Stop Thinking of Yourself as a Parent
by childless stepparent
As a childless stepparent who has always wanted to be a mom, I’ve learned not to think of myself as a parent with my stepchild. It’s been a long, painful process, but I welcome this clarity.
I parent, but I am not a parent. I am childless. My stepchild has two involved parents.
As stepparents, we are encouraged to love our stepchildren “as our own.” Children deserve to be safe and loved and supported; they deserve a happy, peaceful home. We can – and should – contribute to that.
But loving our stepchildren “as our own” when they have two involved parents? It’s not possible, it’s not necessary, and that’s okay.
Forcing our role as parent to our stepchildren – when our stepchild has two involved parents – is a mistake. We may mean well, but it’s a mistake.
Here’s why. It may cause tension in our marriage. Our husband will be stuck between an over-involved stepmom and a resentful former wife. It may confuse things for our stepchild. And it may cause us pain. We work at being the parent we know we could be but we’re doing it in a situation where there’s no need for us to be a parent. A recipe for suffering.
We have to make a subtle shift inside ourselves. We must find a way to be a caring presence in our stepchildren’s lives – without thinking of ourselves as a parent.
Manifesto #3 | I am not a mom. The part of myself I thought I would give my child – as a mom – has nowhere to go, and that’s okay.