7 Tiny Ways To Be A Better Stepmom Every Single Day

Fairytale evilness aside, being a stepmom isn't easy.

Last updated on Apr 12, 2024

Step mother spending quality time with her step child Ron Lach | Pexels

Let’s face it: stepmothers get a bad rap. Disney didn’t do us any favors with the queen from Snow White, Lady Tremaine of Cinderella, and Queen Narissa from Enchanted. These stepmothers were neglectful, jealous and self-involved That’s intense, and a heavy stereotype for those of us who want to love and cherish our wee little stepchildren to carry.

So, how can you rise above this and become a rock in your stepchildren’s world?


Here are 7 tiny ways to be a better stepmom every single day

1. Spend time with your stepchild(ren)

Starting as early as the first meeting, be present with the new child(ren) in your life. It's often helpful in the beginning to spend time with them at a neutral location like a park, museum, or restaurant — preferably somewhere without tons of stimulation and distractions, but just enough so you're not putting too much pressure on the child to interact with you.

If the child is young, get down on his level! Play on the floor and show an interest in his toys/games. If the child is older, find an activity they like and do it with them. If you have your biological children, don’t throw everyone together all at once. Go slowly and keep people separate. Get to know your significant other’s child and let them get to know yours before you decide to do a family event.


Once you decide to move in together, keep up this habit of spending time together as a family and one-on-one with your stepkids. They need to know you're interested in them.

RELATED: 5 Most Unique Challenges Of Second Marriages

2. Give positive affirmations and affection

Some stepchildren, especially little ones, will want physical affection from you, while others will not. Don’t let this stop you from being loving. You can use words to communicate your appreciation, admiration and fondness for your stepchild. When you see something you appreciate in your stepchild, say it to them. Don't flatter — children will know if you're being genuine.


3. Earn their respect

Some parenting experts say stepchildren don't have to like you, but they do need to respect you. I humbly disagree. I think you need to earn respect, not command it. (The surest way to alienate teenagers is to come into their lives and demand that they respect you. Go easy, tiger!)

You're the adult, so you have responsibilities to protect and keep the children safe. They need to respect the rules and established boundaries — that's fundamentally different than respecting you. Let their relationship with you develop over time. Act with integrity and treat the children with dignity, and respect will come.



RELATED: 5 Ways We Violate Our Children's Boundaries Without Even Realizing It


4. Have patience

This one I can't stress enough. Becoming an awesome stepparent isn't an overnight process. It's most definitely a journey.

I liken it to bonding with cats. If you walk up to a cat, grab it, and smother it with kisses, chances are you will get scratched, and that cat is always going to run away from you. Fulfill the cat’s needs and sit quietly in the same room. Let the cat come to you in its own time. Eventually, the cat will end up purring contentedly in your lap.

Children adapt to new situations in their own time and pace. Allow them the room to do so.

5. Get smart

There are many ways to learn about being a stepmother. You’re doing one of them right now! Congrats! Reading is an excellent start. Check out other articles, books, and websites.


Another recommendation is to talk to people you know. Find role models to emulate. There are support groups around the country that serve new families. You can learn what to do (as well as what not to do) from the other stepmothers you know or meet.

Best Stepmoms Photo: Natalia Lebedinskaia via Shutterstock

RELATED: I Never Thought I'd Prefer Life *With* Kids Until I Became A Stepmom


6. Don’t be afraid to discipline

Okay, this one takes time and finesse, but don’t be afraid of disciplining. In the beginning, you want to avoid it, if you can. Let the child’s biological parent handle it. But back them up, and be supportive and united. Get on the same page about discipline philosophies with your spouse and if you need more education on the subject, I highly recommend No-Drama Discipline, a fascinating book that outlines all sorts of understanding ways to deal with “tantrums, tensions and tears — without causing a scene.” Hallelujah!

Over time, as you earn the trust and respect of your stepchild, you'll have more authority to discipline. And if you can do so with empathy and consistency, your stepchild will feel closer to you. Children feel safe and cared for with clear boundaries.



7. Communicate

I cannot stress this one enough! Family members need to talk to each other. A lack of communication leads to uncertainty and misunderstandings. To be a rock star step-mama you need to talk, not only to your spouse, but also to your stepchildren. Talk with your spouse about your feelings, expectations, hopes, dreams, frustrations, needs, wants, and desires for the family, and share where appropriate with the children.


And don’t forget to listen — both children and adults need to feel heard. Develop a healthy opportunity for discussion, such as a weekly or bi-monthly family meeting. Open forums where people are given the chance to talk lead to strong connections and well-earned respect.

Evilness trope aside, being a stepmom isn't easy.

You have to feel your way through an often thankless and unfamiliar job with little direction and sometimes very few allies. Then there's the delicate balancing act of sharing the same responsibilities with biological parents (feed, clothe, keep safe, entertain, drive places, adore), yet you receive none of the parental rights and most likely don't garner the same level of respect, affection, or love.


Go easy on yourself and others in the family while you’re on this journey. Everyone is learning a new skill set. You will all make mistakes, and you will all grow in positive ways because of them. Rock on!

RELATED: How My Evil Step-Mother Became One Of My Favorite People

Kira Gould is a certified divorce coach specializing in working with women who would like to get married with clarity, compassion, and positive intentions.