Give Yourself Permission to Have an Off Day

by childless stepparent

Many parents – including my own! – have told me that sometimes they need time away from their kids. My husband has told me that, too, about his daughter. They all say it without guilt. They don’t think they’re bad people for needing space. They’re just parents who need a break.

It’s different for stepparents. I’ve joined the conversation on stepfamily discussion boards, and what I hear is that many stepparents spend a lot of time feeling bad.

We don’t love stepchildren as our own, and that makes us feel like bad people. We feel selfish for wanting space for ourselves. We expect ourselves to be Super Stepparent 100% of the time. This is made harder when we don’t have children of our own, so we don’t know how natural these feelings are.

Why don’t parents feel bad about themselves when they need a break from their kids?

Because there’s a deep unconditional love between them and their children that flows under everything, every day. On good days. On bad days. On days when the kids drive them crazy. On days when they love their kids so much they feel like their heart will burst.

That parental love is a steady foundation that stepparents don’t have. We have an off day and it feels like there’s nothing underneath to support us. We feel bad, we question ourselves, we strive to do better tomorrow.

What if we gave ourselves permission to have an off day?

Manifesto #1 | I am a childless stepparent. My stepchild has two involved parents. I don’t need to take on a parenting role.

Question: What do you do when you’re just not feeling it? When your spouse’s children are with you and you wish they weren’t?