You don’t have to be a masochist to make a good stepparent. While it’s true that stepparenting includes some painful moments, it is possible to enjoy it. As a stepmom of three for more than a decade, I can honestly say that the tough times are worth it in the long run- and the rewards of the relationships are far greater.
There are many painful moments in the process of becoming a stepparent, some of which are experienced by the children. The pain children experience is the pain of loss, whether it be divorce or death or an absent parent, or the loss of familiar surroundings and comforting routines. This is the pain that touches the children, fills them with anger, rage, resentment, frustration, and hopelessness – most of which in turn causes most of the pain you feel as a step parent, trying to piece together the splintered components into a new family.
There is a moment, though, when you move beyond pain. Children do come to understand the choices of their parents, wounds do heal, life does move forward. You may not even notice it happening, but one day you will realize that there are more moments of shared laughter than tension, more moments of quality time and less arguing. Your step children can fill a niche in your heart – one you may not have even realized you needed filled; one they may have carved themselves.
When I met my husband, I was in a place in my life where I didn’t think I ever wanted children, let alone the responsibility for raising someone else’s. I fell in love with him anyway, and there was no doubt that his children would be a part of our lives forever. The more I loved him, the more willing I became to envision our future as a family. It wasn’t long before having his children made me realize how much I loved being a mom, and we had two more children.
It was not always easy – there were struggles with all of the mundane things like custody and visitation and child support, and there were struggles with the not-so-mundane things of overcoming being in the role of invader and learning to deal with the challenges the children presented. I wasn’t always sure that I had made the right decision, and that’s a hard thing to admit. But I have no regrets; I love my family and my children – all of them. Those moments of pain only made it possible to know how wonderful things could really be.