In my time as a stepmom, I’ve made my share of mistakes. As part of this series on my blog, I am revealing some of those biggest mistakes, including those of other stepparents that I’ve counseled over the years. The mistake I’m sharing with you today is something we might say to our stepchildren when they come home from a week or weekend of being with their other biological parent, i.e. their mom, as is the case in my situation. Here are some problems with this statement, as well as a few solutions.
It sounds like you don’t want them there. Let’s be honest: not everyone enjoys spending time with their stepchildren. It can be difficult. Whether they’re your own kids or not, parenting in general is difficult. Even if it’s true that you and the children’s father had a good time while they were gone, this comment sounds sort of like you are rubbing it in their face. It will make them feel like they are not wanted in the home. Instead, try asking them about what they did while they were gone before sharing what you and your spouse did. This way it seems more like a conversation.
If your stepkids don’t feel welcome, they will misbehave even more the next time they come over. Your intention may not be to sound rude or smug with a statement like, “Your dad and I had so much fun while you were away”, but the children might perceive it as a slight against them and act out around your house. If they don’t feel respected or validated, they won’t feel the need to show you respect or obedience. They may be children, but they have feelings, too!
It’s OK if Dad spends 1-1 with kids but NOT all the time. You need to be there too. You’re still living in a divided house if you’re trying to fix the problem by letting the stepchildren have their own alone time with their father. You all are a family—even stepfamilies should be spending time together. Focus on spending time apart to do separate activities (this also gives the kids their space, which is very important for stepchildren and biological children alike), but also focus on being together as a family, also. Give it time and, eventually, everyone will come around to enjoy one another more.
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