Maybe they’re a mess when they come home from their mom’s house, and you need to run to the store with them... Maybe they have bad table manners and you take them to a nice restaurant… maybe they whine and swear in public… or maybe it’s just something about their way of walking, talking, standing and being is just not reflective of the way you are and the way you want your children to be. Maybe it reminds you of the ex’s bad habits and way of being, and you just can’t stand it.
Fact: When you go out with your step-kids, people often look to you as their parent.
As a parent, your children are a reflection of you, and if you care at all what other people think… it can be flat out embarrassing when your step-kids do things that reflect poorly on you as a parent, role model or person.
It’s especially annoying that this thing they do that makes you feel embarrassed likely has nothing to do with you. Heck, it may even be something that you judge other people for… and that’s likely the case if you’re feeling embarrassed about it.
Often when we feel embarrassed and judged, it’s for actions and habits that we also don’t agree with... but there’s only so much we can do as their stepmom. Maybe they’re behaviours that we would never allow in our biological children… but because we’re ‘just the stepmom’, there’s only so much we can do to control the behaviour (stay tuned for more on ‘control’ in my next blog).
Now there's also the stigma that you’re not supposed to care what other people think...
When it comes to things I believe in/value/stand for in my life, I don’t care what people think… or at least I can put my fears of what other people think aside because I’m doing something I believe in. But when it’s something that I don’t stand for, and I am being judged for it like it’s mine… that’s a lot harder to swallow.
Being a stepmom forces you to come to terms with other people judging you. Many times, those things we’re being judged for are not our things, they just appear to be… and appearances can be deceiving.
When I was little, I used to be afraid of others judging me for my father’s drinking. It was embarrassing, something I wasn’t in agreement with, but something I had little control or influence over. I was ashamed because society tells you that you DO have control and influence in these matters, and if you’re not controlling it, there must be something wrong or bad about you, that you deserve this bad treatment or shame. The underlying false belief that I learned was that I was wrong or bad. I lived with a deeply ingrained sense of shame over my father’s behavior.
Now that I’m older and sometimes ashamed of my step-kids behaviors – in particular those that have nothing to do with me – I feel that same expectation that I am ‘supposed to’ do something to control the behavior. And because I’m not able to… I must be wrong or bad. That same belief from my childhood comes up, and makes me act from a place of shame and like I’m wrong, bad or less than.
The deeper truth is that we have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about our step-kids bad habits. The behaviors are not ours, they aren’t influenced or condoned by us, and we don’t need to own those bad habits. Their behaviors are separate from us.
If you feel ashamed of your step-kids behaviors in public, don’t push those feelings down and swallow them because you aren’t supposed to feel this way. Feel your feelings, feel that shame, then separate yourself from it.
You can try using these affirmations which help me deal with my own feelings of shame when they come up:
I feel ashamed and embarrassed that I can’t control this situation. I chose to let go of the shame, it’s not mine to hold onto. Those behaviors and values are not mine, and I separate myself from them. I know what I stand for, I know what I don’t stand for, and I’m a reflection of that. If there are people who judge me based on appearances, that’s not my problem to mitigate and control. I can let go of my need to control other people’s perceptions of me and my family. I can’t control all my step-kids ‘bad’ behaviors. I do my best, and lead by my positive example. It’s safe to let it be and focus on being me. When I am my true authentic self, my light outshines whatever negative behaviors may be going on around me.
When people get to know us, they know what we value and we don’t need to prove ourselves to anyone. I hope this blog serves you and helps you release any shame you’re feeling with regards to your step-kids.
I’d love to hear how you relate in the comments below.