Monday, 3 June 2013
Things A Step-Mom Should Never Say
Enter 2012, where I became a Step Mother to 4 children aged 7-15.
I really thought that being a step mum would be the same as being a biological mother to my own kids. I couldn't have been more wrong.
There are so many more variables when it comes to being a step-mother. Its not just you, their Dad, and the kids. Its you, your partner, your husbands ex partner, the ex partners partner.....
Just processing all that are involved can prove exhausting.
Oprah's O Magazine has some very good points that I would like to share with you along with=how I impliment some of these ideas into my step parenting.
Never say "Go ahead, call me Mom!"
You're not their mother, and you never will be. They're conflicted enough, and pushing them to use a mom-name will only confuse them more. This applies step dads and the "Dad" title.
I actually am uneasy when my step children refer to me as Mom. I have 4 children of my own, the title "Mom" is reserved for them only.
My step kids are not my flesh and blood, and to be honest, when they are acting up and showing no social decorum, I am relieved that I can actually say to people "Oh no, they're not my children, they're his......" This leads to my husband explaining their behavior, because at the end of the day, they are his and his ex wifes children. How they turn out will be as a result of how the two of them chose to raise them. I am merely a helpmate.
Helpmate.... what does this mean to a step mother? It means that I will happily care for the kids, prepare their meals, play with them, teach them what I can and love them like they are my own; but at the end of the day, how they are raised, the values that are instilled in them, have to be in accordance to both my husband and his ex wifes wishes. This brings us to the next never say for a Step Mum:
Never say "Feel free! Do whatever you want."
Almost as much as they need love, children need boundaries, and are adrift without rules. Learn to say (not scream, please) the following phrase: "In this house, we..." so that time together will not be bogged down with endless negotiations.
Again, this is difficult when the wishes of their mother and father are not the same. In our house hold we focus a lot on manners whereas at the kids mothers home, manners, well... what manners? I follow my husbands lead. He wants his children to be brought up with ettiquette and social awareness, so we Teach his kids this when ever the situation presents itself. This is a hard thing to do when their mother will allow them to belch in public and is not one to care about physical appearance, but the best we can do is try to immerse them in good habits when they are in our care.
Never say "I'll get it," "I'll drive," "I'll wash it," "Forget about me," etc.
Don't let your stepkids (or their father) turn you into the creature everyone in the world resents: a martyr. Martyrs make people feel creepy and guilty, and when kids feel that way, they generally act out. You're better off being wicked.
Ok, so not really wicked, but believe me you won't be popular when you do stand your ground and demand the respect of a fellow human being. I try to use something I live by with my own kids when parenting my step children. As parents, our job is not to be a servant to our child. Our job is to ensure that we raise capable, independant adults! I believe it is important to teach our kids certain life skills. I was astonished when my 10 year old step daughter and 12 year old step son informed us that they did not know how to turn on a washing machine, or the oven! Part of our duty is to teach them those skills. Sure, it is easy just to do it yourself, but this is actually the opposite of martyr behavior, its selfish behavior. Get up and teach your kids things that they will take with them into adult hood. Spend that extra 15 mins. This is all part and parcel of the responsibilities of being a parent.
5. "Your dad and I always..."
Don't allude to the great times you have with their father when they're not around. They already feel left out, and probably imagine the two of you tossing your heads back laughing, spending wads of money, and throwing Ring Ding wrappers on the floor (not to mention the sexual fantasies going on in their fevered little brains). If you want to give them a positive image of a loving couple, just be a loving couple.
Oh if only my step children were aware of the sacrifices their father and I make for them. We scrimp and save just so that we can have the means to have them visit with us. Their mother takes 50% of my husbands earnings, and the kids arrive at our house in rags (again this is no shock, see above paragraph about presentation). We NEVER speak of this infront of the kids however, as this is not something that is their doing, nor is it anything that would be beneficial to them in knowing. So I guess the "Your dad and I always" is not as much of an issue in terms of what we do without them, its more what "Your dad and I always" sacrifice for you.
Never Say "Did your mother bring you up to do that?"
Never bad-mouth the ex—and your husband (or partner) shouldn't either, even if the fur is still flying. Studies show that it's the ongoing conflict after divorce that hurts kids the most.
Don't stand next to him when he's on the phone with his ex, making faces and sticking your finger down your throat. Don't write her letters or e-mails, and if she's a crank caller, get caller ID. Fighting about the ex—call it the 'ex hex'—is the equivalent of having a stink bomb thrown into your marriage.
This was a tough one for me. My husbands ex is a very controlling person. She actually went out of her way to involve herself in my life with my children. This is a tough pill to swallow, however, I know that one wrong does not make a right. Be the better person. First of all their mother is part of the child's identity. By putting her down, you are in turn putting down a part of that childs persona. This is not best for the child. I tried to organise a meeting between the two of us so that we could clear the waters and work on what is best for the kids. She told my husband if I had anything to say to contact her attorney. While this is sad, I at least know that I put out the olive branch and tried to be the bigger person for the benefit of her children. The fact that she would not reciprocate is not a reflection of anything I did wrong, just and example of her not putting her kids needs first.
My husband and I are very much on the same page where his ex is concerned and I support his decisions. We both agree, There is no need for name calling or any derogatory remarks about the ex in the presence of the children. The kids need to retain a positive image of both parents, and you are not encouraging that by putting down their other parent.
You can find all 12 Things a Stepmother Should Never Say at http://www.oprah.com/relationships/The-things-a-stepmother-should-never-say/13