I’m 28 years old and have been an “unofficial” Stepmom for 2 years. FDH and I are getting married next spring. I have two stepdaughters, ages 5 and 12. There are numerous things that I would do differently, if I could. They do say hindsight is 20/20!
1. Co-parenting. I definitely wish this was something FDH and I had sat down and discussed, right from the beginning. FDH and I have very different parenting styles: he is very laid back and I am more strict. I had rules that I felt were important to put in place, that he didn’t necessarily agree with. It took some time and some heated arguments but we’ve learned to blend our parenting styles. He can see more things from my point of view – that although the rules may be strict in his eyes, he knows I need to feel that I’m still partly in charge of our house and in a crazy SMOM life, I need to have a little control somewhere.
2. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! This is a HUGE thing for us, something we’re just learning to deal with now. I jumped in head-first when we became a blended family, and boy did my heart get schmucked! My feelings got hurt and FDH told me to back off a little and not to try so hard. About a year later, FDH thought I was being a little aloof and distant (I was disengaging) and became angry, wanting me to become more engaged. I told him that I was trying to do the best I can, but had NO idea what he expected from me! We both realized that we needed to sit down and discuss exactly what my SMOM role was, how involved he’d like me to be and where the boundaries were.
3. Not to take things so personally. Once I realized this mantra, my feelings weren’t hurt nearly so much. I read book after book on being a stepmother (StepMonster and Single Girls Guide To Marrying A Man, His Kids And His Ex Wife have been fantastic) and it’s really opened my eyes to how not every bump in the road is about ME – it’s just a reflection of the situation itself. The stepkids would still have some feelings of resentment no matter who their father married and BM would still despise someone else if I wasn’t in the picture. Hand in hand with that, was to talk to other people who had children the same age: sometimes it wasn’t anything to do with me or the divorce, but just a normal reaction for any child. That’s helped a lot as one stepdaughter approaches her teenage years.
The biggest thing that gets me through the rough SMOM patches? FDH is an amazing man, a loving father and the best thing to ever happen to me. He is worth it, without a doubt.
A very close second is having such a great support group like this! It’s so relieving to come to a place and never been judged for feeling the way you feel because everyone is going through it too. I’ve got some invaluable advice from these ladies and am eternally grateful!