen ugly times, very sad and alone times. I felt like no one understood me, and when I found someone who did, or a support group I felt vindicated. This is my motivation to write to let similar woman, or even men know that they aren’t alone. That what you’re feeling is okay. I felt like I got a double whammy, for as I was not only making the venture into a step family, but at the same time fighting the stigma of having a child with Mental Illness. I sure don’t know it all, and by no means am I a professional. But in my opinion the most relevant experience is field experience and that is what I have to offer you.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to write!
Sara, Mommsie Knows Best