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Step mothers: The necessary good or the inevitable evil?

Since the days of Cinderella, step mothers have had a bad reputation. Some weeks back, there was also a report on how an aunt brutalised…

Since the days of Cinderella, step mothers have had a bad reputation. Some weeks back, there was also a report on how an aunt brutalised and maltreated a girl that was brought to help her out with house chores.

Debates on what people feel about step mothers throw up a lot of questions and allegations of how wicked and inhumane some step mothers could be. Some were of the opinion that step mothers are born to be wicked while others felt that it was a reciprocal thing in the sense that if she was shown love she will equally reciprocate love naturally.

Being a step mother comes with its rewards and punishment and definitely has its ups and downs. Many say step mothering is a thankless task because no matter what you try to do it just would not please the kids or even your spouse and not to talk of the other woman (the real mother of the kids). Step mothering can be a stressful, hard and difficult role. While some are fortunate to have a close bonding relationship with the kids and their mother many struggle with the role of trying to fit in. But in reality, with little care and patience, step mothers can play a very positive role in the family and especially in the lives of their step kids.

Notwithstanding the unpleasant circumstances that step mothering could bring our way, it does not stop us from being our humane self. To successfully live a life of fulfilment we should always try and see these kids as ours even if we are not their biological parents.

Step mothering for some is a step away from being the real parent, but it is not true if you are patient with whatever circumstance you find yourself in this task. Step mothering seems to be a difficult task because those who find themselves in it are always taking the wrong steps and direction in trying to register their presence in the lives of those that they met in the family they are step parenting. “I think the biggest mistake most step mothers make is trying to make the step family just like the nuclear family and taking sides with their spouse ( the father of the kids) if there is a misunderstanding between the kids and their fathers”, says Dr. Peter Marshall.

Slow and steady they say wins the race, so it is with being a step mother. It is only sensible and appropriate to take it slow in trying to fit into the lives of the kids and co-wife so that there is no unnecessary resentment. Gradually getting involved in their lives will pay off positively.   Trying to impose the traditional step parenting method by imposing new laws for the kids in the home will only backfire, no matter the good intentions. There is the need to study the kids and create a comfortable and peaceful relationship with them first. Another area where there seems to be too much friction is the area of discipline. A psychologist, Dr. Elterman feels one of the greatest mistakes a step mother makes is taking the role of a disciplinarian and says her one piece of advice is for step mothers to follow the lead of the biological parent. “You could support, nurture and be a friend to the kids but leave the discipline aspect to the biological parent of the children”.

Being a step mother is not an easy task but with a lot of patience and endurance you are sure to cross the bridge. The most important thing is that you do not overstep your boundaries and do not try to replace their mother because it would send signals that you are the reason why their mother left in the first place or is having problems with their father. You could be a very close confidant and friend to them.  “My step mother is one person I would never forget in life; she always endured with patience even when we pushed her against her beyond limit and tried to make life unbearable for her, she never reciprocated negatively.  She always showed us love and made sure we had the best and for her strong will and endurance we are what we are today. I always regret the pain we made her go through and keep asking for her forgiveness and blessing”, says Maria of her step mother.

Being a step mother definitely comes with its various challenges because you will be threading on a very thin line as you are caught up between the kids, their mother and your spouse. Be prepared for its ups and downs, however if you are willing, determined and patient you will see light at the end of the tunnel. And in the end, you will discover that the pains are worth the effort after all.  So become a loving step mother like Maria’s.

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