How can it be that in the 21st century some people still view stepmothers as wicked, stepchildren as their victims, and biological fathers as innocent bystanders? Fairy tales contributed unfortunately to how stepmothers are perceived by our society and created an unrealistic expectation of women who marry men with children. On one hand women are expected to be nurturing mother figures to their stepchildren, and on the other hand they are greatly doubted when they do just that.
Stepmothers feel all too often used, frustrated and confused about their relationship with their stepchildren. Are you one of them? The following tips will hopefully help you through your complex role.
- Being a woman with no children of your own, married to a man with children, you are in the toughest role possible in stepfamilies. Make sure you learn about children’s age appropriate behavior. Be friendly and kind, and slowly develop a relationship with your stepchildren. Avoid disciplining the children for at least a year and a half.
- If you have children and are married to a childless man, continue to parent your children exclusively. Allow your husband and your children to develop a relationship gradually.
- If both you and your husband have children from previous relationships, continue to separately parent your children. Develop a cohesive parenting style in order to reduce confusion for the children and increase togetherness and connectedness for the family.
- Figure out what are the obstacles to you performing your role successfully. Write down 3 baby steps that you are going to take in order to resolve the conflicts.
- Talk to your husband about the importance of him being emotionally present for his children, even if it feels odd to him.
- Find empathy in your heat to the children’s biological mother. It may help reduce tension between the households, and ultimately it is in the best interest of the children.