So, this is a very taboo subject, and certainly not something that is discussed at the very start of a relationship! Let’s face it, no one is ever going to say:
“by the way, I’ve noticed your son has no table manners, and it also really unnerves me how much your daughter looks like your Ex Wife, it’s like having her tiny little twin stalking around the house and walking in on me on the toilet…”
There is a huge amount of pressure put upon Step Parents to bond instantly with their new partners children.
I am here to tell you categorically, that this is bullshit!
Some NATURAL parents take time to bond, adapt to the lifestyle change and love their own kids, and they’ve created and birthed them! It’s considered a normal experience to struggle with this as a brand new parent, and is totally acceptable (even expected!) for you to put your hand up and say:
“erm, excuse me, this is actually really hard, and I’ve no fucking clue what I’m doing…can I get some help over here…”
A good friend of mine, we’ll call her ‘Disco Sally’ once said to me:
“we brought the baby home from the hospital, popped him down on the living room floor in his car seat, looked at each other and said – holy shit, what do we do now!”
So you see, even the best Mums (and she is a proper SuperMum) have their wobbles. The reality of being responsible for a little person, and have them need you to take care of them completely, is incredibly daunting stuff.
So how then, are Step Parents supposed to instantly love someone else’s children, tiny little strangers, that they essentially, have only just met? Never mind also taking responsibility for them at times, whilst trying not to feel terrified of making a mistake, or saying and doing the wrong thing? Well, they can’t and they don’t.
It’s impossible to love a stranger at first sight. And the reality is, you might not even like them all that much at first!
It takes time to get to know and love people.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my StepKids. With my whole heart, and yes, unconditionally. I am exceptionally fortunate and privileged to have them in my life, they make it complete. They are gorgeous, intelligent, kind, considerate and far less annoying than most other teenagers I’ve ever met…
But I didn’t at first for goodness sake!
The only things I love immediately, unequivocally, and at first sight, are double gin & tonics and puppies!
It takes hard work, commitment, resilience and patience, lots and lots of patience, to build a strong and loving relationship with someone else’s children; it doesn’t just happen overnight.
As a Step Mum, your contribution is also, probably, going to be seen as less than basic by the Ex, but the kids will appreciate it as they grow up, as will your partner, and that is seriously the only validation you need! Anyone else’s views from the sidelines (unless you’ve specifically asked for them!) are irrelevant…
All parents think their kids are the cutest, the sweetest, the funniest, the cleverest – of course they do, they love them unconditionally, as all parents should. So it’s a delicate process, particularly because your new partner is desperate for you to feel the same about their kids, for your family to blend seamlessly, and for you all to live Happily Ever After!
But we all know being a Step Mum is no fairytale, well, never a good one anyway!
This is the thing, your StepKids are not your Partner or your Partner’s Ex. Yes, they may look alike, and yes, they may have some of their mannerisms, but essentially they are their own people. They have their own personalities and they have their own minds…
Seeing them as tiny versions of their Mum or Dad doesn’t help us to bond with them.
When you look at them and interact with them, it is so important to see them as the individual and unique people they are.
What is so great about this as the years go on, is that you see how each Parent and Step Parent, on both sides, plays an integral part in their development.
So when you’re proud of them for acing a school play or an exam, you’re all proud together, because you all played a part. Personal differences aside, in these situations, you are undoubtedly one team.
We get back what we put in, for all things in life. So the harder we work at getting to know, like and love our StepKids, the more we will get back from them in return!