Whether you’re the one on your second marriage, or the one marrying another who is on their second marriage―things are about to change. No matter how much you love your new spouse, the fact is, there are step-children in the mix. That means an immediate full house, and also other possible step-parents to deal with. You will likely experience what many other step parents experience—jealousy.
Why is jealousy so prevalent in blended families? Because everyone’s worlds have just changed dramatically. It’s hard to know what to expect. So you are often outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you’re even a little fearful. You’re not sure what’s normal, or how to feel. In the meantime, you may not feel like you are being treated fairly. While this is completely normal, it’s still hard to live with.
Here are some tips on how to deal with stepparent jealousy.
Look for the positive
If you see that your child is developing a positive relationship with your ex’s new spouse, it can cause you to feel jealous. After all, that is your child, not theirs! They belong to you. Now they have another person in their life who is also a parent figure, it feels like they are stealing your child. But are they really? No, they aren’t trying to take your place. You will always be their parent. Instead of focusing on your jealous feelings, try to look for the positive. Realize that this positive relationship with a stepparent is a great thing for your child; it could definitely be worse. Be glad that this stepparent is a positive influence on your child.
Expect some step-parent toe stepping
There will be times that you will feel like the other stepparent is encroaching on your territory. If you expect that there will be times where you feel jealousy, hopefully when the time comes you won’t feel it so severely. Think of the possible scenarios: they post pictures of your kids on social media gloating about how great they are; they call them their “kids”; your kids call them “mom” or “dad,” etc. Expect this kind of thing to happen, and just know it’s ok to feel like your toes are being stepped on. It’s one thing to feel a little jealousy and another to act on it. Decide now that no matter your reaction on the inside, you’ll try your best to be ok with it and not let it affect your relationship with your kids. These are positive things for your child, and it’s best to put your own feelings aside in the interest of your kids.
When you’re jealous of your spouse’s kids
If you are the second spouse, and your spouse already has children, then be prepared for feeling a little jealousy toward their parent-child relationship. As you first get married, you may be expecting more love and attention from your spouse; so when their child needs them a lot, you may feel let down. In fact, you may feel a little cheated out of more of that “newlywed” phase so many couples who start marriage without kids seem to have. Remember that when you marry someone who already has kids, you knew what you are getting into. Face reality here. Your spouse has to be there for their kids. They need their parents. While you know this, facing what it means may not be what you expect. Be sure to discuss your feelings with your spouse so you don’t feel like you are alone in this. Talk about what you need to put aside, and what you need from your spouse, in order to help make your home a happy one. The best thing you can do now is to develop a relationship with your new stepchildren.
Focus on what you can control
From time to time, you may shake your head at the decisions your step-children or your children’s stepparent make. Try not to let what they do bother you—you can’t control what they do, anyway. Instead, focus on what you can control. Be kind and helpful, set boundaries, and do your best to be there when needed. Try to let go of what you can’t control, and do everything you can with what you can.
Give everyone time—including yourself
When your family first blends, don’t expect things to be hunky dory overnight. There may be some definite highs and lows before things start to even out into normalcy. If there is jealous, try to work past it and realize that it doesn’t have to always be that way. Just give everyone some time to get used to this new arrangement. Give yourself time to adjust. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel jealous at times, just learn from it.