One of the top complaints of adults in blended families is that they don’t feel supported.
I definitely felt that as a new stepmom in my blended family.
I sometimes felt like an outsider. I also wasn’t sure who in my extended network understood my situation as a step parent.
I blamed the blended family structure for this sensation. I thought that mom’s who were connected to their babies biologically had an advantage and they all must feel totally supported by their spouses and family all the time.
Imagine my surprise a few years later when I became a mom I felt a whole new round of this sensation. In fact, I was gobsmacked at how alone and unsupported I felt as the primary caregiver of a young baby.
Why do I feel so alone?
I remember one night with my daughter and I was doing a middle-of-the-night diaper change that was a total blow out. So much mess everywhere. My husband was sleeping on the other side of the house. My baby was a baby and no help at all in cleaning up her diaper. In fact, she appeared to be pretty happy with herself to have made this huge diaper mess. I felt the full weight of this situation and that I was the only person who was going to deal with it. Of course, that wasn’t quite true. I could have awakened my husband and asked for help I just didn’t feel like I should. That’s a whole different topic.
Anyway, this doesn’t just happen in blended families. In fact it can happen all over. What’s more, like many things, what happens in one part of our lives often shows up in lots of other parts of our lives.
That might not sound like good news but it is because the work you do to find and create support in one part of your life will in my experience roll over to other parts of your life too. With no additional work.
I know – that’s amazingly good news.
Feeling supported is important
This is not a life coach thing you may remember this from any psychology class you have ever taken. There is a common theory introduced by a famous guy named Maslow who created a pyramid or hierarchy. His theory was / or is that you have to have the things on the bottom before you can move to the top levels and at the bottom is a sense of safety and security.
It really is important to feel supported because it helps us feel secure.
Not everybody has a lot of support
I have a small family of origin. My dad was an only child and his parents died before I was born. My mom actually had a pretty large family but has her own issues and unfortunately she wasn’t a great source of support for me growing up.
This is my story – I share it because at many points in my life I truly felt like I didn’t have very many people to turn to to ask for support. It wasn’t my imagination I really didn’t have very many relatives to ask for support for things like money and advice and babysitting.
At some points in my life this is why I felt like I had to become wildy independent and creative. Sometimes that’s great. Other times it’s more like a toddler demanding to do something by themselves when they have no skills to do it. Not a great plan at all.
Honestly, many times as a new wife, a new stepmom and a new mom … or even actually an experienced mom I will did find myself wishing for more support.
I remember I would read articles in magazines …this is a thing we used to do in the olden days …and it would have advice like ask your aunts and uncles for help. I would think … wow I wish I could do that. I legitimately couldn’t.
I bring that up because sometimes that is reality. Not all of us have big helpful groups around us that are ready, willing and able to jump in and do what we feel we need.
The same is also true of resources. Not everybody has unlimited resources to solve problems.
For me and one of the things I try to offer to my clients is tools and techniques to balance the urge to hustle and be able to do all the things ourselves with finding ways and places to get support and how to feel good about the whole thing.
Creating my own sense of being supported
I shared that I don’t have a huge family.
I solved part of that by marrying a person who already had kids and I went from no family to an instantly bigger family network. Interestingly that didn’t automatically solve my problem of not feeling supported.
For some things I was able to find support outside of a traditional family network. From friends, coworkers and also people who I would hire to help me.
Even with all that sometimes I felt like I could do more if I had more support. This was frustrating to me.
I think that part of this is that there are three things going on here.
- Having real live people and real actual resources available to support you
- Having the perception that you are supported
- Actually being able to ask for and receive help and support
They are probably interrelated.
In my experience sometimes I need actual helpers and supporters and other times what I need is the perception or awareness that I feel supported. In those cases I have learned that I can do a lot to create that sensation for myself.
Creating a feeling or perception of support from what you already have
One of the things I have learned to do for myself and that I offer to teach others who work with me is to do things that help me feel supported and to do things that help me see evidence that I am more supported than I might not be paying attention to.
Would you like to do that too?
I have to admit it’s a pretty wonderful thing to be able to do.
What are these things that I do? Are they magic. No of course not.
These are real things. Sometimes it’s a worksheet or a self-coaching activity. Sometimes it’s journaling and also I really like guided relaxation recordings. I have several guided relaxation recordings that I offer my clients and just people who are on my subscriber list –– so make sure you’re on it.
If you are ready to talk to me about working together click here to find out how to take the next step in that direction.