We all know the classic Disney story of Cinderella and her wicked stepmother, who kept her as a maid while her ugly stepsisters behaved like princesses.
Though an extreme scenario, it was a predictor of the current era, when step-mothering is common, and the possibilities for a negative relationship exist. Today, many people re-marry, and countless women find themselves in the stepmother role.
Well, the hard reality is this: It’s entirely up to those women, who marry men with children from a previous relationship, to guide the way for the families to merge. Basically, the stepmother-stepchildren relationship depends on how the woman acts and reacts.
Remember, the children don’t ask for this new arrangement, and they’re often burdened with divided loyalties.
Some women respond to their new role by wishing their husband would forget about his previous family, and they may do everything in their power to ostracize and separate the stepchildren. No matter how “good” the children may try to be, or how understanding and mature, they cannot compete with their father’s new bride, especially if she’s willful and manipulative. And in the end, barring they don’t divorce, she’ll win.
Other women may come up against serious anger, aggression, even resentment from their new stepchildren. No matter. If they’re kind, loving, easygoing, and understanding, they’ll eventually break down the walls these children have created, and help them grow into an extended family.
It’s not easy, or that cut and dry. It’s a lifelong relationship that, like any other, will have its ups and downs. But for all the complications, the end result lies in the woman’s court.
Through divorce, I have a stepmother, and my mother became a stepmother, and from my vantage point, they went about it in very different ways. I’ve seen the scenario from both sides, and I’ve seen friends struggle, again, from both sides.
It’s rare that everyone accepts everyone in the “new family” happily and easily from Day 1. This isn’t a scene from the late 1960s television series The Brady Bunch, in which two widowed parents marry and bring their six children together. But it can work.
It’s important if you’re about to become a stepmother, no matter how long you’ve already been in the relationship, to do some research and homework. You and your fiancé need to discuss what exactly he expects, how much actual “mothering” he expects you to do for his child(ren), and how he sees the merging of the families.
If, for example, you’re marrying a man with teenagers and have none of your own, it would be prudent to read up on teenagers of today. Just having been one yourself doesn’t give you enough expertise.
Creating a happy home life is the key to living a healthy, fulfilling, and happy life yourself. And remember: The children, whether babies or grown, didn’t choose you over their real mother. It’s up to you to win them over.
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