4 Big Lies We Tell Stepmoms: How Ignoring Bad Advice Can Save Your Marriage—and Your Sanity! by Wednesday Martin, PhD
Excerpted with permission from “Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do.”
Books for stepmothers tend to perpetuate certain myths. The myth of the blended family and the myth of the maternal stepmother are the most glaring examples. These books’ relentlessly upbeat tone can make stepmothers feel as though our own occasional negativity and impatience regarding his kids are freakish. Other books on stepmothering are so lighthearted, so insistent that we see the humor in our situation and in our responses to it, that reading them feels suspiciously like being told that our concerns don’t matter and that we just need to lighten up.
But the real problem with many books for stepmothers is not what they imply, but what they actually say:
⊲ Remember that his kids will always come first.
⊲ Leave the disciplining to him.
⊲ You will regret it forever if you lose your temper or say something nasty to your stepchildren. So, whatever you do, don’t.
⊲ With patience and love, they will come around.
The fact that these directives have become a virtual mantra—the unassailable golden rules of stepmothering—does not mean that they are right. For example, a number of stepfamily experts concur that in a remarriage with children, giving the couple relationship priority is crucial. It may jar us to learn that our concept that “the kids are the most important thing” is misguided, even destructive to our partnerships. The ideas that you should be second and should accept it, that his kids came first chronologically and so are first in his heart, and that his believing and acting on these ideas makes him a good person are powerful, deeply ingrained beliefs. But all of them can be fatal for the remarriage with children. …To read the rest of this article, log in to your account and download the July 2017 issue. Don’t have an account? Click here to subscribe.