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How to Deal With Stepchildren
Psychologically Preparing to be a Step Mother
Realize that your life is going to change. Be sure you are equipped to handle arguments, embarrassments, and surprises (good and bad). Acknowledge that once a relationship is established, your husband will not always be around, and it is of the utmost importance that you have your own relationship with each child.
After all, once you are in it, you are in it for life. It is unfair for children to have to go through one break up, its even worse for them if they have to go through two or more.
Eliminate Jealousy on the First Meeting
When your relationship becomes serious enough, and it’s time to meet the kids, you may be able to avoid jealousy altogether. The first step is actually their father’s responsibility. He should ease his children into the idea of his dating. As he becomes closer to you, he should begin to mention you and the great qualities you have. This process, like any healthy relationship, takes a significant amount of time. The kids will be adjusting, gradually, to your possible presence. He should NEVER compare you to their mother, or discuss the disagreements the two of you have had..
ALWAYS allow their father to greet, hug, kiss and speak with them uninterrupted at every visit, especially the first meeting. It is most important that you are NOT viewed as a threat. When you are introduced, be polite and kind. It is important for you to ask a few questions about them and their lives. Please don’t make the first meeting about yourself; that would be a huge mistake. However, asking too many questions could be annoying. So, limit the questions, and allow them to dominate the conversation. Also, it is wise to answer all questions honestly.
It is important that you ALWAYS be complimentary of their father. If you have issues with him, keep it between the two of you. Defend their father if they talk about him in a disrespectful or inappropriate manner.
- Things a stepmother should never say - CNN
Stepmothers preside over a minefield of hidden hurts, half-concealed traditions and occasional tugs-of-war.
- StepTogether - Overcoming Jealousy
- Effectively Communicating with Children: Body Language and Tone of Voice
Communicating with Children
Compromise With Your Step Children When Possible
It is of the utmost importance that you compromise when possible. It is not your responsibility to give in every time either. However, if you show interest in meeting half way, it is likely your new step children will eventually be willing to compromise also. Discipline issues belong to their father, unless you are the primary care giver. If you find yourself in this situation, prepare to be tested. The children will be interested in finding out just how far they can push you. Don’t take it personally, that is normal child behavior.
All relationships require compromise to be successful. No two humans are exactly the same; so it is obvious there will be disagreements. How you handle the disagreements is what matters. If problems become too serious to discuss one on one, you can choose to involve their father. However, I would only do this as a last resort. I recommend you use a different form of communication first, if the children are older. Email, letters and notes can provide a dialog that is interrupted, deliberate, and fair to each party involved. It also shows a record of who says what.
What experience do you have with step families?
Communication is Key
Once a relationship is established with each child, and you become upset with one of them, it is your responsibility to calmly discuss the issue with them privately. I recommend you choose a time to discuss the problem when you are not angry. You can even write a few notes to keep the conversation on track. It is a good idea to encourage them to bring their issues to you, personally. They will respect you and appreciate you treating them with respect.
Body language and tone of voice can communicate a completely different message than is intended, so you need to be aware of these. Eye contact will do two things for you. It shows that you are not intimidated by them, and that you care enough to pay attention to what they are saying.
Make absolutely sure you do NOT attempt to behave as if you are their mother. Your role is to be their step mother, their friend, and their Dad’s wife.
If you establish a non threatening relationship with your new step children and set a few ground rules; before you know it, you’ll be great friends!
"Be kind to one another" ~ Ellen
God Bless You ~ Margaret Sullivan