Overwhelmed with my step son while trying to spend time with my baby. - FamilyEducation
Overwhelmed with my step son while trying to spend time with my baby.
05/06/2011 at 10:44 AM

4 years ago we got primary placement of my step son, then 5 years old. He is a wonderful kid with the best of intentions. But he is an attention seeker, loud and obnoxious at times. Before, when it was just him,I could deal with it. But now, I have my own baby who is just over a year. I have fought with my feelings about my step son since we brought our son home from the hospital. I hate to use the word 'resent' because it seems so harsh. I am just torn between the time and energy my step son wants and the time I want to spend with my own baby who is growing and changing so fast. The worst part is that I pushed for placement of my stepson because the living situation with his mom was not good and I am a huge believer in children having stable, consistent homes. And now, I feel sooooo guilty about how I am feeling and I just don't know what to do. I know it's not real common that Dad gets placement over mom, we're so fortunate for that...but I am so stressed out and overwhelmed. Just looking for advise on dealing with it...any one elses experience with something like this. My husband tries to help by taking the older son out to the garage or keeping him busy so I can have some alone time with the little one....and it does help some. But it doesn't change how I am feeling and also the fact that his kid loves me as much if not more than his bio mom. I want to find a way to deal my feelings and the situation that works for everyone so I don't have to feel guilty or get resentful about the situation...

Would you feel resentment towards him if he were your biological son?

Your step son has been through a lot in his short life and deserves the attention he seeks. I am sure there is more than a little jealousy about the new baby which is taking a lot of attention away from him. Perhaps you could involve him more in looking after the baby with you. Are there small tasks he could do to help you. Maybe your husband could also take the baby away for short times to give you some 1:1 time with your step son so he doesn't feel so left out. It must have been a very difficult transition for him coming to live with you. Does he still get the chance to see his mother. He must miss her. How old was he when this attachment was severed? I don't know the circumstances, but children's love is unconditional, and a child will usually still love a parent however bad they have been.

I don't know!!! I guess that's why I am so confused with how I feel. I do love my step son. He has been living with us for almost 5 years. I am there when he gets on the bus the first day of school every year and off the bus, on the last. I’m there through the flu’s and the colds and the I’m scared’s and I’m sad…I’m there everyday. But on the other hand, my baby is also my FIRST baby. I never wanted to have kids too close together because I always thought of those first years as so precious...and so much changes from day to day. I didn't want to miss a thing...and I didn't think I would have to with the first one...but I am. And not a lot, but my time and energy is split between two, so obviously I can't see everything that either of them do. Either way I feel like I am letting one of them down. I give the best I can to both, but I worry that that isn’t enough. And regardless of what I do, I feel guilty about how I feel.

Almost every mother I know struggles with these emotions when they have a new baby. Even if the first child was also theirs biologically. One of my daughters had post-partum depression with her first child, and fell completely in love with her second. You can't imagine the mixed emotions she felt, because, of course, by then she also loved her first. Acknowledge your emotions, but don't let them determine your actions. Be gentle with yourself and especially gentle with the older boy. He understands on some level that you don't love him like you love this new baby. It might help him to understand that this is biology, something that humans do because it helps the new baby to survive, and that when this baby is 9, you won't feel this overwhelming protective love.

Mayamay just hit the nail on the head.

My stepson is 3 and a half and he has lived w me and his dad since age 1. His bio mom never really bonded w him and abandoned him as soon as her and his dad split (he was only w her for the baby) and i am the only mom he knows. He doesnt see bio mom or know she is his mom at this point. And i have defended our situation for yrs saying that despite biology im his mom. I have raised him as a SAHM and been there thru everything But now i am 5mo pregnant and i find myself resenting stepson soo much i feel like this sacredness of my 1st baby is tainted bc dh did this with another woman. I feel like we are splitting down the middle, dh and his kid and me and my baby. Im the one who fought so hard for stepson to live w us and now i just want him gone. He is a good kid and doesnt deserve this i just dont know how to deal anymore. I thought i loved him like my own but now i realize what i didnt have w stepson and all the bonding we missed and what a difference it is.

Although your feelings seem very strong, I had similar feelings about my first child when my second was born. I felt very protective of the baby, and my older child really did get sort of pushed out of the nest. Have high expectations about your behavior toward the older child. Actually, you need to shower attention on the three year old--you really are irreplaceable to him, while the baby could care less who is holding, attending, feeding him/her until about the age of 6 months.

Especially because that first year's attachment was disrupted, your relationship with your stepson is really, really important. When you think about who needs you to be a mom the most, It is the older child. You managed to love him without the benefit of this hormonal connection you are feeling with the new baby. Honor that love by doing what needs to be done, not just doing what you want. The feeling of love will return, I can promise.