As a step parent, doubting yourself and feeling sick either just before your stepchildren come over or just after they leave is not uncommon.
Most people are driven from a place of goodness and ideals. But such dreams and situations are sometimes shattered by stepchildren’s behaviour- no matter how old they are!
The fact that you are a step parent shows you are someone with strong values who has stepped up and is determined to make a difference in someone’s life.
You have made a choice to love and care for someone else’s children when others may have walked away or put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.
As human beings, we want to be liked and loved by everyone we meet. Whether it’s at work, school, sporting organisations, wherever.
Children can be cruel. Stepchildren sometimes even crueller.
Your stepchildren are unlikely to become your number one fans immediately. They are experiencing a lot of change in their lives.
It is normal for a whole gamut of emotions to greet you each time and often run through a whole weekend leaving you confused, exhausted and often in tears that they or your partner will not see.
What we all forget is that if you are a stepmother and they are living with their mother and you are having them every alternate fortnight you cannot undo all the ‘pumping up’ that has been done in the intervening days or weeks.
All you can do is be responsible for what you say, when you say it, how you say it and why you say it.
Children don’t have the same emotional ability to be able to process all the emotions which can manifest themselves in different ways such as when one of their parents marries or goes out with someone new.
Families are confusing but stepfamilies and blended families even more so!
Initially you may get on fantastically well with your stepchildren leading you to wonder why any well-meaning friend or another friend who is already a step parent is giving you advice and warnings about what you are taking on.
“That won’t happen to me,” you tell yourself. “These kids are different.”
Truth is, quite often, when your stepchildren realize that this is now reality and you are in their lives and going to be in their lives permanently, the claws come out and you are left completely stunned!
In other situations, the stepchild may ignore you and keep up bad behaviour for years. All you can do is not stoop to their level of behaviour.
Your partner needs to have some proper face-to-face chats with their children.
Explaining that it is completely normal for them to have mixed feelings about you now being in and part of their lives has to happen. And also, that it is normal for them to actually want you out of their lives.
But they have to clearly explain that you are part of the family and are not going anywhere.
There is no crystal ball, no magic spell and no guarantee of success in step parenting, just as it in life generally.
It is important that your partner is aware of how you might feel. These are their children and it is very difficult for anyone to accept their offspring are not treating the person who has chosen to love them and you in the right way.
Sometimes many years pass by and the stepparent has quietly made the decision within themselves that they have tried their absolute best when it comes to their stepchild but they are not a doormat and actions speak louder than words.
They love their partner but when it comes to their stepchild sadly they will just have to accept that they are not accepted by them and that hurts.
If the stepchild cannot see what you have tried to do throughout the years for them, then you cannot blame yourself for their behaviour. You have tried and that is all you can do, so it will be their loss in the end.
Is the author of “Step Parenting with Purpose; Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask”.
This book provides invaluable insights and advice to those beginning or already on their journey in the step parenting/blended family world. It recently attained a number 1 ranking on Amazon.
It is also available from her website, which during Covid-19 disruptions to deliveries is very useful.
Karalee is a mother of 3 children and stepmother of 2 young adults. Karalee is also a sought-after news and current affairs commentator on television, radio, a regular columnist and a senior executive media trainer.