Ever since Snow White and Cinderella, step mothers have gotten a bad rap from step kids, and most especially from their step daughters. After their parents divorce and dad enters into a new marriage with a stranger, many kids quickly associate their new step mother with the fairy tale version. This is easy to do, especially if they feel conflicted about the entire blended family situation. How easy is it for a step mother to stumble into the role of wicked step mother?

Rough beginnings for step mothers

It is rare for a child to accept and like his or her step parent from the beginning. Going through a divorce with their parents can leave many children feeling like victimsin an adult world which ignores their wants and needs, and sometimes treats them like contested property. Who better to blame for unhappiness or their feelings of instability than the new step mother?

Are you a wicked step mother?

  • You demand that your husband choose you over his kids. They have to learn they no longer are his first priority and are not running the show anymore.
  • You take no interest in the lives or interests of your step kids. They are not your problem, and have nothing to do with you. Birthdays? You are not their mother.
  • When the step kids come to your house, you let them know they are only there as visitors, unlike your own children who live with you full time.
  • You are too busy to attend games, plays, or award ceremonies your step kids are involved in. Their own mother should take care of that.
  • You do not bother to provide a permanent place in your home for your step kids to sleep. They are only visiting, and they know how to make up the couch by themselves.
  • You ask your step kids prying questions about their mother so you can point out how much better you are in comparison. You say negative things about their mother.
  • You use phrases like, “When you are in my house…”
  • You expect your step kids to be grateful for all that you do for them.

Remember, perception is reality for children. If your step kids believe you are treating them with less fairness or with more criticism than you do your own children, then whether they are right or wrong, that perception is their reality.

Do the best you can

When all is said and done, doing the best we can is really all we can promise. You can do your best to counter-act the wicked step mother label. When your step kids come to visit, be sure to welcome them in. Tell them you are glad they came and you know how happy their coming makes their dad. Prepare a favorite meal, and make time for the step kids to spend alone with their dad, in addition to time with the entire blended family. Stay informed about their lives, including grades, extra-curricular activities, music or dance lessons, and other personal interests you step kids may have. As a step parent, you are in a position to make the blended family experience happy and loving, one that adds value to their lives. Often, later in life, step kids finally look back at their step parents with love and gratitude. For many step mothers, the wait is worth it. For more information, visit The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.