1) You head to the grocery store with your brand new stepchild and your two children from a previous marriage. All three children beg for candy. You say no, but they beg and plead so you:
a. Buy both your children a piece, but you’re under no obligation to pay for your stepchild. After all, she isn’t your kid.
b. Buy a piece for all the children, but your two get a king size, and your stepchild only gets a regular.
c. Buy one pack of candy and make them all share. After all, you did say no once already.
2) You are faced with your first big fight with your stepchild, and they scream that you aren’t their real mom, so they don’t have to listen to you. You reply:
a. Your real mom didn’t love you anyway!
b. Well, she’s not here, and I am. You will listen to me!
c. You’re right, I’m not your “real mom.” But I’m still an adult who deserves your respect. (Later you’ll have a conversation about “real” moms, when your stepchild isn’t so clearly upset.)
3) You find your new stepdaughter crying over a picture of her mother. When you try to comfort her, she accuses you of trying to take her place. You:
a. Tell her she’s better off without her, take the picture, and send her off to do chores.
b. Tell her that since her mother is gone, she needs a new one.
c. Explain that, while you’ll never take her mother’s place, you’d like to make a place of your own in her life.
4) You hear a crash and come running into the room to find a broken lamp on the floor near your son and stepson. Your son blames his stepbrother, who remains quiet. You:
a. Punish your stepson. Clearly your son would never lie to avoid punishment.
b. Scream and punish both. It was your favorite lamp.
c. Take each boy aside and try to get a better idea of what happened. When neither answer gives a very clear picture, neither get dessert after supper, in a warning to be more careful inside the house.
5) Your new stepchild’s biological mother just called, cursing, to rearrange the schedule yet again. Now the plans you had for the weekend are completely shot. You:
a. Pull out your cauldron and spell book; another poison apple will come in real handy.
b. Scream and curse, ranting about your stepchild’s biological mom, telling him/her how awful she is.
c. Curse in the privacy of your room before rearranging your plans. You can’t change another person’s actions.
Whoa, slow down there! Keep this up and all the trick-or-treaters will know to avoid your candy apples, your Majesty. Here we thought only Snow White had such a wicked stepmother!
Careful. While you might not be at Lady Tremaine level yet, if you’re not careful, soon your stepchild will think she’s Cinderella. Make sure you don’t treat your stepchild any different from your own, and understand that this is all new to him/her as well. Most likely, your stepchild isn’t ready for a new parent in his/her life, and might even think you’re trying to take over. Be patient, but firm, and let him/her know that you are here to stay, without making him/her feel like you are trying to take him/her mother’s place.
Looks like you’re on the right track. You understand that this transition takes time and understanding, and while you may falter now and again, you want to make this new path easy for everyone concerned, especially this child that has now been placed in your care. Keep going and I doubt you’ll hear the word “step” in front of your name for long.