Disengagement. It’s a hotly debated topic on many stepmom forums, including ours. And while the discussions are quite interesting and spirited, they often sound extreme and therefore misguided. The word itself, disengage, conjures up strong emotions, fear and certainly debate between stepcouples. It is important to remember that much about stepfamily life depends on an individual’s own circumstances. Disengaging can mean something different for everyone. I recently shared my thoughts about disengaging with subscribers in our discussion forum:
“There can be varying levels of disengagement, both physically and mentally speaking. Disengagement does not have to mean that you don’t care about, or that you don’t love your stepkids. Disengagement might simply mean that you don’t parent them as much, or anymore, or that you won’t perform as many tasks for them as in the past. Choosing to disengage can be as simple as deciding not to attend every sporting event or band concert. Disengaging does not have to mean you ignore your stepkids or that you don’t think of them as family. It does not make you a bad or unloving stepparent. Disengagement might mean that you consciously decide to remove yourself from any drama-filled conversations. Think of disengagement as setting a boundary. You get to determine what the boundaries are. Disengagement can mean whatever you want it to. Whatever you need it to. Stepfamilies are dynamic and constantly changing thanks to many outside and influencing factors. Sometimes I forge ahead and sometimes I scale back, depending on where I am in my stepmom journey. Disengagement is a way to prevent becoming a martyr. It’s a way of saying I can’t do “this” anymore because it isn’t working for me. Disengagement is a tool. It can be permanent or temporary. It can be subtle or extreme. But the intent is always the same – self-preservation – so that you can ultimately be your best self, for everyone else around you. That’s what I think.”
Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!