Suddenly a Stepmom – Adjusting to a New Life of Responsibilities

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If someone would have told me 5 years ago that within the next few years I would be a mom of 4, I would  have thought they were crazy. At the time, I was still living with my parents and working full time at a job at a veterinary hospital to pay my car payment (the only bill I had at the time). I was an only child, no kids, and no big responsibilities. The one catch, my boyfriend had 3 kids from a previous marriage.

After a couple years of dating, I made the jump and moved 700 miles away from the place I always knew as home to be with my boyfriend and his kids. As someone who had never been around kids very often, this was kind of a struggle for me. I wanted to be the best role model that I could to them. I knew that I would never be able to be there mother, even though their relationship with her was quite rocky (loooong story!). Instead,  I tried my best to be a friend and someone they could go to, while also letting them know that they could not walk all over me. It was, and still is at times, a VERY narrow line to try to follow!

Below are some tips on how to connect with new stepchildren. This mostly applies to older children, but can also be used for younger depending on the situation.

DON’T try to replace their parent!

My boyfriend unfortunately went through a pretty messy divorce and custody battle. This is not always the case, but sometimes is. There are so many different circumstances involving divorces and stepchildren the you will have to make your own judgement on what is the best way to go. In some cases with very young children, the other parent may not be present at all and you may be able to step in as that other parent and do just fine. Quite often with older children, however, either have another parent present or at the very least remember their other parent enough that they may not outright welcome someone who tries to immediately fill in that role. In those cases, just being a friend and someone that they can go to is enough. Not pushing them to treat you as their parent will bring them closer. At the same time, you also can not lie down and let them walk all over you. You are still an adult in the house and should be listened to as such. You have no idea how many times I have heard the “you’re not my mom and I don’t have to listen to you” rant. This is also where good communication with your significant other comes in. It is a good idea to sit down and discuss boundaries and where you tie in as far as discipline goes.

 

Take an interest in them!

What do they like to do? How are they doing in school, and what can you do to help them? Finding out their interests, strengths, dislikes, etc. will help out more than you can know. It also shows them that you care enough to get to know them on a personal level. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to do this and it often shows. It may not always seem like the kids appreciate it in the beginning or want your help with things, but you will notice them slowly warming up to you if you remember things that they like and make an effort to get to know them.



Be supportive

You may be in a situation where either the other parent is still present, or the relationship between the two parents could be very rocky. The divorce and custody issues could also be fairly fresh or even still going on. Big custody battles can last YEARS after the divorce. These are the big times to be supportive of the children. They do not know where they stand. Should they choose sides? Whose do they choose? They don’t know if its okay to talk about their other parent, gush about a fun weekend they had with them, or ask questions about why the other parent isn’t around. It can be an all around confusing and stressful time for them too. Your biggest job here is to listen. Don’t judge. Don’t get jealous or upset if they miss their mom/dad. It in no way speaks bad about their relationship with you or means that they don’t care about you too. They are going through big changes. Changes that they did not have a choice about. Be supportive of them, listen to their problems, and let them talk about the other parent without judgement.

Do something fun!

 

Within the first couple of months that I moved in, we went on a camping vacation in Galveston, TX. It was somewhere that I had never gone, but my boyfriend had taken the kids in years past. Going on a vacation together really helped get to know them more in a fun way and let us all escape the stress of such a big change. I would honestly recommend it for any newly blended family!

No matter what the situation, try to be supportive and understanding. With children who are very young, things will likely be different and whether the other parent is present or not, you may be able to take on more of a parenting role. It is important to keep communication open with your significant other to discuss your role, how to handle discipline, etc..

As always, I would love to hear from you! Are you a new stepparent? Or maybe an existing one with feedback about how things have worked out for you and techniques you have used to connect with your stepchildren? Either way, send me a message and tell me your story!

 

 

 

 

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48 Comments

  • Nikki March 23, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Props to you friend! Parenting in and of itself is hard, but I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be to go from Single, to married with teens. You have such a great outlook on it though, and I think your decision to not try and be their parent is all for the best. It sounds like you are an amazing mother and step-mother! <3

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 March 23, 2018 at 8:36 am

      Thank you for your comment! It definitely has it’s ups and downs and it has been a struggle at times, but I try to do my best for them! I also have a 6 month old now too and that changes things up even more!

      Reply
  • Ariel | www.mamaofkings.com March 23, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Awesome tips! While I hope that I never find myself in the position to be a step-mother, I give major props to any woman who does so successfully. I watched my mother and father both transition into roles of step-parenting, both quite rocky I might add. I think the most important one is for sure to not try to replace their parent or one-up them.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 March 23, 2018 at 11:07 am

      Thank you for your comment! My transition was quite rocky as well, unfortunately, due to some less than ideal circumstances with their mom. It has gotten much better though!

      Reply
  • Lisa Wingerter @ https://meandmymomfriends.com March 23, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    This is wonderful advice. I wasn’t a step-parent exactly, but my husband and I ended up with temporary custody of our 8 year old nephew a few years back. Its a long story. But he came to live with us, and he had only met me a couple of times prior. I was clueless on how to go from no kids to having an 8 yr old, and how to be a parent to him without actually being his parent. I wish I’d have had this advice then. We figured it out eventually, but this post would’ve been super helpful.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 March 23, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! That can definitely be a difficult situation for both parties! I was the same. I had no idea what I was doing. Lucky for me, I at least had my boyfriend for support and help.

      Reply
  • Tramayne March 23, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I moved over 600 miles away from family as a single mom of one to take my current relationship to the next level. My boyfriend does not have any kids of his own but has stepped up beautiful to help me raise my little boy. One thing I tell him and one this I would add to your list: give yourself grace. Nothing is perfect, especially not parenting. My experience is that step-parents feel pressured to be perfect from the beginning and its never going to happen. Be present and worry about what’s going to happen when it happens.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 March 23, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      Very true! There is so much pressure when it comes to step-parenting and you are so right. Just like any type of parenting, you just have to learn as you go and learn to accept that everything is not going to be perfect. Thank you for the comment! 🙂

      Reply
  • Pooja @ Peaceful Banyan Tree March 24, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Kuddos to you for your outlook. Only with this mindset you’ve been able to get through so far and getting friends with them. It must not be an easy task at all but you have an amazing courage. Really inspiring!

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 March 24, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      Thank you! There have definitely been ups and downs, but staying positive through it all definitely helps. At least in front of the kids. Haha I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have any bedroom break-downs, but that’s all part of life and parenting no matter what the situation!

      Reply
  • KJ March 24, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Growing up with a step-father was rough and complicated things with my dad. I really wish my step-father had followed your advice. It would have made things so much better…

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 March 24, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      I don’t know your step-father, but I do know that finding that balance can be quite difficult. I’m sorry that it was so rough for you! Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  • Hannah Vu April 9, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    What an interesting post! Thank you for your advice, my sister has been involved in the same situation to you, and she has struggled day by day. Again, thanks a lot for sharing!

    Reply
  • Kiwi April 10, 2018 at 1:08 am

    Breaking the ice will always be a fun activity. Do something fun and memorable will be a good idea!

    Reply
  • Samuel frodo April 10, 2018 at 5:01 am

    Most step parents feel pressured to measure up to some imaginary standard of how parents should be.

    Reply
  • Danielle Fox April 10, 2018 at 7:48 am

    creating new fun memories is key. You will never replace a person, but become a new person in their lives

    Reply
  • GiGi Eats April 10, 2018 at 8:19 am

    I can only imagine what it would be like to “adopt” a kid… I feel like I would not have a specific connection with the kid thus wouldn’t feel that special. But isn’t that a terrible mindset to have LOL!

    Reply
  • Jenifer Sayyed April 10, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Kudos to u for becoming a role model for all. In this selfish world, you accepted the children as ur own and made point to not replace their mom… Superb

    Reply
  • Echo April 10, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Good for you! My husband became an instant parent! I agree with your advice!

    Reply
  • Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh April 10, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Great tips. This is becoming more and more then norm as most marriages end in divorce. I am not a step parent, but my husband is. He came into my life when my oldest daughter (who is almost 19 now) was only 2.

    Reply
  • Jessica Taylor April 10, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    This is such a great post! My daughter has a stepmom and they are best friends! I love knowing that someone out there cares about her as much as i do

    Reply
  • Julietta M. April 10, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    What great advice! Definitely being supportive and understanding is so important. Showing interest and growing that bond with them over time is really important as well. Love the advice given.

    Reply
  • Peter Nyiri April 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    I don’t have kids, but as a kid myself I had to take care of 3 younger sisters and a brother when my mom wasn’t home, so I completely understand what you were going through…

    Reply
  • di April 10, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    As a step child yes don’t try to replace their parent. Just talk to them, communicate, be open and yes do fun things!

    Reply
  • Trần Quốc Hưng April 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    It is totally a hardship period to get used to having a new life with new responsibilities, and it is even more difficult to learn how to balance those things as a step – mother. In my country – Vietnam, there is still a considerable discrimination with some women who play a position as a step – mother in the family. I think this post will be a good hint for every step – mothers in the world! Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  • Nida April 10, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    This is really very thoughtful of you! Enjoyed reading such positive thoughts. Not trying to replace the parents is definitely the key aspect to maintaining a healthy relationship.

    Reply
  • Hannah Marie April 10, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    You are awesome! That is something I don’t know if I can handle. I agree with these tips, doing something fun and memorable with them helps build relationship.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      It is definitely hard and I am still learning every day, but it is all worth it! Having fun and doing things as a family is so important to growing and maintaining a good relationship with the kids! Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  • Paula Stewart April 10, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    In addition to having four children of my own, I became the stepmom to three children when my second husband and I married. The youngest was just starting kindergarten when we married. My biggest advice would be, no matter what anyone else involved in the situation does, to always put the best interest of the child(ren) above all egos.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      That is very true and important. The best interest of the child(ren) is the most important thing. Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  • Paula April 10, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for this excellent article… A topic that meaning of us relate to these days! Being a stepparent is a challenge at times, and we could all use a little extra advice!

    Reply
  • Joanna April 11, 2018 at 3:22 am

    This is a very sensitive topic and indeed it’s very important to know how to handle the situation. When my father remarried, his new wife didn’t do any effort to get to know me and my sister. We would go to visit and she would use the occasion to make us clean the house instead of spending time with my father. He would buy as chocolate and ask us to eat it before we got home, so she doesn’t see. Needless to say that the bond broke and I haven’t seen or spoken with my father for over 14 years now.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      I’m so sorry and it is so sad how often the actions of the step-parent negatively affect the kids relationship with their biological parent. Hopefully in the future you have an opportunity to mend your relationship with your father! Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  • blair villanueva April 11, 2018 at 5:51 am

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I might can’t relate to it, however giving kids a fair treatment and treating them like a friend works every time.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      So true, especially in situations with step-children. Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      Reply
  • Andrea April 11, 2018 at 8:12 am

    thank you so much for talking about this, I was a stepdaughter for a while and I mean I still am but sadly I don’t have a relationship with my father anymore and I have to admit that I felt like his wife would often make me feel like I didn’t belong or like I felt she would push me away I was eight.

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      That is so sad and I’m sorry that your relationship didn’t work out with your step-mom or father! I can imagine that it is hard losing that relationship with your father because of your step-mom pushing you away, especially at such a young age. Hopefully in the future you have the opportunity to mend the relationship with your father. Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  • What Corinne Did April 11, 2018 at 11:31 am

    I have always thought that most of the time, bad relationship with a step parent always comes down to misunderstanding. I get that you might want to be perfect but yeah, you’re right, you also need to remember that you’re a new person in their life and not their parents. Great tips!

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      It is so hard for both the new step-parent and the children at first to find their place and to know what role they are supposed to play in the others’ lives. It is definitely a fine line to follow! Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      Reply
  • Kim April 11, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    These are all really good suggestions! Especially “don’t try to replace their parent” No one can ever replace “mom” and “dad”. It seems like you are very invested in developing a good relationship with these kiddos and that is wonderful to read about!

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      Yes, it can be hard to remember or to not try to step into that role. Thank you! I am definitely trying to be someone they can count on and go to!

      Reply
  • Lauren April 12, 2018 at 5:02 am

    You’re absolutely right. You cannot replace their parent. But you can still be there for them and create memories with them. It sounds like you’re doing it right!

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      I am definitely trying and want to do right by them! Every day has ups and downs. Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      Reply
  • LavandaMichelle April 12, 2018 at 5:58 am

    Support is what children need. Step children, foster kids, adoptive kids, biological kids, and so on. Its very important that it is readily available, support can make them so happy and them being happy should make you happy. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • kidsandkittens0912 April 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      That is so true! Having a good support system is important for every child, no matter their situation!

      Reply
  • needa April 12, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    These are very informative tips for parenting…. No one can replace actual parent… but you can be a good friend for a healthy relationship

    Reply
  • kim April 15, 2018 at 6:31 am

    I’m sure being a step parent is very challenging. You’ve given some great tips!

    Reply
  • michelle April 18, 2018 at 10:13 am

    This is such an important and helpful guide as it is a very tedious situation. Great advice!

    Reply

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