My Stepmom Revelation: My Husband and I View the Kids Differently

Have you ever shared concerns regarding your stepchild with your spouse only to be met with opposition? Has your heart ever crumbled when your spouse fails to see your good intentions to help? Have you ever wondered if you are going crazy because you and your spouse tend to see your stepchild two different ways?  If you answered yes to any of these, please know you are not alone.

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You’ve probably heard that stepparents are more likely to see “negative things” in their stepchild than their spouse. Looking at a child from two different perspectives can pose challenges especially when you are having difficult conversations.

Recently I posted this truth that my husband and I discovered that really revolutionized how we discuss our kids:

“A parent looks at their kids through the lens of love first. A stepparent through the lens of responsibility first. The view can be different.”

Understanding this truth about stepfamilies made a HUGE difference in how I brought things to my husband regarding his girls and how he brought things to me regarding my kids. This truth helped me understand why his reaction to certain behaviors were so much different than mine.

It is so true, the lens you look through dictates the view you see.

Being completely honest, I went into my marriage intending to fill the hole that their mom left. Big mistake. It’s not that I wanted to replace their mom and be mom but I was going to do all these mom things that I do for my kids and thought the pain of not haivng mom in their life was going to go away. WRONG. I care for these two girls and I didn’t want to see them hurting. When I started to see some concerning behavior in the youngest I was bound and determined to “fix” it and would bring the concerns to my husband.

Intially I was met with “you are reading into things to much,” “be the adult and let it go.” or my favorite “well, what about what your kids are doing?”  What I didn’t realize early on was that anytime I said something that could be deemed critical of his daughter all he heard was “you are a bad dad” even though that is not what I was feeling. That sentiment couldn’t be farther from what my heart felt.

I had the best intentions but my lens of responsibility was clashing with my husband’s lens of love and instead of dealing with the concerning behavioral issue of a child our discussions quickly became about how I didn’t understand his daughter or how he was blind to what was going on.

As you can imagine, I became defensive and he became defensive. I was defending my intentions and he was defending his perceptions and the truth is they were never going to line up. Responsibility and love are on two different plans. They are parallel but don’t intersect in the beginning of a stepfamily.

This truth that we were looking through different lens positively impacted our marriage and created more compassion for each other and for all of our kids. I’m not going to say we still don’t struggle with difficult conversations. We live in a stepfamily. We have six kids. We have an emotionally charged child we are partnering together to help. Trust me we have them. But it is 1000 times better.

The holidays can increase stress and therfore increase the frequency of potentially challenging conversations. I want to help you with that. I will share in my next post some strategies that really helped us take the emotion out of emotional conversations and I pray they will help you too.

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Make sure to check out Gayla Grace’s blog StepparentingWithGrace too as we share tips and tools every Monday, Wednesday andScreen Shot 2013-11-01 at 10.18.28 PM Friday during the holiday season. Our book Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace is a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can create with your stepfamily.

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So what do you think about this truth: “A parent looks at their kids through the lens of love first. A stepparent through the lens of responsibility first. The view can be different”? Does understanding this impact difficult conversations with your spouse?

 

 

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Comments

  1. I have never thought about it that way – but it is so true! It is so tough to have these conversations – and certainly, with time, it gets better. I do find it helpful to have discussions every once in a while about how all the kids are doing in all the different areas of their lives: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and social. If you are talking about each area for each child, you will hit positives and negatives – and then I find the defences go down because it’s not one child that – or one parent – that feels “picked upon”.

  2. Leah,

    Thanks for sharing. I love how you shared talking about all the kids. That is so important and helps both parents feel that each child and their needs are being addressed.

    Glad this was helpful for you. And thanks again for reading and commenting.

    xoxo Heather

  3. If you are re-reading this and wondering if I changed the title, I did. Originally I called it Responsibility vs. Love: How Do You View Your Stepchild? But one reader shared on Twitter that it isn’t one or the other and I agree and don’t want to send that message. Plus this truth that I uncovered really positively impacted my marriage and was a true revelation for me. Hope you enjoyed and would love your comments.

  4. Thx so much for the article! I’ve been so encouraged since joining cafesmom. Being a stepmother is one of, if not the, hardest things I’ve ever done. Thx again.

    Camille

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  1. […] more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed […]

  2. […] more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed […]

  3. […] more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed […]

  4. […] more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed […]

  5. […] more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed […]

  6. […] more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed […]

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