Challenges That Come With Step-Parenting
The Step Series
There are several problems most of us experience as stepparents and they also affect our emotions negatively depending on different situations. Here are some of the discernments of step-parenting that may shock you.
- We often become jealous
I had no biological children of my own after moving in with my husband 15 years ago. He had five children and took full control of everything in the house. Being 29 years of age, I was used to a relationship where there were only the two of us, but now I was on a one to six, attempting to fit in the outer edges. After thinking for some time, I posed a question to my husband on whom he would save should our house burn down. “The kids, of course!” he replied. This answer left me in shock, and I felt hurt. “What about me? Didn’t he love me?” These questions ran through my mind.
I felt jealous especially when the children would play happily with their dad on bed and me, calm on the other side, attempting not to be shoved off. Another thing that made my heart burn out was when the kids would describe their mom with the great talks of how she was beautiful and how much they missed her. Other circumstances that left me jealous too was when I could be assigned to take pictures after the girls had dressed up ready for dances. Sometimes they would talk about their previous parties and vacations long before I was accepted in the family. I could not pretend that this did not take place despite exhausting my thoughts and growing out of it.
- The feelings of our biological children is different from the stepchildren
I used to question myself most often before I had my biological son. I could not understand why I was unable to love my stepchildren the same way their dad showed his great affection to them. “Am I lacking some child loving gene?” I questioned my thoughts. My heart cracked open after the birth of my first son. I felt the urge to protect him with everything I had should anything, or anyone squeeze it accidentally.
After I had my son, it dawned on me why my husband would volunteer to save his kids but leave me to die in the burning house. I would also do the same, to save my only biological son. I came to understand how high a parent love is and what they do feel for their kids. The other five older kids were awesome and deserved the parents’ love, but my heart felt rigid, and I couldn’t love them deeply as their father. It seemed to me as a terrible sin. The jealousy I had previously started deteriorating over time, and I developed bits of tenderness and love to my step children too. Despite my love towards them, I could not compare it to my son of which I would be willing to change that if hypnotized or given a pill.
- A feeling of persistent guilt
As stepmoms, we involve ourselves in broken families regardless of the degree to which the divorce took place. Termed as ‘the usurpers’, it makes you feel guilty or cold-hearted. Our presence establishes the broken lives having built new ones. Even though you are not the cause of the divorce, you develop a feeling of breaking emotionally as if you are trespassing.
- “Are these your kids?” one of the challenging questions stepmoms have to respond to
The main question is, should everyone know the truth that I am a step parent and not the biological mother of these kids? Giving an example to the answer you wish to hear: I have been raising these children for this number of years. The five are my step children while this little one is my biological kid. We live together happily and never use the word “Step or half-brother or sister.” I do everything for them including cleaning, cooking, help them with their school work and any other thing they need from their mom. I am sure I won’t look this young for long despite having all these children.
That is a long description of your life that you cannot express to every cab driver, check out girl or a hair stylist who poses the question to you. I would often reply “Yes, they are all my children.” But then there is that guilt, hidden behind your voice since you know the truth and the step kids certainly know that you are “lying.” Though they won’t speak anything about it, their pretense may just to show that they are playing nice and they care.
- The fear of not being accepted into the family
You come into the family having no knowledge whether you will be welcomed by the kids and more so the extended family. The community too is inclusive since they are aware of the new mom to the kids.
I remember being regarded with suspicion the first moment I went to pick up the children in school. The ladies at the desk would question me. “Who are you exactly? And why are you picking these kids? Where are you taking them?” they asked with much curiosity. I felt like an unpaid nanny that might have handed out lollipops to lure the kids to my van, parked from a distance with blacked out windows. I felt like being of a criminal background, and it disturbed my thoughts for years to change that situation.
I am not trying to instill fear in you, but all I can say is that step mothering can be and has been amazing. Despite that, it is necessary for you to be aware that it requires a woman with a healthy heart, the kids too have to be decent, and your man should be reputable with plenty of time for the family. At the end of the day, you can take a glass of wine. Besides, I don’t think it would be of any harm.