Stepmums, our role is extremely common these days (the most popular family structure is the stepfamily) and yet societies/communities/cultures value the biological mother over the stepmum. This is a generalization and it is true in many parts of the globe. However, by engaging with those people around you, you can create an environment where you feel as though you belong not only as a stepmum but more importantly as a person. Does this sound farfetched? Have you tried but feel as though you have failed? Are the people around you not willing to listen and hear your views? If you have answered yes to any of these then please keep reading. It is important that you understand that this is my point view, I am speaking from experience, in response to literature and as an observer in my work with stepmums around the world.
You do have rights as a stepmum. This is true because you as a human have rights to a safe, nourishing and fulfilling life. These basic human rights can manifest in your role as a stepmum too. You have a right to belong. If you are currently experiencing a significant lack of validation as a stepmother then please know that over time with dedication on yours and your loved ones behalf this current dynamic can change. Your partner is your best ally in supporting you with feeling more heard and influential in the home. Communication with your partner can be tough as they can become defensive and overwhelmed. Usually this response is a reaction to feeling caught in the middle of pleasing you, the kids and their ex-partner. They have a very big job too. Working with your partner not against them can help you to achieve a sense of belonging in your stepfamily which really is the starting block when considering your rights as a stepmum. Here are 3 tips to assist you with connecting to your rights as stepmum.
- Become familiar with your own emotional experience. Take some time to journal or reflect in another way about your current feelings surrounding being a stepmum. The better you know yourself the better you will be able to communicate with your partner. Something you could reflect on is ‘What would make my experience as a stepmum better?’
- Spend time with your partner and discuss your shared goals, dreams and aspirations for your stepfamily. See where you are on the same page and see where you are different. Talk with eachother about your roles and what you need from eachother to help you to be fulfilled and confident as parents.
- Be prepared to give and take when considering the needs of others. This can be a hard one especially if at the moment you feel that your thoughts and views are constantly being overlooked. However, it is really important to understand that you are part of a broader family where focusing on the family as a whole is just as important as your own needs. Write down what you are prepared to be flexible with and then what you aren’t. Once you feel clear take share your reflections with your partner.
As stepmums we might not have the same legal rights as biological parents. Some stepmums do take steps to adopt or depending on where you live in the world different level of rights are awarded to stepmums. However, despite the legal side of things you are entitled to a life of happiness where you feel a sense of belonging, are respected and feel that you can live life to your full potential. Stepfamilies are more complex than first time families though by having open, honest and respectful communication with your partners this journey can be made a whole lot easier.
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