A childless stepmom may feel Isolated. Humiliated. Underestimated.
These are probably the most common sentiments of stepmothers who do not have biological children.
She feels isolated because stepmothering can be an overwhelmingly lonely gig. This woman may feel like a stranger in her own home because she is the last person to join a ready-made family and she does not have a biological connection to anyone in the home.
It took me a little while to work out my ‘boundaries’ but my partner and I parent really well together. It just takes some getting used to. I felt like a third wheel for a while but just make sure you have great communication with your partner and remember to breathe.
She feels humiliated because everyone expects a woman “want” or “be able” to have children. As a childless stepmom, myself, I would encourage others to have some snappy comebacks for intrusive strangers that feel it’s their right to inquire about your uterus. During my wedding reception, a group of well-meaning guests approached me and insisted that my brand new husband and I run and make a baby right that moment! I had been married for 5 minutes….
They meant well.
The childless stepmom may feel underestimated because surely she has no ability to care for kids when she has none of her own. There are many women who have no desire to birth babies, but they are capable of caring for them. There are women who cannot bear children but they still posses a beautiful maternal instinct. There are women who love their independence, so they are undecided on whether or not they want to make mothering an around the clock responsibility. When a woman is not a biological parent herself, there is a certain grey area surrounding mothering. For some women, their maternal instinct is just as natural as breathing. For others, it takes deliberate effort.
When I was a single gal, the decision to fall for a dad was not taken lightly. My first concern was, “How does this affect me and my life?” I am sure your beau’s status as Papa may have given you pause too!
Honestly, had I known then, what I know now… I honestly don’t think I would have jumped into my situation. But for some, depending on the kids, your spouse, the BM… it can be a great experience. Usually takes awesome communication, coparenting well, similar views on child rearing, structure, healthy boundaries and consequences.. most importantly… teamwork. And it is a lot of WORK.
What I’ve personally found is that my stepkids don’t give a damn about me not having biological children. From my experience with kids is that the younger they are, the less they’re concerned with your ability and the more they are consumed with their own needs. Basically, if they need something done, they’ll usually come to the 1st available trusted adult to do it!
Having no bios does not stop my stepchildren from asking me to make their special breakfast, accepting countless hugs and kisses, and coming to me for help or advice. I am theirs and they are mine. They look to me to facilitate the feminine authoritative balance in our home. My husband asserts my authority and reminds the children that we have different rules in our home. This keeps those invisible boundaries from their other home and incessant mentions of them to a minimum. I have no inhibitions of reminding those that need it that I am the lady of the home. My husband and I set the tone. We release the children from outside restrictions placed on them and we run our home the way we see fit.
Mama is always right
Our culture places mothers on a proverbial pedestal of sainthood and we tend to overlook the father. Almost every stepmom I know is guilty of the same thing. You have become so engulfed in society’s ideology that a mother is always “more” important than a father, that you essentially allow a biomom’s invisible arm to usurp your own husband’s authority over HIS children. When the kids are with you, Dad is the go-to parent. Do not undermine your man. Your stepkids should also see you referencing their father. This will set the tone of the hierarchy in your family. No one, not living under your roof, has any power unless you hand it over to them. When your stepkids mention something different or better that happens in their mother’s home, remind them that your home is not the same and they should not only respect their mother’s rules but they should respect yours. Children are quite flexible, but they will definitely try to play you. Have your spouse to be firm about reinforcing your household expectations.
Enjoy being the fun parent
Should you ever have biological children, you and your partner will be solely responsible for rearing this child. You will have full control over their upbringing and this innocent being will be all yours! It’s not like that with your stepkids. Even if they are loving kids, they will still have rightful ties to their other parent. If there is conflict, that makes it even more difficult to forge a solid bond. You can spoil your stepkids! You do not have the responsibility of total discipline, health decisions and scholastic stuff. I take on the role of the Cool Aunt. Thankfully, my husband has ensured that my stepkids respect my authority, but I get to connect with them on a different level. Every kid deserves an adult in their corner that will not try to parent them. Guide them, ensure their safety, and allow flexibility.
Mama’s Baby, Papa’s maybe
When we begin to accept that “mamas baby, papas maybe” is an outdated train of thought, then we can accept that a father is equally as necessary and knowledgeable in his child’s life. For your sake, I hope the daddy you’ve chosen to spend your life with actually parents his own children. Your MAN should be the authority of HIS children in YOUR home. Gone are the days where women do 100% of the child rearing and fathers bring home the bacon. In a stepfamily, it is even more important that your stepchild’s father take the lead. A good daddy allows his wife to be more of daddy’s assistant rather than a second-mom. If they kids ultimately begin to view you as such, that will happen naturally. Don’t force it. Just be cool.
Don’t believe the hype when you see these pictures of “perfectly blended bliss”. Just like nuclear families, everybody deals with their own versions of crazy! Conflict is natural. How you deal with conflict is what determines your level of personal peace. Your family is now a culmination of many moving parts. Some of which YOU do not control. If you go into this without getting consumed with your man’s parenting affairs, then you’ve already won! Allow him to handle his and you handle yours. As a fiance/wife/soon to be stepmom, your job is to focus on YOUR household first. That is your priority. Always take care of home first. Your family needs YOU to be whole and well. Keeping a keen eye on what you can control will give you peace that surpasses all understanding. But doing the opposite sets you up for a hellish existence.
If you’re reading this, YOU are a part of the B&B community. I’d love to hear about your personal experience.
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I really wish I had superpowers. If I had to choose one super-power, I would love to be able to teleport. That way, I could have cheese eggs, bacon and grits with my Grandma in Memphis every morning, go for a mid-day swim in Antigua while listening to God, have lunch in Rome with perfect strangers and be home in time for dinner with my Husband in Harlem, NYC. I also run MissNaja.com- a blog dedicated to Redefining The Domestic Woman.