The Circle of Moms site will be discontinued on March 1st, 2020. Head to POPSUGAR Family's Facebook page for more community discussions.

Let's Go >>

Pride and Parentage

A sometimes hysterical look at stepparenting neurotypical kids from the perspective of a stepmom on the spectrum.

Karen is a winner of Top 25 Moms with Blended Families - 2012

What aspect of being in a blended family has surprised you?

Even when you're doing everything right, someone will tell you you're wrong. That person will likely be a child.

What's a good tip for preventing sibling rivalry?

Hug outs! When the dudes are mean to one another, they have to give one another three big hugs. If they are EXTRA mean, they have to finish the sentence, "I love you because..." and give three good reasons.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to moms who are about to become part of a blended family?

Read Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin. Changed my life.

How do you handle difficult step-children?

Karen Kachelmeyer

I've been a bonus mom for nearly five years, and I have learned a TON from my stepdudes. I didn't have children when I met my dudes, so I was jumping in the deep end of the pool, and girlfriend can't swim! Number one is to give more praise than punishment. I always remember to say "thank you" to them when they behave, and not just when they behave, but when they do things they aren't asked or just are generally fabulous to one another all day. I dole out a lot of "I love yous," though I don't get them back very often (and I've never heard it from my oldest, which is fine). I say it because I DO love them, very much. I also like to make sure that if a time out or a grounding does happen, that it doesn't ruin the whole day. I use the Supernanny approach to time out, so there are hugs afterwards and an explanation of, "OK, we aren't mad anymore, so the day is starting over and it's going to be GREAT!" I felt that I used to harbor resentment all day that one of them ruined an activity 6 hours ago and would constantly remind them all day that their earlier behavior was why we weren't having any fun. I had to realize that I was messing it up even more. They are little dudes, and they don't harbor resentment like that NOW, but they will when they get older if I keep teaching them how! One of the biggest things that I had to learn was that I am much more of an influence on them that I (or their biological parents) thought I would be. Just because I'm not their mother doesn't mean they don't look up to me. I used to act like another child in this house, and they mirrored my bad behavior. It wasn't until I realized just how much I meant to them that I was able to grow up and be the parent they needed me to be.
View All Answers