The role of stepmother is one that is often misunderstood by society in general and certainly it is one that receives very little support despite it having many challenges, particularly in the early stages of a stepmother/stepchild relationship. If you are struggling with the challenges of step-motherhood the following tips are designed to help you become the contented stepmom you deserve to be.
- Enjoy Spending Time with Stepchildren
In order to develop a good relationship with your stepchildren it is going to take time. Not just time as a family but one-on-one time with each child so they can get to know you and you them. The emphasis here is on quality not so much quantity. While it would be nice to spend hours each day doing fun things with your stepchildren in most households this is just not possible. Set aside a certain amount of time each week for each child when they know they will have your undivided attention. Find some common interests such as sports or hobbies that you can share. Insure your stepchild knows that you have allocated that particular time for just them.
- Leave Discipline to Their Father
One of the quickest ways to alienate your stepchildren is to be the one always responsible for discipline. Their father should take the majority of the responsibility for insuring his children behave in an appropriate manner, thereby leaving you to have a chance to build a positive relationship with them. It is quite common for re-married fathers to allow responsibilities for caring for the house and his children to fall on the stepmother, which is both unfair and unreasonable. Make sure he understands that he cannot shirk his responsibilities regarding his children’s welfare just because you are now married. If he is unable to step up and meter out appropriate discipline for his own children then rough times are ahead for all of you.
- Establish House Rules
Every household needs rules that everyone lives by in order for it to function in a positive way. Constructing a list of house rules with your husband and having him help enforce them will let stepchildren know what is expected of them now that you are all a family. If children are old enough encourage them to give their input. Discuss how the rules are to be enforced and appropriate disciplinary measures should they be breached. Make sure you and your husband work as a team so that present a united front that children can’t bypass.
- Have Date Night with Your Husband
While you may be trying to establish good relationships with your stepchildren is important to not allow your relationship with your husband get pushed aside. You and he both need ‘time out’ from the stresses of raising children and running a busy household. Your connection with each other needs to be maintained at all times and having a date night once a week will give you an opportunity to foster your own relationship and have some grown up fun!
- Don’t Expect Yourself to be Perfect
Naturally you want to love your stepchildren as much as you love your own but love cannot be forced no matter how much we might wish it would magically happen. Long lasting loving relationships take time to build. Just as you may be finding it difficult to feel real affection for your stepchildren they are probably dealing with the same problem. Allow love to grow over time. In the meantime remain the kind, compassionate and respectful person they and their father need you to be. Just be nice and enjoy the process of building a relationship built on respect. Love will come in time. Accept that it is okay to not immediately feel love for them and that it is okay for them to not automatically love you too.
- Lead by Example
Children emulate the behavior their parents exhibit so showing your stepchildren that you are able to be respectful and kind at all times will give them a good example to follow. Both you and your partner treat each other with loving respect so your stepchildren can see how a good relationship works. This will also provide them with some security in knowing that you and their father are happy together. Make sure your husband realizes that the way he treats you is likely to be the way his children will treat you too.