Featured by Ashley Coleman
One of the hardest parts of being a stepmom- no matter how functional your blended family may be- is regularly hearing discrediting comments. Everyone makes them… those on the outskirts of your life, and those in the inner circle. Comments can range from discrete, to downright disrespectful and oftentimes, they don’t even realize how they’ve come across! To me, these discrediting comments are like stepmom micro-aggressions, and they can be really hurtful.
My most recent discrediting comment came from my mother-in-law. A few weeks ago, my 3-year old stepdaughter broke her arm and was put in a cast. We- my husband, bio-mom, and myself- decided to keep her out of preschool for a few weeks, and alternate taking days off between the three of us to watch her. On my first day home watching our sweet girl, my mother-in-law said to me, “Aww, it was nice of your work to let you off so you could help out!”
Now don’t get me wrong… my mother-in-law loves me and is so kind… but it was clear in that moment she does not see me as a legitimate parent. She would have never said to my husband, or to the bio-mom, that it was “nice of” their work places to “let them help out.” I did not react externally, but it really felt like a slap in the face… like she considered me a babysitter.
So how do you deal? How do you cope with discrediting comments, even when it hurts?
Here’s my super simple three-step (and should-be-common-sense) recipe for success when the people in your corner upset you like this… I hope it helps!
ONE: Stay Calm. Getting angry is not going to solve anything, nor is it going to make you feel better in the long run. You have to brush off the immediate feelings you are flooded with for the greater good. Remember, in our self-centered society, you typically do not become sensitive to a topic until it directly impacts you.
TWO: Educate. As with most micro-aggression's, know that the person who made the comment likely has no idea they upset you. Conversationally, explain to them how what they just said was perceived by you. It doesn’t have to cause a rift, but just pointing the comment out will hopefully provide a new perspective this person, who truly is your ally.
THREE: Know Your Worth. Regardless of how your statements are received, believe in yourself and your role as a stepmom. Know that your worth is not defined by outside opinions. Find peace in knowing your children love you, and the perception of others- no matter their role in your life- does not define the type of parent you are.
Remember it is truly impossible to make it through life without saying something that is going to offend someone. Remember that you have been guilty of this too, and that staying calm and informational is always a better option than lashing out. Be confident, and always stay true to yourself. You are a warrior!
Stay tough, Mama’s!