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This post strays from my usual topics, but I think it’s something that touches many people. I am a step parent. While it can be a wonderful thing, it can also be incredibly challenging. I’m not going to share my story with you, instead I want to share some things that I think are helpful for step mothers in particular.
Your feelings are okay and normal. Allow yourself to feel them and not have guilt attached to it. We are placed in a role that may be entirely different than we envisioned it would be, and are not really prepared for. Until you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to understand what all can be involved in being a step mother.
There are many support groups for step mothers/parents on facebook, and I recommend joining one (or many). Even if you don’t post, seeing that other people are dealing with some of the same challenges that you are can be incredibly beneficial. It’s also nice to see encouraging posts, and to have people lend their insight and experiences.
Step Mother challenges
There are some challenges that are exclusive to step mothers that the book StepMonster addresses very well. The author, Wednesday Martin, PhD, is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and a step mother herself, so she’s able to speak to her experiences as well as the psychology behind step mothering and the difficulties that arise. Step mothers are statistically not accepted as easily as step fathers, by both step children and society at large. You don’t hear about wicked step fathers, right? That’s a special title saved for step mothers.
You are not alone
Realizing that I’m not alone has been very valuable for me. And being able to refer to statistics and psychological evidence has helped my peace of mind considerably. It’s easy to assume that you’re wrong for feeling certain ways or for not being happy all the time in the situation. But the reality is that it’s not easy and when you’re dealing with outside factors that you have no control over, it’s nearly impossible to feel like you have a grasp on what goes on in your own home. But realizing that the only thing you can control is how and what you choose to engage in is eye opening, and can potentially change your outlook on the entire situation.
Hang in there
Step mothers, hang in there. You love your spouse and they love you. The difficult times will come and go. In those times, talk to close friends, your partner, or even a counselor. Reach out to others who have gone or are going through similar things – it really does help. And trust that your feelings are okay, even if they’re not logically what you want to be feeling. Giving yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling goes a long way toward making it all work.