Stepparenting is a simple concept: You meet someone, fall in love with them (and maybe their kids), then build a family together. It seems like a simple equation, comparable to addition and subtraction. Once you get into a blended family, simple equations become like trigonometry, and often include imaginary numbers.
What makes being in a blended family difficult? An ex-partner or a deceased partner, children that may or may not like you, different expectations of your role as a stepparent, finances, child support or alimony, trying to co-parent with someone actively working against you, different parenting expectations you and your partner have, trying to build traditions, having your partner treat your children different than theirs - the list can go on.
Okay, so you get it. It's not easy. But why is it simple?
Research on blended families shows that we experience common patterns, and they tend to happen in a predictable order. Once you learn what those patterns are, and as long as you and your partner are both committed to each other and to making your relationship work, it becomes a matter of recognizing and surviving the pattern. Once you know what's happening, you can depersonalize it (reframe it so it's not about you) and you can move into problem solving mode.
Last week I was talking to one of my private clients, and we talked about how the bio mom in her situation tends to cycle in her emotions and behaviors. I love this (because I love systems and figuring out how to hack them) so we talked about figuring out the patterns this bio mom has, then adjusting her strategy and coping skills to deal with different parts of the cycle. Since she doesn't have control over what the bio mom does (and vice versa), we focused on what she can control - her own behavior, responses, reactions.
What would your circle (below) look like? What's in your control and out of your control? How would letting go of what's out of your control help your experience in stepparenting become easier?
As always, I'm here for you. My coaching has purpose when I serve YOU. Please reach out if you need support, or if you want help making stepparenting become easier for you.