Take it easy and take it slowly. Realise that your stepchildren need as much time to get 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 step kids might struggle with loyalty issues. If they don’t feel as though you are a threat to the relationship they have with their biological mother, it’ll be much easier on them…and therefore on you.
Be for them whatever you are comfortable with and what you think might be best for them – that could be a mentor, a guide, a protector, a listening ear, a friend or just a fun person to be around.
Don’t jump into the role of disciplinarian, your stepchildren won’t appreciate it. Let their dad be in charge of that department, at least for a while.
Don’t heap expectations on your stepchildren. 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 step kids 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, it increases your chance that eventually they will.
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.
Be aware that it’s not unusual for step mums to feel isolated, disappointed, rejected and hurt. If you feel this way remember that you are not ‘the only one’. Make sure you occasionally let off steam so that you don’t bottle up resentment.
Take care of yourself. Unless you ensure that YOUR love-tank is full, YOUR needs are met and you spend some time just being YOURSELF, you won’t last the distance.
Guard your sense of humour and share it with your family. Lots of situations in your step-mothering experience will leave you with a choice – to laugh or to cry. Choosing to see the funny side of things will (hopefully) keep you sane.
Copyright © Sonja Ridden 2002