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How to Stop Hurting When Your Step-Children Choose Their Bio Parents Instead of You



One of the toughest things to deal with as a stepparent is pouring time, energy, and love into your stepchildren, only to have them bail on you when their biological parents come back in the picture or start taking responsibility for their kids.


Stepparents have a tendency to believe that kids will recognize who shows up for them, who helps them, and who is consistent with them (and hopefully eventually they will). But kids don't feel love that way. They have a biological bond with their parent, they need their parents to love them, because if their parents don't love them, to them it means they're not lovable and they're not safe. Their need to be loved by their biological parent is a primal need, not a choice they make (at least when they're young).


Sadly, our stepchildren often aren't aware their choices make us feel like this. In their minds, they don't frame it as choosing mom or dad over us - they just want to feel loved and supported by their bio parent, and when that parent comes back into their life or starts showing up as a responsible parent, our stepchildren feel like that's their chance to get the love they need and it validates that they're worthy of being loved.


So what helps when kids make these choices? Try these things and let me know what you think!


1. Remember that this is biology and bonding, and it's not about you at all.


2. Deal with the emotions this causes in you. Talk to friends, vent, cry, talk to your life coach or therapist. (If you want to schedule a free 30 minute consultation call with me, email me at sara@sarasusov.com)


3. Re-frame your thoughts about this. Instead of thinking that your stepchildren don't love or appreciate you, tell yourself that you play an important and necessary role in their life.

4. If validation is important to you (like it is to me), find a way to get that validation from your partner, friends, parents, co-workers, or give it to yourself! You're doing a really good job in a difficult situation and you deserve to be thanked for that!


5. Remind yourself as many times as you need to hear it that their choices aren't about you. They're not choosing their bio parent over you - they're choosing to believe that their bio mom or dad loves them.


What has helped you when you feel like your stepchildren have chosen their bio parent over you?


One of the toughest things to deal with as a stepparent is pouring time, energy, and love into your stepchildren, only to have them bail on you when their biological parents come back in the picture or start taking responsibility for their kids.


Stepparents have a tendency to believe that kids will recognize who shows up for them, who helps them, and who is consistent with them (and hopefully eventually they will). But kids don't feel love that way. They have a biological bond with their parent, they need their parents to love them, because if their parents don't love them, to them it means they're not lovable and they're not safe. Their need to be loved by their biological parent is a primal need, not a choice they make (at least when they're young).


Sadly, our stepchildren often aren't aware their choices make us feel like this. In their minds, they don't frame it as choosing mom or dad over us - they just want to feel loved and supported by their bio parent, and when that parent comes back into their life or starts showing up as a responsible parent, our stepchildren feel like that's their chance to get the love they need and it validates that they're worthy of being loved.


Sara Susov: Step Up Mentoring


Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

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