Every person has his or her own idea of what it means to parent. As long as both parents are pretty much on the same page, parenting your children can be a somewhat painless undertaking.
But in a new marriage that includes stepchildren, the partners may not always be on the same page. And that could mean trouble given that the challenges in a stepfamily are endless.
Here are some ways to make sure you and your new partner can parent together as a new stepcouple to keep your relationship united:
You’ve pictured it since you met your new partner: the marriage, the children, a cozy home together.
You never thought of all the things that could disrupt this idyllic picture: the chance that your stepchildren won’t like you, the ex that will not seem to disappear, and the challenges of parenting a stepchild.
Entering into a stepfamily often means entering into many unrealistic fantasies. Below are five common fantasies you may have that often create disappointment in a stepfamily.
“I don’t understand how she cannot love Isabel (8). I know she’s acting out a lot of anger about the divorce, but she’s so loving and adorable!”
It is said that nobody can truly love a child like a child’s own parents. We were the ones who saw how precious they were as infants, and who they needed and depended upon growing up. We were the ones feeling pride at each and every milestone, as if our kids were the only children learning to turn over, crawl, and walk. And we fell in love completely the first moment we heard the words “mama” and “dada.”
This love we have for our children is often so powerful that we cannot imagine how a new spouse, who professes to love us so much, does not feel the same way.
Two weeks into my new Stepfamily, my second Stepfamily to be exact. I planned to get up this morning, turn on my computer and, with a cup of coffee, have a luxurious morning to collect my thoughts before my workday begins. But, at 8 a.m., my pretty new stepdaughter flies into the house and announces, “My school day doesn’t start until 9:30 today!” and proceeds to set up her homework on the dining room table. I got into the shower and thought about how I got here, at this time in my life.
For the past five years, I have lived alone, learning about myself, my rituals, my routines. I had the luxury of having my own space, with no kids around, and I fit into it nicely. I enjoy my time with no interruptions, when I can “screen” calls and determine when and how I want to be interrupted.