Several weeks ago, as the blog focused on grandmothering, we wrote about how to move into the role of a step-grandmother – with patience, flexibility, love and realistic expectations. Some comments came in from stepmothers, who have the same kinds of issues with their new families. They wondered if their relationships can be helped by the same kind of approach.
With the continuing sizeable divorce rate, stepmothers now out number intact mothers in the United States. The step-moms in these blended families generally face far more tension with the children than do the step-dads. Especially difficult is the relationship between a stepmother and her teenage stepdaughter, particularly if the daughter’s birth mother is still emotionally fragile concerning the divorce. The daughter is likely to reflect her mother’s behavior and resentment as she relates to her stepmother.
So how can a step-mom improve the relationships with her husband’s children? Getting a running start from the dad sure helps. When he sets the tone for acceptance, inclusion and respect the children are more likely to see the couple as a lasting team. Make it clear that you do not intend to try to replace the children’s birth mother, but instead to be another loving figure in their lives. Then, as with step-grandmothering, don’t attempt to rush things – be patient and the children will eventually come to you. Focus on learning about them and soon they will want to share more of their lives with you.
We’ll address more about this difficult subject on the blog next month. In the meantime, you can read about one stepmother’s experiences on our website, www.HerMentorCenter. Simply click on the title above “Stepmothers are People too,” and it will take you to a story in one of our newsletter. To return here to the blog, click back on “Blog.”
And tune in tomorrow for our visit with Patricia Harman, author of “The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir.”