Stepmotherhood: Will it Ever Get Better?
As a step-mom, you may wonder, “will it ever get better?" I can tell you with confidence that it can. Unfortunately, not as soon as you would sometimes like, but it does get better.
I think the hardest thing to realize it that it is not all easy, and it takes work. You may want your husband or your stepchildren to act a certain way, but the only person you really have control over is you.
When I first got married, my 10 year old step-daughter was a piece of cake. She was curious about me, my background, my family… and wanted to know all kinds of stories.
My 4 year old step-son was a different story altogether. When he father wasn’t looking, he would stick his tongue out at me. Being the “mature adult” I was, I wanted to grab my husband and whine “hey…he’s bugging me!” Instead, I would raise my eyebrows at him, and just smile and look away. I say this like it was easy… but it wasn’t. It hurt my feelings, plain and simple.
About 3 years later, my stepson very bluntly said to me, “my mom says you took my dad away from her”. This flat out wasn’t true. But it wasn’t my place to tell him or even to insinuate that his mother was a liar. Much as I wanted to. Instead, I simply said, “well, honey…sometimes people see things in different ways.”
You see, what I have found out over the years is that it doesn’t do any good to EVER talk bad about your husband’s ex in front of the kids. I promise you, NO GOOD will ever come of it. It will break down any trust you would hope to have with your stepchildren. So take the high road, stay neutral, and most importantly, stay positive. When you are behind closed doors with your husband, you can rant if you need to. Talk to a girlfriend and get things off your chest. Just do it away from any small ears that could hear.
My other piece of advice is to just keep letting your stepkids know that you love and accept them, even if they drive you crazy sometimes. What they need and crave more than anything is your positive attention, even if it seems like they are trying everything in their power to do the opposite. If your stepkids don’t live with you, make sure you make them feel as if your home is THEIR home when they do come over. Make the effort to stock a few of their favorites. Ask them what their favorite drink is (and for heaven’s sake, don’t assume that your husband knows the answer), their favorite cereal, etc. When they know that you asked, listened, and then acted on it, it makes a small impression. Slip a card to them from time to time just saying that you are glad they are a part of your life.
Remember, the bottom line is they are KIDS…whether they are 2 or 22. Every child just wants to feel love and accepted. Kids feel an unconditional love from their biological parent, and it takes a lot more time for them to trust that you will also give them unconditional love.
As for me…fast-forward 15 years with my stepson. For my last Mother’s Day card I received these beautiful words, “God gave me to a wonderful mother when I was born. Four years later, he blessed my life with another one.” They were written in his own handwriting, and I felt the love and compassion that was behind those words. So have faith…, as with many things in life, it does get better.
by Suzanne McGee