Finding Success Through the Bumps on Your Stepparenting Journey

As I listened to my husband on the other end of the phone with his daughter, I knew something bad had happened. He handed the phone to me and said, “She wants to talk to you.”

1170300_important_callThrough tears, my stepdaughter, Adrianne, relayed that her boyfriend of six years had broken up with her. When she was home over Christmas, she had told us she thought they would be getting engaged in 2013. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

My heart is breaking for her. I know she’ll work through her sadness but at 27 years old, she’s invested a lot of time in a relationship that’s come to a halt.

I’m thankful she has reached out to us during her difficult hour. She asked if she could come spend next week-end with us. Of course, we’re happy to have her drive the three hours to our place and visit any time.

Here’s the paradox of stepparenting. During her adolescent years, we had the typical stepmom-stepdaughter relationship — highly strained the majority of the time. Research shows the stepmom-stepdaughter relationship is often the most difficult. Our relationship was no different.

However, as she matured through her young adult years, Adrianne began reaching out to me more often.  She began asking my opinion on issues and calling us more regularly. She made it a priority to attend family vacations with us and create stronger relationships with her stepsisters.

Well into the second decade of our marriage, Adrianne and I have a wonderful relationship. I’m thankful we’ve been able to connect and can now enjoy our time together, instead of walking on egg shells when she’s around.

Does it have to take that long to bond with your stepchild? No! Some stepparents connect easily and find stepparenting a joy. But many do not.

The adolescent years of stepparenting are tough. It’s easy to slip into thinking that the relationship will always be strained.

The teen-age years may take a heavy toll on your relationship. But kids do grow up and often recognize the value of their parents when they leave the nest.

Don’t give up on finding success on your stepparenting journey. Maybe you won’t find it in the first decade of your marriage. Maybe it won’t happen until your stepchildren leave home.

But it’s never too late to enjoy the success of a thriving stepfamily relationship when it happens.

Is it taking longer than you hoped to find success on your stepparenting journey? Will you share about it?

Related Posts:

Learning How to Love my Stepchildren

Is It A Privilege to be a Stepparent?

Are You Willing to go the Distance as a Stepparent?


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6 replies
  1. Amanda D
    Amanda D says:

    I have been a step-mom for almost 11 years. They are 18 and 17 and I have a 15 year old. These past few years have been the most trying times. We got custody of my stepson 3 years ago and my stepdaughter 2 years ago(she didn’t really want to come). They are doing well right now but not without the bumps. I look forward to the days when they are older and completely understand the whys that I know they are asking themselves. It’s been tough but I knew what I was getting into.

    • Step Parenting with Grace
      Step Parenting with Grace says:

      Thank you for sharing Amanda. Stepparenting teens is especially tough. Someday they will understand better but in the meantime, live one day at a time with a positive focus and strong faith. God bless you on your journey. Gayla

  2. Jodi
    Jodi says:

    Oh how I needed this today. My step kids are 10 and 8. Drew our oldest is a spunky girl with a mind if her own, she can be so sweet and loving and then simply rude…’s so frustrating because even though I am with them just as much, if nit often more than their birth mom….I feel like my expectations for behavior are not respected. However, I think I need to move past this being a stepmom thing and realize all mothers/daughters go through this…

    • Step Parenting with Grace
      Step Parenting with Grace says:

      Thank you for your comment. My stepdaughter was 10 when we married and I went thru some of the same thing. The stepmom-stepdaughter relationship can be one of the hardest because of the stepdaughter’s loyalty to her mom and the maternal role that is natural for us as women. Tread lightly on discipline while you’re developing your relationship with her and let your husband handle it so your stepdaughter can grow to love and trust you. Time helps. God bless you.

      • Jodi
        Jodi says:

        Thank you Gayla, I had a pretty sleepless night last night worrying about how things are going lately. We have been together for almost 4 years, for the most part it has been smooth but these issues keep cropping up. I appreciate your advice about stepping back from discipline, I can see how that could make a difference. I’m Drew’s girl scout leader currently, which is a frustrating experience when she is not listening to my expectations. I am going to talk to my hubby tonight though about him handling more of the discipline with them as we work on building our relationship.
        I am so grateful I found your page/book and blog last night!

        • Step Parenting with Grace
          Step Parenting with Grace says:

          Glad you found it helpful Jodi. If you’re looking for some stepfamily resources I recommend the book, The Smart Stepmom, by Laura Petherbridge and Ron Deal. It’s got some helpful info in it! Good to hear from you. Gayla

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