Tips for becoming a stepmother

Salt Lake Tribune

Can stepmothers ever step over the hurdles of their title?

Just add children and stir. I recently spoke to a divorced mother of three who had just married a

widowed father of two. A week after the honeymoon, she set the record straight with her two young stepdaughters: “I know I’m not your mother . . . and I’ll never be able to replace her, but I want you to know that I love you just as much as I love my own children.”

Really? This woman has, respectively, 10 and 12 years of history with her own children. She has been with them since their conception. In contrast, she has one week of history with her stepchildren. What would cause her to set such unrealistic expectations for herself and this complex conglomeration of people and personalities? Can she really save the day and heal the grieving hearts of this still partially intact family?A remarriage cannot renew everyone’s broken heart and dream.

Stepmother. The word alone is lonely and loaded with false assumptions. The problem with the term is the “mother” part. No one can walk into a ready-made family, with a history of its own, and become an instant mother to anyone. We need a term to earmark this stage. How about BNB? Blended Not Bonded (yet).

Here’s some advice from a woman who entered the world of her four stepchildren more than 15 years ago: “In all the years I’ve been with my husband, I’ve learned not to discuss the issue, as my words will invariably get twisted, retold and distorted. . . . All you can do is have an open heart, open mind, forgive and forget, let things roll off your back and realize life is too short for trivial matters to fester and infect what would otherwise be a glorious relationship.”

A few other tips:

*Discipline by biology. (Parents correct their own offspring.)

*Maintain a united front. (Talk out differences; otherwise, stand united!)

*Create one-on-one relationships. (Get yourself into their world and enjoy.)

*Become a poster parent for a positive attitude. (Forgive small hurts to avoid big grudges.)

*Go the extra mile. (Put children’s needs first even when it puts you out.)

*Keep marriage the priority. (Your relationship is the most vulnerable one in the house.)