In this video, I talk about how to cope with the common problem of feeling like an outsider in your family. There are a bunch of different reasons why this can happen, and some of then you can change, while others are outside of your control. What you CAN control is whether you give your stepkids the power to exclude you, and that’s what I want to talk about.
1. Being disrespected is not the same thing as feeling like an outsider. Don’t tolerate disrespect – make it clear to your partner that he must take care of that. You deserve to respect yourself enough to make this happen. It’s no way to raise a child, letting them think they have permission to treat the adults in their life in a rude way. Teenagers are especially likely to copy what they learn from peers and from the media around disrespecting adults. Two great books on this topic are:
2. Possible reasons your stepkids find it hard to have a good time with you or to feel good about you include emotional blackmail from their mom, out and out bullying from her or her immediate family, as well as the Loyalty Bind that makes kids feel guilty about loving another ‘mom’, as if they were actually killing their mom inside their heart. Many kids will reject anything that feels to them like ‘mothering’, whether it’s hugging or nagging. We do things out of a desire to be kind or to help them develop the way we think they should, but sadly, this is not always the right approach. Be aware of how you might avoid giving them a reason to dislike you.
3. Change your mindset about what you can do to help them appreciate you, and about where you are supposed to fit in the family. Instead of just giving and giving, look at how you can do more of what they really need from you, which is to enrich the contact they get with their dad. You can get specific tips for this from my pdf download called The Secret Key To Your Stepchild’s Heart.
The ‘family bubble’ is a real thing, it’s an energetic field around birth relatives. You have one around your family too. Don’t try to poke your way in there, it doesn’t work. Make a NEW FAMILY with your partner and invite the kids to be part of that family with you. Be intentional about creating new memories. Make photo albums, or frame and hang pictures of you all doing things together.
4. If you are already deep into an outsider pattern already, find a strategy to PIVOT. This is like the U-turn we talked about in our session on disengaging. Pull back from what you have been doing. Give more responsibility to dad and be less visible for a while. Find an alternate stepmom ‘persona’, like auntie or mentor, that will change how you connect with the kids. Whatever else happens, you can stay in charge of whether you feel included or excluded. Keep yourself out of their ‘bubble’ until you are ready to invite them into the new energy field that you create for a family with their dad.
I will continue this video next week because there are a number of things I ran out of time to discuss!