No matter how long you’ve been a step-parent or have been a part of your stepchild’s life, there will inevitably be times when you you are reminded that you are not a biological parent. And even though there was probably a legitimate and logical reason that this little reminder came up, it can hurt nonetheless.
Since I’ve been part of my husband’s son “D’s” life for more than two and a half years now, I have a been a constant authority and parental figure in his life. Even though I love spending time with him and taking care of him and I see him as my son, it doesn’t mean I have the same rights that a biological parent does – especially in the big life moments.
There are many times when I get frustrated because I’m not included in big decisions like what school he will attend or being there for doctor’s appointments. Sometimes I’m able to realize the absurdity of my feelings, but other times I just feel left out of things that are important to D’s overall well being.
So how do I stay sane when my emotions begin to overpower my logical side? Here are my tips:
1. Never let your feelings impact how you treat your step-child.
Children, no matter their age, should be protected from those types of feelings. There is never a need for them to know there is tension between parents or feel that the tension is transferring to the relationship they have with a step-parent.
2. Share how you feel with your spouse.
Your spouse may not be aware how you feel and may either be able to help change the situation or at least be more cognizant of your feelings going forward. Your spouse should be a sounding board and should want to make you comfortable in your situation.
3. Reflect on yourself.
Be introspective and determine if your feelings have anything to do with your own insecurities or self-consciousness. Sometimes we project our feelings onto a situation and have to take a step back to realize if the feelings are legitimate or based on other reasons.
4. Focus only on those things you can control and let the rest go.
Like everything in life, we can only control so much, the rest is out of our hands and no amount of stress or complaining is going to make it change.
5. Stop thinking that you’re not a part of the family.
When big decisions are made without your input, it can make you feel like you’re not a critical part of the family structure – like you don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But you’re just as important part of the family as anyone else. Just remember that this family unit is bigger than you, your husband and your step-child. And it’s not about you, but the best interests of the child.
Do you have any coping mechanisms that help you get through those times you feel frustrated or stressed?