If you are marrying the second time around to a man who has a child or children, you may be experiencing excitement, joy and anxiety knowing you will be stepping into a blended family and having the privilege of being a step-mother and building a relationship with a step-child. Blending families and building a new relationship with your step-child should be done with care by starting out with some simple building blocks to build a strong bond between you and your step-child. Being a step-mother myself for over five years and knowing what I know, using these building blocks right from the beginning will help you become a successful step-mother and will make your life easier. Here are the first building blocks for a first time step-mother to get a strong start on building your relationship with your step-child.
Rules and Disciplining
First, sit down with your husband and discuss the rules that both of you would like to establish in your new blended family home. Your rules may be different than his rules and both of you need to come together and establish your new rules in writing for your step-child. Next, sit down with your husband and step-child to discuss the new rules and what disciplinary action will be taken if the rules are not followed. The father should be the main person to discipline the his child, but it’s important for the father to let the child know that when he is not home, the step-mother can discipline with the discussed disciplinary actions if the rules are not followed. Establishing the rules and disciplinary actions as a family from the start will save lots of stress and anxiety because everyone knows what to do and what will be expected when rules are not followed.
Be a Supporter not a Mother
As you take on your new role as a step-mother, being a supporter and not a mother is very important and will help build the relationship between you and your step-child. Your step-child may already be perceiving that you are going to try to take place of their mother or may even think you will be like Cinderella’s step-mother. Talk to your step-child and let them know that you will never take the place of his biological mother, but you will be there as a supporter for their needs and that they can come to you for any homework or problems that they may have.
Build the Relationship Slowly
Build the relationship between you and your step-child very slow. Let the step-child come to you and don’t expect them to open up right away. Many step-children dream of their parents getting back together and having a step-mother come into their lives may be very difficult on them. You should also try to avoid any type of criticism towards your step-child and try complementing them often on their accomplishments. When giving your step-child a hug, ask for permission first to show them that you respect them as a person.
Build a Relationship with the Biological Mother
As a new step-mother, if at all possible, try to build a relationship with their biological mother. In some cases this may not be possible if the biological mother is bitter about their child having a step-mother in their life. Building a relationship with the biological mother will help your step-child feel more comfortable around situations where you and the biological mother might be, such as plays, school concerts, or sporting events. The number one rule about the biological mother is to never speak about them in a negative manner around the step-child no matter what.
Step-Mother and Step-Child One-on-One Time
Take time and make plans for one-on-one time with your step-child. Take them out for an ice cream, dinner, or a walk around the block. This will give you an opportunity to let your step-child open up to anything they may be thinking about or any questions they may want to ask. If you have other children in the home, make sure you do the same so that each child won’t feel left out.
Encourage one-on-one with Father and Step-Child
Encourage your husband to get some one-on-one time often with your step-child. This has really worked for me. I have set up camping weekend trips just for my husband and his child to get away together for a few days. Sometimes a step-child may think you are taking all of their fathers time away from them and by encouraging your husband to get away for a weekend with your step-son will let him know that his time with his father is still important. If your husband can’t get away for the weekend, encourage him to take his child out to dinner or a movie once a month to have that special one-on-one time with them.
Following these simple building blocks for a first time step-mother from the start will help you become a great step-mother and help build a strong bond between you and your step-child.