STEP TALK: Alexandra Mortensen

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Being a stepparent isn’t for everyone.

I’m a firm believer that you should make sure you’re up for the challenge before you decide to officially take on the title. When two adults enter a relationship, they’re both consenting to involve their feelings knowing that there is the potential for things to end and heartbreak to occur. While, of course, the biological parent always puts the interests of their children first, the potential stepchildren involved still don’t get to freely choose the way the adults do.

You can’t tell going into a situation if you and that person will ultimately work out, but you can figure out with as much certainty as you’re able if you could handle being a stepparent. If the answer is no, at least determining that early on cuts back on the depth of feelings that could develop by all parties involved.

When I met my husband, this was definitely something I had to think about at length. I had always been extremely hesitant of dating anyone with children—and even at one point considered it a dealbreaker—so I wanted to be completely sure that I was being honest with myself that this was something I could wholeheartedly take on.

From my experience, these are the factors I’d recommend considering.

Will this change the future you’d imagined for children of your own—and most importantly, are you truly OK with that? In my case, I faced the decision of if I was okay with not having or adopting any children of my own in lieu of taking on two stepsons full time. Maybe you always imagined having two children, but your partner is only comfortable with having one more since they already have a child in the mix. There are many scenarios, but the key is finding clarity about if this particular scenario will work for you.

Are you okay with sharing your spouse? No matter what, there will always be another person (or people) who are your spouse’s priority, too. Josh is incredible at this. He somehow manages to always make all three of us feel important and prioritized. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t make changes and sacrifices to maintain the harmony. The home we live in accommodates our family of four, I’ve pushed back getting a new car for myself so that we could buy vehicles for the boys, and the list goes on. It’s no different than what any other parent does, but when it’s not “your children” it can feel different. You need to make sure you’re okay with that. Otherwise, resentment can build down the road.

In a nutshell, I can’t recommend enough that potential stepparents the time to soul search before becoming stepparents. So long as you don’t try to talk yourself into or out of anything, the answer will come.

No life is perfect, but if it’s right for you, being a stepparent is an incredible thing to take on!

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