The Challenges of Becoming a Stepparent
While it is not uncommon for the road to and through divorce to be a mutual, peaceful one, the reality remains that there is always that percentage of married couples who do not make it through the journey without multiple bumps in the road. Divorce is often plagued by conflict, tension, and problems reaching resolution on numerous matters, from everything to parenting time arrangements and the creation of a parenting plan, to the division of assets and child support payments.
Approaching Divorce as a Beginning, Not an End
Whatever your personal divorce circumstances look like, if you are on the verge of blending a new family dynamic together shortly after your split, then you are on deck for a whole new challenge entirely. Those pesky conflicts you faced throughout the divorce proceedings are no longer tied to the separation alone, but are now factors that will come into play with another issue: The task of beginning a new chapter with your newly blended family. Merging a new family means working with your former partner, addressing lingering hurt your children are experiencing from the previous marriage, and channeling your time and energy into building a healthy foundation with your new partner and their children.
Challenges You May Face as a New Stepparent
Some of the challenges a new stepparent may face are diverse. Here are some points of conflict you can expect to encounter if you are freshly divorced, or if your new partner has recently been through a split:
- Pressure to get it all right - It is very common for new stepparents to feel an intense amount of pressure to be the perfect parent in the new household. Research shows that women are especially more prone to feeling pressured both emotionally and socially to slip into the new role as stepmother and to create the “perfect” blended family. Women must also interact a lot with ex-wives regarding their new husband’s children, which often adds a significant amount of tension to the mix.
- Adolescent adjustments - By nature, adolescents have a more difficult time adjusting to accepting a new parent in the home, compared to younger children, who are typically more open to bonding with a new family member. As stepparents are met with immediate resistance and distance from their new spouse’s adolescent child, they face various kinds of conflict that require patience and persistence to overcome.
- Merging more than just living space - The adjustments every new stepparent must face and the challenges that stem from them entail much more than adapting to new living arrangements. For example, the stepparent brings their own personal values, past histories - and baggage - to the new household. Prior life, social, and employment experience may differ drastically from those they are now sharing a home with, creating all kinds of opportunity for tension to build between family members. When people are very different and are attempting to share a home for the first time, conflict is bound to pop up, and this can be especially stressful for the new stepparent when they are the one entering someone else’s “turf”.
Making the Transition Easier
Experts encourage new stepparents to reduce the pressures of their new place in their partner’s child’s life by stepping into a role of authority slowly, over time. They also recommend they keep their personal expectations realistic. If you are in the beginning stages of a divorce and are preparing for a transition into a new household, speaking with a Kane County divorce lawyer can help you navigate the divorce process from start to finish, allowing you to focus your energy on the next chapter of your post-divorce life. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C., P.C today at 630-584-5550 for your personal consultation.