I have been blessed with having more than one mother in my life. And I have been blessed to have two stepmoms, so I have had to learn about how to deal with them to keep the peace and maintain a healthy relationship with my father. Specifically, my father’s current wife is high maintenance, so I think I’ve learned a thing or two about how to get along with your stepmom:
- Su casa ¡no es mi casa! Ever heard the famous saying: Mi casa es su casa? Well, don’t take this literally. When you are an adult and you go to visit your dad and your stepmom, that is your dad’s and your stepmother’s house, not yours!
- Respect her beliefs. If she has santos and vírgenes all over the house and you happen to not share her beliefs, do not say anything negative. Again, refer to the above!
- Treat her with respect. Apply the golden rule. Always be the bigger person. Instead of being confrontational, be assertive. If there is anything you do not agree with, express it but be cordial.
- Be inclusive. Although my father has been married to his current wife for 16 years, I still have to ask her personally and invite her directly to join us in activities. If I don’t, she does not feel invited and resents it, so I always act like the bigger person and tell her: I would really love for you to go with us or Maria, I want us all to go to the beach today. She always accepts the invitation.
- Plan something together, just the two of you. Just as you may feel that your stepmother is stealing your father, she may harbor similar feelings. So invite her on your next trip to the supermarket, offer to go with her to the pharmacy, or ask her out for coffee so you can bond.
- Do something for her. If you know she likes sofrito and you happen to find the brand she likes in the store, purchase a jar for her, or bring her the coffee brand that she likes.
- Teach your kids to respect her. If you have children, teach your kids to respect your stepmom. Moreover, don’t trash her in front of your kids.
- Leave conversations about how awesome your mother is for another time. For instance, do not go on about how good (or better than her) your mom cooks during a visit with your stepmom.
- Don’t act like la princesita de papá. Offer to cook, help with the cleanup, set the table when you go visit. She will appreciate the effort.
- Be yourself, but be a self that you all can handle. Pick your battles. I am not an advocate for being who you are not; I am all for authenticity. However, every place and situation has a code of conduct. Follow the one that better suits all of you while you are with your stepmom.
Relationships with a stepmom can be complex, especially if she does not have the emotional intelligence or maturity to handle her end of the bargain. Keep the communication channels open with your father and do not put him in the middle. Do everything possible para llevar la fiesta en paz so everybody can win.