Monday, December 6, 2010

Stepmoms: Write Your Own Job Description

One of the most stressful aspects of being a stepmom is not having a clear picture of your role. Are you a second mom, or an aunt, or a friend, or a stranger living in the same house? Do you discipline or not? What is your authority? Volumes have been written about the fact that, “the role of stepmother is the most stressful and ambiguous in the stepfamily.”

You can take control of your happiness and remove some of the ambiguity by creating your own definition of what your stepmother role will be. Try this:

1) Give yourself permission to create a definition of your role. It might feel weird at first. This is ok.

2) Reflect on your feelings regarding how involved or detached you want to be. Free write, journal, and talk to friends.

3) Research different types of bio-parenting styles. Yes, even bio-parents have different approaches—attached, authoritative, balanced, etc. Head to your local library and check out a few parenting books.

4) Using your reflections and research, write a “job description” for your role. You could include a mission statement (to maintain your sanity, to promote family cohesiveness, or whatever) as well as the things you will and won’t do for your stepkids. (I will help them get ready for school in the mornings; I won’t hold myself responsible for helping them with their homework.)

5) Discuss it with your partner. Keep in mind that you do not have to phrase this conversation as asking permission. Instead, share your feelings, explain why you came to the plan you did, and invite him to share his feedback.

6) Take stock every week or so. Did you follow your own guidelines? Did it work? Celebrate those things you did right and forgive yourself for the things you could have done better.

You can always change your personal role definition later—but at least this way you have a place to start from, a map to guide you on the occasionally stormy sea of stepmotherhood.

No comments:

Post a Comment