People almost instinctively associate the word “stepmother” with the word “wicked”. The myth of the wicked stepmother is as old as Cinderella and as threatening as the tale of snow white. You may recall her stepmother tries to play out the fantasy by poisoning her husband’s daughter.
A stepmother once said, “It’s not only your stepchildren who try to convince themselves you ‘re a mean and wicked person, it’s their friends and their friends parents too. Another mother said to her: “So you are Julies new Stepmother!” The tone in her voice was like ice and you’d think I was standing over a batch of witch’s brew. I could understand a child’s immature way of thinking but not an adult’s.”
Literature has given stepfathers the same treatment. Can there have been a more wicked stepfather than the one who treated David Copperfield so badly? Most children grow up aware of these stories. They know what happened to the youngsters involved. Because of this, many children will distrust and even fear stepparents without giving them a chance to show their real love and concern.
It is nearly impossible to build a good relationship when fear poisons its foundation. Many of a child’s actions are nothing more than responses to their fears. The stepchild is likely to approach his or her new stepparents with the attitude, “I am gonna get you before you get me.” Of course this is a simple and natural defense mechanism by the child to protect itself against the “expected” treatment.
A loving stepchild-to-stepparent relationship takes a long time to develop. Some children never do learn that their stepparent is really very much like their natural parent. Many times the battle is over before they learn the truth. The marriage is destroyed and the stepparent is gone. He or she never had a real chance in that family.