All relationships are based on expectations. Even those with children. When I first became stepmom I wasn’t sure as to what I could expect from my stepkids. I think I expected things to be as kosher in the future as they were back then. Well, I was mistaken. Kids grow up, they become more aware of their situations, their family dynamics and they change.
My stepkids were very young when I met their father, my stepson was 5 and my stepdaughter was 3. They had been living in a single parent home for 2 years. They saw their father weekly and things were fine…. until life started to change around them. When we became a family, there were not just two children sprinting delightfully around our home, there were three, and two years later there were four! So you see, things really did change for them. I expected my stepchildren “to roll with it”. Well, they did for the most part, but there were some surprises for me as their stepmom.
I thought that I would become closer to my stepchildren in time. In my case I was wrong unfortunately, blending a family is very hard work for everyone. It is also time consuming for us as parents. My husband and I were busy planning plans of action with respect to discipline, trials and tribulations with biomom, financial difficulties, etc… While we were doing this I lost touch with my stepkids emotionally. I expected them to adjust to the “new family rules” and the new structure of their family. Well, it wasn’t that simple. We had to guide them through these changes rather than just present these changes to them. Don’t expect your stepchildren to grow within your stepfamily without a helping hand. It won’t work.
A second surprise for me as a stepmom was that I was not considered to be part of the family to one of them. This was one of the biggest shockers for me. My stepdaughter had a very narrow minded point of view when it came to her family. It was understandable, she lived with her “Mom” for as long as she could remember. Her idea of family was her mom, her brother, and her dad who lived down the road. The woman and the little boy who lived with daddy were just long term visitors in her mind. She also did not want to admit that her parents were not getting back together. Expect that your stepchildren will feel the same way deep down inside at one point. This is normal, but can be upsetting to a stepmom to hear.
Expect that your stepchildren can be jealous at times when they feel out of place or that their territory has been imposed upon. Children need reassurance and patience in this area. We are still working on this area as a stepfamily.
Expect that the non-custodial stepchildren will feel as though they are missing “stuff” when they are not with you. Try to keep in touch with the kids as much as you can while they are with the other parent, but try to do so in a casual way without imposing on the custodial parent. Sometimes the time away from the non-custodial parent seems endless to a child.
Expect your stepchildren to accept their stepfamily at different rates. Some children take longer than others, they need to work out the logistics in their own mind in their own time. Expect your stepchildren to see you as “the outsider” for a time. They were there before we were as stepmoms, we represent the failure of their own parents relationship and for some children, that is hard to accept. Expect that stepchildren can resent you for things that you had no part of and have no control over. It isn’t fair is it ?
DON’T expect your stepchildren to appreciate things that you do for them. If they didn’t ask, don’t expect them to appreciate it. The same principle applies to the biomom. If she didn’t ask, don’t expect any thanks. This is said without malice, it’s just a fact. This is one of the hardest things for a stepmom to accept. If a stepmom can get over this, her life will be much more peaceful.
When blending a family it gets complicated, and sometimes those complications multiply like rabbits! Keep things as simple as possible. Expect your stepchildren to need extra reassurances, love and attention. They didn’t ask to be involved in a divorce and blended family. With this in mind, try to have your mate (their father) attend to their emotional needs as much as possible without jeopardizing your own. Sometimes the stepmom sticks her neck out a little too far and then becomes hurt. Know your boundaries and keep them. Keep your expectations of your stepchildren simple and realistic.
Much success to you in blending your stepfamily!
Canadian Mom & Stepmom to Four