No matter how much you try not to, sometimes when you’re a stepparent, you feel a bit of resentment. It could be resentment at having to share your spouse with the other people he loves, even if they’re just kids. It could be the relationship he maintains with the ex-wife, making you wonder about your place in his life. It could be all the sacrifices you make, much like a real parent would, without any of the glory or credit.
It happens, and it’s ok. No, it’s not the feeling you want to have all of the time, and if you are feeling resentment on a regular basis, you should definitely be examining your feelings to determine where it’s coming from and why you feel that way. If your resentment causes you to feel as though you might harm yourself or your stepchildren, that should also be sending major alarms through you; seek counseling immediately.
If it’s just the run-of-the-mill, every-once-in-a-while, probably-feel-guilty-afterward resentment, it’s pretty normal, whether anyone actually talks about it or not. For me, it was the worst when my husband and I were still dating and I hadn’t been around kids that much. It seemed like we would just get them settled for bed and I would look forward to having some alone time and first Derek would not be able to sleep and then Kira would need a drink…it was always something.
I used to get frustrated, and I would think to myself, “He always puts them first!” It wouldn’t be often, and most of the time I would be equally involved in meeting their needs…but sometimes, it was tough.
Now I have a seven and ten-year old of my own biology. Guess what? They wait until Dave and I are ready to settle for the evening and have some alone time…and then Parker can’t sleep and Anika needs a drink. I laugh, because I realize that the frustration I felt that I blamed on not being a parent is just par for the course with kids. The kids weren’t trying to steal my time with Dave – they were just being kids. What’s even funnier is that now Dave is more likely to get frustrated than me at the interruptions – I’m simply amused (and relieved) at how typical the behavior is.
As my stepkids have gotten older and our relationship has cemented, my feelings of resentment have occurred less and less. It still happens, though, like when my 18-year old stepdaughter first told us she planned to stay home for an additional year and go to community college – but didn’t necessarily want to get a job, contribute to the household, or be responsible for anything. After some thought, I realized it had nothing to do with her being a “step” and everything to do with her being 18 – and Dave and I responded accordingly. (Of course she can stay here, provided she gets a job, respects the house rules, and contributes by doing regular chores; alternatively, she can work longer hours and pay rent somewhere else!) Our response to her is no different than it would have been to any of our kids – biologically related or not!
If you’re feeling a bit of resentment now and then, don’t let it get you down. Recognize it for what it is, and move on – and know that it’s ok to not be perfect every moment!