I greeted my fiancé's ex-wife at the door with a smile and good intentions of blessing her and her children. She also greeted me with a smile, but then with a tearful retreat.
I'd been in her shoes a couple years prior, meeting a stranger who would spend family time with my children—and I had no right to veto my ex-husband's choice. It can be a frightening moment for any mother.
Seeing the tears in her eyes tore at my heart. I didn't want to compete with her role; she was their mother, and I wished she could trust that I would never intentionally harm her children. With God's help, I knew I needed to be gentle with everyone concerned, no matter what. Looking back, over the past 14 years of being a stepmother, here are 5 tips I've learned to ease the journey of becoming a blended family.
1. Dump shame
At first I was ashamed of my title as a stepmother. I worried I wasn't good enough. I re-punished myself for my failed first marriage repeatedly. I didn't understand how God could give me another chance at marriage and double the number of children I would help raise.
I didn't suspect how painful being a stepmother could be. I didn't imagine feeling jealous of the strong influence my stepchildren's mother had on her kids in my home. I sometimes felt powerless. I assumed I wouldn't act self-righteously, and yet I was absolutely convinced I knew what was best for my stepchildren, who I'd grown to love. I didn't foresee the many potholes on the stepfamily journey.1