Recommitting to my role as a stepmom

October 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of stepmom I want to be now that my s-kids are getting older–one is officially old enough to be considered a full fledged preteen all of a sudden–and the dynamic of their time with us has changed so drastically.

It has been somewhat easier with my s-son. I know that what he needs in his life is an ally. He’s got enough parents trying to work out their own problems (his mom using him as a pawn, keeping him completely enmeshed with her since day 1; his stepdad who calls him his son one day, then doesn’t even acknowledge him the next, depending on how much he’s fighting with his mom; his dad who is continually forced to try and rebuild bridges that his mom keeps burning down). He doesn’t need me coming in and trying to be another parent..he needs someone to be bigger/stronger/wiser/kind and just look out for him. He puts up a lot of walls, but when it’s just him and me, I feel like we have built something great and I am the only adult he can trust 100%. I also know that when he starts to realize the truth about his sexual identity, his and my relationship will be a safe haven for him. It has been SO. MUCH. WORK. to get to this point with him, but I knew from the beginning what he needed from me and I have done everything I can possibly do in order give it to him.

With my stepdaughter, however, I find I am at loss lately. I don’t know what happened–did I spend too much time trying to build bridges with her brother, did I say something wrong to her, did her mom poison her–but she went from wanting to do everything with me (makeup, shopping, cooking dinner), to hanging up the phone the minute she hears I want to say hi. I don’t know what she needs from me, but the status quo is clearly not it. I worry that her and I will struggle in our relationship throughout her adolescence if I don’t figure this out. Some of the struggle is probably inevitable, but I do know that there are things I can change to not create extra struggle. I want her to yell at me for normal teenage things, like telling her to wipe off some of her make-up or saying she can’t hang out at the mall. I don’t want her to yell at me for thinking I’m being a bitch of a stepmom who doesn’t get along with her mom.

Both of my s-kids are growing and changing so fast and so much in their life is pure chaos. I know that they need me to be consistent. So I am making some promises to myself and to them now.

I promise…

  • to never put you in a situation where you feel you have to choose between being loyal to me or loyal to your mom. I am second and your relationship with her is important.
  • to answer you honestly when you ask questions about your parents’ relationship(s), but to not disparage either of them in doing so. You need to know reality, but not in such a way that it devastates you and causes you grief or anger.
  • to not initiate choices (clothing, movies, etc.) that directly contradict your mom’s rules, even if I disagree with her rules. If you want to explore boundaries in a safe place, I will help you, but I will not encourage you to rebel just because you can or because it suits my own agenda.
  • to never let you see me be angry with or at your mom. All that will do is make you be angry with me.
  • to tell you every time I am proud of you, every time I happy to hear from you or see you, and every time you hurt my feelings by not making good choices.
  • to not let you walk all over me. That will just make me resent you in my life.
  • to not forget just how hard it is for you to be a child growing up in this situation.
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