Tag Archives: parenting styles

You’ve been cast as the female lead in a dramatic series called “Your Life” as the Stepmother. Now what?

10 Aug

Not a suggested role, for obvious reasons.

As stepmothers, we often have a hard time deciding how to approach our role as the new “female lead in a dramatic series”. Custodial stepmothers usually chose the role of “mom”, but for those of us that have our stepchildren every other weekend (or some other non-custodial situation), choosing an appropriate role is a bit more difficult.  Add in your own biological children and it gets even more confusing.

 Here are some stand-in roles that have been suggested to many of us.  See if any of these describe you:

The Cool Aunt:  You are probably around the same age as the biomom but you are her polar opposite. 

Discipline:  Like any Cool Aunt, you have your limits, but most of the time, you let stuff slide.

Advantage:  The kids look forward to their weekends with you to do different things than what they would do at home.  Arts and crafts, dancing to world music, hiking in the woods, you are a source of new adventures! 

Disadvantage:  The biomom will either embrace the fact that the children are learning new skills and are being exposed to new things or she will be insanely jealous and either criticize those things or try to compete by “one-upping” you.  It could get ugly.

 

The Big Sister:  You are probably much younger than the biomom and not much older than the kids.  You have boundless energy and you’re very enthusiastic.

Discipline:  You don’t have to worry about discipline at all because Dad will take care of it!

Advantage:  The kids think “Dad’s new wife” is totally cool!  You get to do all the fun stuff with the kids; what’s not to love?

Disadvantage:  At first, it’s all fun and games, but then the kids get older and realize that you’re The Stepmother in disguise.  The tide may change.  Never mind that the biomom already dislikes the fact that she got traded in for a younger model. 

 

The Sweet Granny:  You see the world through rose-colored glasses.  Your stepchildren can do no wrong!

Discipline:  Discipline?  What’s that??  You love those children so much and you just know that any bad or inappropriate behavior can be contributed to the hurt of the divorce which you know you can heal through your endless love.

Advantage:  The kids LOVE the fact they have control of the household. 

Disadvantage:  The kids have control of the household.  And most of the time, you end up as a doormat.

 

The Babysitter: You married a man with children but you have no emotional investment in them. 

Discipline:  When the kids act up, you thank God they’re not your children. Your disciplinary plan:  “Wait ‘til your father gets home!”

Advantage:  They show up.  It’s a “free-for-all” weekend.  They leave.  Everyone’s happy, especially DH.

Disadvantage:  You have to put up with way more back talk than any babysitter would ever have to and to make matters worse, you don’t get paid.

 

Obviously these are tongue-in-cheek descriptions but most of us have taken on a few of these roles to see what fits best and still we come back to The Stepmother, a role that has yet to be universally defined.  However, there does seem to be one nagging universal truth to this role:  we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.    If we try to love the kids like they’re our own, we’re accused of trying to take over the BM’s role.  If we admit to not loving them like they’re our own, we’re labeled as heartless shrews.  If we treat them like our own children, we’re criticized for trying to act like a mom to them.  If we treat them differently, we’re accused of playing favorites.  Often times, it feels like a no-win situation with every move being analyzed by a cast of characters that all have their own agenda.  I think I speak for most non-custodial stepmoms when I say that all we really want to do is support DH in the raising of his children, yet finding a comfortable place in how we deal with and interact with our stepchildren is so very difficult.

What kind of role have you taken on as a stepmother?  How long did it take you to find a role that suited you?