Being a stepmother is a role you never expect yourself to play. One of the most common feelings among step moms is insecurity. These insecurities stem from not knowing how to discipline or care for a child that is not biologically yours. When a woman gives birth she already “knows” how to care for her child. A step mom must learn to develop these instincts and skills. When learning how to discipline or care for a child that is not yours it is important to remember that the child already has a mother and you don’t want to over step these boundaries. A child should not be made to feel like his or her mother is trying to be replaced. This will create resentment and discontentment and stunt the growth of your new stepfamily.
The first and most important step in building a healthy step family is a strong bond between you and your partner. It is crucial to take time alone and build this bond independent of the children. Creating a strong bond between you and your partner will not only set an example for the children but also give them confidence, a sense of safety and security and show them that relationships can be successful. Remember that they have already been traumatized by the separation of their natural family. It is essential that children know their natural parents and their stepparents love them equally.
Very often stepparents suffer from unrealistic expectations that lead to feelings of helplessness or victimization. Natural parents have a tendency to fantasize about a perfect family union and pressure their partners to love and discipline children they don’t even really know yet. There is no such a thing as an “instant family.” Although children may get along with their new stepparent remember that they are still being catapulted into major life transitions. All relationships take time. Expectations between stepparents and children must incorporate a gradual period of getting to know one another. Stepfamilies do not function in the same way that natural families do, they have their own set of dynamics and behaviors. It is important to take the time to get to know one another and to learn to respect one another. Relationships should be allowed to build security without the pressure of fulfilling a fantasy. Experts have shown that successful, loving, and happy stepfamilies develop over a period of two to three years.
As a parent it is your job to consider the future impact of your bringing a stepparent into the picture. If you bring someone into your life and expect them to instantly become a parent you’re not only risking destroying your relationship but also showing your children that intimate relationships between two people are doomed to fail. Although it might be difficult, you have to remember that your new partner may not have experience with children. Being patient, teaching, and learning new skills will give you the strong family bond that you desire.