Over the past 5 years, I’ve strived to become a better stepmom. I’m proud of the growth I’ve made and hope to continue to learn and better myself as I tackle the very important role I play in my stepdaughter’s life.
Here are 6 unique ways I think I’ve improved in my role as stepmom:
1. I’ve Stopped Obsessing About My Parenting.
I used to worry that my stepdaughter would be raised between worlds that were too different from each other. I tried to do my best to parent the way my husband and his ex did but as a Mama of three of my own, I already had established my own systems, rules and expectations. I’ve learned that’s ok. Her mom and I are different and we each have our own skill set. I make my stepdaughter’s favorite chicken dish and her mom makes her favorite cupcakes. I’m awesome at bedtime stories, her mom is awesome at crafts. We compliment each other in many ways and that only enriches my stepdaughter’s family experience. It’s not a competition- it never should be.
2. I Support Parallel Parenting and Stay Neutral.
I used to encourage my husband to try and have a meaningful relationship with his ex so that they could co-parent as well as my ex and I did. After all, if my ex and I could have an ideal co-parenting relationship full of support and care for each other and the wellbeing of our children always placed first, why couldn’t they?
I’ve learned that some personalities just don’t do as well post divorce and it’s best for them to just parallel parent. If he’d rather not talk to her any more than absolutely necessary, so be it. My stepdaughter will always be better off without conflict between her parents so that’s a win-win for everyone. Me? I’ll just be over here in neutral territory. It’s safest. They alone know what works best for them. After divorce, co-parenting may require a long road of discovery and learning before it’s perfected. It’s not my role to insure that they have a great co-parenting relationship. Being a better stepmom and co-parent is being supportive of his choices and preferences and doing my best to insure that I never contribute to them having a bad one.
3. I’m More Involved.
I used to let the bio parents handle school concerts, teacher conferences, extra curricular events, etc. I wanted to make sure that my stepdaughter grew up feeling that she had two unique family dynamics and that she never lost her primary family unit. Unfortunately, my stepdaughter confessed that she missed me at those events and really wanted me to be more involved despite how awkward it might be for her or anyone else. So, now I just let her take the lead and show up whenever I’m wanted.
4. I Stopped Stressing About Milestones.
I used to be hyper aware of not doing anything that may be considered a “milestone” for her mom with my stepdaughter to the point of completely avoiding activities or experiences with my other children. I’ve discovered it’s just unrealistic. My stepdaughter lives with us half the time. There are bound to be things that bio mom will miss out on inadvertently just like there are, to his chagrin, things her dad will miss out on. As long as I remain cautious about not overstepping the boundaries of my role, all should be fine. And, putting my stepdaughter first will always be the right thing to do.
5. I Don’t Stress About Titles.
From the beginning when she asked to call me Mama like her brothers and sisters did, I was concerned that others might have a problem with it. I know this might be a hot button topic for bio moms but I’ve become a big believer in letting the child make the choice and choose a name THEY feel comfortable with. Demanding that a child either pick a specific name or avoid another one causes them undue stress. Stepparent relationships unfurl at their own pace and they should be allowed to develop naturally. Part of that development in bond is the name they choose for you.
I always assure her that no matter what she calls me, our relationship will remain the same and the one with her Mom always will too. I’ve never tried to replace her Mom nor could I ever possibly. Our relationship is unique. Full of love and laughs and secrets and friendship. It’s special, no matter what.
6. I Step Away When I Need To.
Stepmomming is hard! Sometimes it feels like you’re making your way through a Halloween maze- unpredictable twists and turns with some scary things jumping out at you once in a while. Every now and then I need a break from the stressors of being a Mama and a Stepmama. I’ve learned to take that time when I need it and not beat myself up too much for being selfish. It’s been so important to step back, take a break and recharge. It’s been helpful to my relationship with my husband and my co-parent. More than anything, it has helped me reflect on my stepmomhood journey-how far I’ve come and how much farther I still have left to go.
Have you struggled to find your stepparenting groove? Have you discovered ways to be a better stepmom? Let’s chat in the comments below!
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