What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Anyone in a stepmom position with their partner’s children is not required to love those kids. You didn’t date them, and you didn’t fall in love with them. You didn’t make your life plans based on your feelings for them. It’s almost like having to pick a few random kids off the playground and instantly adopt them without question!
Think of the millions of arranged marriages that happen every single day in the world. This is still the main way that most humans end up in their most important life relationship. Love is not a requirement for success, but some other things are absolutely necessary.
- Kindness – always, with everyone
- Empathy – being able to imagine how they feel
- Goodwill – wanting the best for them as your partner’s loved ones
- Generosity – being ready to forgive
- Responsible care for their wellbeing, as any adult in charge of a child
- Appropriate boundaries going both ways
A lot of stepmoms complain about feeling like a phony with their step kids when they act nice towards them but don’t really like them. If you feel this way, I have 3 words for you:
“Get over it!”
You think that you need to have warm fuzzy feelings inside when you’re with this child, but it’s not true. You read about all the stepmoms who say they love their stepchild like their own and you wonder if something is wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with you.
You see, if you are doing the 6 things listed above, that’s love. That’s what love is, at least in any sense that has practical meaning for the kids. Someone asked for a biblical interpretation of this problem, and that’s it in a nutshell. There is nothing in the Bible about warm fuzzy feelings. Love for another person consists in doing those loving things.
Still feel like a fraud for being nice to someone you don’t much care for? How much do you love your mother-in-law? Your partner’s buddies? Your brother’s wife? Maybe you even have a stepmom or a stepdad you’re not crazy about, but you can probably hold it together when you are with them. Nobody needs to know all the secrets in your heart.
Give yourself permission to feel however you feel and know that as long as you keep the dad in the forefront of the parenting, focus on your relationship with him and wait patiently for the kids to mature in due time, it’s all good. You’re in this for the long haul, don’t be in a hurry.
Focus on what you need to feel better while you wait out the 7-10 years that experts tell us it takes for a stepfamily to gel.