I am so blessed that 10 years ago my husband chose me to help him raise his 2 boys that were 6 and 12 when I joined the family. They are now 16 and 22 and it has been one happy, crazy, emotional and satisfying job! Can you relate? In our situation, we do not live far from the boys' Mom. When you consider the two households, ours is the one that is about school, work and discipline. The other house is about play, friends and a lack of discipline. I only say that for the big picture and because if their Mother was to read this, she would not totally disagree. We all discuss this imbalance quite frequently. However, despite the differences in each household the boys are very fortunate enough to have 2 households that love them tremendously in our own ways. My husband and I get the short end of the stick as we make them do things like have curfews, divide time with friends to important things like schoolwork and family. As a teenager, which house would you rather live in? Right? I get it and I don't even have the energy to fight it and we don't fight it-we just raise the boys! The oldest has turned out to be a prime example that we are doing things right in our home and despite the pressures the teenager has between 2 homes, we do right by him as well. Never, will I compromise my husband and I's parenting style to give in for temporary gratification. Having 2 homes must be tough-my parents are not divorced-but if 2 households commit to doing right for the kids it can become a very supportive unit. I wish more than anything our boys had that. Being a Stepmom-doing the work, but can't dare have the title! Do you relate? I am not complaining at all. I am very confident in my marriage and my home. I tend to look at it all in a very comical way, really! I bite my tongue and only get loud when the boys well-being is compromised. Perhaps you relate to what I write below....
To the biological Moms who have a caring Stepmom raising your children with you, we never doubt you are Mom. We will never have that bond you have with them and only the Stepmom who wants to create a huge source of stress and disappointment to themselves will pretend they do. I have a biological son who is 6 and he could never have the connection with another woman like he has with me. We know this! If you have a disaster for a Stepmom in the other home then I am truly sorry! That would be the worst thing I could ever imagine for my children. However, as a caring Stepmom we want to be our own selves just like you do. Maybe you are strict and your ex and I are not and maybe you are uninvolved where your Ex and I are highly involved. Does that bother you? Is it really necessary to tell the kids in sly ways that you disagree with how we run our home? Unless we are harming the kids, we are good people who want to raise good kids. To tell your children that our good is not the right good or 'your good' is really a source of stress and huge pressure you are dumping on their shoulders. I speak as a Stepmom that does not play games, does not speak ill words, but will stand up and explain things to the kids when they were given the wrong information or only part of the story. We may not be Mom, but we love those kids and if Mom is happy they are surrounded by extra love, the kids will become content and happy too. If you make it a game, they will play games too-with both of our households!
We are not in a competition. There is no game called "Who's house is their favorite?" Really? Come on! It is called parenting. It is a set of adults who want the best for the kids and together-or separately-we can get them to become confident and respectful adults. Common sense shows that working as a team brings proven results and shows the kids that despite differences, when there is a common goal to achieve that being a team player will bring success. Yes, that means making tough choices to make sure the kids are in the best situation they can be at any given time to reach their changing goals. But if games are what you like to play, then divide that line in the sand, make sure you give the kids only partial details and not the whole story to truly make it challenging for them and stand back to see how that turns out for you. Their Dad and I will be at our home rolling our eyes and expecting rules and curfews and punishing them when they break it or talk back. It really is that simple to us.
I recently read that in many cases the most source of stress in divorced household for the kids will come from the parent who left. It is called guilty parenting. If you are the one who left my husband for whatever reason, just don't transfer that guilt to your children. And do not ever let your children see you despising us as Stepmom's unless disrespect is the trait you are aiming for in our child. I am here because I love their father and I want the kids to be content. I became a Stepmom 10 years ago, myself. I came from a very violent relationship. I had just escaped-essentially preparing for death as I ran because I feared he was coming after me only to find myself befriending my now husband and have 2 kids in my life. I share this because Stepmoms are humans and we have feelings. We may have been carefree or running for our lives one moment and raising your kids the next. Unless you want to make the transition harder for everyone, please don't criticize or tell your kids to disrespect our name. The kids do talk and I would much rather you just come stab that knife into my back personally then go through the kids. I am not your competition. I am your help. I am more love in your kids lives. I support their Dad and keep him honest and involved. Lord knows how he'd be left alone with no help from a woman in the house. Your kids just might be surviving on ham sandwiches and coke when here. Mom is the one who has to make that choice because the kids are watching and will ultimately mimic YOU! Show them respect and kindness. Show them discipline and love and when it gets tough, you are fortunate enough to have a Stepmom's help and support. Stab that Stepmom in the back and things get very stressful real fast! Be a real Mom, not a guilty parent. We ask that of you because we want the best for your kids!
The Stepmoms who care
Perhaps you chuckle as a Stepmom reading this because you relate. Perhaps you are a Bio-Mom who has handed Stepmom the short end of the stick too many times to count. The kids are watching us! Just remember that parenting is not a game, it is real. Real kids. Real lives. Real homes. Teamwork at its finest! Learn to love crazy and make sure your children only know what your goal is for them, never show them all the stress it takes to get there-divorced or not! It is not their burden to carry. If they think everyone is content and happy, they will be content and happy. It really is that simple! Pay attention because they sure are!