The Rules for Being a Good Stepmom

Most fairy tales portray stepmothers as insecure evil geniuses who bump their stepkids from the picture in order to become the sole object of their husbands' desire. If your stepkids are treating you like a pimple-nosed witch with a poison apple up your sleeve, don't take it personally -- they probably saw it on TV. Be patient, kind, compassionate and respectful to show them that real life is better than fiction.

Give It Time

Give your stepkids as much time as they need to get used to the idea that you're a permanent fixture in their lives. No matter how they might like you as an individual, your presence makes it undeniable that their family as they knew it will never be the same. Be patient while your stepkids come to grips with their new reality.

Don't Contradict, Compete or Criticize

Knowing your place is one of the secrets to being a successful stepmom 1. Just like an understudy faithfully learns her lines but rarely has to use them, a stepmom's place is never in the spotlight. Your job is to support how your husband and his ex-wife choose to raise their children, and try not to contradict their decisions, criticize their methods or compete with them for power, attention or affection.

Be the Grown-Up

Don't become a martyr and let your stepkids get away with being rude or ignoring your rules just because they're having a hard time accepting your position. Standing your ground might strain your relationship in the beginning, but ultimately the kids will benefit from learning to be respectful and responsible in all circumstances.

Excuse Yourself

Initially your stepkids may resist the fact that you and their father are a package deal. Help ease the transition by leaving your husband and his children to spend time together without you. Show your stepkids they don't have to compete with you for their dad's attention, and help their father demonstrate that his love for them will never change just because he has someone new in his life.

Be Consistent

Being a stepmom won't always be rewarding 1. Sometimes your stepkids will appreciate your efforts and sometimes they won’t, but as a parental figure in their lives, you owe it to them (and their parents) to be consistent. Remain steady with your love, attention and affection, even when the kids blow you off or try your patience. Send the message that whenever they decide to come around, you'll be there.