Dating as an adult can be really tricky. Everyone has their own lives and responsibilities- whether that’s a job, school, or a family. The responsibilities pile up more once you become a step-parent. For that reason, many people in that position don’t want to be a stepparent and look for ways to try to avoid being in this role.
Some people may have gone through a divorce or lost their partner and this opens up a new reality for them in which they can potentially join a family and become one with them.
This is where things get really complicated, for a number of reasons.
1. Unwanted Drama
The child’s other parent could still be around and be very unwelcoming and not pleased about your presence in your partner and their children’s lives.
If you step into the “stepparent” role, the other parent may react out of anger or spite. They may create unwanted drama in your life to try to upset you or get rid of you.
If your partner or spouse’s ex really dislikes you, co-parenting with them can begin to make your life extremely frustrating. They may even go as far as to attempt to sabotage your character altogether.
They may accuse you of being a bad influence on their children, slander you online or to their social circles, or even go as far as to call child protective services and make reports against you, making life a nightmare for you and your partner.
In extreme cases, they may even begin to keep your partner’s children from them in an effort to keep them away from you.
2. Absent Parents
On the other end, your partner’s ex could be entirely absent in their children’s lives. This may put you in a role you didn’t exactly sign up for. You may be unsure of the level of involvement that is expected from you and what is crossing over the boundary.
As a working mother, I find myself stretched thin all the time. Some days, just taking care of myself and my child is a difficult task. Stepchildren are a lot to take on, and I don’t think I’m prepared for that challenge. Mom burnout is real, and it can be a heavy burden to bear.
Issues With Stepparenting
For some people, being a stepparent is totally fine. Other people may even be thrilled. However, for me, I don’t really want to be a stepparent.
Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t refrain from a relationship because someone has kids, and it’s not that I wouldn’t like their kids. In fact, I probably would! Here’s the thing- I don’t want to parent them.
Hear me out. I co-parent my daughter with a narcissist. It’s a stressful and overall unpleasant experience.
At every turn, he is there to criticize me as a parent, interfere in my personal relationships outside of him, and sometimes even make threats. I love my daughter, but I don’t love some of the emotionally tasking hurdles that come with parenting with another person.
And that’s just my circus. The addition of more children and two more adults is quite a big one, especially if their situation is half as messy as mine. That isn’t a responsibility to take lightly.
When I say I don’t want to be a step-parent, I don’t mean “I don’t like kids.”
Navigating parenting a child that isn’t yours is very complicated, and there is a lot of room for chaos. You may disagree with the child’s other partner about something regarding your stepchild and find yourself in the middle of a battle.
Sometimes this can drag out and begin to make your life more stressful than it needs to be. This is never an ideal situation.
Diffrences In Parening Other People’s Children
When it comes to my child, I know what I think is best, and I act accordingly.
When it comes to helping parent someone else’s child, you can’t always act on your instinct. You have to make sure not to overstep the boundaries set by the parents, even if you disagree with them. You may feel very strongly about a decision they make, but ultimately it is their decision and you can’t step in and take control.
Discussing different parenting decisions with your partner or spouse’s ex can be a trying task, as they may not always be the most willing to cooperate and work together to make decisions. They may involve you in parenting discussions until you disagree with them- and then they may change their tune and dismiss your role in their child’s life.
Nothing about the wide range of situations that you could find yourself in as a step-parent sounds appealing. The best-case scenario is that the mother of your spouse’s child appreciates your contributions and the three of you (or four, if she has a partner too) co-parent in harmony. Even then, I can’t say parenting other children is a task I would like to take on.
Being a parent is a lot of work. It’s an all-day, every-day, never-ending task. It’s rewarding and you do it because you love your kids and want the best for them, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful. Being a parent is more than just cute moments with a baby- it’s an entire life that you are responsible for.
Upbringing Is Important To Child Development
Your upbringing shapes you. As a mother, you are your children’s introduction to being a human being. The things you teach them stick with them throughout their entire life.
Even as adults, when something goes wrong or we don’t have the answers, we oftentimes lean into our moms for support. We may not always have it together for ourselves, but we always have to have it together for our children.
I show up for my daughter every day because it’s my responsibility to do so. However, you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s easy to find yourself exhausted and burnt out when you have a never-ending to-do list and places to be all the time. As a single working mother, I have to take rest days when I can before I can go back to “being a person” or going about my normal day-to-day life. I take these breaks so I can pour into my daughter’s cup.
I love children, but I don’t know how much I have to give.
Final Thoughts – I Don’t Want To Be A Stepparent
I find myself overwhelmed and exhausted from time to time and I only have my child. I never wanted to have a lot of children because I wanted to be able to be fully present and intentional in raising the child that I do have.
The more division of my attention that is necessary for the children, the less individual attention each child gets. All children need attention, but in the day-to-day hustle of life, how much can you give?
I was intentional in how many children I had so that I could provide my undivided attention to my child. I don’t want to be a stepparent because I don’t want to be stretched thin and lose the connection I have with my daughter.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love my partner’s children. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with them or doing things for them. However, I don’t want to take on a parenting role, the responsibility that comes with that, and the potential conflict that could arise from becoming a part of someone else’s family.