In 2002, at the age of 30, Mollie H. married her now-husband, Doug, and suddenly had an instant family. Not only was Mollie a new wife, but she was also now stepmother to Doug’s two small children from a previous marriage, Eric, 6, and Hannah, 5. The role of stepmum was foreign to her, since none of her close friends or family had been through a divorce. “I really didn’t have any interaction with people who were divorced or came from divorced families,” says Mollie.
Shortly after getting married, Doug and Mollie had two more sons of their own, Luke and Noah. Today, Mollie and Doug are the proud parents of a blended family of six, with four children ranging from 13 to 23 years old. While Mollie loves being a parent to all four kids, there are a few things she wishes she’d known before becoming a step-parent – and a few things you should know if you’re in a similar situation.
You are joining an established family unit
Becoming a step-parent means that you’re walking into an existing family unit that already has its own dynamics, rules and quirks. “You are becoming a part of someone else’s family,” says Mollie. “You really need to respect that family unit that’s already there.” While you will certainly forge your own relationships with each family member, it can still be a struggle to find your role as the non-biological parent.
The relationship might get harder as the kids age
Mollie became a stepmum when her stepchildren were 5 and 6 years old. “When they were little, they were always excited to see me,” says Mollie. “We played games and watched movies.” However, as the kids got older, their relationship with Mollie became more tumultuous, especially during the high school years. “Kids go through their regular phases. High school was really hard, just like it is for your biological children, but it’s a different type of hard,” she says. “I think a lot of the struggle just had to do with them growing up and maturing.”