For the first year, let your husband handle disciplining his own children -- particularly if they are older than toddler-age. You need to ease your way into your role as an authority. Sit down with your husband and discuss the house rules. Provide your input and talk to him about the rules and consequences for the children. Don't try to make any drastic changes in his discipline choices during the first year, as you don't want to come off as the wicked stepmother. Let your husband continue to cook, clean and care for the children, instead of trying to completely take over right away. This will help assure the children that their lives aren't being turned upside down and that you aren't taking over.
You desperately want your stepchildren to love you, but you can't expect miracles overnight. Talk to the children on a daily basis about their lives, goals and dreams -- but don't try to force affection. The kids will have strong loyalties and ties to their biological mother, and you must respect these relationships. Never put the other parent down, and try to avoid any confrontations at all with your spouse in front of the children. Accept that the children may initially be resentful of you simply due to the circumstances, not because of anything you've done. Let your relationships with your stepchildren develop naturally over time.
Don't lump all the kids together as a group. This will develop a "me versus them" mentality, and you'll never be able to develop quality relationships. Instead, get to know each child as an individual. Try to spend one-on-one time with each kid every week. Learn about their interests, goals and dreams. Find some common hobbies, sports or activities that you can enjoy together in a low-pressure atmosphere.
Your first year as a stepmom can be a stressful one. You don't want your relationship with your new husband to fall by the wayside. Have a weekly date night with your husband. Date night will strengthen your relationship, provide opportunities to talk alone and keep the romance alive in your new marriage.
You'll likely need a place to vent. Therefore, it's important to find a support group with moms going through the same experience. Local in-person groups are the best, but you can also find a number of terrific support groups online. If you are really having a difficult time with your new role as a stepmom, don't be afraid to seek out professional help.
Want more? Check out a great read in the new SheKnows Book Lounge: Another Piece of my Heart by bestselling author Jane Green, a powerful novel that explores the complications of a woman marrying into a ready-made family, and the true meaning of motherhood. Head to our new SheKnows Book Lounge now.
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