On the Sidelines–Life As a Step-Parent

You may have noticed a lack of blogging going on here.  It’s true. I have been a sporadic blogger, at best. Not the best thing to be if you are trying to build an audience, and definitely not the best thing for me since blogging is how I release my pent up creative energy. Perhaps that’s why I have been feeling more than my usual stress.

Or not. Actually, perhaps why I have been so stressed lately has also something to do with why I have not been blogging. There has been a lot going on in my family right now. Most of what has been going on is not mine to share, so I won’t. But, let’s just say it has been emotionally draining and has required every bit of my attention. The past couple of months of our blended family life has been consumed with teen drama. I mean real life drama–not the made-up stuff. The drama seems to be leveling off now, at least long enough for me to come up for air and take a look around at what’s been happening on my blog–nothing. Truth be told I have been wanting to write about the hard stuff going on at home, but since so much of my “material” is the stuff of other family members, I am really conflicted about whether I should blog about it at all.  But, this is still my blog, so I feel like I can write a bit about it from my perspective, as a step-mom and a mom.

Parenting during the teen years is difficult, and step-parenting during the teen years is really difficult. I have bio sons and two step-dauthers, so I get to experience both, and lately, it has been really hard to be a step-parent of teenagers. When things happen to my girls-and they are my girls even if I didn’t birth them–I want to to step in and help Juan solve the problem. That is not my job as a step-mom. Too often I have to sit on the sidelines and watch as Juan and his ex-wife try to resolve issues with the girls, sometimes in ways with which I don’t agree. Too often I have to support Juan in his parenting even though there are many times I feel like I would have done it differently. Like the Monday morning quarterback, in my mind, and sometimes out loud I catch myself re-playing his moves, criticising his attempts which appear to cause us to lose ground, and the Hail Mary passes which seem to me like acts of desperation. I am a great Monday morning quarterback, and even though I cheer Juan from the sidelines, I am sure my unsolicitied advice to him is as annoying as that player harping ,”Put me in coach.” The truth is often Juan does listen to my Monday morning quarterbacking, and that in itself is not always a good thing. In fact, with all the challenges we’ve been dealing with lately, Juan does not need to hear me yelling plays from the sidelines. He needs to know that I am here cheering him on, but not telling him what to do. This has been quite a test for me, because I’ve come to find out that I am somewhat controlling, and very opinionated. Shocking, I know.

My challenge is that I am trying to overcome my propensity for offering advice, and learning to keep my parenting thoughts to myself, as our family therapist recommended I do. Even though Juan and I are partners in every sense of the word, step-parenting, right now, requires me to be a silent partner. I can listen to his concerns, and support him in his ideas and approach. Even though I am still struggling with this, I learned that if I leave it alone, it can free me from feeling like I am responsible for helping resolve the drama in our house right now. I can’t fix it–it’s not my job.  That’s creating quite a bit of conflict for me right now, since I often feel powerless and sometimes hopeless.

It’s a difficult place to be in. I’m sure I am not alone, as a step-mom or a parent of teens. In the meanwhile I am waiting, on the sidelines, for it to get better.

Do you ever feel like you have to parent from the sidelines?

2 thoughts on “On the Sidelines–Life As a Step-Parent

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi! I’m a new reader of your blog and a new step-parent as well. I’m SO happy I found this blog (via Accidental Stepmom), and this post in particular hits very close to home for me. I recently married my husband I have a 7 (almost 8) year old stepson who lives with his mom during the week, and we have him on the weekends. I’ve been in the stepmom role since he had just turned 4, but only officially since this past May. I often feel conflicted about how my husband and his ex resolve issues with their son, and I find myself feeling like I am being left out of decisions that affect daily life within my own home. I wish I had more of a say, but I’m slowly learning that there are other people whose opinions will trump mine EVERY. TIME. and I just need to come to terms with that. It’s a daily struggle for us, as we’re still very new to this whole thing, and it’s great to know I’m not alone.

    • lifewellblended says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you found this post helpful. I think being a step-parent is one of the hardest jobs around, and it can be especially challenging to a marriage. I try to remember that as much as it frustrates me not to feel like I am a part of decision making or to feel shut out, I know my husband often feels like he is caught in the middle. It’s difficult for both parties. I think it’s helpful to talk to someone who is in a similar family situation so you can “vent” with them rather than taking it out on your spouse, or not being able to share your feelings and building resentment. Hang in there and stop by anytime!

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