Becoming a stepparent is a gift but is not always easy. It is important to view the challenges of being a stepparent honestly so that you can prepare yourself for the emotional work that it will take to make a happy blended family.
With each challenge of being a stepparent, there is a way to overcome it. Some challenges take longer than others to move past, but eventually, you will look back on the early years of stepparent life and see growth.
Challenges of Being a Stepparent
Perhaps the best advice our blended family ever received was that kids will be drawn to parents who provide for their needs. That does not mean financial extravagance – it means structure, parental expectations, physical care, emotional support, discipline, joy. We found that to be overwhelmingly true. It wasn’t overnight. But it did happen over time because of what we considered to be consistent, loving parenting.
Dealing with what everyone thinks.
Sadly, there is a natural lean towards thinking of the stepparent in a bad light. They are viewed as the homewrecker and the imposter. After a while, it can be frustrating and draining to deal with.
People are going to think what they want. You can overcome this challenge but not worrying about what others think. Be yourself and let your personality shine.
Thrown into life with kids.
It takes time to form a healthy relationship in a blended family. So when you are attempting to do this while helping raise children, it takes an extra bit of care. If you go from life without kids to life with kids and a spouse, it can take some time to adjust.
Take things slow and give yourself and everyone a lot of grace. Life with kids is challenging and when you get thrown into it when the kids are already established in their ways, there is an added challenge added in. Focus on one day at a time and remember it will take time to bond and grow close, but that with intentional effort, it can happen.
No matter what the circumstances are, divorce is difficult. There are always hurt feelings and broken promises. Trust is shattered and it takes time to grow anything new.
Move forward slowly and with patience. Depending on the situation, some kids may take longer to warm up. Build trust by following through on your word. Sit down and be honest with the stepchildren that you are committed to building a home of trust and peace.
Kids are more forgiving of their parents than their stepparents.
While kids are getting used to you, it can be rather hard for them to view you in a neutral light. You will always be viewed in a different way, which can prove to be difficult when things are not going well. When misunderstandings happen and feelings get hurt, the kids will struggle to look past the mistakes.
This is completely normal and will take time to overcome. One way to help can be to have your spouse support you. Remind the kids that you are a family and in order to build a healthy family, there needs to be forgiveness. When it takes time for forgiving attitudes to appear, allow for grace.
It is not always what you expect.
If you normally connect well with other kids and people, it can come as a surprise and shock when it is a challenge to connect with your stepkids. Many stepparents will feel a sense of disappointment as the adjustment does not go as expected. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the kids do not want to connect. Accepting this reality can be exceptionally challenging. Remember that consistent parenting from a loving place is the very best you can give your family.
Remember, that ultimately you can only control yourself. You cannot force people to like you, let alone love you. It may take months or even years for the relationship to grow. Instead of focusing on what is not going well, pick out the good moments. When you focus on what is going well, you will have something to hold onto when you are in a challenging moment.
As you face life as a stepparent, remember to give yourself and the kids time and that there is no challenge too big to overcome.
What are your thoughts on life as a stepparent? What challenges have you faced and overcome?