As a stepmom, have you ever said that to yourself?
“That was just a stupid thing to do.”
I know I have.
And, most of the time, I desperately wished I could reverse time and do things entirely different.
As we mature into adults, we learn to control our automatic instinct to do or say things that we would have done as a child.
Most of the time.
Have you ever asked a little kid why they did something that to us, was just idiotic?
Who knows how long she sat and played in it, but, I could tell by the look on her face, that she knew she had made a mistake as soon as I walked through the door.
When I asked her why she decided to do such a thing, she simply answered, “I don’t know.”
Once, I caught myself asking my stepdaughter a question about her mom that I should have known would cause a tense reaction.
But, some resentment towards her mom had built up inside of me, and I chose, wrongly, to attempt to make myself feel better by making a point to my stepdaughter.
As soon as I said it, I wished I could have taken it back.
Well, maybe not as soon as I said it. It felt good for a few seconds. But the minutes and hours following just weren’t worth it.
And, I should have known that by making my stepdaughter feel bad wouldn’t translate into making her mom feel bad.
As adults, we’ve all been there, haven’t we?
As a stepmother, using the excuse of, “I just wasn’t thinking”, or, “I don’t know why I did that,” just won’t fly in the eyes of your spouse or stepchildren.
The way we react and, specifically, our intentions regarding why and how we behave mean everything when you are slowly building trusting and meaningful relationships within a blended family.
Here are the top 5 things you can do to help keep you from doing or saying something dumb:
Take 10 seconds: If you feel the urge to say or do something as a quick reaction, step back and think about it. That may mean ten slow seconds of deep breathing before you react (and don’t make the deep breathing obvious. That doesn’t help things).
Phone a friend: When I say phone a friend, I mean someone you have identified as a support to you as a stepmom. Someone that will tell it to you straight without letting you play the victim role out or tell your side of the story 1,000 times. It’s amazing how much better you can feel after confiding in someone the horrifying words that you were yearning to say to your stepchild. Stepmoms often feel guilty for the things they imagine themselves saying to their stepchildren. Why is this any different than that time you bit your lip during your last argument with your spouse? Or, the vulgar thoughts you had about your boss during your last employee meeting? You are human. As long as you don’t act on these impulses you can count yourself as extremely average. You don’t have to be ashamed, just be proud of the fact that you didn’t give into your desires and instead, talked it out with a friend.
Change your view: Let’s be honest, if you have your own children, you know how you feel when someone says something to them that hurts their feelings. It’s amazing to me how quickly I can feel a deep rage in my soul when my daughter’s feelings have been hurt, especially if it seemed intentional. My girls have told me some things over the years that their stepmom or dad has said to them that was apparently intended to get back to be but, in the meantime, hurt my daughter’s heart. I have learned that by imagining my daughter as the recipient of the mean and desperate words that I wanted to say to my stepdaughter, my heart would break. I quickly realize that by allowing myself to say whatever is on my mind in hopes that I will feel better, I cause major sadness for my stepdaughter…and I don’t want to do that.
Check yourself: Who are you? Who do you want to be? It comes down to your integrity. For me, my biggest motivator for the way I treat others comes from my faith in God. For you, it might be through the values passed down to you by your parents, the principles that you learned from a favorite teacher, or possibly you possess an internal need to be a person of high integrity and worth to others. For whatever reason, you need to remember who you strive to be. Along with that, how you will feel about yourself if you allow yourself to say and do whatever is on your mind. Most of the time that will stop you in your tracks.
Apologize: It’s going to happen. Even if we follow the above four steps, some things will leak through the system, and we are going to find ourselves red-faced and questioning our actions. It may have been that we were overcome with such intense feelings of our need for self-gratification that we do things to our stepchildren that we later regret (sometimes sooner than later). Although we can’t take it back, we sure can apologize. And, the sooner we apologize, the better. The lesson you can teach your stepchild by apologizing for something that you did that was wrong can speak volumes to them about who you are as a person and your integrity. Although it could take time for them to accept your apology, they act of your apology to them will help your relationship in the long run.
Have you ever said anything to your stepchild that you regret? How did you handle it? Leave a comment below!