From Pam Rohr, author of Blended but not Broken – Hope and Encouragement for Blended Families:
I want to thank you for allowing me to journey with you as you Blend Your Stepfamily and I would love to hear from you. If I have not addressed an issue you are dealing with please leave a comment or email me, I want to partner with you to help your stepfamily thrive not just hopefully survive. I say hopefully survive because so many blended families end in divorce when they don’t receive the support and help that they need.
Today, let’s talk about stepmoms. Stepmoms can get a bad rap even though there are many good ones out there. Stories of the wicked stepmother do not reflect the hard work and love many moms daily give.
Stepmoms may be asked to do so much. Asked to love his kids as her own, sacrifice for them, and give them of her time and energy. She is asked to lay down what is important to her to make them feel important. And so often, her efforts are hardly noticed or rewarded. She may feel unimportant and often feels the birth mother has more power in her own home than she does. In many blended families stepmothers make a significant contribution to their stepkids but without the same level of recognition as the birth mom.
Research shows children can more readily accept a stepfather figure in comparison to a stepmother.
Stepmoms are more likely to be rejected due in part to the negative influence of their stepchild’s biological mother. Children can pick up on their mother’s resentments and blame surrounding their divorce. They can also sense or outright know of her negative feelings towards their father’s new partner. Due to the child’s loyalty to mom, they may feel pressured not to accept their stepmom. Fathers are also less likely to have full custody, meaning there is less opportunity for bonding to occur with his wife. Here is one woman’s statement about how this can impact a blended family:
“The lack of time together makes it difficult for me to really get to know them and establish trust. When they are with us, their dad sets no clear guidelines or disciplines them because he wants them to think dad is cool and a good friend.”
I would recommend to this stepmom to become a friend to her stepkids. Enjoy them, let them experience your acceptance of them. When they do spend the night, make sure your husband restates the rules of the house that the two of you have decided upon. Try to show interest in what your stepkids are interested in. Show them you are on their team. This will help them to more readily accept you and your spouse will love you for loving his kids.
For the Stepmom who has the kids on a more full time basis, you can have greater influence. Ask the Lord to help you to love them as He does, to see them as He does. You will regularly have to die to yourself, but if you can look at this as an assignment from God, you will be empowered. Show them what it means to walk with God and love others as your love yourself.
Galatians 5:16 says So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. You can be their spiritual mother and teach them what it means to love God.
When we brought our nephew into our home, he was in mourning over his daddy’s death but the double whammy was that his birth mom didn’t want to take him. He was so angry but not at her, he was mad at us for taking him. In his mind, we forced him to live with us. He wanted to believe that she wanted to have him but we didn’t allow it. Of course this wasn’t true but in his mind, it was easier to blame us than her. Kids are very loyal to their parents. We had to be wise in our parenting. His mom many times did not support our decisions which made it that much harder. She would side with him and she loved to make it look like we were the bad guys. We finally had to make it clear to her that if she wanted us to raise her son, she would have to support us, if she wasn’t willing to do so, she would need to raise him herself. She decided to support us at least for a time.
But we did our best, it certainly wasn’t perfect but we loved him and treated him as we did our other kids. He became ours in our hearts.
Kids love to throw out the “”Your not my mom card” to get out of doing what you’ve asked them to do. In this case, you and your husband need to have a unified front. Support one another because your success as a stepparent depends largely on the support you receive from your partner. If they don’t have your back, you will feel alone and unimportant. If they do have your back, you feel important and that what you say does matter. So back each other up; you’re on the same team.
If the birth mom is interfering in your home, find ways to include her in decisions without giving her power over the final say. She is important but you are the woman in your home. Stand your ground. She gets to say what goes on in her home and you get to say what goes on in your home. If your spouse is allowing his ex too much power, talk it out. If that doesn’t work, get some help.
One stepmom I spoke with had a husband who interacted with his ex on a daily basis. They had a special needs child and he was very involved with her life. This is honorable but when his new wife feels left out, this can become a problem. She said it oftentimes felt like he was more involved in their lives than in hers. They finally worked out an agreeable solution. The couple would have the girl more regularly in their home, the birth mom agreed to this as she needed a break. This gave them the opportunity to become a family. It also gave the stepmom and girl a chance to bond and build a relationship, which hadn’t happened prior to her coming to stay. The stepmom helped care for her and they developed love for one another. While the girl was with them, the birth mom could not interfere by calling all the time or coming over. This was their time and the husband demanded she respect that.
There are many different scenarios given for step moms to walk through. Usually but not always, if you choose to be committed to your step kids and love them, you will eventually be rewarded with a good relationship with them. This might not happen until they are adults and they realize what you have done for them. And if they don’t ever acknowledge your sacrifice, God certainly does and He has a reward for you in heaven that can never fade away. I am going to pray for you stepmoms in just a moment.
If you are struggling with your role as a stepmom or are not receiving the needed support from your spouse, I am available for coaching. I would love to hear from you and together we can work toward a viable solution as you blend your stepfamily. Contact me at nouveaulifecoaching.com
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