Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stepmothering - what does it mean?

Does stepmothering mean that you should be like:

The Brady Bunch mum - always composed, never a hair out of place, sweet as sugar candy? - Yuck…….no way!

Cindarella’s stepmother - a nasty, jealous old hag - NEVER!

The 'mirror, mirror on the wall' lady? (Snowhite’s nightmare…”bought any poisoned apples lately? :)”) - I should think not!

Perhaps the wicked stepmother who sent Hansel and Gretel into the dark forest to fend for themselves – well, feel like that sometimes? - No, not her either.

Maria, the beatific nun from 'The Sound of Music' who sings like a nightingale …jodle, jodle ,jodle,j odle…e…eeeheee!!! (remember her?) – Enough to make you throw up, I’m sure.

So, what does being a stepmother mean? Where are the role models, the women who’ve defined the role, who’ve done it right and done it well?

I guess the reality is that those women who’ve really done it right - if there is such a thing - and have done it well don’t get their names emblazoned in light. There are no fairy tales, no books written either by them or about them. Why? Because they were too busy doing stepmotherly types of things and just being there for their step kids.

Here are a few hints that will help you do, at least, okay as a stepmum:

* Take it easy and take it slowly. Remember that your stepkids need as much to get as used to you as you need to get used to them.

* Remember that you are not their biological mother and never will be, so don’t waste your energy in trying to replace her.

* Be aware that your stepkids might struggle with loyalty issues. If they don’t feel as though you are a threat to the relationship they have with their bio-mum, it’ll be much easier on them…and therefore on you.

* Be for them whatever you are comfortable with – that could be a mentor, a guide, a protector, a listening ear, a friend or just a comfortable and/or fun person to be around.

* Don’t jump into the role of disciplinarian, your stepchildren won’t appreciate it one little bit. Let their dad be in charge of that department, at least for a while.

* Don’t heap expectations on your stepkids. That achieves no more than to incite their resentment, rebellion and rejection …and it’ll leave you demoralized, discouraged and feeling as though you’ve failed.

* Avoid competing with your stepkids for your partner’s love. That always ends in arguments and tears and is a totally futile effort. Instead accept that the love he has for them is different to the love he has for you.

* Be nice to you stepchildren. Even if initially they don’t respond in kind, chances are that eventually they’ll catch on and be nice to you, too.

* Accept them for who they are even if they are nothing like the way you’d prefer them to be. Acceptance is the only foundation from which healthy change can occur.

* Keep your sense of humour and share it with your family. Lots of situations in your stepmothering experience will leave you with a choice – to laugh or to cry. If you more often than not choose to see the funny side of life, your stepmothering success is assured.

More helpful hints for stepmums can be found in "Hell...p, I'm a stepmother". For book-reviews click here. To purchase, click here

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