Advice from one StepMom to Another

As many of you know, I have a travel instagram account, and I recently merged these two areas of my social media life by linking my instagram and website. Not long after I added my web address to my instagram I received a message from a struggling stepmother (above). I have since written back and forth with her and we have gotten to know one another well enough that she gave me permission to share her direct message and some of the advice I gave her. I want to preface this share by saying that I respect the fact that she reached out to me because on that platform it was all very anonymous and I welcome anyone else to do the same!

There is a lot of stigma when it comes to step parenting and a lot more emotion than I had originally every imagined there would be. My best advice, which some people would completely disagree with, is to treat your stepson as you would your own child. (From our later discussion I have found that my Struggling Stepmama here has a wonderful relationship with her stepson and a deep bond.)  By trying to compete with the things that seem easier or more pleasing at his other home, all you would do is reinforce an attitude of irresponsibility. You are not his birth mother, and fixating on her will not fix anything or change anything about the family dynamic you have. You have to free yourself from the insecurity that is making you hold onto her so firmly.  If she didn't treat you right, forgive her.  If you didn't treat her right, forgive yourself.  If you are unhappy with the family you have in front of you, get over it.  Life is too short to let another human make you feel less than.  There is no magic formula for discovering how to do this but reminding yourself to be you and that you are enough is a good start. Once you let go of all the negative feelings you will start to feel free from fixating and free from guilt.

I have come to learn that no one else can take the place of a step parent! Step parents give unconditional love in a situation where it is not necessary to do so- your choice to love and bond with your stepson is magical too! Embrace that, don't compete with his birth mother! Even if you don't like the way things are run at her house- remember that fantasies kids make up about their parents unravel. As time passes he will be grateful you were there to teach him to be responsible and, if you can stop fixating on his birth mother and have a limited but positive relationship with her, he will be grateful for the life you gave his entire family. Remember who you are at where this all started: because two people fell in love.