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And yet, "people in stepfamilies are expected to act and behave like first families, which is like pounding a square peg into a round hole," she says."You have to earn admission into your family," explains Connie Brooks, a stepmom from Venice, CA.
"For years I felt invisible when my husband and stepdaughters reminisced over stories.
"It's all about communicating and understanding that blended families can have complicated dynamics." Here are nine of the most common stepparent missteps and expert advice on how to bounce back from them.
Mistake #1: You try to be the cool parent."Many times, stepparents just want to be liked," says Dr.
"You can act like a parent when your stepchildren are about to do something irrevocably stupid and you're the only one around to stop it.
It took all my willpower to keep smiling while my gut clenched.
Then, one day, my stepdaughter started telling a new story—and I was a part of it."Mistake #3: You let your stepkids be rude to you. Durvasula says children may resent an incoming stepparent and treat him or her disrespectfully.
"Giving in to a kid's every whim can erode the parent-child relationship," she says.
"When a student of mine wanted certain name-brand jeans, her stepmom got them, despite the high price.
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Being a stepparent just may be the hardest familial role to play—and no matter how hard you try, there's no guarantee of creating one big, happy Brady-Bunch-ish family.