These women are stunned and rightfully hurt. What had they done? Why had this happened? And should they dare to complain to someone who didn't understand the ever-changing nature of stepfamily dynamics? They're often shamed and talked down to with clichés—and that's anything but helpful. Do people really believe these women's IQ's suddenly dropped into the double digits and the thought never occurred to them that they were marrying someone who had children?
Stepmoms don't need platitudes; they need validation, compassion and understanding. They need to be reminded that it isn't personal, that most children (no matter their ages) are always going to have natural loyalty binds towards their biological parents, even if that parent is deceased or has abandoned them. They need to know that—like any family—there are bound to be times of stress, strain and tension and that they are not responsible for being blindsided by this.
Stepmoms need their husbands to cover their backs when their stepchildren treat them with disrespect, blame and disdain. People might be surprised to know how many fathers don't do this because they feel torn between their children and their new spouse. The stepmom is left hung to dry and wondering how to live in a home that no longer feels safe. Telling her, "You chose this!" often provokes unearned guilt and self-doubt.
This wise adage (passed on to me by my mother) rings true, "Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes."
That's not a platitude, it's just plain common sense.