Stepmoms, do you have difficulty expressing how you feel about being a stepmom? Do you have someone close to you who thinks you’re alone in your stepmom struggles? In my work with stepmoms, I’ve found that nearly 85% of stepmoms feel like they’re alone. They feel like they are the only stepmom who is struggling. The only stepmom who is feeling frustrated. The only stepmom who is feeling like an outsider when they’re at home. The only stepmom who doesn’t have it all together.
And what happens when we feel like we’re alone? We don’t share. We don’t talk about how we’re feeling because then others will know our shameful secret—they’ll know just how not okay we’re doing. They’ll think we’re a failure. Instead, we keep it bottled up inside and just hope and pray that things will get better.
So, how can we combat these feelings?
The first step is realizing that what you’re feeling is normal. These feelings are common among stepmoms and you’re not alone. To show you that you’re in good company, I’ve compiled the responses from a survey I conducted to find out more about how stepmoms are feeling. Go ahead and read through them. You’ll realize you’re anything but alone.
What were some of your challenges when you became a stepmom?
Balancing the needs of a new marriage with becoming an instant parent and instant family was the biggest challenge.
Dealing with feelings of jealousy and trying to figure out how to handle conflict as an adult was frustrating. I was so disappointed in myself for those feelings and didn’t know how to cope.
Adjusting. As a girlfriend, I didn’t feel responsibility. As a stepmom, you feel that responsibility.
I was able to build a relationship with my stepdaughter in the beginning, but the bio mom sabotaged it and made it very hard for me to continue that relationship, so it ended along with her relationship with her dad.
Wanting the kids to like me so saying no is hard. I don’t want to disappoint them.
Being a second wife
Blending our families
Finding that balance between being involved and not overstepping boundaries. Feeling like I’m walking on egg shells.
Bio-mom and feeling like an outsider
What is my role?
Understanding how my relationship works in regards to my husband and his kids. Trying not to see it as a competition.
Realizing that my stepchild’s bio mom will always be in my life and feeling resentful
Redefining what a mother’s role should be after 13 years of being treated by bio mom as I imagine no child should be; dad now has full custody.
Expressing, giving love and affection
The responsibility of an instant family, balancing discipline and manners that I expected and preferred with what my husband preferred.
Holidays aren’t as much fun. Feeling divided and trying to figure out who has the kids and when.
Feeling like so much of my life is influenced by the other family (bio mom and her husband)
Trying to build a bond with my stepchild
The feeling that nothing I do is right. Bio mom, my stepchildren, and my husband are constantly questioning my actions.
Feeling like a “bolt on” family member, not participating in the core group
The Next Step: Opening Up
Once you realize that your feelings are normal, the next step is opening up and being honest with yourself and others about how you feel. If you share your feelings, you won’t give them an opportunity to fester inside you and turn into resentment or bitterness. Once you acknowledge your feelings, you’ll also be ready to work through your challenges. Read on to find out how fellow stepmoms worked through their tough times.
What has helped you get through the difficult times?
Prayer was my biggest assistance and talking in private with my spouse to discuss issues. I also had a very close friend who had lived it and she was my rock.
Talking with stepmothers who had older children and survived
I would love to find friends or support from others in my situation. Also, being able to talk to my husband openly about how I am feeling and how difficult it is.
Prayer. Trying to look at it from perspective of child. (And alcohol. Ha!)
Talking to other stepmoms and sharing some of my experiences
Still trying to find what works or helps
My boyfriend. This blog. This book.
My sweet hubby and GOD
Writing down my feelings. Reading books on how to deal with situations.
Reading about the experiences of others. Knowing that I’m not crazy or terrible for thinking and feeling the way I do about some of the things that have come up.
How Growth Occurs
The last step is to remember that through trials and tribulations, real growth occurs. Through conflict, we can grow as a person in ways we never imagined were possible. By looking at the positive things that have happened since becoming a stepmom, we can see how our lives have been enriched. Even if you’re feeling down right now about being a stepmom, if you dig deep, you can find something positive. Find those positive feelings because they will help you get through those difficult times.
What were some positive things that happened to you when you became a stepmother?
I was never able to have my own children, so I was happy to be a stepparent to fill that void.
Now that my stepdaughter is older and in college, I really appreciate her for the amazing person she has become. I’m her biggest fan and enjoy the time we spend together.
I now have kiddos to impact, love, and build into.
I’ve always wanted kids so becoming a stepmother has been pretty good. I enjoy the things we do as family. The kids and I have a lot of fun together. They trust me and know they can count on me.
I’ve learned how to be a lot more patient and how big children’s hearts are.
Lots of smiles
My stepdaughter likes me.
My stepchild speaks highly to others of how nice I am.
The world is not about me. It’s about them. I can fill them with love and laughter and share with them things that I’ve always wanted to share in terms of fun things.
Marrying the best person in the world and feeling like I am finally “at home.”
My step kids are awesome. Being part of their success, and being included in their lives is a joy.
Above all, realizing that you’re not alone and sharing your feelings with others will transform the way you feel about being a stepmom. Just knowing someone else shares your feelings will give you a sense of relief and lighten your burden. The problem is that most stepmoms wait until it’s too late and then they’re feeling completely burnt out. Don’t wait until it’s too late—find your stepmom tribe, look into stepfamily coaching, and get resources to help you.
Wanna add your responses to the stepmom survey? I’d love to hear from you! Click HERE.