1 - Ask to be called Mom or Dad
Those titles hold very sacred meaning. Asking a child to call a stepparent either of those terms carries an unbelievable amount of pressure, especially if that child already has an active Mother and Father in their life. A stepparent is a stepparent, and they should be titled as so. I personally wear my Stepmom badge proudly, it carries an entirely different sense of pride and symbolizes perseverance in my eyes. I feel honored to hold that title, and I know many other Stepmoms do as well. If a child calls a stepparent Mom or Dad on their own terms, that can be a beautiful gesture of love. But if it’s a forced label, it can stir up feelings of uncertainty and resentment.
2 - Speak ill of their biological counter-partner
Tensions can run high in blended families. Disagreements run amuck, and emotions can get the best of even the most patient parents. It’s important to remember that when you speak ill of a child’s parent, you’re essentially attacking half of that child as well. That parent is a part of them, to say they are bad is to tell the child they are part bad too. On top of that, it can launch the child into protection mode, wanting to defend said parent, and begin to resent you for feeling the way that you do about them. It can be the hardest thing in the world, but biting your tongue in moments when you just want to scream the truth will help you in the long run. Does this mean staying silent if the Ex is bad-mouthing you the kids? No. Check out Divorce Poison for constructive ways to defend yourself to the kids, and encourage them to form their own opinions on situations.
3 - Monopolize their spouse
It can be fun and exciting to dive right into your new role as Stepmom or Stepdad, and it makes sense that the best way to cohesively bond your blended family would be to do things together as a family, all the time. While on the surface that seems the most logical, let’s take a moment and really think about it. Your spouse is their biological parent; the kids miss them immensely when they are at their other home. A great way to show respect for your stepkids is to allow them to be with their parent alone, without you. Not everyday, and not all the time, but sometimes yes. There are days when I absolutely love just being a wife, and all the duties that come with that role. I don’t have to worry about making a school lunch, restocking the popsicles, or figuring out a way to get Stepdaughter showered, fed and done with her homework before the bewitching hour strikes and she’s dog gone tired. Do I enjoy being s Stepmom? Yes. But I also am in love with being my husband’s wife. Just as I have a unique appreciation for the dual roles I have in life, I bet your spouse equally loves being your spouse as much as they enjoy being a parent. So once in a while, give them a hall pass to parenthood. Take a step back and let them give 100% of their attention to their kids for the afternoon. Let them just be Mom or Dad. They will love it, and the kids will love and appreciate it even more.