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The Joys and Struggles That Only Stepparents Would Understand

The Joys and Struggles That Only Stepparents Would Understand

For most kids, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word “stepparent” is Snow White’s or Cinderella’s evil stepmother. From their youngest age, children are only introduced to this kind of relationship, so it’s no wonder they very often refuse to even try to make it work. No one tells them that there are stepparents who don’t mind you being prettier, or those who won’t make you sleep on the floor next to the fireplace.

Parenting itself is challenging enough, but trying to take a place in already existing family is even harder. But, just like everything else in life, after defeating the obstacles, the rewards are amazing. If you decided to take this big step in your life and become a part of someone else’s, here is what you need to know.

So, let’s start with the struggles you’ll probably meet on this journey and some advice on how to cope with them.

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The Struggles

1. You will never be the “real” one.

You need to make peace with this fact. You can never (nor should you try to) replace the actual parent. It just won’t work. Even if the kids tell you that they think of you as mom, even if they call you “dad,” don’t make a mistake and think they will ever love you the way they love their parents—even if they are not around often, even if they aren’t really good parents.

Biology did its thing and the child will always feel connected to their parents. That may mean they will resent you at the beginning, or feel that their parents’ separation is your fault, but don’t blame them. Be consistent and try very hard and eventually you too will have a place in their heart.

2. You will have a hard time making the kids listen to you.

Even though you know that you deserve respect, you may find that your stepchildren don’t feel the same way. You are new to the family, and from their perspective, you don’t belong there. This may be the reason they deliberately ignore your requests, act in the most bratty way, or talk behind your back. Putting things in order will be hard, and you will need to be firm and fair to earn their respect.

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Try to make them listen, try showing them that you are there and don’t plan to leave, but also be careful not to overstep. Leave the punishments to your new spouse at least for the beginning and try different approaches, such as helping when they are in trouble, talking to them when they are upset etc.

3. You may have problems with the “ex.”

Whether he/she is there constantly or just occasionally, chances are they won’t like you, and they’ll like the fact you spend so much time with their kids even less. They may even try to turn them against you and there is very little you can do about it. All you can do is try to make the young ones like you for who you are by showing them that you have no intention replacing their parent, and that you just want to be their friend.

4. You may not love the children the way you think you should.

Since you are not biologically connected, you may at some point realize that you just find them awfully annoying (especially if they refuse to take you seriously). Keep in mind that you will never be more important to your loved one than their kids and also remember that they are your new family. You will be staying that way for quite some time, so you might as well invest in the relationship and try to see their good sides—just like what you expect them to do about you. How about taking them for a trip—just you and them—maybe go to the cinema or the local zoo and spend time alone, giving each other chance to grow positive feelings about each other.

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As hard as the downsides of step parenting may be, the rewards you get are sure to overcome them, and here is what you can expect once things are finally in order.

The Joys

5. You get all the joys of having children, even if they aren’t biologically yours.

If they are young, it’s stuff like reading them a good-night book, baking cookies together, getting them ready for school, teaching them the important stuff etc. If they are older, it’s seeing them off to prom, talking about boys (or girls), taking them shopping and so on. They will love you for it, and you will feel accomplished in a way only a parent can.

6. You will feel unimaginable happiness when they come to you for advice.

After the rough road, you finally managed to form some kind of a relationship with your stepchild—and now, they need your help. Whether it is a girl-to-girl talk about boys or just help with your stepsons homework, it feels amazing, as if you finally broke through the great wall of ignoring (and maybe a bit of resentment too) and got straight to heaven. Try to justify their trust and it will improve your relationship even more. Just be careful not to end up in between your spouse and the kids if they ask you to keep something a secret. Balance!

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7. You will want your kids and your step kids to get along.

Assuming you have your own kids, that is. And if they do get along, there is no better thing in the world. That means you are actually a family now. They may not consider each other siblings yet, but being friends is a great start. Now you can go to real family camping trips, or maybe all the children will go to the prom together. And that is when you will feel the most accomplished!

8. Your efforts WILL pay off.

It may be hard at the beginning (it probably will be) but then there will be a day your stepdaughter introduces you to her friends, or when your stepson invites you to see him play a football game. They will accept you for who you are and they will come to love you. All it takes is patience and courage, and the results will dazzle you!

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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