The Codependent Stepmom: Do You Give to Others At Your Own Expense? By Mary T. Kelly, MA
You joined a ready-made family and were on a mission. You were determined to make a difference, whether fueled by good intentions, a desire to compete with his ex or a combination of both. Those kids needed some guidance and discipline, which they weren’t receiving from their own parents, and you were more than happy to pitch in.
Even if you had hesitations about jumping into a role you didn’t know much about, your partner expected you to be involved—and so did everyone else. You were a good and loving person and this was the right thing to do.
You found yourself saying: “I just want to teach them how to be responsible,” “I want to make sure my partner is the best father he can be for them and I have lots of ideas that will help,” and, “I only want what’s best for them, so I’m willing to sacrifice my own desires and needs to help his kids.” And, for some, that also means rescuing them from their horrible, “crazy” mother.
So, what does this have to do with codependency?
What, exactly, is codependency? I’ll give you a clue. If you’ve: a.) given and given to your stepkids—helped with homework, cooked, cleaned, driven them around—and feel they don’t appreciate it; b.) noticed that your partner takes you for granted; c.) begun to feel exhausted, frustrated and resentful; and/or, d.) all of the above? You’re an unwitting accomplice to codependency.
Codependency is when you give to others at your own expense. It often comes from a good, generous and loving heart. It can come from a place of genuinely desiring only good things for the others in your life. The problem is that codependency is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It comes in a pretty package because it comes wrapped with good intentions. Yet, at its core, codependency is a dysfunctional coping mechanism for feeling valuable and needed. …To read the rest of this article, log in and download the July 2018 issue. Don’t have an account? Click here to subscribe.