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Tips for Being a Good Step Mother

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 5 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Stepmother Relationship Family

Stepmothers are usually not in an enviable position; they may be expected to shoulder a great deal of the parental responsibilities without getting much of the credit. Still, most stepmothers wouldn’t trade places with anyone, realising that while parenthood is often a thankless endeavour, it has its own special rewards.

Prioritising Family

Good stepmothers understand the importance of making family a priority and do all that they can to support their spouses in building a strong home base for the children. Kids who have been through the demise of their parents’ relationship are often hurting and may need extra attention and assurance that their lives will not be disrupted to that degree again. By making themselves available, both physically and emotionally to their stepchildren, stepmothers can help their step-kids to heal and move on.

Fairness is Essential

Often, both partners in a stepfamily come into the relationship with children, and good stepmothers strive to provide an atmosphere of fairness and equality, treating all of the children with the same love and tenderness. Of course, equality must also apply to house rules and consequences for disobedience – step-siblings should be expected to live up to the same set of standards and should expect to be disciplined if they fall short, no matter whether they are the natural children or the stepchildren of the adult who is doling out the punishments.

Respectful Parenting Matters

Kids who are raised in an environment where the adults treat them with kindness and respect learn to value themselves and treat others in a fair fashion. Good stepmothers are patient and accepting, and make an effort to see both sides of a story before jumping to conclusions.

Children learn how to handle themselves in a variety of situations buy observing the important adults in their lives, so smart stepmothers make every effort to provide their children and stepchildren with good examples of appropriate and respectful behaviour. Of course, even the very best parents sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, but good stepmothers aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve overreacted and ask for forgiveness.

Honouring the Children’s Other Parent

Adult relationships can be complicated and even after a romantic partnership has ended, it can be hard for one or both of the people to free themselves of emotional ties. Sometimes, stepmothers find that their spouse’s ex harbours feelings of resentment that are directed at them, and may allow their unresolved feelings have a negative impact on the way that they conduct themselves.

Unfortunately, it is often the children that are most hurt by such displays, so good stepmothers do all that they can to ease the discomfort that exists between them and their spouse’s ex. For some, that may mean reaching out to let that person know that their role in the children’s lives is respected and that no one is trying to usurp their authority, but in other situations, the best response may be to simply back away and allow the children’s father to handle all interactions with their ex.

Offering Love and Support to the Children

The most important gifts that parents and stepparents can offer to children are love, kindness, and consistency. While stepmothers cannot and should not be expected to take the place of the children’s natural mother, they can play an important role in the lives of their spouse’s children. Stepmothers who open both their homes and their hearts to their step-kids provide them with the strength and stability that they’ll need to find success as they grow up and make their own way in the world.

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@Lucy-jane95 - to call you mum obviously means he must have some fondness towards you. Also, try and think of is as unconditional love. You don't have to get back in order to give. If you can give without feeling you have to receive, then your stepson will follow by example and hopefully show you love back. It seems you are both unsure of each other, but you are the bigger person and he is just a kid with mixed emotions, so you are the one who needs to lead by example. It sounds like you are doing a grand job - keep it up and build on it, that's all you can do.
AmyP - 6-Feb-18 @ 12:00 PM
I'm new to being a step parent, I've only been doing it a year now, I'm struggling to be a good step parent, I feel damn useless, my step son calls me mum, but I'm not sure I'm really worth of that "mum". I'm sure he isn't my biggest fan, I struggle with stepping back from punishments. Sometimes I struggle with how lenient my partner is with him, and with how she let's him get away with so much. I struggle with showing my feelings, so I struggle to show him that even if he isn't fond of me, that I love him, it isn't an act I do genuinely love him, and I would die for him, I'd do whatever I can for him. I just feel like I am useless at this step parenting role!
Lucy-jane95 - 5-Feb-18 @ 9:01 PM
I'm really struggling to let my partner discipline his children. We have been together for 5yrs and I've never really been a part of his disciplining the children. He has always done it, but I disagree with how lenient he is. It's causing a lot of upset between us. Any advice?
Lod - 18-Aug-17 @ 8:16 PM
@Em - you're welcome, glad it has been of use to you. It's never easy dealing with step-children and sometimes you just need to know you're not alone.
BeingAStepParent - 9-Feb-15 @ 2:48 PM
Not even sure why I'm writing this, I guess it's just reassuring to know I'm not the only one dealing with awkward teens and disgruntled family members from my spouse's former inlaws. I've really appreciated this site's articles and all you other commentors input. You've really helped get me some perspective. Thank you
Em - 7-Feb-15 @ 12:36 PM
@Maisie, you're not the only person who feels like that, trust me. Teenagers are a nightmare at the best of times but when they are not your own they are twice as hard to deal with as the unconditional love, from either of you, isn't there. If she has moved in with you at 17 then something must have happened with her mum for her to want to live with dad so you'll have that to deal with too. The worst part is the lack of support from your husband, it shouldn't be down to you to deal with her attitude and try and teach her some respect. That is a job for her parents! Good luck!
Daisy - 16-Sep-14 @ 10:26 AM
I have been with partner 4 years and he and his now 17 year old moved in to my house a year ago.I approached the situation not as a step mother as she is too old for that but as a responsible in charge adult who provides support and guidance. Her acceptance of responsibility is pretty poor and her father enables her and does not want to be strict.My line is much firmer as I will not be taken for a mug in my own home.As a result her boundaries are better but she is still very lazy and selfish and generally a low to mediocre achiever in all she does. I have started to resent her attitude and now her presence quite deeply. I love her dad but am now quite indifferent to her.I did start to grow real affection but it was thrown right back in my face after row over her being waited on hand and foot attitude and now my guard is up as I do not want to invest years only to realise I mean nothing I would rather that be the case now going forward. I find myself looking forward to the day she has to go into the world and actually acknowledge what it's all about.I shouldn't be counting the days but it's how I feel.I have told her that come next year if she does not like how things work in this house she reserves the right to make other arrangements.... No one prepares you for how hard this is!
Maisie - 15-Sep-14 @ 10:45 PM
Sorry, me again - should also mention that whilst with me, my step-children spent more time with me out of their own choice than with their Dad. I've been the one who has supported them, cooked, washed, cleaned, entertained and been a true mother to them for all these years. I know I'm the adult, but I can't help but feel sondesperstrly let down and I feel all the love and attention I have invested in them over all these years has been a waste of my time. Thanks for your help. Bx
B - 17-Nov-12 @ 4:11 PM
Hi there, after over 6 years I am at the end of my tether!Between my husband and I, we have 5 kids (ranging from 10 - 17). We've had bumps in the road, as all families do, but all the moons seem to have collided this time.My husband and I have constantly supported all of the children and given them everything possible, both in terms of moral support, experiences, a loving respectful home, teaching and mentoring, financial support, you name it. But lately both his children have been really rude, embarrassed us all in public, ruined family holidays, been offensive, disrespectful, disgusting and confrontational. This had put me in a really difficult position as I feel I am owed an apology for their behaviour in my house and disrespect of my family too - but his kids don't think they need do. My children wouldn't have been able to get away with behaving like that, so why should differing rules apply under the same roof?What example is that going to show my kids?Things have become very difficult since this has happened and they aren't coming to the house now as they aren't going to apologise!The moment they do something wrong they run away to their Mum (who is riddled with guilt for ruining their childhood and now wants to be their friend and sets absolutely no boundaries for them and constantly confronts authority, so I have no chance to make a difference as I am losing a fighting battle!). My husband and I are now on the brink of separation as he is obviously seeing them out of the family home and isn't supporting me as he is too weak to stand up to them!What on earth do I do?I am still too angry with them to allow this last round of episodes to pass by without an apology. My children are cross with them tol and don't want the step-children back anymore either.It is common decency to apologise when you have done wrong and the ages of 13 and 15; (despite being teenagers), they are responsible for their actions and should know better!Please help!I really don't know how to fix this! :(
B - 17-Nov-12 @ 3:59 PM
Hi there, after over 6 years I am at the end of my tether!Between my husband and I, we have 5 kids (ranging from 10 - 17). We've had bumps in the road, as all families do, but all the moons seem to have collided this time.My husband and I have constantly supported all of the children and given them everything possible, both in terms of moral support, experiences, a loving respectful home, teaching and mentoring, financial support, you name it. But lately both his children have been really rude, embarrassed us all in public, ruined family holidays, been offensive, disrespectful, disgusting and confrontational. This had put me in a really difficult position as I feel I am owed an apology for their behaviour in my house and disrespect of my family too - but his kids don't think they need do. My children wouldn't have been able to get away with behaving like that, so why should differing rules apply under the same roof?What example is that going to show my kids?Things have become very difficult since this has happened and they aren't coming to the house now as they aren't going to apologise!The moment they do something wrong they run away to their Mum (who is riddled with guilt for ruining their childhood and now wants to be their friend and sets absolutely no boundaries for them and constantly confronts authority, so I have no chance to make a difference as I am losing a fighting battle!). My husband and I are now on the brink of separation as he is obviously seeing them out of the family home and isn't supporting me as he is too weak to stand up to them!What on earth do I do?I am still too angry with them to allow this last round of episodes to pass by without an apology. My children are cross with them tol and don't want the step-children back anymore either.It is common decency to apologise when you have done wrong and the ages of 13 and 15; (despite being teenagers), they are responsible for their actions and should know better!Please help!I really don't know how to fix this! :(
B - 17-Nov-12 @ 3:57 PM
@gaffer, being a step mum is hard especially if you don't get the support from your partner when it comes to disciplining the children. I hope you and your girlfriend mange to work it out and hopefully make decisions together, about the children, in the future. Good luck, it's not easy but you'll get there.
pam - 30-May-12 @ 12:31 PM
My girlfriend has taken time out from our 3 year relationship as she cant do the step mum thing, i have 4 kids from previous relationship and she has done brilliantly since the beginning however I have failed to assist in some decisions recently and i think it got all too much for her. make know beans about it its hardand all i can say is that time must be given for each other dont lose sight of why you are together and ensure decisions are jointly made. If the children cant accept them and they are fair they will realize their teenage strops as embarassing when their older...its difficult but hard work love and honesty are the best ways to conquer!!
gaffer - 26-May-12 @ 5:11 PM
i have two step sons, a very supportive partner, i am fed up with my 15 year old step son wetting the bed, we got him help, i give him advise and am always the one that he comes to to talk. maybe cos im more open about my answers,my 14 year old step son the baby has issues with any kind of authority, but he will not dis-respect his father or give him any attitude. as i was a child of a mother who left me i have fully supported them in talking and expressing their feelings but they will not talk, they walk in dump everything, dont clean dont do anything, just sit. the problem that i have is that even though i do everything for them they constantly slate me to their grandparents who live in South Africa, their cousins are coming over this year and i could not wait i was really looking forward to meeting them after 6 years of a relationship. now they think im this really nasty person that they should not talk to. Im really fed up with all of the underhanded comments, the sneaky lieing devious behaviour that i have had to tolerate for the last 6 years. i cant fight their grandparents who think that we do nothing for the boys but they never tell us anything. I work in a really stressful job and i just dont want to be here anymore... i feel so very sick... as i said my partner is supportive of me and we try to get the boys to discuss their feelings but when they just look through you or at the floor where do you go from there/ HELP someone please i just want to cry..
struggling me - 29-Apr-12 @ 4:50 PM
He has 3 children. He works 2 weeks away and 6 days home.he works wed to wed off thursday to tuesday. I work mon-fri weekends off. His children live 2 hours away.he gets his children on his days off on the weekends as they are in school. This means every weekend he is off we all are together. |I have requested that he look at getting them every other weekend off as we DO NOT have 1 weekend together alone.is this a rediculous selfish desire? please help
em - 9-Feb-12 @ 9:48 PM
I really struggle. The kids accepted me pretty quickly, but i really struggle to keep my distance when it comes to how they been raised by their mum. I love them and treat them like my own, and i want to give them the best childhood ever, but at the same time i whant then to be prepared for life, be independent and confident and not constantly being treated like little babys.But the most it hurts me when im not being listend to and just being knock down because what do I know, I never been a mother. I honestly dont thing most people ever realised how hard is it to love some other womens children like they were really from your own flesh and blood.
maggie - 25-Oct-11 @ 10:57 PM
I love being a step parent but the biggest struggle is between me and my spouse. We do not agree on consequences to our daugther when she does not follow the rules. I am more strict where he will disregard my ruling and she will get nothing. This makes me furious because I feel it shows her that she does not have to listen to me because when "daddy" gets home he will make it better. After reading articles online, it says I should leave this part of raising her to the biological parent. But I feel that sense I am home with her the most, do the most with her and have been raising her since she was two, I should be an equal. What do I do????
melissaxx - 15-Jul-11 @ 1:03 AM
The way I have approached being a stepmum is being a bit like a big sister (and I am already one of those and think I do well there.) I am not the kids Mum, they already have a very good one at that, I have fun with them, we talk about things maybe at times they might have difficulty saying to both their parents but there is a respect between us where they know that they cannot cross a line or I will speak to them about it. It has not always been easy and it takes some hard work but at the end of the day I have grown to love them and they me and thankful we have all managed to do that. I have been very fortunate though as I get on very well with their Mum and that does really help as it helps them feel comfortable about the situation.
Curly - 20-May-11 @ 3:24 PM
No one ever said it was going to be easy. Be a unite and act united and it will be fine! x
Lissa - 17-May-11 @ 8:56 PM
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