Is that how your mother raised you?

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“My Biggest Mistakes as a Stepmom” series.

I’m spilling the beans here on some of the biggest mistakes I’ve done as a stepmom and that I see other stepmoms (and stepdads) do. It’s only in becoming aware of the problem and the consequences of those actions that we can actually change to more positive behaviors. I’m looking forward to hearing your personal experiences and comments below.

When I first began to integrate myself into my stepdaughters’ lives, I had to learn to walk the line between having a disciplinarian role and having a good relationship with Hubby’s children. It’s difficult to carve out a place for yourself in an already-established family, where two biological parents already exist.
Learning to be a stepmom, I made a few mistakes along the way. One of these that I recognized in my parenting was reacting to my stepdaughters’ bad behavior or actions by asking, “Is that how your mother raised you?” There are a few reasons why this is an ineffective and unhelpful thing to say to your stepkids:

  • It’s a backdoor approach to bad-mouthing the other parent. Effective stepparenting or co-parenting begins with eliminating negativity and criticism of the other parent. It makes you look bad, as a role model and mentor to the stepchildren, and it doesn’t teach them good habits about how to treat other people. Remember, this is your stepchildren’s mother you’re talking about; you are implying that she doesn’t do a good job raising them. I know I wouldn’t want anyone to imply that about me to my son or anyone else.
  • It isn’t something you would say to your own child. Though I have told my son that I didn’t raise him to be disrespectful or mean, I would never say anything to him with the derogatory or critical tone of something like, “Is that the way your mother raised you?” The way you say something has just as much of an impact as what you say. Even though I was never trying to be malicious or spiteful on purpose, a phrase like this comes across as an insult and will be taken as an attack. You have to be careful with the tone you use—just think about it from their point of view, if you’re not sure whether it sounds negative or is possibly offensive.
  • It doesn’t address the real issue, which is that you want your stepchild’s behavior to change. When I’m frustrated or angry, I’m not thinking clearly and cannot properly address the behavior, attitude, or problem that I want to change in my stepdaughters. Questioning the parenting of the girls’ mother will not help to change the undesirable behavior or attitude though. Always talk about the behavior you want to change. Attacking the other person won’t get you what you want. Communicate what you find inappropriate or disrespectful, why you need it to change, and how they can change it.

You are in a difficult role as a stepmother. There are no official guidelines or rulebooks. You’re going to make mistakes, just as I have. While it is human nature to mess up, the key to mistakes is not letting them consume you. Instead, you should address the mistakes, genuinely apologize and try to effectively communicate the real issue to the children, then focus on how improve for the future. As a result, you will strengthen your relationship with your stepchildren and live a happier, more peaceful life at home.

  • Amanda HelmiBM says:

    I am about to become a stepmom to a 12 year old boy. I had a great role model in my own stepmom, so I hope I can be as balanced and respectful as she is. You’re right about negativity affecting children. I hope I never say something or critisize my stepson for something I wouldn’t do to my own son.

    • Amanda, I am confident you will do a great job. Having a good and positive role model helps so much. Know that if and when you do lose it, don’t be too hard on yourself and acknowledge this is a learning process. As long as you are willing to take responsibility for your part in what happen and apologize if appropriate, then you’ll do great.
      There is plenty of free resource on my website for you to look through. I encourage you to look around and get as much knowledge and resources you can. And remember, I’d be happy to talk with you if you are looking for additional support.
      Congrats on becoming a new stepmom.

  • Hi Claudette,

    What a great message for parents and stepparents. We’re all going to make mistakes. Criticising the other parent will get you in the dog house faster than anything else. They golden key to all this is if you do make this mistake, take ownership and a heartfelt apology to the child.

    With my own girls, I used to say, “I raised you better than that,” when they were being obtuse and with Junior, I used to say, “I know your mother raised you better than that so stop it.” (his mom did an awesome job raising all four of her kids).

    Your a blessing to our stepmom community and I’m so glad we’re friends!!

    xo
    Peggy

    ***
    Peggy Nolan
    http://thestepmomstoolbox.com

    • Thanks Peggy for sharing. You’re an amazing mom too and I’m sure all the kids are happy to have you in their lives (if not already, soon for sure).
      As cosmic twins, I love being your friend too.

      OX

  • ps…. my stepsons mother died when they were in their late teens from cancer so I really tred lightly because of that fact. My husband divorced her before she died.

  • You’re so right about the mistakes we women (and I’m 53 now waiting for grandchildren!) make as stepmoms. I will have to do a blog entry about this and come back and let you know about it. My stepsons are in their late 30’s and early 40’s now and I feel so out of touch with them rather when they were younger things were really working out well. They live in Texas and we live in Calif. (where they grew up) and so I have to get my husband to call his one son on Monday nights (day off work) and the other son is clearly pushing us away right now as the cycle in that family of alcohol abuse continues. It’s hard being so far apart from them physically.

    • Carolyn, my heart goes out to you. It’s never easy being in a stepfamily, at any stage of the relationship. We try hard to do what is best for our kids and they sometimes don’t see it the same way we do. As much as I had issues with my stepdaughters when they were teens, we have a great relationship today. My son struggles more as a man and dad as to what family means for him but I’m confident that he will find what he’s looking for.
      Relationships are never easy but I believe that by never giving up hope and being clear on what you want, you can achieve anything.
      Looking forward to reading your posts.

  • Kim, you are right and I think that as women, we may have more of a tendency to take care of others and put ourselves last.
    And you are so right that being human means making mistakes, as long as we can learn from them too.

  • Being a stepparent definitely has a unique set of challenges! So many people’s feelings to consider, and usually I tend to put everyone else’s feelings and needs before my own. Thanks for the reminder that we all make mistakes and that it’s part of human nature!

  • You’re right Janeane. No matter what kind of parenting is involved, it’s hard. Kids are so much more aware of their environment and are quick to let us know when we’re “messing” up. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • I do not envy people in the role of stepparent. It is hard enough being in the role of parent. As a stepparent there are so many balls in the air to balance at once.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Tags

    bad-mouthing, being a parent, biggest mistakes, discipline role as a stepparent, negative criticism, relationship with my stepchildren, stepchildren, stepmoms, stepparenting

    About the Author

    CLAUDETTE CHENEVERT, aka The Stepmom Coach, works with women as they struggle to create a cohesive family life. As a speaker, author and stepfamily professional, Claudette mentors and guides stepmothers through the process of establishing a harmonious and thriving home life for their families. Her newest title, “The Stepmom’s Book of Boundaries,” is now available on Amazon.com and elsewhere. Learn about her coaching practice and self-study program for stepmoms at StepmomCoach.com.

    StepmomCoach

    The original content you just enjoyed is copyright protected by The Stepmom Coach—aka Claudette Chenevert—who proudly offers information, tips, products and other resources for building better relationships “one STEP at a time” via 1:1 coaching, self-guided coursework and more. Suitability is to be determined by individual users based on their own concerns and circumstances, as The Stepmom Coach does not endorse and is not liable for opinions expressed by third parties (i.e., advertisers, affiliates, audience members, clients).


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  • Amanda HelmiBM says:

    I am about to become a stepmom to a 12 year old boy. I had a great role model in my own stepmom, so I hope I can be as balanced and respectful as she is. You’re right about negativity affecting children. I hope I never say something or critisize my stepson for something I wouldn’t do to my own son.

    • Amanda, I am confident you will do a great job. Having a good and positive role model helps so much. Know that if and when you do lose it, don’t be too hard on yourself and acknowledge this is a learning process. As long as you are willing to take responsibility for your part in what happen and apologize if appropriate, then you’ll do great.
      There is plenty of free resource on my website for you to look through. I encourage you to look around and get as much knowledge and resources you can. And remember, I’d be happy to talk with you if you are looking for additional support.
      Congrats on becoming a new stepmom.

  • Hi Claudette,

    What a great message for parents and stepparents. We’re all going to make mistakes. Criticising the other parent will get you in the dog house faster than anything else. They golden key to all this is if you do make this mistake, take ownership and a heartfelt apology to the child.

    With my own girls, I used to say, “I raised you better than that,” when they were being obtuse and with Junior, I used to say, “I know your mother raised you better than that so stop it.” (his mom did an awesome job raising all four of her kids).

    Your a blessing to our stepmom community and I’m so glad we’re friends!!

    xo
    Peggy

    ***
    Peggy Nolan
    http://thestepmomstoolbox.com

    • Thanks Peggy for sharing. You’re an amazing mom too and I’m sure all the kids are happy to have you in their lives (if not already, soon for sure).
      As cosmic twins, I love being your friend too.

      OX

  • ps…. my stepsons mother died when they were in their late teens from cancer so I really tred lightly because of that fact. My husband divorced her before she died.

  • You’re so right about the mistakes we women (and I’m 53 now waiting for grandchildren!) make as stepmoms. I will have to do a blog entry about this and come back and let you know about it. My stepsons are in their late 30’s and early 40’s now and I feel so out of touch with them rather when they were younger things were really working out well. They live in Texas and we live in Calif. (where they grew up) and so I have to get my husband to call his one son on Monday nights (day off work) and the other son is clearly pushing us away right now as the cycle in that family of alcohol abuse continues. It’s hard being so far apart from them physically.

    • Carolyn, my heart goes out to you. It’s never easy being in a stepfamily, at any stage of the relationship. We try hard to do what is best for our kids and they sometimes don’t see it the same way we do. As much as I had issues with my stepdaughters when they were teens, we have a great relationship today. My son struggles more as a man and dad as to what family means for him but I’m confident that he will find what he’s looking for.
      Relationships are never easy but I believe that by never giving up hope and being clear on what you want, you can achieve anything.
      Looking forward to reading your posts.

  • Kim, you are right and I think that as women, we may have more of a tendency to take care of others and put ourselves last.
    And you are so right that being human means making mistakes, as long as we can learn from them too.

  • Being a stepparent definitely has a unique set of challenges! So many people’s feelings to consider, and usually I tend to put everyone else’s feelings and needs before my own. Thanks for the reminder that we all make mistakes and that it’s part of human nature!

  • You’re right Janeane. No matter what kind of parenting is involved, it’s hard. Kids are so much more aware of their environment and are quick to let us know when we’re “messing” up. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • I do not envy people in the role of stepparent. It is hard enough being in the role of parent. As a stepparent there are so many balls in the air to balance at once.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
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  • Amanda HelmiBM says:

    I am about to become a stepmom to a 12 year old boy. I had a great role model in my own stepmom, so I hope I can be as balanced and respectful as she is. You’re right about negativity affecting children. I hope I never say something or critisize my stepson for something I wouldn’t do to my own son.

    • Amanda, I am confident you will do a great job. Having a good and positive role model helps so much. Know that if and when you do lose it, don’t be too hard on yourself and acknowledge this is a learning process. As long as you are willing to take responsibility for your part in what happen and apologize if appropriate, then you’ll do great.
      There is plenty of free resource on my website for you to look through. I encourage you to look around and get as much knowledge and resources you can. And remember, I’d be happy to talk with you if you are looking for additional support.
      Congrats on becoming a new stepmom.

  • Hi Claudette,

    What a great message for parents and stepparents. We’re all going to make mistakes. Criticising the other parent will get you in the dog house faster than anything else. They golden key to all this is if you do make this mistake, take ownership and a heartfelt apology to the child.

    With my own girls, I used to say, “I raised you better than that,” when they were being obtuse and with Junior, I used to say, “I know your mother raised you better than that so stop it.” (his mom did an awesome job raising all four of her kids).

    Your a blessing to our stepmom community and I’m so glad we’re friends!!

    xo
    Peggy

    ***
    Peggy Nolan
    http://thestepmomstoolbox.com

    • Thanks Peggy for sharing. You’re an amazing mom too and I’m sure all the kids are happy to have you in their lives (if not already, soon for sure).
      As cosmic twins, I love being your friend too.

      OX

  • ps…. my stepsons mother died when they were in their late teens from cancer so I really tred lightly because of that fact. My husband divorced her before she died.

  • You’re so right about the mistakes we women (and I’m 53 now waiting for grandchildren!) make as stepmoms. I will have to do a blog entry about this and come back and let you know about it. My stepsons are in their late 30’s and early 40’s now and I feel so out of touch with them rather when they were younger things were really working out well. They live in Texas and we live in Calif. (where they grew up) and so I have to get my husband to call his one son on Monday nights (day off work) and the other son is clearly pushing us away right now as the cycle in that family of alcohol abuse continues. It’s hard being so far apart from them physically.

    • Carolyn, my heart goes out to you. It’s never easy being in a stepfamily, at any stage of the relationship. We try hard to do what is best for our kids and they sometimes don’t see it the same way we do. As much as I had issues with my stepdaughters when they were teens, we have a great relationship today. My son struggles more as a man and dad as to what family means for him but I’m confident that he will find what he’s looking for.
      Relationships are never easy but I believe that by never giving up hope and being clear on what you want, you can achieve anything.
      Looking forward to reading your posts.

  • Kim, you are right and I think that as women, we may have more of a tendency to take care of others and put ourselves last.
    And you are so right that being human means making mistakes, as long as we can learn from them too.

  • Being a stepparent definitely has a unique set of challenges! So many people’s feelings to consider, and usually I tend to put everyone else’s feelings and needs before my own. Thanks for the reminder that we all make mistakes and that it’s part of human nature!

  • You’re right Janeane. No matter what kind of parenting is involved, it’s hard. Kids are so much more aware of their environment and are quick to let us know when we’re “messing” up. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • I do not envy people in the role of stepparent. It is hard enough being in the role of parent. As a stepparent there are so many balls in the air to balance at once.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

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