There are so many types of blended families. They can be great, but with them come inevitable challenge. When you date and marry in your mid 30s as I did, it often brings the delightlful task of loving someone else's children. No doubt I happened to luck out, but it still took patience, hard work, a lot of tongue biting and, of course, wine. 

However, I often wonder why there aren't more support groups for the Step Monster Extraordinaire. Same goes for unsuspecting stepdads, too. I would often ask my sassy, single, successful self: Was I really meant to be the second class mother to my new husband's first wife's kids? Not exactly the title I dreamed of, but bring it on! Here are a few things to consider if you are experiencing what so many new step parents face. I will all but promise... it gets better. Often better than you ever expected.

You Learn Different Parenting Styles

No doubt you've heard the words, "they're not your kids" or "you don't have kids, how do you know how to parent?" Those words can be hurtful. But keep in mind your spouse is trying to navigate and find their way through these new circumstances. Which as you know, comes with a lot of guilt (a post for later).

Be sure to evalute your parenting/step-parenting sytles. My husband, for instance, is a loving and invloved dad, but a little passive, in my opinion. I, for one, like rules, schedules, limits, and so on. Maybe even too much. So just like with your kids, pick your battles with your spouse. Keep in mind that if these were your biological kids, you might have a better chance at winning a battle. But I found when I pick certain scenerios I feel really need addressing, instead of nit-picking every thing that bothers me, my husband is more willing to listen when it's something more important. In fact, over time he started coming to me for advice and valuing my opinion. 

Loving Someone Else's Child Can Be Tough

Some relatonships will come easier than others. I remember wondering if I would ever turn a corner with my two step-kids. But I kept remembering that I'm the adult. I'm actually a pretty nice gal, with a lot to offer. I love their dad, I turned our house into a home, I do nice things for them, and I'm fun. How could they NOT like me? Well truth is, sometimes they just don't. But remember that kids become adults. Be patient. DO NOT say things you can't take back – that's a big one.

As time went on, I started to see signs that not only did they like me, but they started to care about me and consider me. I got more and more hugs and texts and meaningful conversations. Again this can take months or years, but are no doubt worth the wait.

Create Your Own Famiy

A new marriage brings new experiences for all. Remember that you might not be their mother, but you are the queen of your castle and you set the tone. You've got your own tricks up your sleeve and now it's time to pull 'em out!

Start Your Own Traditions

Each year, my husband, the kids, and I volunteer at our local homeless shelter around the holidays. This is something they had never done before, and now they can't wait for that time of year. And they're teenagers!

The kids think I'm corny, but I have them open a new personal Christmas ornament just for them and hang it on the tree. That was new to them.

I cook my recipes and introduce them to my favorite music and movies – things they had never experienced before. Start praying before meals if that's something important to you. Go to church together. Insist on family game night. Have the kids cook (and clean) once a week. There's so much territory that hasn't been covered yet!

Look, if one day down the road I hear my "kids" say, "I remember how Jessica used to make us do that and it was a really cool tradition and it meant a lot," then my work is done!