Fairy Tales have taught us that stepmothers are harsh taskmasters and purveyors of poisoned apples. Truthfully, the step parent relationship is a challenging one.
Contrary to fictional lore, embarking on a new stepparent relationship is a honorable and worthwhile venture. Keeping these 3 guidelines in mind will improve the possibility of adding a positive additional adult relationship and avoid creating an “evil” stepmother (or evil stepfather).
- Avoid introducing the new relationship to the children too early so that – true or false – the children don’t think the new relationship is the cause of the divorce or breakup of their parents.
- Make sure there is enough alone time for the children without the presence of the stepmother or new significant other, and that there is enough alone time for the new relationship without the presence of the children, so that neither feels jealous of the other.
- Never put the new person in a parental role with regard to the children. Never make them a disciplinarian over the children from the previous marriage or relationship. It’s always better for the natural parent to fill that role.
It’s a lot more work to integrate a blended family into a working family than people really appreciate. This might be indelicate to say, but oftentimes your own enthusiasm, or the love you feel, for a new person can interfere with the realistic view of what it is like for your kids.
When trying to do the best thing, your judgment may be clouded by that love. You love your kids and you love your new girlfriend/boyfriend, and you want it to all be lovely. But it isn’t, if you’re not careful about it, because they may not love each other, even if they really want to.
I give these tips as someone who is a divorce professional, but I also give them as someone who is a stepmother, and whose children have a stepmother. From my own experience and from the experience of clients over the years, these tips make introducing a new stepparent relationship much more likely to be successful.