Updated: Sep 10
Here are 10 Things I wish I could tell every new Step-mom:
Bond with the kids before attempting any sort of disciplinarian role. Connection before correction. The same is true for bio kids but it can more easily be missed in a step-mom role because you're thrown right into the mix!
Wait longer than you think you need, to move in together. It's so so so important to build a foundation of your step couple before fully integrating into the mix. Even if you think and feel that everything seems copacetic and cool, and everyone's getting along, that move in together can bring up SO much for various parties involved. You, the kids, the ex, your partner. I cannot recommend going slowly enough. The last thing you want is to move in too soon, and then have to move back out or feel like you want to - the kids have already been through enough with a previous divorce! If for no other reason, don't create a situation where they'll have to deal with a second major transition & loss.
3. Observe, ask questions, and seek to understand what life was like before you as much as possible so that you can gain a greater context. This will help you as you integrate and with whatever disagreements might arise between you and your partner when it comes to parenting.
4. Less is more. Period. Know any Step-dads? Follow their lead. They often don't experience the same cultural pressures that women have regarding household and childcare duties and from what I've seen, this usually leads to a simpler blend. Not always, but oftentimes.
5. Let your partner be the primary parent and co-parent. I see a lot of Step-moms jump into the role head first with blinders on with every good intention in the world. They often are fixer/healer/successful women who see messes and jump in to clean them up. This might feel okay at first, but in the not-too-long run, it will be a recipe for burn out, resentment and exhaustion. This happens in any life circumstance when we take responsibility for things that we didn't contribute to, and the same goes for this dynamic. #stepmomresentment
6. As in any romantic relationship and life partnership, it helps to work towards accepting your partner exactly as they are, not trying to make them different. That means all of who they are, every piece of it, including their past, including how they parent and interact with the ex. Stepmoms often come in and start trying to change their partners. It doesn't mean that change isn't needed, but it is not your job, and you will drive yourself crazy if that is your main focus. #stepcouplesupport
7. If the ex seems dramatic or you are seeing some red flags, protect yourself as early on and often as possible. Boundaries is the name of your game in these circumstances! So often Step-moms think that they need to connect and bond with the ex to make things harmonious. Let your partner take the lead on this, he knows her far better than you. He was married to her! Trust his opinion. #highconflictbiomomdrama
8. Let self-compassion be your practice and default mode. So many confusing, complicated emotions can come up in this role. Have some compassion for yourself. It's often not easy! There are many personalities, needs, histories, etc. involved.
9. Try not to take things personally! This is a good opportunity to grow your confidence. #selfcompassion Make sure you continue doing the things that make you feel like yourself, the things that help you to feel well - don't give all that up as you start this new chapter of your life! These will help you with your confidence. Biological moms have the chance to transition to motherhood through 9 months and a life changing experience of birth. Stepmoms never quite get that transitional period, life just changes as soon as they fall in love with a parent. And nobody's talking about "stepmom postpartum" although the identity shifts can be just as if not moreso dramatic!
10. Get support ASAP! Find other Step-moms, a stepmom coach or therapist, or resources online to support you. You don't have to do this alone and the sooner you get support, the better everything will be. #stepmomsupport #stepmomhelp