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Don’t overdo it

Stepchildren should be assets, rather than liabilities, in your life. To have good relationships with them, you need to spend quality time with them and interact in meaningful, pleasurable ways. It is easier to develop caring, loving, and friendly relationships with your stepchildren without the burden of parental responsibilities. You aren’t shirking stepmother duties if you don’t cook, clean, and discipline your stepchildren. Those are your partner’s jobs, even if you are staying home to care for your own biological children.

If you ever babysat you have experienced the difference in roles. As a babysitter, your assistance is limited and defined – you care for children for a specified period of time by playing with them, feeding them, and watching them. Your help is appreciated by their parents, but you aren’t expected to be available all the time to care for all their needs. Your role as a stepmother could be comparable, and you could also liken it to that of a roommate, aunt, grandmother, or friend.

Set Clear Boundaries

To maintain your emotional well-being, it’s important to establish clear boundaries that protect your privacy and personal space. Often, stepmothers tolerate transgressions because we don’t believe we have a choice if we want to stay with our partners. Boundaries are important in all areas of life—at work, in friendships—but they are especially important in stepfamilies, since there are so many members involved, each with a different set of potential issues. It’s crucial that you develop and maintain healthy boundaries, along with respectful and compassionate ways to enforce them.