I just wanted to share my humble experience to any (especially young) women who have recently taken on the role of the "evil stepmother"
I say the evil part jokingly of course - but that was my biggest fear. When I came into the picture, SS was 12 years old. While it can be a challenge taking on this role at any age I found the older the child, the harder it is. Adolescent years come with lots of ups and downs. My husband had some serious guilt issues (he feels the family should stay together no matter what and he failed his son) and I had to walk on eggshells to ensure I didn't offend him, didn't affect his relationship with his son, or didn't complicate the situation with his ex.
DH did not understand what a conflicting situation I felt I was in. I had to become a parental role in this boys life, while trying to foster a new relationship, make sure he felt love and accepted, while dishing out rules and discipline. Like I said - one of the most challenging and conflicting situations I had ever been in. I wanted nothing more than to feel unconditional love for SS but it doesn't happen over night. And the "evil step mom" label didn't help. I was getting stepped on because I didn't know how to create this unconditional bond with a child who I didn't know - while being a proper parent. I didn't have any children at the time so I didn't even know how to be a proper parent in the first place! Not to mention BM trashing me, DH guilting me, and SS (like almost any child) trying to play the situation to his advantage. Cafe mom actually didn't help either. I came here to get advice and sympathy and read post after post saying "you knew what you were getting into with this man - you need to treat the SK like your very own". Posts that made me feel I needed to love this child unconditionally right away while accepting I had no right to make decisions surrounding him. But I just did the best I could, and tried to do right by SS and DH - even though I stressed the whole time.
DSS is now 16 and has chosen to come live with us. We have an 18 month old who SS adores. Today my relationship with him is incredible. We have developed the bond that everyone else expected to be there immediately. I would do anything for him and I treat him as my own - putting his needs and wants before my own. We laugh and joke and are at ease in each other's company. I really do love him. I don't worry anymore about disciplining him for fear of ruining a fragile growing relationship.
The only issue now is my parents. Since SS has moved in they are now step-grandparents to a 16 year old (an even more difficult age some would argue). They are the ones stressing out now. They are feeling the same emotions I did. They want him to feel loved, accepted and part of the family, but struggle when he needs discipline and rules. They don't want to offend myself or DH and they have not had the chance yet to bond and grow an unconditional relationship.
So my humble advice (that I gave to my parents too) is this: If your new at this, and stressing out like I did, just know that it takes time. If your heart is in the right place, the step relationship will grow into something that will transcend all the worries and stress. things will come naturally eventually - you're not a a bad person or "evil" if you don't feel an immediate bond. It's alot like a friendship in a way - you may meet someone and like them and want to get to know them - but it takes time to be able to say whats on your mind without fear that the friendship is at risk. And we all know a step-relationship can be much more complicated that that.