5 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Stepmom

Updated on April 2, 2018
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As both a mother and a stepmother, Michelle explores the complicated dynamics of modern parenting and stepparenting.

The decision to be part of someone's life on a long-term basis is a monumental one. If the person you love has children from a previous relationship or marriage, then making sure this decision is the right one for you and everyone else involved is imperative.

As a stepmom myself, I've compiled 5 essential questions you'll need to ask yourself before jumping into the often daunting journey of becoming a stepmom:

Do you think you have what it takes to be a stepmom?
Do you think you have what it takes to be a stepmom? | Source

1. Can I Handle Failure?

This may sound harsh but it's really just about accepting reality.

Every mother out there feels like a failure sometimes. The same goes for being a stepmom.

In the beginning, when you're just starting to get to know your stepchild or stepchildren, you won't have any past experience to gauge their behavior with, so you may feel as if nothing is going your way.

Accepting the reality that there are going to be times when things don't go your way is a part of life and definitely part of step-parenting. It means that you're going to have to work with the fact that there will be occasions when you're just at a loss for a solution.

It's okay. All parents get through it somehow and you will too.

The life of a stepmom has few "perfect" days, just like moms
The life of a stepmom has few "perfect" days, just like moms | Source

"In the beginning, when you're just starting to get to know your stepchild or stepchildren, you won't have any past experience to gauge their behavior with, so you may feel as if nothing is going your way."

The point of this question is to prepare yourself to let go of the desire for perfection, or anything remotely close. It's not going to happen, even if you're the most amazingly capable person in the world.

Realistically, you shouldn't set yourself up with any kind of expectation of what you think life as a stepmom is going to be. Whether you're potentially going to be a full-time stepmom or a part-time stepmom, be cautious with your expectations. Dynamics change often with children as they grow and you'll need to be uncomfortably flexible at times.

Your feelings about your identity as a stepmom may change from day to day, and your emotions will be caught off guard at inconvenient times. Every situation is different, of course, but the bottom line is to be prepared for just about anything.

Becoming a stepmom means commitment - both to your spouse and their children - for better or worse
Becoming a stepmom means commitment - both to your spouse and their children - for better or worse | Source

2. What Are My Jealousy Triggers?

This is one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself. The journey of a stepmother, generally, is a journey of love.

Whether you become a stepmother to a child who is 3 or to a child who is 10, they're going to be a major part of your life.

Your stepchildren will ask a lot of you, take a lot from you, and you will get to know them pretty well over time.

You'll wash their underwear, feed them, and do all the things parents do for their children. But - you may not get that "parent credit".

You'll need to have some idea of what your "jealousy triggers" are. Being left out? Competition from another woman? Your partner's attention? These are all situations you'll be dealing with as a stepmom.

"A stepmom's greatest sacrifice is letting go of her ego. Caring for a stepchild even when you may get no credit for doing so, is the ultimate test of character. "

What are your jealousy triggers?
What are your jealousy triggers? | Source

You may find yourself getting quite attached to your stepchildren after a time, falling in love with their smiles and personalities.

If your stepchildren don't return your love in a way that satisfies you or that's not up to your expectations (let go of those!) you may be easier prey to feelings of insecurity and jealousy.

A stepmom's greatest sacrifice is letting go of her ego.

Caring for a stepchild even when you may get no credit for doing so, is the ultimate test of character. Checking your ego at the stepmom door can take years of practice and experience but learning not to take everything so personally will become a phenomenal asset down the road.

Granted, there are stepmom/stepchild relationships that never quite take off, but for the most part, stepmoms and stepdads begin to see their stepchildren as an extension of themselves as the years go by.

Depending on how much time you spend with your stepchild or stepchildren, you may feel those pangs of jealousy creeping up on you. There may be times when you feel like your relationship with your stepchild couldn't get any better, and then mom shows up, and you feel like chopped liver.

It may also be hard to see your spouse with the biological mother at special events involving your stepchild or stepchildren, but this is a situation that's going to be about as permanent as they come. Ask yourself how well you deal with having to stand in the background at times because there will be times when that's necessary.

Get in tune with what sets you off the most emotion-wise, accept it, and find a way to live peacefully with those emotions so that you can function.

"If your stepchildren don't return your love in a way that satisfies you, you may be easier prey to feelings of insecurity and jealousy."

3. How Strong Is The Relationship With My Partner?

You and your partner are the reason all of this is happening. You fell in love, you want to be together, and your partner has a child or children.

If you think you need a strong partnership with a partner before you have children together, then get ready for the adventure of raising stepchildren.

Becoming a stepmother is a promise. A promise to love more than just the person you fell in love with. You'll be caring for the person or people whom your partner loves the most in the entire world.

Your stepchild or stepchildren will take time away from you, and time away from you and your partner together. It's pretty easy to fall into the trap of bickering, irritation, and miscommunication.

In other words, be ready for some "relationship trial by fire".

"As the stepmother of your partner's children, you'll have to compromise both with your partner's ideas of how things should work, as well as the biological mother and her side of the family."

Is your relationship strong enough to handle the pressures of stepmother-hood?
Is your relationship strong enough to handle the pressures of stepmother-hood? | Source

Not only do you have to deal with the mother of your stepchildren and the potential tension that brings, but you and your spouse will both need to be on relatively the same page as far as boundaries, discipline, and scheduling.

Every day brings with it more complexities, changes, and emotions that can disrupt whatever routine you potentially set in place.

It's already a struggle many times for parents to agree on how they both want to raise their children. As the stepmother of your partner's children, you'll have to compromise both with your partner's ideas of how things should work, as well as the biological mother and her side of the family.

There's always going to be someone left out of a decision-making process somewhere along the line. Perhaps not intentionally, but it happens.

This is where the old faithful solution of communication comes into play. If there's no productive communication, then there's bound to be more resentment and misunderstandings on the horizon.

Bottom line: You're either in this with your partner, or you're not. Being only half-in when dealing with children is not a great ground to start on. It's best to be sure of your decision - for better or for worse - period.

Communicating with your partner may not always be pleasant, but it's essential for raising children and stepchildren together
Communicating with your partner may not always be pleasant, but it's essential for raising children and stepchildren together | Source

4. Do I Have A Life Besides Being A Stepmom?

It sounds odd, but this is an essential question to ask.

Every woman, mother, and stepmother need to have something in her life that makes it her own. This must be something that has nothing to do with the children or a relationship.

This could be a hobby, exercise, career, friends, or simply anything that no one else can touch. In other words - an escape that makes you feel satisfied.

If you don't have your own life - your own purpose - outside of your family life, you will soon be eaten alive by all of the day-to-day chores and frustrations of parenting stepchildren.

"While a mother knows her child's expressions, habits, and moods like the back of her hand, a stepmother has to learn these things. It may take many years to do so."

Having your own interests outside of being a stepmom can make or break you
Having your own interests outside of being a stepmom can make or break you | Source

Having something to fall back on those days where you feel completely drained and frustrated, is really the best kind of therapy.

More importantly, keeping your sense of identity will come into use later on in situations where your stepchild or stepchildren gravitate towards their biological parents more than they do to you.

In this way, you'll always have something to lean on to distract you from any feelings of resentment that may come up.

In the realm of a stepmother, whether you're doing some, half, or the majority of the care-taking, resentment will be a frequent visitor. This doesn't mean you're going to be miserable and unhappy, it just means that you'll need to make sure you have other elements in your life that give you solace and relief from tough times.

One of the main differences between a biological mother and a stepmother is familiarity. While a mother knows her child's expressions, habits, and moods like the back of her hand, a stepmother has to learn these things. It may take many years to do so.

Being a stepmom is a very exhausting process in its own right. Having a way to relieve stress for yourself is a must.

The healthier the stepmom, the better the entire family is. Like the old saying about "mama" being happy - "If step-mama ain't happy, no one is happy".

"If you don't have your own life - your own purpose - outside of your family life, you will soon be eaten alive by all of the day-to-day chores and frustrations of parenting stepchildren."

5. Am I Ready For Negative Comments Or Intrusive Questions?

As with anything you do in life, becoming a stepmother is riddled with complexities, decisions, and other people's opinions.

You're going to need to be ready for the comments and questions other people make in your presence whether you like it or not. Some comments will be negative and some will be supportive, depending on a person's experiences or personal agenda.

People are curious creatures, some more tactful than others. People will ask you if you're the "real mom," who has custody, who makes child support payments, or how you and the biological mother get along.

Most people will assume that you and the biological mother don't get along. But contrary to popular belief, many stepmoms and moms get along just fine.

Of course, there's no guarantee that you will have good relations with the biological mother of your stepchildren, but it's not impossible. It takes communication, patience, and empathy to build a functioning relationship with a biological parent - from both sides.

Get ready for the questions
Get ready for the questions | Source

"Some comments will be negative and some will be supportive, depending on a person's experiences or personal agenda."

There are Facebook pages, online magazines, and a mass of quotes all over the internet devoted to stepmoms and moms who don't get along. The idea of raising someone else's children seems to play out well in the arena of internet negativity.

Try not to get sucked into that negativity, because when you have a bad day, you're going to be tempted to reach out to any kind of comfort you can - including unnecessary drama.

Try subscribing to a more productive, positive support systems such as close friends, books, or an encouraging, uplifting internet group.

People will always have something to say about your life. The best you can do is be sure of your decisions, confident in your abilities, and firm with your boundaries. Becoming a stepmom is not just something to try on for size.

Being a stepmom is a lifelong journey that affects many people besides yourself. The role of being a stepmom will change you forever, and it will change the life your stepchild or stepchildren - hopefully for the better.

Are You A "Full-time" stepmom or a "Part-time" Stepmom?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Michelle Zunter

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      • Farawaytree profile image
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        Michelle Zunter 10 days ago from California

        Unfortunately, you can't avoid upsetting her. In these situations, not everyone is going to be happy all the time. I don't know the circumstances but if it's healthier for the boy to be with his dad and yourself, that's great and good for you for stepping up. It's also good for him to have regular contact with mom if it's possible. Good luck!!!

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        Alex 10 days ago

        I recently started a relationship with my boyfriend who has a 3 year old son. I learned about his ex (his son's mother) and it is such a sad situation. He really wants to get full custody of his son and now that I am in the picture, he is more motivated for his son to be in a stable environment with us. We are not sure how to go about this without upsetting the mother- I know she is his mother, but the situation is not a good one.

        Any advice? I am new to this all!!

      • Farawaytree profile image
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        Michelle Zunter 5 weeks ago from California

        One important thing to remember is that everything you say in front of your stepchild will be cataloged and remembered so it's best to stay quiet even when you hear things said that make you angry. Find another time and place to vent your anger when your stepchild is not around.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that everything you are doing now is really groundwork and it is really, really really hard work. It may not pay off for another year or two as far as the acknowledgment from your stepchild and this is normal.

        It's a big transition period right now and above all, you need to keep your stepchild's well-being a priority no matter what the adults may or may not be saying. You cannot control what the bio mom does, says, or feels. You can only control what you do, say, or how you react to your own feelings.

        In the end, do you want your stepchild to only remember arguing, name-calling, and tension on your watch, or do you want to show him another way to rise above all the pettiness and lead by example?

        If the bio mom is trash-talking you -- that is her choice and you don't have to make the same one. You need to decide now if this is truly where you want to be and if you are up for the task because things will get harder before they get easier. Best - Michelle

      • profile image

        Miss do it right 5 weeks ago

        I’m a 28 y/o woman who met and fell in love with a 35 y/o father of a 11 y/o boy.

        I moved in with them 6 months ago.

        I do everything, laundry, breakfast, lunches, diner, homework, cleaning +working in the finances fields which can be very demanding at times.

        The kid is super sweet but has a lot of issues (pee his bed at least once a week, cry in class, difficulty at school, etc) way before he met me.

        His mom has him weekend and vacation and we have him during school from Monday night till Friday morning.

        The problem is his mom.

        She isn’t doing anything except giving him “love”. We all give him love but her she tells him how much more she loves him and that is basically it. She lives with her parents, doesn’t drive, doesn’t study, she works on weekend so she leaves him alone. During weekend & summer, he only watches TV or YouTube on an old phone. He doesn’t do sports besides when he is with us.

        Recently, she tells him how much I hate her.

        I have never ever spoken bad of her in front of him. I mean, I know better.

        We wanted to bring him to do activities with us such as hiking, canoe, visit museum, outdoors festivals, etc. She is always refusing.

        Recently, she erased my birthday in his agenda saying that my birthday wasn’t important.

        She had divorced my boyfriend 8 years ago.

        This is what I find the hardest. Doing everything as a mom while his own mom doesn’t do anything (her mother (his grand-mother) is a stay at home so she does everything).

        I find it hard mainly because I always want and need to do the right thing and she isn’t.

      • Farawaytree profile image
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        Michelle Zunter 6 weeks ago from California

        Yes, it takes years to build relationships with stepkids. It definitely sounds like you need to ask for help with a lot of the household work and ask your husband to help get the kids involved in chores to also help you so that you can all spend some more time together and also so they can contribute. I say your fiance needs some patience and you need to start establishing some ground rules around the home so you are not running ragged while also trying to be an involved stepmother. Does that help any?

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        Never enough 6 weeks ago

        I've been with my fiancé for a year. He has shared parenting of two sweet young boys (12 & 7). I have three grown boys that have been on their own for a while (I was a young teen mother). My fiancé and I bought a house 4 months ago and moved in together. I have many work and weekend travel obligations that keep me away. When I am home with him and the boys I am always kind and respectful. My natural personality is quiet and reserved so I'm not intrusive or push myself on the boys but I always say "hey, how was your day?" when I get home, "goodnight" when they go to bed, I talk to them when they aren't completely involved in their video games (which is most of the time and with their father participating with them). Other than that I'm running around doing chores. My fiancé just expressed to me that he's disappointment that I'm not there more and haven't made more of an effort to be more like a stepmother instead of a nice and polite roommate. I'm very confused by this since we only get the boys every other night and we've only lived in the house together for less than 4 months and remember my job and military obligations have me away a lot of weekends. I feel like he's rushing things and has an unfair expectation. Please advise.

      • Farawaytree profile image
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        Michelle Zunter 2 months ago from California

        She is a part of your life and your partner loves her which affects you. This is why blended family life is so complicated. Everything you're feeling is totally normal and it's important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your partner no matter how difficult it is...

      • profile image

        Sam 2 months ago

        I just don't understand why I constantly think about my step daughter and why I am so emotional about her. I love her an my relationship & I hate that my fiance misses her. It makes me feel like I'm not enough for him.

      • profile image

        Wendy 4 months ago

        I leave with points 3, 2 and 4. They have deeply resonated with me.

      • profile image

        NiceShell 7 months ago

        This has helped me so much, thank you

      • profile image

        Jean M. Hilkin 7 months ago

        Parenting of any sort is a full time gig! :)

      • profile image

        Ms. Reluctant 8 months ago

        Part time for me simply because I only see her every other weekend and can't wait until she goes back home!

      • Farawaytree profile image
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        Michelle Zunter 9 months ago from California

        Yes, unfortunately, some stepmom situations are way more complicated and challenging than others. That sounds very difficult to deal with.

      • profile image

        scapegoat stepmom 9 months ago

        I have two stepchildren. The oldest lived with us. It was rough because he was used to just him and his dad. I came along with three boys of my own. He was always trying to pit us against each other. The youngest stepson has his mother constantly causing issues. Poor kid has been alienated from dads side of the family. A lot of court for contempt and false accusations. I am usually the scapegoat no matter what I do or don't do. I love my husband but if I knew then what I know now, I would never have gotten involved.

      • profile image

        jdc 12 months ago

        In my opinion, all parents/stepparents are full time, not part time, regardless of shared custody. Taking on the commitment means being there for your child at all times. I pray for my stepdaughters even on the weeks when they are not in my home. Parenting of any sort is a full time gig.

      • profile image

        cierria 20 months ago

        What is a part time stepmom, stepmom whether theyre always with you or not. But i got a question, what do you do when they want you to play with the same toys everytime you see them, all day......even whe. You try to get them to watch tv or play by themself?

      • Farawaytree profile image
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        Michelle Zunter 2 years ago from California

        Thank you for reading ladies!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Good questions. Number three takes the focus because no matter what else is going on, the spouses need each other's support.

      • alexandriaruthk profile image

        alexandriaruthk 2 years ago from US

        It needs dedication for sure.

      working