You might think that this post relates to the stepparent being new in the family. Instead, I thought I’d focus today on the new kid you and your spouse might bring into town: your baby. While your stepfamily may arrive at some household decisions together as a family, having a baby is an adult decision.
My heart goes out to those of you struggling with whether or not to have a baby. Only you and your spouse can make that decision. If you believe in the power of prayer, you know peace will come from praying for guidance toward a decision. Sometimes one of you wants to move ahead and the other doesn’t. My husband and I got through that phase by breaking down what was behind our fears and realizing that none of those concerns were life-threatening. Then he gave me the gift of fulfilling my wishes. Other than the temporary frustration that comes with some sleepless nights, he has never regretted the decision that became our little girl.
Another important question is, will your children and stepchildren be on board for this family expansion? A new baby is certain to cause some kind of a shift in stepfamily dynamics. How can you make this a positive shift?
The most authentic response is to be realistic and yet promote the benefits of widening your circle of love. Yes, there will be changes in the family, and yes, we’ll experience some hard moments with a new baby in the home. But we’ll also see a new side of life and experience a lot of joy. The baby can be a family project for all who want to participate.
My stepchildren jumped in and out with the baby project. Our boy could sit on the floor and play the Elmo toy with the eight-month-old for an hour, or watch her Baby Einstein videos with her. But once she started to say “no” and talk back, he was “outta’ there.” Our girl didn’t much like the infant phase, but interacted more and more during the toddler and preschool years.
It is especially important for the parent to tell his or her children that there is plenty of love to go around in the family, even with one additional member. More important is that the parent demonstrates his or her promise by still spending time with each and every child.
There’s no doubt that the new addition will deepen the parenting skills and perspectives you and your spouse bring to your entire stepfamily. In fact, a new baby will challenge a stepparent to think, again or for the first time, about the different kinds of love that are possible in a family. Having a baby may help a stepparent clarify how to play a more realistic role with his or her stepchildren.
Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in Northern Colorado. For more information on her book, Stepparenting the Grieving Child, go to www.dianefromme.com.