I have been a stepmom for six solid years and until recently, I did not feel a connection with my stepson.
Now, before you start judging me, think about your own relationship. You may have also struggled to find a connection with your stepchild at one point or another. Have you ever thought about how to love your stepchild? It really took some soul searching and some hard work and determination for me to build that respect and trust.
Let me begin with a story:
My stepson had slipped on a freshly mopped floor and busted his ear open on our kitchen island. My husband and I were in the next room when we heard the thud and immediate cries. My husband ran to the kitchen as I followed, thinking he was exaggerating. We found that he really had busted his ear open, and there was blood everywhere.
As I was heading to the store to get some liquid Band-Aid, I was disappointed in my reaction, and I burst into tears.
Why? I didn’t feel a thing! I didn’t feel that twinge in my stomach like when I saw my nephew bang his forehead on the corner of the coffee table or the time my niece fell off of her bike.
You know… that panicky feeling where your stomach drops and your heart races a little? I felt absolutely nothing. I felt instantly defeated, confused and overwhelming sadness.
So, You Don’t Love Your Stepkids. Now What?!
I had so many questions racing through my head. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I feel that connection with him? What am I doing wrong?
For the past six years as a stepmom, I tried to find that feeling of love and compassion toward my stepson. I wanted so badly to have that feeling I get as an aunt when I see my nieces and nephews. Or the feeling biological moms get when their babies come running toward them (or so I’ve been told).
Ugh, that is what I was searching for. That amazing feeling you get in your gut. I couldn’t figure out how to get that same feeling with my stepson.
Positivity can change your mindset.
After a few days had passed and my stepson’s ear was on the mend, I started to write down all of the things I love about him.
I started with small things like his cute little button nose. I wrote down how I love my nickname he gave me, Meggie Eggie.
Then I dug a little deeper. I wrote down the time he wrote in the foggy bathroom mirror, “I love Daddy and Meggie,” enclosed in a big heart. I burst into tears.
I cried because I couldn’t believe that this little guy loves me. I thought to myself, “I must be doing something right.” I felt like I didn’t deserve to be loved by him because I didn’t even feel bad when he fell.
I learned it’s really all about the simple things in life, like an unexpected hug or a high five randomly at the grocery store. It’s those small instances where you stop and think, “Okay, we are bonding, things are good,” and that connection toward my stepson grows a little bit stronger.
A different kind of love.
We all show love in different ways. I show my stepson love by making sure he is taken care of—making sure he is well fed at our house, that he showers, has clean clothes, has a roof over his head.
When I say goodnight to him, I say the words “I love you.” I say those three words without even thinking about them. That has to count for something, right?
Your connection with your stepchild needs time to grow.
I had to really accept the fact that my connection with my stepson will never be the same as I the one I share with my nieces and nephews.
That doesn’t mean it’s any less important, and that’s completely okay. It’s still something I struggle with. People tell me all the time to just “love him as my own.” But learning how to love your stepchild doesn’t just happen overnight.
Every time my stepson comes over, I instantly, without even thinking about it, turn on “mom mode.” I discipline my stepson like he is my own, I make him meals like I would for my own family, I make sure he showers and brushes his teeth like he is my own.
In “mom mode”, you care for your stepchildren like they are yours, and that’s how it should be. In your household, you are the motherly figure. These kids need you in their lives, you can never have too many people to love you.
How to love your stepchild.
Remember, it’s okay to not feel “that connection” with your stepchild. Just know that love takes time. You can still be an awesome parental figure as long as there is mutual respect and you always show love, even in its smallest form. You will figure out how to love your stepchild, so remain hopeful!
Find something in common with your stepchild to build that bond. Make a list like I did! Start with one small thing you love about him and build off of that.
Now I find myself missing him when he’s not with us. There were a few mornings where I forgot he went home and I thought he was still sleeping in his room.
I do love my stepson. He doesn’t know it yet, but he has taught me so much in the short time we’ve known each other.
I believe we were put on this earth for a reason, and I believe this is my purpose: to be the best stepmom I can be. Granted, it’s not all I focus on, but being a mom is a longtime dream of mine. My husband and I are trying to grow our little family, and my stepson is already requesting a brother because he has a younger sister on his mom’s side.
Things to remember when you’re trying to determine how to love your stepchild:
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to loving someone. There are 5 different love languages, after all…
Love is a choice in a blended family.
Give yourself a break, what you’re feeling is normal.
Don’t suffer in silence. Find your stepmom tribe and hang on tight for this wild ride.
We fell in love with our partners first, not our stepchildren.
Love is built on respect and trust. Build that foundation from the ground up and you may be surprised how people change their tone.
It’s okay to not feel that connection with your stepchildren. It does not mean you’re a bad person, it just means your relationship is a work in progress.
Trying to figure out how to love your stepchild can be tough but don’t worry, you are not alone.
P.S. If you need someone to talk to, consider stepmom coaching!