As children, we often grow-up listening to fairy tales and promises of a happily-ever-after. However, with the high divorce rates these days, it may very well be that your prince charming turns out to be a divorced dad.
Getting into a relationship with a man who has kids means that you must contemplate the reality of one day becoming a stepmother. Unconventional families are on the rise, so what do you need to know before you become a stepmom?
1) Stepmoms have it tough, but we overcome.
Stepmothers are often depicted as the evil one in fairy tales, and that stereotype tends to stick. As a result, we stepmoms often find ourselves tirelessly trying to prove that we are worthy and good enough. We may find ourselves needing to prove our own worthiness to our partner, his family, his kids, other moms, the store clerk, and just about anyone who crosses our path.
Proving yourself to be a good stepmom often means self-sacrificing, being a caretaker, and putting your own needs last. The truth is that trying to be Mary Poppins when you’re really not will eventually lead to burnout. Constantly putting other people’s needs first is a recipe for stress and resentment.
If you’re dating a man with kids, be sure to give him space with his kids, and take time alone to do the things that are important to you. Know that you are good enough and be secure in who you are. Being a stepmom means you will need to be intentional about staying true to yourself and dropping the need to people-please and be accepted.
2) You won’t come first, and that’s okay.
Getting into this relationship requires realistic expectations. We may be attracted to a divorced dad because of his paternal instincts – he puts his kids first, and that is desirable because it means he will put your future kids and family first, right?
It’s not always that simple. Many times this means that you won’t come first, and that reality can hurt. Being a stepmom means you will need to be intentional about staying true to yourself and dropping the need to people-please and be accepted.
Being a stepmom means you will need to be intentional about staying true to yourself and dropping the need to people-please and be accepted.
We tend to want to be the apple of our partner’s eye, and stepkids will take that attention away from us time and time again. This requires you to take a deep look at your own insecurities, and develop a sense of self-love that is unshakeable – so that in those moments where you’re not first, you can still feel secure knowing that you are important and loved.
3) The kids probably won’t like you at some point, don’t take it personally.
If your stepkids don’t like you, chances are it’s not about you but what you represent. It’s not uncommon for children of divorce to dream that one day their parents will get back together. As an adult child of divorce, I still hold onto this hope that my own parents will reunite one day, as improbable as that may be. It’s a normal and inevitable desire.
Dad’s new partner will represent a barrier to the possibility of the parents ever reuniting, so children will naturally be resistant to that at some point in time, to some degree. This storm will pass with patience and reassurance of the stability of the new family structure. As such, being a successful stepmom requires you to develop a patience and inner peace that is indestructible in the midst of the storm.
4) You will never be their mom.
Navigating the stepmom role can be hard and confusing for some. Even if the kids’ biological mom is not in the picture for whatever reason, it’s important to know that you can never replace her. That is not your role. You can be a positive maternal figure, and a ‘bonus’ mom, but not a replacement for their mom. I say this as a full-time stepmom to two wonderful children who I treat as my own, and I would love to call my own, but they are not. Even though their mother is not around very often, she is their mother and I respect that fact. I take my place happily alongside their father, as their main maternal figure, but not their mom. There is no shame in that and we are whole and accepted just as we are.
5) Being a stepmom will bring up a lot of past hurts and insecurities. It is an amazing opportunity for healing and personal growth for those brave enough to face their shadows.
Being a stepmom will bring up insecurities and limiting beliefs you didn’t even know you had. Some people may read this article and be scared away by that fact. Others will read this and if the child’s dad is the man of their dreams, then being a stepmom is worth it. Being a stepmom can be an amazing opportunity for personal growth and developing emotional resilience that will make us a better human being. For those of us brave enough to look within and clean-up what is ours to control, being a stepmom can be the most rewarding experience of our lives.
Being a stepmom isn’t always easy, but once we develop that resilience and overcome our own limitations, we can learn to surf those waves of change with ease and grace. As empowered stepmoms, we can drop our ego and be the calm in the storm by living a life of inner peace and spreading our joy in our families, and the world around us.
Anna de Acosta is a Stepmom Coach and creator of the Mindful Stepmom guided meditation album – helping stepmoms overcome common limiting beliefs and challenges faced along their journey. She is an adult child of alcoholism and divorce and understands that the challenges we face as moms and stepmoms are an opportunity for personal growth and healing for our families. Anna is a mom and a full-time stepmom who lives in Peru with the love of her life and their four children. She offers premium-coaching packages to help stepmoms own their power and live a life of peace despite the chaos that may be going on around them. For more information visit AnnaDeAcosta.com, Facebook, Instagram and iTunes.