5 Types of bio moms every stepmom has to deal with

Every stepmom has a bio mom she has to deal with whether she is alive and kicking or she is deceased. They still influence her family life. It’s therefore important for a stepmom to know who this biological mother is, her strengths and weaknesses and since not all biological moms are the same, this helps bring perspective to the relationships within the family as well as parenting aspects which is now shared. Here are 5 types of biological mothers that stepmothers may find themselves having to cope with and how they can rise above the challenges, each one of them presents.

The Open One
This is the kind of bio mom that every stepmother wishes she had to deal with. She is secure and confident in her role as the mother and knows despite the current family situation her children will always have a very special place in their heart and no one can change that. She has dealt with any pain and issues surrounding the divorce or separation between her and her ex who is now your husband, has accepted the situation and doesn’t try to live in the past. She understands that working with you is in the best interest of the kids. She prays that you are a good and positive influence on her children, that you will be able to get along and that they can grow to love you.
This is a one of a kind mom and her spirit helps everyone else find it easy to let you in. If you have one of these in your life you need to be grateful.

The ‘mke nyumbani’ super mom
This is the perfect mother. She cooks, she cleans, she sews and no I am not talking about buttons, she teaches Sunday school, she in the school PTA, bakes her own bread, heck! this woman can go head to head with Martha Stewart with a good chance of winning. Now if you are the kind of stepmom who can’t do any of these things to save your life she can intimidate the hell out of you. It’s only natural to feel the need to compete with this mom. Prove that you can be just as good if not better, even when she is deceased. Many women find themselves competing with ghosts of the former wife which is a battle lost before it even began.

Resist the urge to become like the super mom and let no one pressure you into becoming something that you are not. We all have things that we are good at and those that we are terrible at. Focus on what you can do well and incorporate these in your relationship with your new partner and step kids. Be you, and let people love you just as you are.

The Mighty Protector
All mothers have a natural maternal instinct to protect their children but this one has taken this a couple of notches higher. She feels the need to protect her children from her former spouse and from you the stepmom. Usually this is a reaction from the fear that you will interfere with her role as mom. Signs of an overly protective mother include change or total cancellation of visitation rights thus limiting the contact between you and her children. She may even sabotage your relationship with the children or even your partner by badmouthing you in front of the kids, your partner and even straight up in your face.

For this kind of mother, its important for the stepmom to communicate verbally and through her actions the “No Threat message” To learn how to do this skillfully read my past blog post Meet your Ex-in-Law:Part 2 dealing with the challenges

The Smother Mom
Her entire identity stems from being a mother and this in turn compels her to make herself the center of every single facet of their children’s lives. This mother has trouble cutting the apron strings and smother their children with parental affection and authority. She is controlling and needs to be needed by her children. She may appear to be involved and cooperative when it comes to shared parenting tasks but she is actually just passive aggressive. Not all children may agree to her style but at least one will. This is the kind of child who will not accept you openly because this screams betrayal to their mother so keep your eyes peeled for this one. Don’t take it personally if you notice this with your stepchildren, its not a rejection of you as a person.

The Stone cold mom
There is no winning with this one. She completely ignores you and lives like you do not exist. She will not communicate with you in any way neither will she be willing to work with you. The best way to deal with her is to distance yourself with respect. Should the children talk ab
out their mother or the other home, listen and do not criticize or condemn her even if you may not agree with her strategy or parenting style. Always remember that blood is thicker than water and accept that your spouse will be the communication link between your family and the other home.

Whether you are a stepmom or a bio mom remember that its not a competition and a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T goes a long way.

 

5 Step-family myths busted

A myth as defined in the Oxford dictionary refers to a widely held but false belief or idea. There are many myths around step-family life that strongly influence the way both adults and children adjust to their new family and how they interact with each other. These myths, if treated as the truth can be roadblocks in the journey to successful step relationships.

Myth #1 – Automatic and instant love between stepparent and child
This is the first most prevalent myth held by both step and biological parents. Just because you love your new partner doesn’t automatically mean you will love his or her children; or that the children will automatically love you no matter how awesome you are. Establishing relationships takes time; it’s not an overnight thing. Research has shown that the average step-family takes between 4 and 7 years for the various bonds with everyone in the family to form and develop into healthy functional relationships. Also recognize that you might be willing to have a relationship with someone who is not willing to reciprocate. That will obviously hurt, and when people hurt, they may become resentful and angry and end up hurting others. Be aware of this and exercise patience and the best way is to have the children take the lead. Go at their pace.

Myth #2- Stepmothers are wicked
This myth is based on hundreds of fairy stories which we have all heard or read as children. Cinderella, snow-white, Hansel and Gretel all had evil stepmothers in them. Not to mention all the inshas we wrote in school about ‘mama wa kambo’. All these stories paint a picture of stepmothers being evil and cruel to their stepchildren. This negative perception of the stepmother role impacts step-moms in particular in a very personal way making them extremely self-conscious about their role. It is for this reason that many are not proud of themselves despite the good work and wonderful families they raise.

Myth #3 – Adjustment to step-family life will be fast
Couples with children from previous relationships are often very optimistic and hopeful of the new family they are forming. They assume after they say ‘I Do’ life will go back to normal. This is a huge misconception that sets them up for failure.
Step-families are very complex families and time is required for people to get to know each other, to create good, healthy relationships, and to develop their own history. This can take years and varies from family to family depending on factors such as age of the children, who has permanent custody of the kids, unresolved hurt or loss among others.

Myth #4 – Step-families formed after a parent dies are easier
As with every loss, people need time to grieve. Remarriage may reactivate unfinished grieving. Another problem is that it’s difficult to think realistically about a person who has died. The existence in memory and not in reality means that they get elevated to sainthood. No one ever speaks ill of a dead person despite their flaws when they were alive. A step-parent might find out they are competing with the ghost of a former wife or husband to their spouse which is a battle that cannot be won. Be sure to allow everyone including your spouse time to grieve.

Myth #5 – It’s a family like any other
This is the myth that says you will be just like a biological family. The truth is step-families are completely different from original families. They have different dynamics and handling them like the traditional family can only lead to strain and stress in the various relationship leading to failure.

These myths have been there for a long time and are deeply ingrained in the society we live in. It is however possible to look beyond them and do what it takes to unite the families and not tear them apart. Getting information or coaching about the new family before the marriage can help step-parents with relationships, family dynamics and in turn avoid problems later on as well as build confidence in dealing with any challenges faced.

Mother’s Day for Step-moms. Husbands, You Carry The Day

While the whole world celebrates Mothers Day this year, millions of mothers receive calls, messages and gifts from their children wishing them a Happy mothers day. Thanking them for all the care and love they have received from them since they set foot into this world. At the same time, millions of stepmothers in the world wonder whether they will receive a call, a message or a gift to thank them for the care and love they have given even though they do not hold the title ‘mom’. Those whose stepchildren appreciate and embrace them and whose spouses have seen and appreciated their work are lucky to get some form of appreciation. Others are not so lucky.

If there is a day of the year that can trigger either happiness or sadness for a step-mom it’s Mothers Day. One of the reasons why this day has such extreme emotions is because many step-moms feel like they do all the work a parent does physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually without any appreciation. They may have changed the diapers, done the homework, given the advice, attended teacher parent meetings, school plays, prize giving days, baptism, they may have bailed out their children over and over again but they don’t get to enjoy the pleasures associated with being a mom. They do all the work but since they don’t have the title, its easily overlooked, forgotten and unappreciated so if you are wondering why your spouse is in a dull mood today, now you have a clue as to what could be going through her mind.

Many of the step-moms I have spoken to concerning this particular holiday have made it clear that Mothers Day is not about the gifts or the flowers but its about wanting to feel like what they do matters. That it counts for something and that its appreciated and not just on one day but everyday of the year.

Whereas you cannot force the children to do something special for your wife on Mother’s Day, as the spouse you can show your appreciation for what she does. The truth is, for many stepmoms, the only person who is there to celebrate them is their husband. The kids will most likely spend Mother’s Day with their bio mum and rightfully so. Therefore husbands, celebrating your spouse today and every other day of the year often falls on your shoulders.  She loved you and your children enough to choose and accept one of the most challenging and thankless jobs in the world. Acknowledge her work and thank her for it. Give her words of encouragement when no one else remembers how much effort it takes to be a step-parent.

To all mothers, stepmothers, adoptive mothers and all women who give care to children in any capacity.  Living In Step Africa acknowledges, honors and appreciates you today and wishes you a Happy Mothers Day!