How to be a Stepmom: Four Universal Truths
Marriage is a leap of faith and commitment when just two people are involved. And no matter how high you assume the jump would be with no children, it’s an entirely different ball game with a ready-made family. Don’t anticipate “same thing-additional issues.” Oh NO. That’s not complicated enough. When you are a stepmom, the very fiber of your marriage is defined by your having joined a family.
There are a few universal truths about becoming a stepmom, and within each of these main ideas, are very unique and complicated details that will evolve with your new life narrative.
Universal Truth #1: You marry him and “his-story.”
Every man has a history, but real live children are compelling evidence of a “life before you.” Add an ex- or two, not to mention your soon-to-be in-laws and possibly the ex-in-laws– all close relatives to the children– and you could be falling into an extravagant collaboration. Maybe that’s the big signature of Universal Truth #1. There are a lot of hyphens to go with names. My dad used to call them “in-laws and out-laws, all welcome, except those who aren’t.”
Universal Truth #2: Your husband MUST stand up for the two of you as united in your life together and in your approach to the children.
Your husband has chosen to be married to you and to have you be the #1 person in his life. His positive and visible commitment signals to everyone that both of you will do the work of influencing the extended clan to work together amiably. That takes you out of the vacuum of uncertainty, giving you clear air to breathe and the respect you deserve.
Universal Truth #3: They did not ask to be here.
You should feel the urge to embrace his children with an open heart. Suppress the urge to compete with their mother. Replace judgment with reflection and always act to support a positive outcome. Make direct requests but don’t bark orders. Have fun and get engaged in the things they love to do. That is what you are going to experience with your own children once they arrive. Mainly, children want to know that you can be in their corner while loving their father; that it’s not either or. They need to be honestly reassured that they can love their mother and love you too, without feeling disloyal.
Universal Truth #4: Every family has its own fingerprint. Your experience starting and living out the role of a stepmom/second mom is going to be exciting and challenging. No matter what your circumstance there is a friend and probably one book out of many that will help you. Even a few sessions with a family counselor may be what you need to have honest and unintimidating conversations about how all you would like for the future to flow.
Regardless of your family’s uniqueness, you must be your true self in this new constellation. That’s what counts the most in making the new children in your life, pillars of promise in your marriage.