Having a baby is complicated for any family, and that’s especially true if you’re already a stepmother. While the Brady Bunch made it look easy to live as a blended family, any stepparent knows it takes a lot of effort in real life. Try these tips to help you manage the psychological and practical dynamics involved in adding a new baby to your stepfamily.
Steps to Take Yourself and With Your Partner
Talk before the wedding. Like any couple, it’s essential for you to approach the issue of having children before you marry. Either of you might change your mind in the years ahead, but it’s risky to count on it.
Reach a joint decision. Hopefully, you’ll be in complete agreement about having children. Otherwise, ensure that whatever arrangement you arrive at is something you can live with permanently
Assess your finances. It may be helpful to take money out of the equation initially. While you need to be able to support an additional child, there may be solutions available if your budget is the only obstacle. Ask yourself what expenses would be worth giving up.
Clarify your motives. It’s natural for a stepmother to feel outnumbered at times. Just ensure you have additional sound reasons for taking the plunge.
Accept your feelings. It’s also common to have a more intense connection to your biological baby compared to your stepchildren, especially in the first months. Remember you can still be a positive force in each of their lives even if that takes a different form.
Inform your exes. Your ex-spouses may need an update if your blended family means they’re affected too. Be sensitive to their feelings.
Respect other options. Remember that motherhood is a choice. You can be a loving and responsible influence on your stepchildren regardless of whether you have children of your own.
Consider professional counseling. Maybe fairy tales would turn out differently if stepmothers received more support. Talking with a therapist who specializes in blended families could be a wise investment.
Steps to Take With Your Stepchildren
- Encourage their participation. Bring your stepchildren into the process early. You may want to let them know that you’re planning to become pregnant. Ask them to pick out toys for the baby or change his clothes. Activities like these will promote bonding.
Establish routines. Try to give your stepchildren a sense of security as they’re dealing with another round of changes in their family life. If possible, maintain rituals like family dinners and bedtime stories. Pay special attention to one-on-one time with each child to help them with their homework or attend soccer games.
Complete other changes ahead of time. With the baby coming, you may need to make some adjustments. Introduce preschool or different sleeping arrangements at least a month before the baby comes home to reduce hard feelings.
Deal with resentments. Be patient and compassionate as your stepchildren struggle with their new reality. They may need more reassurance if they feel like they’re being replaced.
Understand sibling relationships. Brothers and sisters argue and compete with each other. Focus on the love your children share instead of their occasional spats. A little half-brother or sister may turn out to be the most valuable gift you can give them.
Having a baby is a joyful and demanding stage in your life. You’re taking on a lot of responsibility when you’re caring for your own children as well as your stepchildren. Planning and persistence will help you to succeed in both roles.