As if sharing your daughter with your ex isn’t hard enough… Add in the drama of sharing her with a stepmom who doesn’t know her place? Excruciating. If you’re dealing with a stepmom overstepping boundaries, it’s possible there’s a completely legitimate (albeit, misguided) reason why!
When I first got involved in my now-stepdaughter’s life, I was on a mission. A mission to be the perfect stepmom.
I was determined to show this little girl that two homes meant twice the love, to show my partner I was the perfect person to spend forever with, and to prove I was fit to supplement my stepdaughter’s mom’s parenting in our home.
Little did I know, no one needed me to be quite so aggressive about proving that point…
Stepmom Overstepping Boundaries? 5 Legitimate Reasons Why.
When a stepmom oversteps boundaries, it’s usually done with good intentions and she simply needs a little redirection. Here are 5 legitimate reasons the stepmom in your life may be overstepping.
1. She’s trying to prove her value to her partner.
Before my now-husband met me, he dated someone who said she loved kids and was perfectly happy he had a daughter. After one play date with Kevin and his daughter, she realized an instant family wasn’t what she wanted.
Knowing this history made me even more determined to prove I was different. I felt an intense pressure to prove the value I added to the family.
I am invested, see?! I wouldn’t walk away! I am helpful, see?! You want me in your corner! I love your daughter, see?! I’ll make a fabulous stepmother!
I thought I was showing my partner how valuable I am and stepping UP, but I was actually OVERstepping.
2. She’s trying to prove her worth to you
My parents divorced when I was 2, and I heard my parents talking about my stepparents often as I was growing up. I could see my dad’s jealousy of my stepdad, and I could sense my mom’s concern about my stepmom.
When I began dating a divorced dad, I wanted to put to rest any fears my stepdaughter’s mom had about my ability to help raise her daughter. I wanted her to know I was in this for the long haul, and I would be a good influence.
I spent one-on-one time with my stepdaughter, I volunteered with the school and the softball team, and I told that sweet girl I love her so much.
In reality, those things weren’t proving my worth to her mom; they were just a case of a misguided stepmom overstepping boundaries.
3. She’s trying to prove something to herself.
I’m not the type of person to back down from a challenge, and that’s exactly what I saw the stepmom role as: a challenge.
I needed to prove to myself that I could handle marrying a divorced dad with a child from his prior marriage. I was strong enough, emotionally mature enough, and definitely capable enough. (Wasn’t I?)
I felt the need to do more, be more, and show up more, for myself. I didn’t realize it meant I was making anyone else uncomfortable or that I was perceived as a stepmom overstepping her boundaries.
4. She’s trying to prove society is wrong.
You’ve heard of the evil stepmom narrative, I assume? I could see the judgment on people’s faces when I introduced Krista as my stepdaughter. “Oh, the stepmom.”
I worked extra hard those first couple of years to debunk the negative stereotype and rid the stigma around “The S Word.”
I was out to prove to the world that stepmoms can be involved, loved, and valuable. And while I may have communicated that message, I also communicated that I was perhaps… OVER-involved, especially by her mother’s standards.
5. She’s making a point to your child.
And perhaps my biggest reason of all for diving headfirst into all things stepmomming? My stepdaughter.
I wanted to prove to her that no matter what, I’d be there for her. I would love her, protect her, and be her ally forevermore.
As a child who experienced my dad’s divorce to my stepmom as a second grader, I knew I didn’t want my stepdaughter to ever feel the pain of a second divorce. I was determined to prove to her that I’ll always be there for her.
As misguided as my actions were as a stepmom overstepping boundaries, my intentions were always pure.
So, what do I do if my child’s stepmom is overstepping her boundaries?
Talk About It
Talk to her! It’s entirely possible your child’s stepmom has no idea she is overstepping your boundaries and hurting your feelings!
As mentioned, she could even be doing all of these things and getting so involved to prove to you that she’s a good person and you should feel comfortable with her presence in your child’s life.
She thinks she’s empathizing with you and can sense your fear about an unknown person spending time with your daughter, and she wants you to know she’s a good person.
But the wires got crossed, and the message got miscommunicated.
Talk to her about how you feel, communicate your boundaries, and take it as an opportunity to allow her to also share her boundaries.
You’ll be better co-parents for it.
Respect the Uncontrollable
If she’s unwilling to change or she simply is unwilling to play nicely, you will have to adjust and accommodate.
We all have a circle of control. There are many things in our power to change, including our perceptions of the reality.
If you’re dealing with a stepmom overstepping boundaries who won’t change, change how you view the situation. Be thankful she wants to get involved instead of being neglectful or mean to your child.
Work to spend more quality time with your child so you don’t feel like all of the quality time is being spent with her stepmom instead.
Do everything in your power to prove your undeniable bond with your child to yourself; no stepmom can replace what you have.
In blended families, it’s not uncommon to find a new stepmom overstepping her boundaries. More often than not, her intentions are pure.
Give her the benefit of the doubt and talk to her. I bet she’d be surprised to discover she’s hurting your feelings.
I know I was.
P.S. I didn’t even realize the boundaries I needed until my husband’s ex moved in with us…