What Should a Stepmother Expect?

22 09 2010

I’ve been asked this question many times: What should a stepmom expect? And this one: Am I expecting too much? I’ve asked myself those questions, too. Much of the research done on what makes stepfamily life so difficult indicates our expectations are what get us into trouble.

But the challenge is that there is no model for what a stepfamily “should” look like. A successful stepfamily structure might look very different from what we think a “family” should look like.

Happy stepmothers are:

  • Women who live with their stepchildren full-time and help to raise them.
  • Women who don’t ever see their stepchildren.
  • Women who at family gatherings cheerfully combine his, hers, and ours kids plus the ex-wife, ex-husband, their new spouses and all the various step-, half-, and full-blooded siblings.
  • Women who don’t live with their partners but continue to date until the children are raised and out of the house.

There are lots of different ways in which stepfamilies are successful. But sometimes we need to revise what we think successful means in order to find peace. Can you be a success if you and your partner have an amazing relationship but the kids hate you? Can you be a success if your marriage is strong but the ex-wife is in your face all the time? Can you be a success if your husband is your best friend but his parents don’t accept you? The answer to all these questions is: YES.

But you first have to decide for yourself and as a couple what success can mean.

Warning: Letting go of expectations (a.k.a. Dreams) can be an extremely painful process. But once you do it, you’re free to create the kind of life you want.



2 responses

23 09 2010

This is so true! I had to let go of the vision of my future without children. I actually had to mourn the loss of that future. But once I accepted that, things become so much better in the house! 🙂

4 11 2010

I’ve found that I’ve had to re-define what success is over the past years– it such a moving target! At first success was getting to know my stepkids to a point where we were comfortable with each other and like each other. Then success was understanding that it was better for them to me not be in the picture so much– BM made to much of a ‘loyalty’ issue about me involvement to the kids. Now a few more years later, I’m finding that success will involve me once again being a bigger part of their lives because BM isn’t doing much. Each time it is something more to come to terms with. I have my children to focus on and was happy with my life that way– now I have to adjust again. Yeah, I know– so do my stepkids. I often feel that BM has too much power over the show.

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