I came really close to being a stepmother–twice. The love of my life (or so I thought) had ditched me after his ex came calling. They reunited and he became a poppa. Two years later they’d broken up, and then he and I reconnected. And I hoped to start over, baby boy and all.
What I experienced was more confusion. Aside from the possibility of being a stepmother at only 28, I wasn’t ready to build a relationship with his son’s mother (or, the woman who ruined my relationship the first go around, as I referred to her). I also feared that I’d take out my anger about the situation out on his son. This kid was the product of Elijah dumping me for her, a reminder of my pain. Could I look at his son’s face and not feel betrayed?
I knew I couldn’t. So I moved on.
The second time of almost-stepmotherhood was less dramatic. My boyfriend at the time had no baby mama drama and his four-year-old daughter loved me. The relationship didn’t work out; we just weren’t right for each other. And I was relieved. I want the real love of my life to be my perfect mismatch. Because no one is really a perfect fit. I also don’t want to take care, nurture and discipline any babies that aren’t my own…just being honest.
Other women differ and take on the role of stepmother with poise and acceptance. But how? How do women have a great relationship with their stepkids? Here’s how to win his kids over so you aren’t the evil stepmother.
An Open Your Heart to Be a Good Stepmother
Kids sense when they aren’t truly loved and wanted. They feel like step-children if you treat them like step-children. Angy, a mental health counselor from New York City, knew this very well and loved her role as stepmother to her then-boyfriend’s daughter. “I embraced her like my own,” Angy recalls.
Open Your Doors
When your man shares custody with his ex, or his child lives with you, you have to make sure that his child feels at home. Angy made a place for her step-daughter in her home. “I always made sure she had everything she needed in our home since she spent a lot of time with us,” she explained. That’s an important part of being a stepmother. You have to see his children as a part of your family. Because they are.
Build a Relationship With Your Stepchildren
Your relationship with your child shouldn’t focus solely on your relationship with your man. It is a separate entity because your stepchild is an individual. Build that relationship as if your partner didn’t exist. Kids must feel that you want to have a separate and special relationship with them because you desire it, not because you have to for their father.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage, Lesli M. W. Doares, agrees. When spending one-on-one time with your stepchildren, she suggests letting the kids take the lead. “Keep the focus on them but don’t push into areas they aren’t ready for.”
Angy still has a relationship with her step-daughter. Even though she is no longer with the child’s father, she went to great lengths to maintain and continue that bond. “I had to create a relationship with her mom just to see her,” she says of her experience. “Now, every so often, she even comes over to visit.” That’s because that little girl felt loved and connected to her stepmother.
Kids are very intuitive. They’ll know when you’re faking the love, or trying to buy their love. Gift giving may be easy. What kid doesn’t want toys? But it reads as disingenuous. As family life teacher and author Anastasia Gavalas, states, “The more authentic you are, the better chance you have of building a solid relationship.”
Create A Positive Relationship with Their Mother
This may be difficult. But as Angy proved, building a relationship with your stepchildren’s mother goes a long way. Doares advizes stepmoms to remain respectful at all times. “Never run her down or speak ill of her,” she suggests. And stay away from money talk. “Do not complain about child support, alimony, or other financial obligations.”
Being a stepmother isn’t easy but what in life and love comes without its own set of challenges? If you love that man, love his children. Hopefully, they’ll love you right back.
Sujeiry Gonzalez is the Love Guru for Exitos 93.9FM, a relationship writer and author of Love Trips. Get her relationship advice daily on LoveSujeiry.com.