I am jealous of my stepchild! There I said it! Totally taboo subject and something no stepparent should ever say, but I said it. It's the reality of dating with kids, blending families, and the shit that people just don't talk about, because they feel like they will be judged. Don't judge me yet!! And if anyone knows me, I quite often talk about those topics that people think about, but no one wants to say it. But it’s out there now so let’s talk about step parenting and navigating a relationship with step kids.
Of course, every person that is dating with children wants to believe that they will have this seamless transition with blending families, kids will get along and everyone will love each other. And those that tell you that this was their experience I call their bluff on it! Blending families is extremely complicated and no two situations will ever be the same, yet the issues are similar.
You don’t want to be that person that comes across as the bad stepparent for thinking not so good thoughts about your partners children. Family dynamics are so different. Different routines, different values, different parenting styles. Bringing two families together presents a lot of contentious issues and unless you get these sorted before moving forward together then you are headed for disaster.
Anyway, back onto the real topic! Don’t worry I am not avoiding it, just giving a bit of an intro. Especially for those that have no experience in blending families or raising step kids. And for those that haven’t I ask you to hold your judgement until the end and until you read some other comments.
My partner and I live in separate homes. I work shift work (12 hour day and 12 hour night shifts) and that includes a lot of weekends. He works normal day work, Monday to Friday job. I have 3 kids and he has 1. The kids have school, sports, and at times other extra curricula activities. The sports are on weekends and of course all in different locations. Now whilst we only live 5 minutes from each other we would be lucky to have 1 hour of quality time together during a week.
My kids also spend time with their Dad, whilst my partners child’s mother unfortunately passed away. The family dynamic for both homes is quite different. I thought when we met, that being that special person, or a mother role for my partners son would be quite easy and we would build a very special bond with one another. And it seemed that way in the early days. However, it has been very difficult forming that relationship with my stepson as it almost feels like a fight for his Dad’s attention. I am not sure what it is, but it’s almost like at times maybe he feels threatened by me and that I might take his Dad away from him.
I love my stepson very much and would do anything for him. Yet at the same time I find myself having these jealous feelings. I feel so guilty for that. What is wrong with me that I would feel guilty of a child? But it’s not the child, it’s the time that I don’t have with my partner that I am jealous of. And when I do get those times with him, sometimes they are sabotaged by the jealous child. I just want my time! I don’t think I ask for a lot. But when I think about what I am jealous of these are some of the things that come to my mind;
It’s all those weeknights sharing dinner and stories of the day.
It’s sharing TV shows.
It’s sharing the mornings together and wishing each other a great day.
It’s sharing the cooking duties.
It's having a game of table tennis.
It's having a quiet beer and talking random sh#$.
Its sharing the fun banter and laughs at each others mishaps.
It’s the happy times on weekends, sharing coffee at the waterfront.
It’s the special warm hugs before bedtime.
It’s waking up to the person that you love each morning.
Are these feelings of jealousy normal? Whatever normal is? I’ll search it on google! Google knows everything! LOL
Thankfully I found numerous step parenting forums with this exact topic. So many parents making comments with similar feelings to mine. And pleasantly to my surprise it wasn’t just women, it was men as well that felt this way. The common theme was that the partners felt that the children were treated with greater respect and priority then their partners.
In my situation I find myself just wanting quality time with my partner. We have met later in life and it is extremely difficult to find time for each in between our busy schedules. Dating with kids is not easy. When we are together and get to enjoy date nights, I just want the time to freeze. I want to enjoy more time with my partner. I don’t think it’s a personal thing with my stepson, its more about I am just jealous of all that time he has with him. And it’s understanding that he will always be his priority, however I just want to be that special person every now and then.
I don’t think that these feelings are limited to stepparents. I had these thoughts in my past relationship with my kids Dad. He was always a very loving Dad to his kids, yet he could never show the same affection or time to me. So, when I liken it to that I think these are similar feelings.
So a lesson here for all partners, parents, mum's and dads. Make time for each other. Even though we are adults we still crave the love, affection and quality time. It's time to reconnect and keep that spark in the relationship alive. Surprise your partner with date nights and special times. Be mindful when you are spending time with your kids that you are not isolating your partner. It’s important to spend quality time with your kids, but it’s also important to include your partner as this helps in developing the stepparent/ stepchild relationship. It’s a very difficult topic to talk about with your partner without them getting defensive and protective about their kids. But it’s not about the kids. What you partner is trying to tell you, is to make sure you extend the same love, emotion and time to them. It’s not easy being a stepparent. Let them know that they are valued as a stepparent and a partner. Sometimes we just like to hear it!
Jealousy is a normal emotion, so it just shows I'm normal! (Okay maybe that's debatable) LOL.
So, where to from here? I don't think I'll be condemned just yet. There is still hope for me. I have acknowledged my feelings, and I think that is a great step in moving forward. I can be mindful of them, when I have them, and try and rationalise why I am having them. And it’s about continuing to grow as a person and doing what I can to support my partner and his relationship with his son and my kids. It is also about continuing to commit to work on our relationship and being open and honest with each other without judgement. And it's about finding more time to whip his ass in table tennis. :-)
p.s. When I bought up the topic with my partner, it didn't go so well. Hahah. WIP (always a WORK IN PROGRESS)