When you marry someone who has children, you marry their children as well. But, that does not mean it is a match made in heaven. There is a reason that second marriages end in divorce 60% of the time. Step parenting is not easy and often times the stepparent feels like the forgotten parent. It is important to realize that some times the kids run the show, but the trick is to not let it get to you.
How do you overcome being the forgotten parent? There is no easy or quick answer for this question. You have to have the patience of Job and the heart of a warrior and love your new spouse on par with Romeo and Juliet. Sounds like a tall order, and often times it is, but if you can persevere, then you are in for the best bonus of all, which is more kids to love that will eventually love you.
As nice as that sounds, when you are in the thick of it, it is not easy to keep a smile pasted to your face as you navigate hateful words and disdain from stepchildren. It is important that your spouse has your back, and even more important that you are open and honest with them about how you are feeling. This is a key element in forging a relationship with children that don’t want you around.
Children learn from their parents. If your spouse is not taking your side, which shows a lack of respect, then why should the children respect you? They won’t. If the other bio parent is not showing you respect it is possible to counter balance that with some fancy footwork by your spouse, but it does make things tougher.
I have been on both sides of this fence, and neither is easy. Although my children love their stepfather, it has often been a difficult road and the lines have to be drawn as to what his responsibilities are with the kids and also with the kids on how they will treat him and talk to him. We have been married for almost three years, but the children have known him for longer than that, and we still have moments when we go to dinner and the kids want to sit next to me and not next to him. Or, when the kids will tell him he isn’t their father.
It isn’t easy, and often I find myself playing the middleman and the peacekeeper while still trying to maintain my own sanity. What I have found works though is to put them all in a room and let them hammer it out themselves. I have learned to step back from the step situation and let my children and my husband forge their own unique relationship. One that doesn’t have anything to do with me; this is what will make them bond and feel like a family.
During my second marriage, I wasn’t so lucky. I had stepchildren that were barely civil on a good day and they had a mother that encouraged them to be disrespectful and rude. Add to that a husband who did not stand up for me, and it was a miserable existence.
When you are in this situation, there isn’t much you can do. But, here are some pointers to get you through it:
- Don’t stoop to the children’s or the biological divorced parents level. Remember, you are the adult, act like it at all times.
- Keep smiling. As tough as it is, if you can keep the smile pasted on your face, you will eventually be noticed.
- Talk to your spouse. The bottom line? It is up to your spouse to make sure that you are not the forgotten parent. Talk to them and then talk to them some more. If you can’t get through to them, then that says something about how they feel about you, and gives you something to think about.
Being a stepparent does not mean you are always the forgotten parent, but even in the best of blended families, it can happen. So, if you are faced with being the forgotten parent in the step family equation, take heart that what is worth it often takes time to develop. Have patience and trust that it will work out the way it is supposed to work out.