Survival Tips for Stepmothers
Getting married and becoming a stepmother can be quite a daunting situation, particularly with all of the "evil stepmother" stereotypes that exist. Stepchildren are often reluctant to establish trust with stepparents for a variety of factors, from being afraid of betraying a biological parent to anger and resentment over a parent's new marriage.
Stepparenting success doesn't come overnight. Take the time to build a relationship with your stepchildren. You cannot develop a sense of trust without a strong foundation. Go out of your way to gently but surely establish a bond and relationship with your stepchildren, no matter how much time it takes. Children are often very wary of stepmothers, especially in the beginning stages.
Display an authentic interest in learning about who they are, including their school activities and preferred hobbies, television shows and foods. Avoid being forceful, however, and don't be nosy if they don't want to open up or share with you just yet.
Being genuine is vital in stepparenting. Do not try to be someone that you are not. Abstain from trying to emulate the biological mother of your stepchildren, for example. This kind of behavior can make you look phony and insincere. In addition, never make it appear as if you are a "substitute" for the biological mother.
It is important to allow your husband to do his job. After all, your husband has been parenting his children since they were born. As a result, do not try to overstep boundaries or act as if you know how to parent his children better than he does. Leave the main parenting to him. Be respectful and understand his specific parenting style and methods.
It is very common that both partners in marriage have children from previous marriages and relationships. If you have your own children, make it a point to treat them the same as your stepchildren, especially when it comes to household rules and expectations. If you appear to favor your own children, it can cause the stepchildren to resent you (and vice versa if you overcompensate, as well).
Trust is a very fragile thing. If you are beginning to develop a relationship with your stepchild, you need to nurture it and encourage its growth. For instance, if your stepchild opens up to you emotionally, do not blab about it to your husband the next day (unless of course it is a pressing, emergency situation). This can cause the child to feel embarrassed and stupid, and will probably ruin the formation of trust.