Blending a family is never easy. I am here to tell you from personal experience that the Brady Bunch is a bit of lie. There is no Alice in the kitchen smoothing things over. There are some very real challenges to being a step-mom.
However, step-motherhood can also be extremely rewarding. Silver & Grace contributer Hannah Coloson tells us how to not only survive step-motherhood, but reap all the benefits.
As little girls, we planned our dream wedding with our handsome prince, imagined at what age we’d have our first child and played with dolls, plastic bottles and strollers to practice being nurturers and prepare for motherhood. We knew our fairytale life would be full of love, laughs and family bliss.
While I’m not a biological mother, I know to some extent what’s to be expected during those nine months women have to get ready for their new role. It’s an utterly consuming time, in need of adaptation, learning and patience. I don’t know much about the puffy ankles, morning sickness, increased bra size or varicose veins, but I do know that as soon as that new little person enters the world, everything changes.
The role of a stepmother is very different. This, I know about. Yes – it’s rewarding, but it’s certainly not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Though neither is motherhood, I hear.
Stepmothers don’t get the same amount of time to adjust and prepare as a mother does. Nor are they given a manual or user’s guide with instructions on how to juggle work, school, cooking for kids, the ex, cleaning, tooth-fairies, children’s birthday parties, animals, or what to say when your 11 year old asks for a cell phone so he can text his girlfriend. Step-motherhood is like any new job – there’s a training period, and statistics say it takes five to seven years for stepfamilies to “blend”.
But then there are the benefits – of which I could list hundreds. A ready-made family means no horrific pregnancy. Sounds great, right? And everyone knows having a supportive, loving and amazing mom is the best… But isn’t having two supportive, loving and amazing women in your life (who’d do anything for you), even better? I am both a stepmother and a stepdaughter, and I wouldn’t change either for the world. It’s simple – your step-children will love and respect you if you treat them with love and respect.
Here are 7 tips to help you be the best stepmom you can be:
- Know there’s no such thing as normal – Gone are the days when separation was unheard of. These days, at least 50% of marriages end in divorce. It’s depressing. But if a new marriage means a more loving and stable environment for a child, then there’s no question what’s best. Know that you’re not alone. Get online and join and engage in communities of women facing similar life changes.
- Be patient with “her” – No one will benefit from your frustration towards your step-kids’ mother. Avoid confrontation at all times, and never talk badly about her in front of the children. If there’s a problem, talk it out with your husband or significant other like an adult and remember to keep your step-kids’ best interests at heart – always.
- Believe in yourself – Trust your judgment, your choices and your decisions. Your step-kids do look up to you to provide guidance and support as their caregiver.
- Make time for them – Eat dinner together as a family and use that time to take an interest in your step-kids’ daily lives. Ask them how school was, every single day. Talk about their homework and get involved with their social life and extracurricular activities. If they play a sport, make sure you’re at every game cheering them on!
- Communicate, set guidelines and show affection – Don’t think you’re an evil stepmother when you enforce rules, but instead know that parameters are essential for a child’s stability and wellbeing. Set a good example, and your step-kids will more than likely follow in your footsteps. Show them you love them with care and affection.
- Steer clear from The World’s Best Mom contest – This is not a competition. Competing with the kids’ mother for their love is only going to end in tears (probably yours.) Don’t expect miracles overnight, but remember you are the adult and they are the children – you have to earn their love and respect. All you can do is love them like they’re your own.
- Keep the romance alive – It’s important to take the time to connect with your honey every day. It is thought that men who kiss their wives goodbye before going to work live five years longer than those who just slam the door. I know you want them to stick around, so make it happen! Also, I read somewhere that the act of kissing puts 29 facial muscles in motion, which means kissing is essentially an exercise to prevent wrinkles. Happy step-mommy = happy family.
Being a step-mom is the toughest job I’ve ever had, but it’s by far the most rewarding. I’ve learned so much, and I continue to learn, laugh and love more each day than I did the day before.
Stepmotherhood – How to Survive without Feeling Frustrated
Growing a baby inside your own uterus is not the only way to become a mother. Women adopt children, become stepmothers, foster parent other people’s children, and arrange for a surrogate to bear a child for them. These are alternative toads to motherhood, but the destination is the same.
When a woman marries someone who has children, she becomes those children’s stepmother Young children are usually prepared to love anyone who is open to loving them; older children may be more reluctant, because their loyalties are formed and they don’t always have the maturity to know that the heart is an incredibly elastic organ, accommodating enough love for many people.
We must tell you about our friend Ros, a doctor who, when she was 40, met and married Dennis. Dennis had four children with his first wife, who, sadly, had died from breast cancer when their youngest child was an infant. Dennis married a second wife, a lovely woman with three young children. Tragically, this woman also died, from a cerebral hemorrhage within two years of their marriage. So, when Ros married Dennis, she became stepmother to a brood of seven—a task she has managed with extraordinary skill and humor ever since.
Ros made a very important point to us: stepmothers must realize that children need to love and remain loyal to their birth mother, even if she has died. You can be a wonderful bonus in their lives—a second mother that they love equally but differently from their first mother—but only if you acknowledge their need to preserve that bond. If their birth mother is living, you will need to carefully balance your role with their other mother’s. The presence of both of you can enrich the children’s lives. If their mother has died, they need to preserve her memory; and if they were very young when she died, stories of her will be important to them. Preserving your stepchildren’s bond with their birth mother in no way detracts from your relationship with them and will probably strengthen it.
Stepmotherhood: How to Survive Without Feeling Frustrated, Left Out, or Wicked
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