Stepmoms, do you like who you’ve become?

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Stressed StepmomI hear from a lot of stepmoms that they don’t like who they’ve become. They say that they used to be so happy and alive. They were friendly and funny… they really liked themselves. But not so much, these days.

This is what happens when we spend too much time shoving our feelings down, ignoring our needs and doing too many things that we really don’t want to be doing.

If you can relate to this, you’re not a bad person. You’re human. You’re a caring woman who has put the needs of others above hers – but you pay a price for that.

Bet you didn’t know there is such a thing as OVER caring. I know, ridiculous, right? Caring is so wonderful, how can you OVER care? Well, you can over care when you’re no longer giving because you want to give, but giving because you:

  • think you should
  • feel forced to
  • are trying to control a situation
  • are trying to control other people
  • are attached to a specific outcome

What happens when you over care is you start to get angry that others haven’t returned the favor. Or that things haven’t turned how you wished they had. Or that you’re living a life that you’re no longer satisfied with. You’ll know you’ve arrived at over care because you’ll be on edge, contracted, getting triggered by every little thing. And it will be hard for you to find anything about your family that you enjoy.

What started out as a good intention has turned into something you resent – and everyone around you knows it. Your family doesn’t win when you over care. Kids can sense your resentment of them and your partner isn’t blind to your contempt.

The antidote? Stepping out of over care and into love. Love for yourself, which means understanding that your needs ARE important, and that you first have to be good with yourself before you can be available for others. It means stepping back from doing the things you resent, at least until you can get enough perspective and a full emotional tank to work from. Then, when you’re back on track, you’ll either decide that you’re ready to step back in and take on only what you can feel good about, or you’ll decide other action is needed. Either way, you’ll be doing it with love, for yourself and others.

One of my favorite exercises we do at our Stepmom Retreat is helping women remember who they are. Because it’s from this place of love and authenticity that you’ll find your strength to move forward into happiness.

And when you’re happy with yourself, you’ll make decisions that serve you well and consequently serve those around you well. So step back. Take inventory. Decide who you want to be. And move forward, one small step at a time.

© 2016 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

If you don’t recognize yourself anymore, please consider joining the Stepmom Revolution community. We will help you reclaim the best parts of yourself! 

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13 thoughts on “Stepmoms, do you like who you’ve become?

  1. I remember hearing from Dr. Phil, maybe, that you need to take care of yourself first, then your spouse, and then your children. If you are not healthy, then everyone else in your life will not be either. He said the order needs to be you first, then your marriage, and then your kids. When you are emotionally healthy, then your marriage will be stronger, which allows you to be there for your kids. It’s like on an airplane when they tell you to put your mask on first, then your kids. You are no good to your children if you’re passed out from lack of oxygen. Lol

    This was a challenge for me when I became a stepmom. Taking care of my own needs started to feel selfish. “Oh, no! I’m the evil stepmom if I go to lunch and shopping with my friend!” I had to find that balance that I had never needed before, as a single, childless woman. But luckily I learned and my marriage, my stepkids, and I are all better for it. 🙂

  2. Oh, this is exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. I’ve been so guilty of over-caring this entire year, and I’ve been struggling with resentment and anger over my step kids and their behavior. Stepping out and focusing on our marriage and trying to let all that drama go. I’m not putting the kids first, trying to change everything in our lives and schedules to accommodate them or pay for things they want to do. If they can make it to our events, great. If not, I’m not going to kill myself trying to work around their schedules or pay for them to come home from college just to have them expect it of us. My step-daughter has the whole mentality of “I need you to drop x amount of money so I can come up and do what I want to do and have you pay for it”. I’m not navigating any issues with my husband’s toxic ex either. She’s not my mistake or my problem to deal with. The kids are grown, she’s THEIR problem, not mine and not ours. I’ve tried and tried this year and it just puts so much more stress on me and I have become resentful when I bend over backwards to try to make everything work for everyone.

    Thanks for this reminder. Sometimes you need to just read something that jolts you into realizing what you’re doing is over-caring….

    • I can certainly relate to this article. I still have my struggles and I probably will until my step daughter is grownup & independent but the one thing I’ve done is put myself and my son FIRST and let her parents deal with the rest. I can’t exhaust any more energy trying to change things that are not in my control. Also, I’ve made myself heard recently that my opinons in my house MATTER and in a powerless situation, I need to be heard where I have my rights.
      Before I had my own son, I felt obligations all over the place and I was constantly resentful of his child being in my home. Of him making this huge mistake with his ex and all of us dealing with its repercussions. It’s a REALLY difficult position to be in.
      Although I really feel like the Bio-parent should have some kind of training in step parenting too because when I decided to take time out for myself and use our week nights with his kid as the night I make plans with my friends, I ended up having to feel guilty because she’s asking where I was and as if she felt bad that I wasn’t there. And to be honest – I never the the impression she gave a shit if I was around – I think it was more my husband sensing that I was running away.

      • I feel this way too at times. I know that I go to the over care direction in my home, trying to be involved, helping where I can, but lately I feel that I just don’t get the teenagers. As a stepmom of these kiddos for 6+years now, I just feel disrespected, ignored and that does not bring the best out in me. I will need to take your advice and make more time for my daughter and I, take time for myself, my friends and get whole again. Because if I keep going in this direction I feel my soul will disappear. Sounds dramatic, but it is truly how I am feeling.

  3. HI, I so needed to have a forum to help me with better understanding! I love my 3 kids (2 are step) 12, 13, 15 years old. Most of the time we are the fab 5 and have a great time, but lately my step daughter (15) can get my blood boiling! it takes a miracle for her to participate in our lives, or a mass argument to get her to clean up after herself. And she can be a tornado of mess. She is an amazing child in so many ways and I am thankful to be part of all my kids lives as a mom and a step mom, but this one brings the worst out in me at times…and when that happens I just want to throw in the towel. I never yelled before I got married, to her dad but this situation can be so frustrating that It has brought a person out in me I do not know and it makes me feel ashamed, broken and alone. Any advice out there?

    • Hi Christina, I understand your frustrations, but take comfort that developmentally, your stepdaughter is exactly where she should be. Teenagers are supposed to be figuring out their independence, and moving away from family – towards friends and finding who they are outside of the family. So although it’s a painful loss for parents, it’s not personal and it’s necessary. If you can allow her that freedom without getting upset or making her feel guilty for wanting to spend time away from the family, it will make your relationship with her less conflicted. 🙂 As far as chores, yes, she should still be responsible for her fair share.

      • Thank you Jenna! I am not a award winning parent but I do care A Lot! I will give her that freedom, and do support her dreams…we just butt heads when it comes to such silly things like clean up after yourself, after making a true disaster in our kitchen, and by the 20th time I have asked…I lose it. It brings the worst out in me! And I don’t like the person I become when this happens. I am sure a great deal of step parents feel this way, and I am not alone. But being a stepparent can feel like the most thankless “jobs” in the world at times.

        • Of course you care! 🙂 If your husband is around, I would have him enforce some consequences if you’ve asked once and she doesn’t comply. She’s going to resist everything and try to make everything your responsibility/problem (again, normal) at this time, but it doesn’t mean you have to take her bait. You ask, if she doesn’t comply, a consequence. There’s a quote that goes something like, if kids were born as teenagers, no one would have them. Something like. Anyways, point is, it’s not YOU. Just focus on taking better care of yourself and trying to be as compassionate as possible – the teenage brain is CRAZY. 😉

  4. I just discovered this blog, and this was the article I landed on first…probably because it spoke the words I needed to hear the most. I have been in my step-kids lives for almost 6 years (they are 15 and 12). Overall, they are great kids and I love them dearly. But I try so hard, deal with so much, and feel so unappreciated. I also feel like no one understands, so it is incredible to read these posts (and comments) and see that I am not alone. It is such a relief! As the kids are becoming teenagers, with their hormones bubbling (and their mother pushing more things on me and husband while still making us the bad guys), it is becoming more and more difficult to handle it all. I greatly appreciate all the advice here. I think it will really help. It feels like there is hope. There are things we can do together and things I can do for myself to improve our lives. Thank you, Jenna, for sharing your words of wisdom!

  5. In theory this is a nice concept but in reality. It will never happen for me. No matter how I have tried, pleaded, begged, yelled, screamed, shouted, whispered, written, texted, called, and cried until I have no more tears. I don’t get the time I need because everyone else needs my time. I can’t even have 15 minutes to spend in the shower before one of them asks me for something. Completely and utterly broken from head to toe!

    • Courtney,as long as you’re asking or begging them, you’re leaving it in their hands. Your time isn’t up to them, it’s up to. You can absolutely lock the bathroom and take 15 minutes to shower. You can’t stop them from knocking, but you have control over whether you answer or not. It’s all about being in control of yourself by creating healthy boundaries. 🙂

  6. I start to feel like I’m living (not just parenting) with one hand tied behind my back. It’s really hard to step away from the over-care sometimes, so many automat V tapes running in my head about what s good mother should do. (I don’t have many stepmom tapes yet, so my brain still defaults to the mom tapes.) I love the advice to step back until we have refueled our emotional tank. That makes so much sense to me. And that’s what I want my stepdaughter to learn to do, too, so that her future automatic mom/stepmom tapes are a more gentle and more realistic. ❤

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