5 Challenging Emotions Every Stepmom Will Face

Updated on September 25, 2019
Farawaytree profile image

As both a mother and a stepmother, Michelle explores the complicated dynamics of modern parenting and stepparenting.

Every day people make mistakes, learn, adapt, and struggle with complicated and confusing emotions. In the case of stepmoms, some emotions stick with you for years even when you've tried your very best to overcome or eradicate them from your life.

Even seasoned stepmoms who have already raised their stepchildren wish they had owned more knowledge, flexibility, or patience looking back on their own experiences. Unfortunately, every stepparenting situation is different and even a situation that seems rock solid can change in an instant when dealing with blended family dynamics.

Here are 5 emotions that are especially challenging for many stepmoms to let go of and some experienced advice to go along with it for the journey.

Every stepmom experiences fear of the responsibilities she's taken on.
Every stepmom experiences fear of the responsibilities she's taken on. | Source

1. Fear

Fear is an emotion that infiltrates every human being and animal on the planet. It's not uncommon or unique.

But it is paralyzing to many people in their lives.

Stepmoms are often in situations which are uncomfortable and awkward. This can be very frightening at first and difficult to navigate. There's fear of judgment from other parents, the biological mom, or other family members around you. There's fear of simply not being good enough for the task at hand.

A stepmom is stepping in to help raise and care for a child who is not hers. This child or children may be very young or they may be teenagers. Stepmoms are at least partly or in some cases fully in charge of these children.

This is a huge responsibility!

Just as a new mother who has given birth is likely scared that she doesn't know what she's doing, so does a stepmom fear being a total failure. It's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. With the right amount of support from your partner, friends, or family members, this fear can be calmed.

Will the fear ever truly go away? Probably not. But this is also part of being a parent, and it's totally normal for a stepmom to be downright terrified at times. Just try not to let it consume your whole life. If it does, there is support out there to be had.

"Stepmoms are usually in situations which are uncomfortable and awkward. This can be very frightening at first and difficult to navigate."

Even if you're a confident stepmom, you've still got difficult issues that you battle every day.
Even if you're a confident stepmom, you've still got difficult issues that you battle every day.

2. Guilt

Stepmoms carry guilt with them just as the biological parents may also have guilt. Stepmoms can have guilt about how much time they do or don't spend with their stepchildren as well as if they're giving enough energy or perhaps too much energy hence stepping on a biological parent's toes.

Stepmoms may also feel guilty if they don't feel that love for their stepchildren they feel society or even their spouse expects them to.

The levels of inadequacy that can invade a stepmom's world are significant. Falling into the comparison trap and forever trying to be everything for your blended family can lead to paralyzing depression in many cases.

The guilt that can be associated with trying to be your own person with your own life while also attempting to be stepmom who is always there and shows up is a real dilemma.

A stepmom who is especially close her stepchild may end up feeling guilty about that bond, worrying that she's creating tense loyalty binds or that it's detrimental to her stepchild's relationship with their biological mother.

The most important thing to remember is that guilt is not a productive emotion and with better communication, much of it can probably be alleviated.

Everyone feels guilty - even stepmoms. Extra communication within your blended family can help squash a lot of it.
Everyone feels guilty - even stepmoms. Extra communication within your blended family can help squash a lot of it. | Source

"The guilt that can be associated with trying to be your own person with your own life while also attempting to be stepmom who is always there and shows up is a real dilemma."

3. Envy

This emotion is common for mostly everyone from all walks of life. It can particularly affect stepmoms because, in most cases, the children they are caring for will forever be comparing them to their biological mother.

Stepmoms may feel envious of the relationship between a stepchild and their biological parent, especially if they are very close to their stepchild. Stepmoms may also feel envious of the previous relationship between their spouse and the ex because they share a history together.

Envy is a normal emotion and can dissipate in time with continued self-confidence, effort, and patience.

It's not uncommon for stepmoms to envy families who don't have to deal with the dynamics of a blended family, such as shuttling kids back and forth, extra planning for holidays or events, as well as the mental exhaustion of trying to please everyone.

Envy comes with the territory when you have a blended family. Envy visits the biological parents as well. The best thing any stepmom can do is simply deal with envious feelings that come up and find a way to better cope with circumstances in a healthy way.

"Envy comes with the territory when you have a blended family. Envy visits the biological parents as well."

Envy comes with the territory when you have a blended family.
Envy comes with the territory when you have a blended family. | Source

4. Anger

Feeling angry is about as common as anything yet many of us still have difficulty navigating this easily provoked emotion.

For stepmoms, anger is a normal bridge to cross. But it's also an emotion stepmoms find themselves having to repress the most.

Whether it's anger over changed schedules, insensitive words, or just someone's behavior in general, stepmoms will need to learn how to productively express their frustration in any given situation before it blows up into a full-fledged rage.

This concept of working through anger can be a daunting and sometimes long journey for many stepmoms, especially when dealing with high-conflict exes or dysfunctional co-parents. Getting rid of anger won't happen overnight. It's a process.

Just remember: Experiencing anger is normal but learning to work through it to a positive place is absolutely essential.

 Experiencing anger is normal but learning to work through it to a positive place is absolutely essential.
Experiencing anger is normal but learning to work through it to a positive place is absolutely essential. | Source

"For stepmoms, anger is a normal bridge to cross. But it's also an emotion stepmoms find themselves having to repress the most."

5. Resentment

This is a huge one. Resentment is really the icing on the cake which can set off everything else for a stepmom. Resenting your blended family situation, the ex, or your stepkids is not a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, it's going to come up on the stepmom journey.

Resentment may pop up when you feel you're doing too much as a stepmom. Say you're doing the majority of the school pick-ups, drop-offs, or homework duties and you feel it's taking away from the things that you want to do. This will cause resentment.

On the other end, you may feel resentful as a stepmom because you think you're being left out of too many activities or even decisions. There's nothing worse than feeling like an outsider.

Generally, if there's any situation you're facing or have already faced as a stepmom which makes you feel as though you're not being treated fairly, it's likely you're dealing with a good handful of resentment.

The only real way to deal with resentment is to either change the current situation or communicate your grievances clearly. Otherwise, that ugly feeling is just going to build up over time.

"Just as a new mother who has given birth is likely scared that she doesn't know what she's doing, so does a stepmom fear being a total failure. It's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of."

What is your biggest fear as a stepmom? (If you have something else to share, please do so in the comments!)

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Michelle Zunter

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    • profile image

      Wilma 

      3 weeks ago

      My husband and I have been together 20 years and married for 12 my stepson has been difficult from the beginning but I put it down to us being together he has now has family if his own but when he wants us to look after the kids he always asks his father who he doesn’t call dad he calls him mate which I find disrespectful but my husband doesn’t say ask me even though I am the one who feeds and bathes them and looks after them I am now at the stage where I just want to walk away don’t ask for much just respect and not getting that from him or his wife I am really done now

    • profile image

      Maria 

      2 months ago

      I feel all these emotions often. Sometimes one at a time sometimes all of them. Anger and resentment are my two worst. I find myself feeling resentful a lot because my partner gets upset if I don’t want to spend all my free time with the kids. They are two girls 8ans 6 and I e been with them for almost 3 years. They listen to me they respect me and the live I have for them is intense. The issue stems from how my partner reacts to things I want to do outside of the family. Not sure how to deal with it.

    • profile image

      Kblondee77 

      2 months ago

      Hello,

      I am a mom and a step mom to two step kids age 12 and 9 a girl and boy. I have been with their dad for 5 years and nothing has gotten easier . When they were younger i told myself they treat me awful because it’s new , well years later and they still talk to me like i am trash. They are only nice to be when i buy them gifts or do something they want to be a part of . The hardest part is my husband won’t discipline at all. He just says they are kids . He also says that they don’t get disciplined by their mom so he can’t be the bad guy ....Well my grown daughter and 7 year old son would never disrespect him. My husband gets mad at me when i go to him about how to deal with the disrespect from his kids. I am at the end of my rope . Do i just end my marriage ? I am depressed and feel very alone . Every time the kids are rude to me he does nothing , gets mad at me and then normally shuts me out . I am lost and very sad . I love my husband very much and do love my step kids , but i know i can’t put up with it for another 5 -10 years .

      Thank you

      Kim

    • profile image

      Moon 

      5 months ago

      I am experiencing a lack of appreciation from my partner. I get along with his kids, ages 3 and 8. I feel the guilt, anger, resentments and sadness within the blended family. Sometimes is hope that he would get back with the mother for the kids sake, but it was she who left him. There is a lot of love and laughter, yet I don't think my partner knows or understands how hard it is for me sometimes. He doesn't say or express his appreciation enough and I don't know if I can stay in a blended family where I'm not shown appreciation.

      What do you think?

    • profile image

      Lorraine 

      7 months ago

      How do u cope wth being a step parent to grown up child tht u husband didnt kw ant and slept wth her while u waz seperayed and gt ths lady pregnant now ths gorl is looking for him and how do i cope feeling hurt confused and i dnt kw wht to think abt all ths

    • Farawaytree profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Zunter 

      18 months ago from California

      100% yes! Thanks for your comment!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You have expressed what most stepmoms experience. It is not easy especially when the kids are young and the blend involves several sets of parents. Don't forget grandparents, too. You need a lot of patience and understanding.

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