Being a stepmom brings with it a number of challenges mainly because there are no clear cut job descriptions.
Take discipline for example. A biological mother would have built a bond with her baby from day one. By the time it comes to setting and enforcing rules, there is already a strong connection between mother and child. The child may not always want to adhere to bedtime and there may be escalating tones, but they know their mother loves them anyway. If they get upset, they tend to get over it quickly.
As a stepmom, that bond hasn’t been set so enforcing bedtime can turn into “my stepmom is so mean!”
There is a lot of talk in stepmom writings about disengaging. Disengaging basically means that as a stepparent, you might decide to fall back and leave the “parenting” to the biological parent(s).
I wonder how this method works for stepmoms whose stepchildren have two biological parents in the picture. My husband has full custody of his son, so there aren’t two parents already looking after my stepson. It’s just my husband and me (and my in-laws).
Since I am the woman of the house, I take on a lot of traditional motherly roles like cooking, laundry, and homework reminders.
Personally, I prefer for my husband to do the disciplining. But let’s be realistic. While he is a tremendous father, he is not the best mother. He doesn’t always notice things like bedtime slipping by.
The last thing I want to do is nag or be the mean stepmom with so many rules. I do, however, want to make sure my stepson gets the sleep he needs, minds his responsibilities, and uses good manners.
With him in the house full-time, those things are important to me. I’ve found to save my sanity, lately I have been releasing my hold on those things. I’ve been letting my husband police chores and make sure my stepson makes it to baseball practices. I help where needed, but I’ve stepped back a bit.
In all fairness, parenting is still fairly new to me. It doesn’t help that stepmotherhood is rife with unique challenges.
I guess my question is how realistic is disengagement when you are a full-time stepmom? I think I’m starting to find my right balance, but I’m frustrated with all the advice to leave “parenting” to mom and dad. What if mom isn’t around?
Does disengagement work for you stepmoms whose stepchildren split their time between your husband and their mother? Are there any other full-time stepmoms out there- how do you handle the parenting/disengagement balance?