This is a collaborative post
Step parenting, just like traditional parenting, is hard work. It takes a lot of courage to take a blind leap of faith into the unknown and land yourself right in the middle of what can sometimes be a messy situation. Even if the situation between your partner and their ex is amicable, you will still need to prepare for a long road ahead. There’s also the relationship with your stepkids to consider. All in all, being a stepparent takes a lot of resilience and mental strength. That is why it’s so crucial to take care of your mental health every step of the way. What can you do to stay mentally strong and be a mentally healthy stepparent? Let’s find out.
Reach out to professionals
I can vouch from personal experience that the journey of a stepparent can be an isolating and very lonely one to go through. You often feel misunderstood and segregated from the nuclear family. And there are often reminders from extended family members that you are, and will forever be, an outsider. Secondly, you won’t truly be able to find people who understand your plight unless they have been through the same, and even then, they may still not understand.
That may lead you to feel even more lost and less supported than ever. This is why reaching out to a professional is a very healthy way to care for your mental health as a stepparent. You won’t have to worry about biased advice or feel like you are burdening your family and friends.
The thing is, there is always judgement and you can feel stimagtised for reaching out to a professional to chat to about your mental health as a stepparent. That’s why a private psychiatry service like Psymplicity is a great option. You can even attend sessions online to get a feel for whether this works for you. Chances are, it will. Going private may be more expensive, but it is also more discreet and you can arrange for installment payments. It’s worth taking a look at your options.
If you are reading this article, chances are you were scouring the web looking for help to deal with being a stepparent. Well done to you! Educating yourself is such a great way to help yourself. As they say, knowledge is power, and being armed with the knowledge to navigate this life is very beneficial not only to yourself, but to your family.
Read books, get on social media (follow Step into Parenting on Instagram) and find people who have been through what you are going through. Listen to Podcasts, watch YouTube videos; do the work. It can be very disheartening to go through the difficult times of stepparenting, but it’s all worth it in the end. But the best way to get to the good part, is to arm yourself with the knowledge to navigate your way through.
Create a life of your own
As stepparents, in particular, childless stepparents it can be so easy to get sucked into all aspects of the role. Don’t get me wrong, being passive is not an option, but losing your identity is also harmful. Make sure that you remember, that you are still an individual who has passions, hobbies, a career, and people that loved you before the role.
People degrade stepparenting life by saying it’s a “an instant family” as if they were talking about a cup of noodles that you add water to and microwave. Of course, that’s not the case, but the only accuracy that phrase can have is that you really can feel that in 60 seconds you have gone from an autonomous being, to a bystander in their own life. Shifting priorities, resources, and putting in the work for little to no glory.
This is why it’s crucial that you do your best to balance out your new role by making time for you! You still matter, you know? Your life is still yours, the only difference is that you are working to create relationships that will enrich your life.
Keep calm and carry on
Problems that arise in a blended family can seem insurmountable and you can feel that it just isn’t worth trudging through. While divorce statistics can vary from year to year, between genders, and country to country you shouldn’t base your marriage on that. You can work through things and become a happy and successful blended family despite the odds.
It isn’t easy, and yes, sometimes your relationship may end and your relationship with your stepkids can be in jeopardy. But you should keep calm and carry on, because if you work through the rough patches you will enjoy a beautiful relationship with your stepkids that will truly feel like a family.
Of course, it’s up to you to weigh out the odds and see if you really can and want to take on the role. The important lesson is to know how to take care of yourself and not put yourself through any unneccessary heartache. The choice is up to you. Good luck on your journey in this confusing world of blended families!