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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Difficult Role of Stepmother

I've heard it said that stepmothers may have a more difficult time in their stepparenting role than stepfathers. Stepfamily authority Ron Deal lists several reasons this may be true in his outstanding book, The Smart Stepfamily:

1. Children oftentimes have more contact with their noncustodial mothers, creating a strong loyalty conflict between the stepmother and biological mother.
2. It is believed that children have a stronger attachment to their biological mother than their father.
3. Stepmothers feel more pressure to bond with their stepchildren because of the expectations of society.
4. Women carry most of the weight for childcare and nurturing of children, whether the children are biological children or stepchildren.

The lack of healthy role models and clear expectations for stepmothers can leave one feeling inadequate and misguided. In the early years of our marriage, I remember feeling totally unprepared and emotionally exhausted with my new role of stepmother. It seemed I was living on an island by myself with no one to turn to for answers or guidance.

So for the next couple of weeks I will be posting thoughts on what we can do as stepparents to feel more comfortable in our roles and adjust to the demands and expectations thrown our way. I hope the ideas presented will prove helpful for stepmothers and stepfathers alike.

Stay tuned!



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