Here is what young and old stepchildren repeatedly responded:
- “I Miss My Father”
Without fail almost EVERY stepchild made this statement. It came in phrases such as, “When my dad remarried it felt like he didn’t have time for us, her kids seem more important than we do.” Even stepkids that have a great relationship with a stepmom expressed a need to have occasional, “Daddy time.”
“My Dad’s wife is very nice. I like her a lot. So, I feel self-centered saying this, but what I really want is a time with my dad—ALONE. I miss the one-on-one time.”
- “My Mom Would Kill Me”
Even after we become adults, we don’t want a parent to be mad at us. Many stepkids want their stepmom to know that they don’t view her as a bad person. But when the Mom hates the stepmom, they withhold their love in order to keep peace.
A smart stepmom doesn’t take this personally. She responds with, “I know it’s hard when you feel trapped in the middle between your mom and me. It’s OK. She’s your mother and there is a loyalty with a parent that is indescribable. I’m grateful we can be friends, don’t feel you have to offer more than that.”
That attitude will allow the stepchild to care about you, without feeling disloyal to mom.
- “Why Don’t You Like Me?”
It’s very easy for a stepmom to dislike her stepkids. Let’s face it; whether big or small, hurting kids can be self-centered, menacing, and hurtful.
Remembering that it’s possible to love someone but dislike their behavior can go a long way. Learning to love my stepfamily has been a choice. It took time. For me, that included prayer and a deeper understanding of why it wasn’t instantaneous. Eventually, the feelings followed the action steps. But because it was so different from the instant love I had for my own, it required more effort and clarity.
- “Thanks for Making My Dad Happy”
In many instances the kids are gracious enough to see past their own opinions and pain. They desire a way to get past the awkwardness of the relationship in order to extend a “thank you” to the stepmom. They know the stepparent is a blessing to their parent, whether they like her or not.
A Smart Stepmom recognizes that making the effort to look through the lens of the stepchild—young or old—can bring peace to her anxiety. And it offers a vehicle for harmony to enter the stepfamily home.
By Laura Petherbridge
Wife to Steve, Mom of two stepsons, Grandmother of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Sisterhood of Stepmoms
Author of When ‘I Do’ Becomes ‘I Don’t, 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom, and The Smart Stepmom with Ron Deal