This is an ongoing series on stepparenting. To read the previous entry click here.
Lady Tremaine suddenly finds herself misunderstood and the magnifying glass is on her. Why is there no peace in her home? Why is she always disapproving? Why can’t we all just get along? Why does she take the blame for everything?
The children on both sides of the coin are vying for control. One child told his stepmother, “Every time I hum a song using da, like ‘da da da dadum dum’ it really means I’m praying for my dad to ‘da-vorce’ you.” So each time they got in the car to go somewhere as a family, the child would sit behind her in the car and as the music would play on the car stereo, the child would kick her seat and hum along using the “da”. By the time they reached their destination she would be furious and the child would be in control and loving it. Her husband simply didn’t believe her because the child was only 8 years old, at the time, and it seemed too manipulative a move for a child this age.
Stepmothers need to take an honest assessment of the situation they are in. If the home is becoming hostile and she is getting resentful and feeling like an outsider, she must back off and take a hands off approach to the children. She can’t step into a stepmother role, rather she must be seen as a mentor. This is not easy because our idea of a family is a mother and father. Only we have to remember that these children have a mother and father, for the most part, and they haven’t asked for another.
If a battle is ensuing in your home you must step back. The house will become unbalanced. There is no way around this. It means the things you need to have done will more than likely not get done. If your rule is to bring your own dirty clothes down to the laundry room on Wednesday for wash day, you can bet that the children will forget or ignore. It’s not personal. It doesn’t add to your chores either. You will simply have less clothes to wash that day. On Friday when everyone is looking to you to provide the clean School Spirit Shirt, you’ll simply say, “I washed all the clothes that were brought to me on Wednesday”. If dishes weren’t done the night before, well then tonight you won’t be able to cook dinner. Don’t worry, cereal for dinner has never killed a family. The key here is to give the person with the responsibility the ultimate authority while saving your sanity.
One stepmother would get up each morning to get her stepchildren off to school. Because they had ignored bedtimes the night before, there was always a battle. She’d think to herself how she was ignored the night before and now she was paying for something she hadn’t done. By the time she dropped them off at the bus stop, she was angry, kids were angry, and everyone was miserable. One harried morning she was rushing kids to get up and get moving while getting herself ready for work. Then, one of the kids threw up. Not having the time to figure it out and get the other one to the bus stop, she told the sick child to go back and lie down and she would be right back. She loaded up the other child and ran them to the bus stop. When she came home the sick child wasn’t home. She was frantic and called her husband. They both went looking for the child and when they found him wandering the streets, he began to cry to his father saying that he had thrown up and his evil stepmother had grounded him for life and told him to go to his room and never come out. The father was enraged and asked how she could be so heartless? It had never happened but it didn’t matter, she must have had a tone or a look or something. She had a choice, fight, flight, or take a step back. Guess what? This stepmother took a step back. She removed herself from the responsibility of getting children ready for school. Do you want to know the result? The children’s father was frustrated in no time, yelling, rushing out the door and the bedtime rules which seemed harsh before, became law. When her husband would come to complain about how hard it was, she would pat him on the arm and say, “I’m sorry you are going through this. Parenting is hard work.”