Sometimes dads remarry because their wives die while the kids are young. We learned of three such situations recently, and none of the new stepmoms had prior experience being moms.
The first new mom was the victim of a cheating husband in her previous marriage. She views the kids’ first mom as a competitor vying for the family’s affections, so she discourages all talk of her. There’s an underlying tension in that family, and everyone is hurting.
The second new mom loves her stepchildren dearly, but the family doesn’t have much joy. Why? She doesn’t want to intrude on what the kids had with their first mom, so she avoids all talk of her. Consequently, her new daughter, a sad and withdrawn freshman, has no one to help her process her first mom’s death.
The third mom joined a family that was still heartbroken three years after the first mom’s death. Yet, once she joined the family, joy returned. And love. How did that happen? Kim decided to view the first mom as her friend. She encouraged conversation about the first mom, and all the old family pictures still hang beside the new ones that include her. On their first Mother’s Day together she gave each child a photo album of that child with the first mom, and every album ended with a letter affirming Kim’s love for them.
The main thing we hear from these students is this: Don’t be threatened by the love stepchildren have for their first mom. Encouraging such love won’t diminish their love for their new mom. Instead, their appreciation and love will likely grow.