Ylena - posted on 08/10/2011 ( no moms have responded yet )
Being a stepmom in a blended family is a challenging task. I know from personal experience both from a child's perspective (I am a child of divorce) and an adult's perspective (I am a step-mother without biological children of my own). As a stepmom you’re not only are you confronted with developing a relationship with your stepkid(s) but you must also, for the sake of all involved, maintain a working (or at least civil) relationship with your spouse's ex. Our jealous and prideful nature often keeps us from successfully navigating these waters. Never the less, it's essential to success to make it about the kids and not about ourselves - our needs, our desires.
Children, from birth until high school graduation (and beyond), are faced with basic and complex developmental tasks that take all their available physical, mental and emotional resources. They do not have any excess resources available to them to care for their parent’s/stepparent’s mental and emotional. Yet, wouldn’t you know it, they try to do so. Kids are very perceptive and sensitive to their environment. They quickly pick up what is pleasing to you and what is not and then they attempt to adjust to match or reconcile the mood. They’re end goal (at least until they’re about 7 years old, at least in my experience) is to be pleasing to their parents/stepparents in order to gain their love and affection. They don’t yet understand that love from a parent (and in my case, stepmom) is unconditional. That is why you might have a stepkid that tells his biological mother that he’s forced to call his stepmom “Mom” even though he’s not forced to do so. He may want to call his stepmom “Mom” but, at the same time, may feel guilty for doing so because he/she believes that the name is only reserved for his biological mom (mom’s of adopted children would beg to differ as would their kid(s)). He/she may also worry that if his/her biological mom found out that she’d be hurt. So what does the kid do to reconcile the discrepancy? The kid calls his stepmom “mom” and then, in order to spare his biological mom hurt feelings and make her feel loved an supported, the kid tells her that he’s forced to call his stepmom “Mom” so that his biological mom doesn’t feel replaced.
Being part of a blended family is a challenge. In certain ways it requires more an additional set of parenting skills because you’re dealing with issues that a parent in a traditional family structure would not have to deal with … which is why divorce is so yucky (please know I’m not judging the act but stating a personal observation based upon the social and psychological outcomes). Take heart, stepmoms, and bend a knee in prayer because if you’re anything like me, you’re in need of prayer to navigate rocky “waters”.