Being a stepmom doesn't have to be SO difficult ...
The stigma of the evil stepmother has existed for centuries.
While this may be a reality for some families, it's not always the case. Many stepmoms genuinely want a great relationship with their new husbands' kids, they just don't know the right way to break the ice.
If you're a stepmom, you may be worried that you come off too strong, so you can end up not showing enough interest in your new stepkids. Some stepmoms are just at a loss to find a strong connection with their new stepkids, and that can throw off your confidence to find a starting place for your relationship with them.
Are you worried that you may come off as the exact definition of the Grimms Brothers' evil stepmother? In the video above, founder and CEO of YourTango Andrea Miller talks with the co-creators of Imago Relationship Therapy Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, marriage/couples counselor Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, psychologist Dr. Joyce Fine and counselor and therapist Jamie Simkins Rogers about what it's like for families to welcome in their dad's new wife.
Here are three skillful ways to fend off that evil stepmother persona and really connect with your new (step)kids:
1. Let The Stepkids Jump-Start The Bonding
You may be willing to start a relationship right away or assume that one already exists, but every kid is different. Some may be willing to get to know you because they're outgoing, while others may be shy. Some may be excited to have you as a new family member, while others may harbor resentment or jealousy. If that's the case, let the kids make the step to get to know/bond with you and go from there.
Jamie Simkins Rogers derives some great stepmom/stepkids bonding advice from her own experience as a step mom. She wisely explains, "If you come on too strong, they may feel suspicious of you. So I say let the kids take lead, and let the relationship develop naturally."
2. Have One-On-One Time With Your Stepkids
Try to schedule family time together (even if it's just having family dinners or grocery shopping together) because you can learn SO much about each other and get used to having each other around. Try to find out their hobbies so you can bond over things they like to do. This creates a sense of security between you and them.
3. Be Their "Friend Mom"
As Helen LaKelly Hunt suggested with her own step kids, suggest they call you this more caring and loving name rather than "stepmom". When they're comfortable with you, your stepkids will be able to see you as a fun-loving support system, rather than their competition. They'll be comfortable discussing things that they want you to do for them to grow a better relationship, instead of harboring resentment and anger passive aggressively.
Helen LaKelly Hunt explains how she told her kids to speak up if they didn't agree with something: "Mainly with all of our kids I've always said, Stay out of the 'victim place,' and ask for what you want. I'm not going to respond if you're sulking, but I also want to go in and elicit from them what is it you would like to see more of."
Want some more great advice about how to bond with your step kids? Scroll up to hear the professional panel above give some more expert advice to create a strong and supportive relationship within your new family.