In talking with a new stepmom this week-end, I was reminded of the heartache that can go along with stepparenting.

I reflected on some of my own pain that I experienced when my stepson chose to go live with his mother as an adolescent. During that time his mother became ill with colon cancer and died within the year. The most painful part , however, was a custody battle that ensued afterward when my stepson fought to continue to live with his stepdad and other siblings. There were a lot of hurtful things said in court that ring in my ears even today.

So, how do we cope with heartache that can accompany the stepparenting role? Over the next few days I want to offer a few suggestions.

First, recognize the pain of your heartache. Allow yourself to experience the difficult feelings which might include sadness, anger, denial, frustration, or fear. Try not to stuff your feelings or fall into addictive patterns to soothe the pain. Feelings eventually pass when we give ourselves permission to feel them.

Second, be gentle with yourself and expectations of what you can do on bad days. Lean on friends and family for strength and support. Accept their concern and care, even when they don’t know how to help or unintentionally say the wrong thing.

When I went through a difficult divorce, my sister came from out of town to go through the divorce proceedings with me and provide emotional support. Her hopeful attitude and encouraging words gave me the strength to make healthy decisions in the midst of heart-wrenching emotions.

Consider these suggestions today on coping with stepparenting heartache. I will offer two more tomorrow.


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