Stepmoms setting goals in your blended family
Becoming a step mom is perhaps the most challenging job a woman can have. Like it or not, the blended family mother is usually the one primarily responsible for managing the home, maintaining a loving relationship with her husband, looking after step kids and her own biological children, and often holding down an outside job. She is also seems to be in charge of everyone’s happiness. Say, what?
Step family creating realistic goals
Okay, so nobody can possibly make everyone happy. But day after day, week after week, step moms all across the country try to do it: they try to make everyone happy. Their husbands, their biological kids, their step kids, their in-laws, their ex-spouses, and the ex-spouses of their new blended family partners. This futile attempt is not only exhausting and frustrating, it can also be detrimental to the goals every step mom seeks to achieve: to be accepted; to help; to be appreciated; to be loved. When she tries to be all things to all people, the step mom sets herself up for failure.
Cold hard facts
Your husband is holding on to feelings of guilt over what his divorce has meant to his children, and his feelings about his ex-wife are more complicated than he may be able to verbalize. His ex-wife is holding on to feelings of hurt and bitterness over the divorce and/or his remarriage to you, and worried about how much influence their step mom will have over her kids. Your ex-husband feels threatened by the presence of your new husband in the life of his kids, and perhaps in your life, as well. Both your step kids and your bio kids are struggling to deal with their own feelings of loss, their confusion, and with the new step family dynamic. Becoming step siblings does not come naturally to either set of kids, and anger and resentment may be the only thing they have in common. Your in-laws, both present and past, are worried what your remarriage might mean regarding how often they get to see their grandkids, and how welcome they will be in the new step family setting. And you have your own issues to deal with. How are you supposed to take care of yourself, and all these people, too? The short answer? You’re not.
Traditionally, men have taken care of things, while women have been the caretakers of feelings. This makes a certain amount of sense, since most men do better with logic and procedure than they do coping with feeling and emotion. Still, any issues your new husband has with his ex-wife, and any co-parenting issues he and she have, are really not step mom issues. Your role in the stepfamily is to support your husband in his efforts to deal with his ex-spouse and manage to co-parent their children. Getting in the middle of their struggles is rarely helpful to any of you, and trying to become friends with the ex-wife usually ends in disaster. As well, any attempt to help step kids somehow become better people, or to help them improve a prickly relationship with their biological mothers, generally ends in failure, with the interfering step mom being at fault for the entire fiasco. Even if your best intentions lead you to intrude where you have neither status nor influence, you invite failure on your part and recriminations on the part of your step family members.
The loving bond you have with your husband and the strength of your remarriage helps keep your blended family on the path to unconditional love and acceptance for everyone. The continued love and guidance you provide your bio kids, and your sensitivity to their need to stay close to you in the middle of the blended family chaos, helps them and you hold on to that sense of belonging which is vital to all humans. If you manage these two important relationships well, your chances of meeting your goals of acceptance, appreciation and love are greater.
Set realistic goals and expend reasonable effort to reach them. When you meet responsibilities that are rightfully yours, you generally feel more satisfied, and more competent. You have more energy, more time, and more love and understanding to offer the other important members of your blended family. Love more. Worry less. For help with your blended family, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.