Claiming Your Territory As a StepParent

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Humans like to claim their territory, like animals do. It’s almost as if we need to beat on our chest like a gorilla and shout “This is my house. This is my kitchen. This is my man/woman. This is my TV!”. Right? We claim our space, our people, etc.

When I married Matt and we moved our two families into one home, the children all had a power shift happen and the territory was new. Establishing this new territory would be rough.

Before marrying Matt, my sons, especially my oldest son, were used to being number one. The big alpha male of the house. Anything they needed, they asked me and it was taken care of. Whether it was “mom, can you make me a sandwich” or “I need a new lacrosse stick” whatever it was, I handled it alone. I didn’t discuss anything with anyone, ask anyone for input, I ALONE made every decision regarding my kids.

Welllllll…..that all had to change when I got married because Matt became the new alpha male. Husband and wife need to head the home together. I needed to discuss the children’s needs and wants together and this was really, really hard for me–not just my boys. Haha! I am a grown adult and I struggled with this!

All of a sudden when one of the boys would say “mom, I need new lacrosse gear” I wouldn’t just say “yes”…like I always did. Instead, I would say “let me talk to Matt”. Then, I would discuss with my new husband, he would listen to the request being made, and respond to the boys “isn’t that lacrosse gear fairly new?” or “can’t you make your own sandwich?”. I had a hard time with not giving in to my boys and giving them what they were used to…and in all honesty, I did give in at times and it caused arguments.

This was hard. And contentious. And ugly.

But why?

For my boys, this new man, a STEP-dad, is making decisions that their mother used to make. He is not their biological father so it’s hard to accept. Their territory has just been tainted. The area they claimed as theirs is no longer theirs. It’s a loss. And I also had a hard time with a new leader in the home.

Establishing my new role and territory would be difficult as well. I had to make it clear that I am the woman of the house, not Matt’s oldest daughters. I make the rules, I do the parenting, I make the meals. This was hard for his children too. I was not their mom and listening to another woman is tough. They were no longer allowed free reign of the kitchen and now they had this woman constantly telling them how to do things her way in this new space. Yikes!

Being a step parent and blending a family is hard but boundaries need to be set. Each role needs to be filled by ONE person and everyone needs to know their place.

I’m not going to lie, this has been a challenge in our home.

You have to find the healthy balance of wanting everyone to like you and accept you as their stepparent and yet you need to be a parent who they listen to and respect.

I think animals have it easier!

Has anyone else had difficulty with this topic? Any suggestions?

4 Replies to “Claiming Your Territory As a StepParent”

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