Becoming a new step-parent can be difficult, particularly if you don’t know the child well. It can be overwhelming at first, when you have just gotten married, to not only adjust to married life but also living with a new child. As you might imagine, if the child needs to come to live with you, the situation can be quite complicated and can come along with some complicated feelings. You may have to learn to navigate those feelings and come to terms with your step-son moving in with you even if you don’t want him to live with you.
Why Don’t You Want Your Step-Son to Live With You
If you and your spouse have been married for a while, you may have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Perhaps most of the time, the two of you are together, with no kids at home. You can often have date nights or time alone without any distractions except when your step-children come to visit. And even though you might love them dearly, you may be afraid of what it would mean if your step-child moved in permanently.
You would no longer have an environment meant for couples, you would suddenly become a full-time parent. If you are unaccustomed to being around children, this could be quite life-changing. Perhaps you don’t feel ready to be a full-time parent yet, or perhaps you didn’t envision yourself having children at all. Children are a large responsibility and taking care of them full-time comes with a lot of new lifestyle changes.
Additionally, if your house isn’t set up for children to live in full-time, your space may have to change, so that everyone can adapt to children being around all the time. This can be particularly frustrating if you have to convert an office to a playroom or a home gym to a family room. You might be afraid that there will be no private space for you to retreat to.
You might be afraid that your step-child moving into your house will mean that your partner will no longer have time for you. You might feel that you will become the third wheel as they had a life with their child before you came along. This can build up feelings of resentment and frustration when you feel like you aren’t getting the attention you need and want.
Additionally, you might not feel instantly in love with your step-child. Having these difficult feelings can be hard to navigate when you feel guilt for not liking your step-child or wanting to spend time with them. The assumption that you’ll have a bond with your step-son just because you married their parent prevails in most of society’s circles, and there can be a lot of judgment towards step-parents who don’t immediately fall in love with their step-child.
You might also have difficult feelings towards your step-son if you have difficult feelings towards your step-child’s other parent. If conversations with your partner’s ex are often fraught or filled with tension, it can make parenting your step-child a complicated, difficult experience.
Then there is the possibility that your spouse’s child is just not pleasant to be around. After all some kids are just a disaster. Whatever the reasons is, you need to address the situation.
How To Approach The Situation
The first thing you need to do in this situation is sit down and have an honest discussion with your partner. If you are feeling overwhelmed about your step-son moving in, you will need to share those feelings with your spouse. Particularly if you are worried that you won’t be able to share in co-parenting duties or if you feel resentment towards their child. They may be understanding and if they are, they might be able to help you find compromises to your step-son moving in with you.
Your spouse may feel conflicted because they want you to be happy, but they also have their child’s feelings to consider, as well. Be careful not to make your spouse choose between the two of you because your partner cares about you both and that will make the situation even more difficult.
Difficult feelings are normal and part of the process of being in a blended family. The important thing is that you address your feelings and don’t let them sit to create problems in the future. It might be important for you and your spouse to seek therapy to deal with potential issues. Seeking family therapy could be beneficial in building a good relationship with your spouse and your step-child, providing you with a strong foundational relationship to build on.
If you are concerned that having a child moving in with you will make it so that you and your spouse can’t have alone time together anymore, make sure that the two of you are on the same page and that your spouse understands you want a commitment to making time for the two of you to be together. That might mean scheduling date nights and hiring a babysitter.
If you are worried about space, talk to your partner about how you can provide a space for your step-son without upending all aspects of your life. Perhaps you can keep a room that’s your private space where you can retreat to. You can establish firm boundaries about that space being yours.
Compromising can show your partner that you are willing to make room for their child in your life, but also allow you to consider your own space and feelings in the process. This will show both your step-son and your spouse that you are making an effort to include him in your future.
Considerations When you Don’t Want Your Step-Son to Live With You
Before your step-son moves in, you will need to make some important considerations and discuss them with your partner. There is a lot involved in child-care and this can be especially overwhelming if you are a first-time parent. How little or how much you are involved in your step-son’s life will depend on the relationship you hope to have with him and his willingness to have a relationship with you.
You and your partner need to sit down and discuss important parenting topics, for example, when and how are you supposed to discipline your step-son. Who will take him to the doctor and who is expected to register and take him to school? These types of questions need to be discussed before your step-son ever moves in so that when he moves in there is a seamless transition.
You may not be prepared to help with your step-son’s life and if you are uncomfortable being a parent figure, you will need to discuss this with your spouse. It’s important that you both have set clear boundaries so that you know what’s expected of you. Your role should be clearly defined so that your step-son doesn’t receive mixed messages.
If you are struggling to envision life with your step-son full time, it may be difficult for you if your spouse suggests that your step-son move in with you. Remember that part of marrying your step-son’s parent meant that you were marrying into a package deal. While this situation may not be easy for you, it will be difficult for your step-son. Try to focus on how you can all emerge from the situation happy and healthy. By considering everyone’s feelings you will ensure that nobody ends up feeling hurt or left out.