I Don’t Want To Be A Stepparent
Dating as adults can be challenging. Everyone has their lives and responsibilities – whether school, job, or family. The responsibilities pile up more when you become a stepparent. This makes many people in that position desire not to be stepparents and look for ways to avoid being in this role.
Some people may have lost their partner or gone through a divorce. This may open up a new reality for them where they can potentially join a family and become one with them. If you’ve found yourself in this scenario, things can be complicated. What should you do in that case? How do you deal with the role of being a stepparent which you don’t like? Read on.
How To Embrace Stepparenting
You may find yourself in a stepparenting role that you don’t like and wonder what to do. Letting go of your relationship at this point may seem impossible but accepting that you’re a stepparent is also difficult. Here’s what you need to do to embrace stepparenting:
Let Go of Fantasy
This may sound simple but it’s not, and maybe the main hindrance to your embracing stepparenting. Several studies confirm that unhappiness is caused by the distance between expectations and reality.
In a stepfamily, everyone comes with their fantasy. And while this is normal and inevitable, hanging tightly to this fantasy can make things fall. Most couples come into a stepfamily thinking that the family will be a happy one, but it doesn’t work like that always.
In a biological family, there would have been problems if there was no expectation that you will love your children and they’ll love you back. However, in a stepfamily, these fantasies set the potential for disappointment. That’s because every family member has their fantasy, some of which are incompatible.
See The Rough Patches As Progression Not Fall
There are going to be rough patches, and that’s fine. Accept them as a sign of progress towards a new kind of family that you’re in. Your experience may differ from what you expected, but it doesn’t mean a happy ending isn’t coming.
At some point, you will likely feel like an outsider, jealous, resentful, lonely, inadequate, and confused. You’ll probably experience hostility, rejection, or indifference from your stepkids and maybe you’ll fight with your partner more than you expected. That’s normal, so accept it, let it unfold, and don’t take it personally.
All you’re feeling is part of the adjustment your family has to undergo to be better. The family is recalibrating and changing to make way for you. This kind of adjustment is not easy, and sometimes things may fall apart a little for them to come back together differently.
See through the rough patches for what they’re – a realignment, remaking, and a progression towards something new, not a threat.
Understand And Respond To Loyalty Bind
It’s normal for kids to worry that their acceptance of a stepparent may betray their biological parent. They may worry if they like you, their parent will be angry or hurt. This can make them reject or be hostile to you to show loyalty to their parents.
If that’s the case, see it for what it is and don’t take it personally. Let your stepchild know that you aren’t trying to replace their parent, and nobody can do that. Let them know it’s okay to feel what they feel and you will work it together.
Create A New Relationship When Your Stepchild Is Ready
Don’t try to replicate your stepchild’s relationship with their biological parent. Doing so runs the risk of taking away the opportunity to create something new.
You have unique qualities, experience, and wisdom that will differ from those of other adults in your stepchild’s life. And although it may take some time for your stepchild to appreciate that, they will eventually. Find new things to share that are different from what the child has with their biological parents.
Establish What’s important And Let The Rest Go
Know that there will be lots of things to argue about. A stepfamily is in the making, and nobody’s story has ended the way they thought it would. No one goes into marriage anticipating divorce and kids don’t look forward to when their parents live in separate houses. A lot is going on, broken hearts, endings, and angry people, making people not be on their best behavior.
Decide what’s important to you and let the rest go. Gently push for change that needs to happen while maintaining respect for other family members. And while the balance will be precarious at times, it’s crucial to where you want to be.
You can’t function as a new family until differences are worked through, and everyone has enough of what they need not feel compromised. Your family can be phenomenal, but that may take time.
Appreciate The Small Stuff
Know that it can be difficult for your stepchild to accept you or show affection for various reasons, which may have nothing to do with you. The grief, upheaval, and loyalty bind all cause shaky ground. So, appreciate the small moments of contact. It’s easy to overlook such, but when they happen know that it’s big.
Respect That It Will Take Time
Studies suggest that it takes around 7-12 years for stepfamilies to adjust to being a healthy and well-functioning system. Quicker families may do it in four years, while some never get there.
Be Open To Let Go
Be open to the possibility that you may never be close to all or any of your stepchildren. One may have less need for another adult or feel the conflict of loyalty bind more than others. You may also be different from each other to make it work.
The most crucial thing is that when your stepchild is younger, you are committed to making it work. However, that doesn’t mean it will work out as planned. There is enormous courage and grace in letting go, which is different from giving up.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re a stepparent and you’re not comfortable, try to embrace the role even if it means going for therapy. If things don’t work out and the relationship drains you, consider quitting. Your peace of mind is worth more important than anything.