From the perspective of a (totally NOT evil) stepmom.
Truthfully, being a step parent a challenging task. You have to create a relationship with your stepchildren without threatening their relationship with their biological parent. In other words, be a mom without trying to replace their "real" mom. It can be a shared title, or eventually, they'll come up with something different just for you.
Contrary to fictional lore, being a new stepparent in his kids' lives is an honorable and worthwhile venture.
Keep these three guidelines in mind to improve the possibility of adding a positive additional adult relationship to his kids' lives without creating that “evil stepparent" mentality:
1. Avoid introducing the new relationship to the children too early.
Introducing a new partner to his kids after divorce is tricky. Start too soon and the children begin thinking the new relationship was the cause of the divorce all along. Give the kids time to heal from having their world torn apart before introducing them to someone new.
2. Make time for everyone's needs.
Make sure his kids get plenty of alone time with him – time that doesn't involve you. Also, make sure that he makes enough time for your own relationship together, outside of the kids. You want to keep jealousy out of the equation on both sides, so it's a balancing act.
Make sure that you realize (and can handle) that the children may not want to involve you in all of their activities. It's important to be patient and wait for the kids to bring it up to you (or invite you) on their terms.
3. Never put yourself in a parental role.
Never take full responsibility of the kids, and avoid disciplining them. It’s always better for the natural parent to fill that role — otherwise the "evil stepparent" prophesy comes trickling through.
It’s a lot more work to integrate a blended family into a working family than many people can fully appreciate. This might be indelicate to say, but oftentimes your own enthusiasm, or the love you feel for him and the kids, can interfere with the realistic view of what it's like for them.
When trying to do the best thing for both his kids and your new relationship, your judgment may be clouded by all that love. You want everything be lovely and easy, but realistically it just isn’t. It's better to be careful and tread lightly to ensure that everything transitions smoothly.
This article was originally published at Miller Law Group . Reprinted with permission from the author.