You’re a new stepmum (or seasoned) and it is not your week with the children. You are enjoying time with you partner and feeling a bit like your life isn’t just about being a parent. You are feeling balanced and again at ease with the family you have stepped into. You have made plans for the next two days before the children arrive for another week. You have decided to reconnect with friends, spend romantic time with your partner, get the home in order and focus on work/study. Then the phone rings! Who could it be?
The kid’s mother has asked if the children can come over two days earlier then when they normally would. That moment of bliss, stability and sense of control over your life has in a blink GONE! You express your feelings to your partner and you can see that they are caught in the middle. You may at this point start to feel guilty because you don’t want the kids to come earlier, even though you know your partner probably would love to see the kids. You know that by saying ‘no’ it will cause conflict between the biological mum and your partner. These moments can feel really messy, overwhelming and bring up a whole lot of emotion for the stepmum.
Stepmum guilt is common and can present itself in different situations. While you as a stepmum have every right to stand by your needs and express how you are feeling it can sometimes come at a cost. When your feelings are not understood by those around you, you can plummet into guilt and shame. Shame can lead us into behaviours you might regret later. If this is ongoing you can end up feeling emotionally exhausted, afraid to speak up, resentful and hypersensitive. Overtime your wellbeing will be greatly impacted too.
How can you as a stepmum stand by your needs and wants without falling into the pit of guilt and shame?
- Work on creating a strong alliance with your partner where support is tangible. Voice your needs and feelings in a calm manner using ‘I’ statements and then give space for your partner to respond. Develop a system where you feel heard and understood even if they can’t make a decision based on your needs. Support is really necessary.
- Give yourself permission to fully embrace what you need and enjoy in life. Speak with a friend or join a group where you can share yourself openly and freely. Through this experience you may come to feel validated and in turn more empowered.
- Be flexible and willing to compromise. Rather than cancelling your plans I challenge you to keep them. It can be easy to fall in a heap and give up as you may feel completely overwhelmed. Though, still do what you had planned and reschedule the things you need to postpone.
Guilt can lead into shame. Both emotional states are part of being human and very common for stepparents and parents alike. You are not alone.
If you are experiencing a lot of difficulty at this point in your stepmum journey I would love to hear you as support is by far the key. Please make a comment below or head on over to my facebook page and send me a message. I look forward to hearing from you.
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