Is the wicked stepmother nothing more than a fairytale? If you are feeling like the wicked stepparent, did you start out that way?
Stepparents find themselves in no small bind. Women especially are more often placed in a role of being the children’s caretaker; hence, more fairytales have the stepmother as their antagonist. But truly, all stepparents often find themselves needing to discipline, guide, and correct children. This can be tough. Children may resent this new person in the household. They may be in a loyalty bind with the biological parent who is not living in the house. This parent may not be happy that their children are being guided by someone they themselves haven’t come to accept. As for biological parents who are in the same household, they may give mixed messages to discipline the children but not in a way that upsets the children.
So here’s a couple of ideas that might help.
* Be easy on yourself. You’ve taken on a huge task. Do the best you can. Don’t take it personally if things seem to go poorly, especially at first.
* Be slow to be the authority. At the beginning, take on the authority of someone in charge, but not the primary person in charge. Like a babysitter who uses the parent’s authority to discipline, tell the children that this needs to happen because these are the rules of the house.
* Change existing rules slowly. A stepparent often sees how the biological parent may have become lax about holding the structure during times of transition. Or maybe the bio parent always was more lax. Either way, changing things quickly usually meets with resistance.
* Make sure you take care of yourself. One way to do this is to keep something from your previous life, the one you had before being in this blended family. For example, spend time with your old friends and do some things without the family that you used to enjoy. This will help you to renew yourself with what is familiar. The more you take care of yourself, the more available you will be to take care of others.
* Have hope. Things usually get better with time, especially if you and your partner are working together on it. My husband and I created a blended family. We have had our moments, lots of them, but we’ve now been married 27 years and have raised three wonderful children.