This question is asked by many people in step relationships, and the questioners sometimes have their own agenda. It can be quite human to, well, not be so unhappy if your kids hate the woman who was responsible for the demise of your marriage. But is hating the step-mom healthy for the kids? The answer is a resounding NO.
Hate is a very strong emotion, and not one that you want your kids to walk around with. They will be spending time with their step-mom, and surely you don’t want them to hate this time. So, here are some ideas on how to deal with this.
First, it is really unlikely that their stepmother is a hateful person. This tells me that it isn’t the person they hate but the situation of being children of divorce and having to now share their father with someone else. With this in mind, I counsel moms to talk to their kids about the situation (divorce and remarriage) being the thing that they dislike — not a person. Help them to see this and you’ve taken a big step.
The absolute best way to foster a better relationship between your kids and their stepmother is to model it. While you don’t have to be friends, there are a lot of things you can do. Ask nicely about her after they have spent some time with her. Encourage them to see the good in her — not the bad. Suggest activities they can do with her. Let them see you interact well with her. This can be over the phone, at a “drop off”, a school event. By acting nicely to her, you are giving them permission to do the same.
If your kids do complain about her, listen to them. Everyone needs to be heard. You might say “You may not like her, but she is in your life, and it would be helpful if you could try to find some common ground.” Or, “You may not like her, but you do have to treat her with respect — just like I will treat your future husband or wife with respect.” This is another good time to emphasize that it might be the situation — not the person — that they dislike.
Sometimes mothers are afraid that their kids will like their step-mother too much. Your kids will always know who you are — their mother — and you will be the most important female relative in their lives!
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