I had a close friend of mine from back home text me recently and say, “I need advice.”
I immediately assumed she was in trouble… “Oh no, what happened?”
Her response: “I think I’m about to start dating a man with kids, and I need tips.”
Then it hit me… I have become the Token Stepmom among my friends. I am the model for this. I am the source of experience and wisdom. Oh, no!
I am not equipped to handle these sort of questions! I have no magic answer for my friend. I have no idea if any “advice” I could possibly give would actually help her.
She gave me the quick facts (how many kids, how long he was married, BM is high-conflict, the Dad has primary physical custody…), and I decided to give this “advice” a shot. I thought I’d share with you all what came to mind first…
ONE: There is so much out of your control while dating someone with kids, and being a Stepmom. You have to focus your energy on the things you can control. You cannot let a HCBM destroy what you’re building. You cannot let her rob you of your time with your boyfriend or his kids.
TWO: You have got to communicate with your boyfriend openly, even when it hurts. He cannot leave you out of the loop. You have to communicate the essentials- such as whether or not he is interested in or able to have more kids- early on. There is no room for secrets or surprises in a blended family.
THREE: He has to model to the kids that you are someone who needs to be respected. I know different blended families do this differently, but whatever they choose to do, they have to be on the same page, and be consistent. I could never be in my relationship if my husband didn’t respect me, show the kids how to respect me, and consider me on the parenting team.
FOUR: You have to be confident to be a Stepmom. There will be so many opportunities to be jealous, envious, or upset. There is so much room for unnecessary comparisons that are wildly out of your control. You have to be confident and overcome your insecurities. This step is so critical.
FIVE: If he treats you right, and if you love the kids, this is totally worth it. Being a Stepmom is so hard… but if he treats you right and you are a good team, it is even more rewarding.
Talking to my friend made me reflect on the early months with my husband, and made me remember just how far we have come. I am so blessed to have this family as my own. I am certain that I could not receive this happiness anywhere else. I am exactly where God wants me to be.
Maybe I won’t be the Token Stepmom forever… maybe my friend will be joining me on this journey! I’ve shared this site with my friend… let’s show her love and encouragement!