Having been married now for 8 years I have certainly had some time to look back and reflect on my years as a Stepmom of young girls. There are a couple of things I wish I had known prior to blending a family. Trust me I have not always been the ideal Stepmom and have certainly made mistakes. Here are a few things I have learned along the way….
Have Low Expectations
I have to admit we were blissfully ignorant to the fact that our hope for our new family and the perspective the kids had didn’t match up. My husband and I had hopes of the “perfect family of 5” prior to getting married. When the kids idea of blending the family didn’t match up with our own we found we had a painful struggle on our hands. One of the kids decided pretty quickly to rebel against the entire situation. That proved to be a difficult journey due to the fact that we had set the bar of our expectations to high. It’s ok to have low expectations; take it slow and that way you won’t be caught off guard when tribulation occurs. When things get particularly difficult remind yourself that you chose this life and in the end do what’s right and it will turn out fine.
Set Boundaries and Establish House Rules Up Front
We did it the upside down way, I wish I would have known how important it was to set up structure and boundaries EARLY ON- instead of trying to sit back and not be too in kids’ face since I was moving into “their house/space”. Once it became apparent that there was an issue it was really difficult to rein it in without a power struggle.
Don’t Do Everything Together As A Family
I know that sounds crazy right?! I wish I had known how important it was to spend time together as a family and separately. As a Mom & Stepmom I have always encouraged my husband to spend one on one time with his daughters. I didn’t encourage myself enough to spend time one on one with my new daughters early on. All relationships take time to grow. Spending too much time as a family didn’t give us as much individualized time to get to know each other and I think I missed out on a lot of key opportunities. So go out for that ice cream or head out to the mall. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and be a little vulnerable, after all they are just kids that have anxiety about getting to know a new person in their lives as well.
Anticipate Feeling Unappreciated
I know that sounds pretty harsh. But it’s true. Don’t have high expectations of being appreciated for throwing the birthday parties, selling fireworks in a roasting booth to raise softball money, packing all the camping stuff, or all the other 10 million things you do as a mom. You didn’t really marry your husband or choose to accept parenting your kids or anyone else’s for the accolades did you? Just do your best to love unconditionally and remember, one day they will grow up and remember all that really cool stuff you did for them and with them to show how much you love them. Remember we were all kids once.
Learn Each Other’s Love Languages and Personality Types
Love Language is a big deal. Learn each other’s love language and learn to speak that language. It’s ok if your love language is acts of service, however if your stepdaughters love language is quality time and your busy doing stuff instead of spending time with her then she will not necessarily see all you are doing as being loving, instead she will just think you are too busy for her. This is good advice for any relationship, especially blending a family and marriage.
Do Research About Blending A Family Before Blending A Family
Sounds weird, but I wish I had read Ron Deal’s The Smart Stepfamily with my husband prior to getting married. Having some prior knowledge about what the kids are going through and what we would be experiencing would have helped us to do much better in areas 1 – 5 above.
What have you learned about parenting, step parenting, and/or co-parenting? We all learn from each other. I am encouraged by your comments and suggestions as well!