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Ready to be a Step-Mom?

Dear Philippa,

I have met the most wonderful man. We are true soul mates in every way. But I worry about the fact that he has custody of a young child and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up a career I adore to be the kind of mom I think this man will want.

�Tracy, Indianapolis, IN


Dear Tracy,

I recently heard from a friend of mine who is facing some of the same issues you mention. Your question is not just about being a stepparent; you are also dealing with issues of identity and independence�common themes in a woman's life.

For many years when I was single I thought that marrying someone would mean that I would lose my identity and become what the other person needed at the expense of my own dreams. It took me a long time but I learned that with the right partner you don't have to sublimate your needs. When you love each other unselfishly you just naturally find yourself bending to meet each other in the middle.

Are you considering what you have to give up in order to have someone in your life? I hope not. People who give up some significant part of themselves for their partner, years later resent what they lost. And, that can damage the relationship.

Dealing with someone else's kids is not easy for anyone. The keys to making it easier seem to be about how the two adults relate to each other and the compatibility of parenting styles. In your case you need to ask yourself where you fit into this man's life. Does he manage to make you feel like his priority while meeting the needs of his child? If this is the case you will find it easier to compromise and bend naturally in a relationship where you don't feel you are in second place.

If you and this man could imagine the ideal scenario for your new family unit, how would you each describe it? Can you imagine a situation where you have time to meet some of your career needs and join in with the care of his child?

Can you and this man say that you each want the other to be fulfilled and happy---that you want the child to have two committed, present parents�and that you both of you believe that you can have it all? When you both truly believe this you'll be seeing things from the point of view of the other's needs, the needs of your relationship, and the needs of the child. The two of you have to have the same vision. No one has to give up anything for the other. You are joining together to expand each other's life, not diminish it.




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