I’m a scorpio, so I can’t help but have the jealous gene. I consider myself a confident girl, but when it comes to my partner, a little psycho creeps out whenever other women or exes come into the picture. He’s a good catch, what can I say? We’ve been married for almost 4 years now so luckily this type of jealousy has subsided as time has elapsed. However, I never expected for an entirely different type of jealousy to emerge within our relationship: Jealousy between his kids and I!
Being a stepmom comes with lots of challenges (and joys), but one obstacle I was totally unprepared to deal with was feelings of jealousy between my stepkids and I. Unfortunately, on holidays like Valentine’s Day, this jealous undercurrent tends to surge. Think about it, from a child’s perspective, a stepmother could be seen as a threatening presence. To them, she is competition for their father’s time, love and resources. Jealousy is an emotion that is born out of fear so a child scared of “losing” their beloved dad will often lash out in jealousy. I think about how I act when I’m jealous of other women eyeing my husband (think a kicking and screaming child), so you can imagine an actual child trying to untangle and express these complex jealous feelings. It can get ugly.
So on a day like Valentine’s Day when the pressure to be lovey dovey with your partner is at its zenith, the last thing you want to deal with is jealousy from children that feel like daddy is being taken from them. For me, anytime I have a romantic evening with my hubby, I experience pangs of guilt towards his children as if I am doing something wrong. Like we as parents are deserting them! The guilt is then often followed by anger because I become resentful that I can’t just simply enjoy time alone with husband like every other “normal” couple.
So what to do? As a professional nerd, I have scoured the internet and harassed my therapist for answers. So just in time for V-Day, here are the steps a stepmom (pun intended) can take to help deal with jealousy that exists between her and her stepkids:
1. Consider what the jealous feelings are really about. Are they hurt that they don’t get as much time with daddy? Or, if the kids are older, are they worried that you are competition in financial matters? The more information you have about the problem, the easier it will be to address it and fix it.
2. Remind yourself that just because your stepkids occasionally feel jealous doesn’t mean that you are necessarily doing anything wrong. Let’s not forget that you are dealing with children. This fact shouldn’t make you discount their feelings, but it’s important to remember that you may not be dealing with a totally mature mind. Therefore, remain open minded about how you judge the situation. Don’t jump to a dark, guilty place so fast.
3. Talk to your husband about this. If he isn’t aware of the situation, chances are he will want to be aware. And if appropriate, talk to the kids about it. Yes, it will be uncomfortable and awkward but more often than not, dealing with feelings head on is the way to go.
Most importantly, remember that your marriage is the foundation of the stepfamily. If that relationship isn’t solid, there is no chance that the rest of the family can live in harmony. So on that note, be sure to show your man how loved he is this Valentine’s Day, regardless of any negativity that comes your way!