- Becoming a Stepparent
- Start Slow
- Things That Affect Your Relationship
- Steps to Great Stepparenting
- MY BOYFRIEND HAS A WEIRD RELATIONSHIP WITH A FAMILY MEMBER, HELP!
- Looking back, I was having an allergic reaction to an inappropriate relationship that I felt too guilty at the time to label as inappropriate
- The bs eventually becomes too hard to ignore. You find yourself more and more creeped out, frustrated, and in a state of perpetual competition with the one thing you’ll never be able to compete with – FAMILY
- Here’s what to do if you’ve realized, “my boyfriend has a weird relationship with a family member”…
Becoming a Stepparent
Becoming a stepparent by blending families or marrying someone with kids can be rewarding and fulfilling. If you've never had kids, you'll get the chance to share your life with a younger person and help to shape his or her character. If you have kids, they can build relationships and establish a special bond that only siblings can have.
In some cases, new family members get along without a problem. But sometimes there are bumps in this new road.
Figuring out your role as a parent — aside from the day-to-day responsibilities that come with it — also may lead to confusion or even conflict between you and your partner, your partner's ex, and their kids.
While there's no easy formula for creating the «perfect» family, it's important to approach this situation with patience and understanding for the feelings of all involved. Here's how to make things easier as you adapt to your new role.
The initial role of a stepparent is that of another caring adult in a child's life, similar to a loving family member or mentor. You may desire a closer bond right away, and might wonder what you're doing wrong if your new stepchild doesn't warm up to you or your kids as quickly as you'd . But relationships need time to grow.
Start out slow and try not to rush into things. Let things develop naturally — kids can tell when adults are being fake or insincere. Over time, you can develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your stepchildren, which doesn't necessarily have to resemble the one they share with their birth parents.
Things That Affect Your Relationship
Children who are mourning the loss of a deceased parent or the separation or divorce of their birth parents may need time to heal before they can fully accept you as a new parent.
For those whose birth parents are still alive, remarriage may mean the end of hope that their parents will reunite. Even if it has been several years since the separation, kids (even grown ones!) often cling to that hope for a long time. From the kids' perspective, this reality can make them feel angry, hurt, and confused.
Other things that may affect the transition into stepparenting:
- How old the kids are. When it comes to adjusting and forming new relationships, younger kids generally have an easier time than older kids. But there can be a «sleeper effect» with young children. Some take big changes in stride at first, but disruptive behaviors or challenging emotions come up years later. Talk openly with kids, even if they seem OK with the big changes, to help prevent trouble later.
- How long you've known them. Usually, the longer you know the kids, the better the relationship. There are exceptions (for example, if you were friends with the parents before they separated and are blamed for the break-up). But in most cases, having a history together makes the transition a little smoother.
- How long you dated the parent before marriage. Again, there are exceptions but typically if you don't rush into the relationship with the adult, kids have a good sense that you are in this for the long haul.
- How well the parent you marry gets along with the ex-spouse. This is critical. Minimal conflict and open communication between ex-partners can make a big difference regarding how easily kids accept you as their stepparent. It's much easier for kids to adjust to new living arrangements when adults keep negative comments earshot.
- How much time the kids spend with you. Trying to bond with kids every other weekend — when they want quality time with a birth parent they don't see as often as they'd — can be a hard way to make friends with your stepkids. Remember to put their needs first: If kids want time with their birth parent, they should get it. So sometimes making yourself scarce can help smooth the path to a better relationship in the long run.
Knowing ahead of time what situations could be a problem can help you prepare. Then, if complications arise, you can handle them with an extra dose of patience and grace.
Steps to Great Stepparenting
All parents face difficulties now and then. But when you're a stepparent, they can be harder because you're not the birth parent. This can open up power struggles within the family, whether it's from the kids, your partner's ex, or even your partner.
When times get tough, putting kids' needs first can help you make good decisions. Here's how:
- Put needs, not wants, first. Kids need love, affection, and consistent rules above all else. Giving them toys or treats, especially if they're not earned with good grades or behavior, can lead to a situation where you feel you're trading gifts for love. Similarly, if you feel guilty for treating your biological kids differently from your stepchildren, don't buy gifts to make up for it. Do you best to figure out how to treat them more equally.
- House rules matter. Keep your house rules as consistent as possible for all kids, whether they're your kids from a previous relationship, your partner's kids from a previous relationship, or new children you have had together. Children and teens will have different rules, but they should be consistently applied at all times. This helps kids adjust to changes, moving to a new house or welcoming a new baby, and helps them feel that all kids in your home are treated equally. If kids are dealing with two very different sets of rules in each home, it may be time for an adults-only family meeting — otherwise kids can learn to «work the system» for short-term gain but long-term problems.It also helps to «spread» rewards and punishments across both households. When kids do a good deed and earn praise or a privilege in one household, they should receive similar praise or rewards when they go back to the other household. The same goes for punishment, such as loss of electronics time for breaking a house rule. This can help kids feel both families are on the same page, and it keeps one parent or household from being the «good guy» or the «bad guy.»
- Create new family traditions. Find special activities to do with your stepkids, but be sure to get their feedback. New family traditions could include board game nights, bike riding together, cooking, doing crafts, or even playing quick word games in the car. The key is to have fun together, not to try to win their love — kids are smart and will quickly figure out if you're trying to force a relationship.
- Respect all parents. When a partner's ex is deceased, it's important to be sensitive to and honor that person. If you and your partner share custody with the birth parent, try to be courteous and compassionate in your interactions with each other (no matter how hard that can be!). Never say negative things about the birth parent in front of the kids. Doing so often backfires and kids get angry with the parent making the remarks. No child s to hear their parents criticized, even if he or she is complaining about them to you.
- Don't use kids as messengers or go-betweens. Try not to question kids about what's happening in the other household — they'll resent it when they feel that they're being asked to «spy» on another parent. Wherever possible, communicate directly with the other parent about things scheduling, visitation, health issues, or school problems. Online custody calendars make this process a little easier because parents can note visitation days and share this information with each other via the Internet.
- Talk to your partner or spouse. Communication between you and your partner is important so that you can make parenting decisions together. This is especially crucial if you each have different notions on parenting and discipline. If you're new to parenting as a stepparent, ask your partner what would be the best way to get to know the kids. Use resources to find out what kids of different ages are interested in — and don't forget to ask them.
No matter how your new family came to be, chances are there'll be some challenges along the way. But even if things start off a little rocky, they still can (and probably will) improve as you and your new family members get to know each other better.
MY BOYFRIEND HAS A WEIRD RELATIONSHIP WITH A FAMILY MEMBER, HELP!
I once dated a guy who had a very odd relationship with his mother. For a while, I thought it was very sweet. After a few months, I kept telling friends “my boyfriend’s Mom hates me” but I didn’t fully believe it. Soon, it became “I hate my boyfriend’s Mom.”
The parents of my friends always loved me, as did the parents of everyone I had dated. I was always kind and respectful. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way.
Looking back, I was having an allergic reaction to an inappropriate relationship that I felt too guilty at the time to label as inappropriate
Inappropriate relationships are easy to recognize. Eventually, it gets to a point where the creep factor and the alarm that your gut sounds off become too loud to ignore.
Although a weird relationship with a family member is as easy to identify as a pink elephant in a room, it’s tough to acknowledge – especially when everything else is going so well.
You try to convince yourself it’s a good thing; that he’s either “such a family man,” because of how close he is to his mom, dad, sister, etc. Or, if he has a hateful/dysfunctional relationship with a family member, you tell yourself how great it is that he’s able to have “boundaries,” despite a familial connection.
The bs eventually becomes too hard to ignore. You find yourself more and more creeped out, frustrated, and in a state of perpetual competition with the one thing you’ll never be able to compete with – FAMILY
I’ve been in relationships where I’ve been extremely happy. But eventually, I had to acknowledge…
“My boyfriend and his Mother are too close. Why is he telling her personal details about me/our relationship? His mother shouldn’t know that I’m on my period. Why does he have to run everything by her? How come he’s capable of emotional intimacy with her and not with me? Why do I feel threatened?”
“My boyfriend and his sister are too close. Why does she always get in our business? Why does she seem jealous, sabotaging, and spiteful/competitive? Does SHE want to sleep with her brother? What the f*ck is this?”
“My boyfriend hates his Mother and subsequently doesn’t have a relationship with her. Why? How?”
“My boyfriend doesn’t speak with or have a relationship with his Father. Why?”
Here’s what to do if you’ve realized, “my boyfriend has a weird relationship with a family member”…
If he’s got a relationship with ANY family member that makes your stomach crawl, creeps you out, or at best, seems “off,” listen to your instinct and RUN. Seriously.
Save yourself the time that you’ll never get back, the tears, the confusion, and the anger. There’s nothing confusing about an iron-clad, emotionally-incestual-Teflon relationship that was established way before you ever came into the picture.
Sprint and don’t look back. You will never, I repeat never be able to compete with dysfunctional, emotionally ancestral relationships (nor should you ever want or have to). If you do, you’ll just end up getting vilified and be made to feel crazy.
This is all, obviously, easier said than done. So, let’s break it down…
If he’s too close for comfort with his mother, sister, etc., you have to understand that just dating an addict. You will never be in a mutual, one-on-one relationship with this man. You will ALWAYS be in a threesome: you, him, and the family member.
Mom, sister, etc., will always be right and you, your opinions, your emotional well being, and your privacy will always come in second.
And if you’re okay with coming in second (not including children), you have no business dating.
If someone makes you feel you are asking too much by not wanting to be with an emotionally incestual swinger, you need to work on YOUR boundaries and self-esteem – instead of getting a Ph.D. in his family dynamic.
If you’re in a relationship where loving him means that you can’t love yourself… and as far as he’s concerned, loving him means that you have to accept that he’s having emotional sex with mom/sister/both, that’s called a toxic relationship that you need to exit.
The ultimate liberation in life is when you get to a point where you don’t need to be “right,” you don’t need to be “chosen,” you don’t need to be “heard,” or in “control.” You don’t need to “win.” You just let the chips fall where they may and most importantly, you know when to fold.
You’re kinder to yourself and you stop feeling guilty for putting one foot in front of the other. You know who you are, you know what you’re worth, you know what you want, and honestly… that’s all that matters. It’s none of your business what other people think of you.
What IS your business is having your own back so that you’re able to exit toxic dynamics with dignity on your white horse.
Years ago, I overheard my boyfriend listening to his Mother criticize my looks, my family, and the fact that I was broke. He did nothing but listen and his silence translated as this kind of passive agreement that broke my heart and shattered my confidence.
My boyfriend had never cut the cord with mom. Why? Mom always forgave him, made excuses for him (she still referred to him being shape as “baby fat;” he was 31), and mom put him on a pedestal.
So, when I didn’t put him on a pedestal and didn’t continue to excuse and forgive him for his consistent lies, cheating, and disrespect, he wrote me off.
My boyfriend was unable to have a relationship that was independent of the one he had with his Mother. This sabotaged every relationship he tried to have.
Can there be exceptions where the guy will recognize that he wants a future with you and that will motivate him to deal with his dysfunction? Yes of course, but that takes time and you need to see the want and willingness in both his actions and his words.
Talk is cheap. And talk only works on people who cheapen themselves by believing those words without any action backing them up.
There are AMAZING mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters out there who will support, love, and will enrich the relationship that you have with the RIGHT man.
If you’re in the “my boyfriend is too close with his mom/sister/has a weird relationship with a family member,” dynamic, don’t waste your time trying to get him to see what you see and don’t embarrass anyone or do anything to highlight the inappropriateness of what you feel. It’s not your job. Stay kind and be kind to yourself by making a dignified exit – not by trying to “win” a casino game in which the house ALWAYS wins.
If he hates his Mom… This is another huge red flag. If you’re involved with a man who hates his Mother (he may not even be aware that he hates her), you probably interpret people needing you with them wanting you. Unless it’s a pet, a senior citizen, or a child, no one should ever need you.
As I’ve said before – going for people who need us basically, taking an insurance policy out on our own abandonment issues. Even if he leaves, he won’t ever entirely exit because he still needs something from you. Men who have a hateful, negative, angry, or nonexistent relationship with their mothers tend to need the women that they date. They are trying to fill a void that is un-fillable.
Are there great guys out there who have a nonexistent relationship with their mother? Of course. But when they have hatred and/or anger toward mom, they will forever be incapable of a fully connected and mutual relationship. Because of the un-dealt with anger, they won’t be able to be consistent. Many times, they end up resenting you for the very reasons they fell for you.
Hate is not the opposite of love” – Elie Wiesel. When you hate, there are still very strong feelings there. The only place that love cannot reside is in a state of indifference. If he hates his Mom, he won’t be able to stop “value/devalue,” cycle (that he puts everyone through who’s unlucky enough to date him).
Men who hate their mothers tend to be hot and cold, have major jealousy issues, and are control freaks.
Because they have such a painful lack of a positive relationship with a female mother figure, they will indirectly (or directly), try to make you feel crazy, guilty, and anything but sexy or confident.
This is because their confidence was obliterated by mom’s emotional and/or physical absence. Clear communication with him will also be impossible, as will extracting any empathy or understanding.
Can these issues be worked on if your man has them? Yes, they most definitely can. Just make sure that you’re being met halfway and that you’re not betraying yourself. Listen to your intuition and make sure that you’re not wasting your time, handing over the pen for others to write YOUR story while you sit in the passenger’s seat of YOUR car.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.