Stepmoms often have the most difficult role of all the stepfamily members. is dedicated to providing resources and support for stepmoms so they can find peace & happiness in their stepfamilies.

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

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

Which aspect hasn't?? No one could have prepared me for the challenges I would face as a stepmom. But the biggest surprise came from my husband's ex-wife. Seeing as they had been separated for 6 years before I came into the picture, I assumed there would be no problems in that department. After all, I thought she'd be happy to have a responsible, level-headed woman watching after her kids 50% of the time. I soon realized *she* was going to be my toughest challenge, not the kids. And then after a while I realized that her problems with me weren't about me at all. I believe she'd react this way to any woman who married her ex-husband. Realizing this gave me the strength I needed to let go of any expectation of having a healthy relationship with her.

What's a good tip for preventing sibling rivalry?

It's important to acknowledge that conflict among step siblings is a normal part of the stepfamily dynamic. Setting house rules around respect, that all family members are expected to abide by, is a good start. It's also important to acknowledge that step-members don't have to love each other and that each parent is going to love and feel differently for their biological children than their stepchildren, and that that's okay. These relationships should be allowed to evolve naturally without the pressure of becoming one big happy family.

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

Just one?? Before you get married, sit down with your partner and get clear on what roles and responsibilities each member of the household will have. We often have expectations and assume our partner shares those expectations. But they usually don't, and by the time we realize this we're knee deep in stepfamily poo. The stress of not being on the same page with our partner can take its toll on our marriage. So make sure both of you are clear on what your expectations are for your stepfamily.