5 Emotional Challenges Every Stepmom Must Face
Updated: Mar 10
Every single day people make mistakes, learn, adapt, and struggle with complicated and confusing emotions. In the case of stepmoms, some particularly challenging emotions can cause severe gridlock in the already awkward step-parenting journey.
Even seasoned stepmoms who have already raised their stepchildren wish they had owned more insight into their own emotions looking back on their own experiences.
Unfortunately, every step-parenting 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 advice to go along with it for the journey:
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 that are uncomfortable and awkward. This can be very frightening at first and difficult to navigate. There’s the fear of judgment from other parents, the biological mom, or other family members around you. There’s the 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 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 even 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 that 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 to 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.
This emotion is common for most 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.
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.
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 step-kids 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.
More from Michelle: 5 Essential Questions To Ask Yourself Before Becoming A Stepmom