Even though stepfamilies are here to stay, stepmothers are the ones who suffer the most.
They struggle a lot in silence as they try to figure out how to blend in with the other family members. In most cases, they are constantly faced with opposition from children. Statements such as “You are not my mum” will never miss to hit a stepmother.
To be honest, society has never been kind to stepmothers and this is not going to change anytime soon. For centuries, fables, folklore and fairy tales have depicted stepmoms as villains. For instance, they have been accused of breaking up families, mistreating children and marrying only for money.
However, there are good stepmoms out there who are stressed over quarreling with both young and adult stepchildren. They are constantly faced with criticism on how they spend money, clean the house or even cook. If this clashing continues, you might end up facing divorce lawyers as the step-dad will always side with his children.
Unfortunately, burying your head in the sand will not make the problems disappear, it will only kill your self-esteem.
This is why you need to take a look at the following survival tips for stressed out stepmothers:
- Be ready to be watched at all times. Stepchildren will always look for loopholes such as tension to make your marriage life a living hell.
- Be ready to be criticized. This is inevitable. Keep in mind that you are the reason why their real parents are separated.
- Always maintain a healthy distance. Unless you raised your stepchildren, don’t expect to have a warm relationship with them. Remember, adult stepchildren are ready to use any information they have against you if a problem arises.
- Never pretend that your marriage is perfect. Stay true to yourself by acting normally around them. If you are mad at their dad, don’t hide these feelings.
Despite the frustrations which accompany stepmother-hood, you can make it work and bring happiness to your marriage.
Here are some parenting guidelines which will make you a happier stepmom:
1. Don’t discipline your husband’s children
When it comes to teaching stepchildren how to behave, this is the role of their father. Mental health experts claim that if you try to discipline your stepchildren, they might resent you. However, this can be challenging as your partner might become relaxed in disciplining his children after a divorce. To be on the safe side, focus your attention to their father in a calm way and let him know that he has to step in and help his children develop.
2. Have fun with your stepchildren
Most stepmothers consider stepchildren as liabilities rather than assets. However, the trick is to spend more time with them, in pleasurable ways. This will create room for a better relationship between you and the stepfamily. Set aside some time to spend with each child. Learn their interests and hobbies.
3. Be friends with your husband
It is important to know that the one friend you have among stepfamily members is your husband. Therefore, you should focus on building a strong bond between you and your partner. This way, your partner will help you survive stresses that come along.
4. Accept the feelings of your stepchildren
There is no need to feel pressured when your stepchildren don’t love you back. Love is a feeling and it cannot be forced. Therefore, regardless of whether you love or hate your stepchildren, ensure that you show them some compassion, kindness and respect. This will eventually lead to love.
5. What about house rules?
To ensure that there is mutual respect among the family members, you and your partner should come up with a set of rules that everyone should abide by. If the stepchildren are old enough, you should involve them in setting up the rules and repercussions. By working together as a couple, you will show the children that they cannot divide and conquer.
6. Lay a good foundation
Being warm, respectful and kind to stepchildren is the first challenge you have to deal with. Remember, how your step family treats you will depend on how you and your husband behave. Work on modelling compassion and respect.
7. Come up with your own holiday traditions
It can really be painful when you are excluded from special occasions such as Christmas and weddings. In addition, some stepmoms can feel as outsiders during holiday gatherings. To deal with such frustrations, you should create your own holidays. Host a Thanksgiving dinner or Easter gathering. Here you will have more control of the celebration.
8. Take control of your own happiness
Who said stepmoms are emotionless? It is important to take care of your emotional needs before anything else. This opens a window to real happiness. However, this will require a great deal of hard work and will power to expend energy. Don’t let anyone be in charge of your happiness.
9. Let your husband take care of his children
T is not always a good idea to automatically take the role of being a primary housekeeper. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care of your stepchildren. Rather, you should be aware of the boundaries present. For instance, if they demand maternal duties, you might end up hating them. Stepmothers are supposed to be like babysitters or aunts but not parents.
10. Be open minded
When your step children reject your warmth and attention, don’t take it personally. Understand that they are going through a lot by dealing with the fact that their dad and mom are not together. For instance, they might fear that the relationship between you and their father will not last. This is where you require to be patient and let time to heal the wounds.
Those are some of the survival tips that will come in handy for you as a stepmother. You can also boost your morale by finding support from other stepmoms, keeping a journal and checking in physically with your husband. Show love and affection to your stepchildren at all times.
If you win the love of your children and husband, any other opposition from step-family members should not be a great deal.