“I just want her to affirm my kids. Tell them, ‘Good job,’ every now and then. Act like she cares.”
Those words were shared by a client in a coaching session a few years ago. It didn’t surprise me. I’d suspected that his wife, the stepmother to his two children, had unresolved anger that was affecting her relationships with his kids. I wanted to help her get to the root of it.
It can be a challenge to deal with our anger. But there are questions to ask and steps to take to master the challenge.
- What am I angry about?
- What do I need from my spouse to help me work through my anger?
- What is keeping me from connecting with my stepchildren?
- How have I been wounded?
- Where does the root of my anger lie?
Admitting our anger is the first step toward resolving it.
Oh, we can bury it. We can tiptoe around it. We can even pretend it doesn’t exist. We can blast others with it. But these things do nothing to RESOLVE the anger. They do nothing to SOLVE the problem. They only serve to prolong and/or inflame the problem.
We need to give ourselves the grace to explore the anger and learn to manage it.
As a stepparent, I understand anger. Maybe you’ve been treated like an outsider. Maybe your stepkids are rude to you daily. Maybe the ex-spouse invades your home emotionally. Perhaps your spouse doesn’t support your stepparenting efforts, or others in your community don’t respect your role.
We walk different paths as stepparents. Some of us get to engage quickly with our stepchildren, forming emotional bonds and life-long ties. And some of us tread uphill daily. For years. And we wonder if things will ever change.
If that’s where you are today, barely treading water, I encourage you to look inward.
Are you harboring anger that needs to come out?
Are you allowing the burden of guilt to keep you smothered?
Anger is a natural emotion.
Embrace it and resolve to make a change.
When the stepparenting journey is rocky, It’s easy to feel like we’re stuck, believing the situation will never be different. Like a truck spinning its tires in the mud, we throw off displeasing behavior that affects everyone in our path. We want to change. But we don’t know how or where to start.
I’ve been there. And it wasn’t pleasant.
I want to help.
Here are five steps we can use to manage our anger:
- Identify possible solutions.
- Take a timeout.
- Stick with “I” statements.
- Don’t hold a grudge.
- Know when to seek help.*
Helpful stepfamily resources I recommend are:
The Smart Stepfamily by Ron L. Deal
The Smart Stepmom by Ron L Deal and Laura Petherbridge
The Courage to be a Stepmom by Sue Patton Thoele
Another option for you and your family may be stepfamily coaching. I would love to help you find success in your stepfamily relationships and possibly find a fresh perspective. Go to my coaching page for details.
Regardless of where you are, you don’t have to stay there. You are not stuck.
But you will have to be intentional about making changes to really see a difference.
Will you take the risk and seek the help you need to find peace again?
Have you experienced anger in your stepfamily?
What suggestions do you offer for coping with your anger as a stepparent?
I would like to read about your thoughts and ideas in the comments.