This post was written by Cory Gundrum Sr. There are some very interesting points, especially coming from a man that I felt were worth sharing.
I’d love to hear what you think about this. Share you comments below.
Stepmothers establish relationships with the child and biological mother while serving as a wife and overcoming villainous stereotypes so stepmothers deserve enormous respect. A stepmother starts out disadvantaged because the biological mother already has established bonds with the child, the child’s friends and his or her parents. A stepmother has to set bounds with the biological mother while establishing the rules and expected conduct at her house for the child. These obstacles are difficult because of the villainous stereotypes the entertainment industry projects on stepmothers. The fact that often goes unnoticed is that stepmothers and biological mothers are more alike than they care to admit.
Stepmothers have to form and maintain bonds that biological mothers do not, so that puts them at a disadvantage. Often times a child may still be having issues with the divorce and may be hesitant to form a bond with the stepmother, the child may be fearful of forming an attachment and having his or her new parents divorce. The stepmother has to earn the child’s respect and trust while establishing her role as a parent first, and friend second. She has to be a mother to that child and reassure the child that she is not replacing the child’s mother, but she can still care and love the child like the biological mother does.
As she earns the child’s trust, the child may feel compelled to complain about the biological mother; here she must be careful not to turn the conversation into a gripe fest with the child. Once the child hears complaints, the child becomes a recorder. They will eventually play back pieces of the conversation potentially causing problems between both the stepmother and biological mother. By sharing personal gripes about the biological mother does is puts a negative image in his or her head, thus making interactions between the stepmothers and biological mother tense and awkward for the child. These are just a few of the disadvantages faced by stepmothers.
Gaining the in-laws acceptance is another disadvantage faced by a stepmother. In most cases, the families have known the biological mother longer and have been with her through cherished memories so there is a bond there. In addition, the in-laws have a comfort level in dealing with the biological mother that the stepmother has to earn. Whether the stepmother is loved or hated, family and friends will judge the stepmother by her predecessor. Therefore, earning or keeping the in-laws respect is done over time, if the stepmother demonstrates love, consistency, compromise, and acceptance eventually the she will earn the same.
Another obstacle for stepmother’s is gaining acceptance from the child’s friends and more important the friends parents. This overlooked obstacle is important especially for the child socially. The child’s friends and families typically have interacted and formed friendships. There may be issues with the friend’s parents having a bias against the stepmother blaming her for the divorce or showing loyalty to the biological mother.
The stepmother after gaining the trust of the other parents has to gain the trust of the child’s friends. If the stepmother is “cool” and shows consistency, compromise, and acceptance eventually she will gain acceptance.
Stepmothers have to set boundaries with the biological mother and work together for the good of the child. The stepmother and biological mother need to have clear and defined roles. The biological mother may feel some sort of territorial dominance over her children but needs to be accepting that parental responsibility is now divided into three equal parts. The stepmother needs the ability to discipline the child to an acceptable degree. The biological mother must be willing to compromise and accept the stepmother’s punishment, and keep both households consistent for the child.
Another contestable area is what the child should call the stepmother. In time, the child may accept the stepmother and form bonds with her, even wanting to call her “Mom” which may make the biological mother feel threatened or uncomfortable. It should be the child’s decision based upon his or her comfort level to decide what to call the stepmother.
Sharing the distinction of being “Mom” may not be the only cause of jealousy; the biological mother may see that the stepmother is able to treat and have a more “fun” relationship with the child, thus causing her to feel replaceable. That is when the stepmother and biological mother need to have a civilized conversation so both can avoid tension and express both of the mother’s emotions. These boundaries come with compromise, conversation, and understanding.
The stepmother has to establish her house and her expectations. While there may be differences in the rules the fundamentals need to be similar to avoid confusing the child. While both households are independent from each other both “mother’s” must respect that what is acceptable at one home may not be acceptable at both. The biological mother has to resist the urge to overstep her bounds and try to be a dominant figure in both homes. The stepmother must remain consistent and be able to justify her actions to help try to keep peace.
It may take a while for the biological mother to feel comfortable and to have confidence that the child is cared for the same manner as she would. Though both “mothers” are different, the stepmother is responsible for her house and the biological mother should respect that.
One of the main challenges a stepmother faces is being a wife and mother without being the villain. Cinderella and other movies depict stepmothers as evil characters who want to send the children away or enslave them. They can sometimes depict a stepmother as trying to interfere with a child’s relationship with his or her father, and a biological mother with a grudge can add to that dark fairy tale.
If the biological mother attempts to make the children feel guilty for accepting the stepmother she may cause a tug-o-war with the child’s emotions. Both need to love the child and promote a healthy relationship with the father. Though she may have to sacrifice some “personal” time with her husband, eventually the child will recognize and appreciate this. The child, especially if they are young may need reassurance that what they have read or heard is only make believe and that the stepmother is there to help form a family and not divide it. The evil stepmother is a fairy tale that society needs to close the book on.
One point that goes understated is that for all the conflicts that may exist both “Mom’s” are more alike than they appear. Both have to love and teach their children. However, there is more to teaching than just helping with homework; they have a moral obligation to teach their children right from wrong. They have to set the example for the child.
Part of that example is putting differences aside and working together for the good of the child. They each need to remember important events and be there if possible for the child. There needs to be preparations and plans by both mothers’ to meet the child’s basic needs. The child’s basic needs being food, clothing, and shelter.
However, the child also needs time, understanding, and affection. It is a difficult transition for not only the child but also the mother and the stepmother. The need to function as a supportive team is critical for the child’s adjustment and for the mother who is learning to share her role also, for the stepmother who is learning how to be a mother and earn the trust of the biological mother. Therefore, despite their differences keeping the child first is what makes both mothers similar.
The stepmother is not out to replace the biological mother she is there to give love and earn respect. She has to work hard to gain acceptance and build relationships that the biological mother has already formed. Stepmothers have to take time to develop at least a working relationship with the biological mother to avoid jealousy and resentment on both parts. Once they learn to keep evolving with each stage and change in their marriage and their child’s life, she will have overcome more obstacles than a regular parent has. Therefore, by stepping in and being a wife, by being a mom, and by being a friend a stepmother has earned far more respect than she is given.