In pop culture, « stepmothers » don’t have such a good reputation. Just think of Cinderella’s, who was probably the worst of all malevolent stepmoms of all. In reality, stepmothers still suffer from these preconceived ideas, sometimes maintained by the former spouse (the mother of the children). Still, we shouldn’t focus on these bad stereotypes. It is possible to live happily as the stepmom of our boyfriend’s children even if it is sometimes complicated, hard, and a source of questions left unanswered.
Second mom? Great friend? Enemy? For a child, the stepmom represents the person because of whom things will never be the same again. Yes, children usually hope that their parents will get back together. The stepmother shatters this dream. This is why some children are so hostile, no matter how nice you are. Before getting involved in a relation where your boyfriend has children, you cannot really anticipate how it will be.
Indeed, you are confronted to children who are not yours, whom you didn’t “want” and who may be the opposite of what you expected in a child. Maybe you never expected to be a mom at all and now you are becoming one without preparation or instruction manuals. It is scary. It’s also normal to have doubts, to ask yourself a lot of questions and to evaluate before you dive in. But it may also be the opportunity of a lifetime. Maybe you are relieved to have children in your life without the responsibilities. Maybe this new role will help you decide whether or not you want children. Perhaps this balance between a family and a love life will enchant you more than you think…
I fact, becoming a stepmom is an adventure that your rarely choose. Rare are those who openly seek a man with kids to begin with. It’s the adventure that chooses you! You can choose: you stay completely detached, you overly invest yourself or you slowly take your place. The first two options are a lot riskier for your couple. The last option requires a lot of work, perseverance and compromise but it allows the creation of a healthier blended family.
To build good relations with your spouse’s children, it would be easy to think that you just make your efforts and that the children and their mom and dad will do the same. There is more than that. Each comes with their background, experiences, wounds, dreams and desires. This is a lot to handle and it can become sometimes explosive and often emotional.
Time is a significant ally. There is no need to rush in and quickly come to magical relations. Your efforts and your initiatives are respectable but you could fail if you try too hard. Adapt to everyone’s pace, deal with your habits and slowly get to know each other. This is a process that will only result in success with time and patience.
So that all goes well, many people have tips or recommendations of friends or colleagues who have been through this. But what really counts is to rely on your instinct.
You are not their mother. You don’t really wish to become their friend either. Then who will you be? Be yourself… don’t try to be too nice or too understanding. Bearing this role is okay now and again but would you do that for a long time? You must be sincere and true with children, if you are not, they can feel it.
Take your place without taking the entire place
You will get the feeling of dancing a strange tango. Should you say what you think? Keep your comments to yourself? Establish some rules? Never saying anything is not a solution, you will get frustrated sometime. But learning to zip it now and again can be a good option. In fact, there are no secret recipes. You must learn to impose without breaking everything. Being too disengaged would stop you from developing a rich relationship with the children. This will require tact, diplomacy and a lot of patience.