10 years ago I became a blessed Stepmom to 2 boys who are now 16 and 22. Since then, my husband and I have our own biological child who is 6. We are your typical involved family. The oldest we still keep an eye on and give our 2 cents when needed, but have long let go and so far so good! The teenager is 16 and hates us when things don’t go his way and the youngest is 6 and also hates us when things don’t go his way. It is in their behavior we are confident we are doing right. The more they get mad at you, the more you are parenting correctly, isn’t that how it works? Despite parenting challenges, they are the three most awesome boys you’ll meet. My husband’s ex lives somewhat nearby and there are many challenges as we are the strict home, hers is not. The unbalance can be very challenging for the boys at times, but their father and I keep on going strong. The teen wants college in the next two years and we have to support that and keep him focused and honest in the path there. I look at it with envy-if I had to have divorced households to split my time with having one house to do business at and another to go chill at is sort of the best of two worlds. As Stepmoms who care we know that despite any differences between households making this parenting thing a game is the worst. We love their father and want to raise caring boys, but we are not Mom and never will be granted that true title. Being Stepmom is probably the most ungrateful, satisfying job title anyone can hold.
Stepmom’s are not Mom
As Stepmoms we know that we will never have that bond that Mom has with her kids. I know for a fact that our 6 year old could never have a bond with another woman like he has with me. We are not competing to take over (unless Mom has checked out), but rather simply asking for respect. We will never have the bond-we know it, the kids know it and you know it. To rub that in says-‘I am Mom and don’t ever respect another women but me’. Unless you single-handedly wrote the 10 commandments and meant for the first rule to ask your child to honor no other adult but you, I suggest you leave them to their own judgements because it will not end well for you or your kids to feel pressured to turn on and off respect as you command. We are not Mom, but we are extra love for them. Honor that so they feel that love too.
We are not competition
Put away that magnifying glass. We all know if you stare hard enough you will find faults. How about just calling and asking us what you need to know. Did you catch I say NEED to know, not WANT to know? We each want privacy and to just raise the kids in our walls the way we feel fits best and makes for happy and confident children. This is not a game. There is no competition happening. There are two houses that may love differently and that is OK. If the kids feel the love then they will be content. Try to tell them otherwise and let us know how that works out for you in the end as the kids start playing games too-with both of our households.
We are the peace keepers
As Stepmom’s we feel that animosity between our husband and Mom. For the parent left behind, their is mistrust and bitterness. For the parent who walked out, there is the guilty parenting syndrome that is so harmful on the kids. The burdens are not the kids to carry. Bitterness and guilt is an adult burden only. As Stepmoms we are the first to sense the tension and if we get loud or vocal, it is simply because the burden is transferring to the kids. When Stepmom gets loud- listen! We are the ones standing on the outside looking in many times-the same exact way the kids are just with more experience and knowledge. Stop criticizing and check your actions. We are just over in a corner screaming help for the kids is all. It is not a competition. It is teamwork. It is parenting. All opinions matter.
Stepmoms are human beings
We have feelings. We have souls. We are not some monster here to take control and kidnap your kids and hide your existence. Calm down! I know some crazy Stepmoms out there that perhaps are not real human beings-just saying! But, as caring Stepmoms, we are human! When you talk, it comes back to us in our home. Imagine yourself having a hectic week-you left work early one day because your stepchild had an appointment, you made a total of about 6 school lunches-running to the nearest store 20 minutes away at 8pm one night because you are out of cheese and your stepchild will NOT eat if there is no cheese on his sandwich. His health is important to you, so you head out. You have had multiple homework fights. One even slammed a door in your face because you caught him cheating and raising anything but a respectful man is important to you. You are on your last few dollars until payday, but you see that sticker pack one of the boys has been dying for and you pick it up anyway because it makes you feel good as a parent. Now, they are returning form their time at Mom’s and you hear one say “Mom says you are not our real Mom so we only have to listen to Dad”-we know we are not “Mom” but those are some gut wrenching words if not that their Mother just taught them how to disrespect another parental figure who would do anything for them at any moment with nothing but real love. If you are forming your child’s opinions about us for them, what will happen when they catch on? That just get’s their Dad very loud and makes you look a bit silly in the end when he is done reinstalling that respect.
Some of this was a bit comical if you are a Stepmom because I know you relate! On the other hand, I will never mean to disrespect the real Mom’s out there. Honestly, sharing is hard even as an adult. But, we all have the same goal. We all want respectful and successful kids. We will never achieve that in them if we are not their best examples. Stepmom’s can be the best examples they can be for the kids, but we are not Mom. The kids are watching Mom and Dad. Just allow us to be their voice, even when they think they don’t need one then follow that up with coherence and support. The kids will make awesome adults one day and we will be happy and content parents! It is not a game, it is a lifestyle.