It is possible to love your stepchildren. Here are tips

Rita Namale’s marriage bed rocked when her husband told her about an extra marital affair that had resulted in a baby boy. For one that had never had male children, it was a huge insult. Namale’s husband insisted that the boy was coming to stay with him because he did not want his only son growing up away from his siblings.

While it was a bitter pill, Namale swallowed it. However, she resented having to care for this child. As you would have it, she got so frustrated that one day when the boy had soiled himself, after cleaning him, she beat him up as a punishment. Days later, little Timothy looked unwell and on checking him thoroughly, it was discovered that the boy was rotting as a result of the caning. It was the children that revealed that mother had beaten the baby a week back.

Mary Akol, a counsellor, begs stepparents to desist from blaming that stepchild for their marital problems; they are just a product of something they did not start.

“Find a better way to sort your problems rather than turning your anger on these children,” she says. Besides, when the child leaves, what will be left for you after you have destroyed your marriage?

In cases where these children already exist, Akol urges couples to be open about them during dating. “Talk about it because it is between the two of you,” she advises, “and there is need for one to prepare themselves spiritually and psychologically.” Prior knowledge helps in the process of acceptance, making it easier for one to love those children.

“Mothers, avoid imposing yourself on this child as their mother, more so for those that know that you are not their biological mum,” Akol cautions, “Do not try to take up their mother’s place. Just be a great step mum and love them.”

During teenage years, children tend to go on a rampage. For that stepmother that does not have children yet, you need not report them to their father in their presence. “They will look at you as someone who hates them and you will not succeed at convincing them otherwise. You are better off telling the father in their absence.”

It also helps to do things openly. For example, do not reprimand your stepchildren only to look on when your own do the same mistake. Even rewarding must be done for all. If you become secretive, it will come out and there will be resentment. Such will not be easily erased, even in their adulthood.

While it is important to be good to them, you cannot give what you do not have. That calls for self-analysis so you work on yourself in case you have some flaws. Thereafter, it will be easier to parent.

Akol also advises women not to get into such a marriage expecting good things only. “There will be good and bad times. Take it all in good stride and just do your role.”

Additionally, before you get married, off-load or deal with your past otherwise it will always affect the marriage no matter how hard you try. “You are writing a new story, not re-writing one. It is such issues that pre-marital counselling should help to address,” she shares.

Bottom line, Akol urges parents to work together to enforce discipline, shut out negative voices and raise morally upright children.