Stepmom Ideas that must die from #parenting #stepmom #blendedfamily

Outdated Ideas about Stepmoms and Blended Families

I am a mom that sends kids to a house with a Stepmom.

I am also a Stepmom.

This gives me a unique perspective of the role of a Stepmom from both sides.

According to the TIME magazine’s article Amazing Moms of the Animal Kingdom, Meerkats live in packs of about 20, dominated by one mating pair that produces two to five pups in a litter, with up to four litters a year. In a group of meerkats with so many new pups, it is often the aunts and sisters of the group who care for the young. After 21 days underground, the pups emerge to join the foraging party, where they learn the skills needed to live in the Kalahari Desert.

If we lived in a society of meerkats every mother that is able to help raise your pups would be celebrated, but we do not live in a society of meerkats and raising kids is no longer the responsibility of the community as it was ages ago.

Being a stepmom is one of the hardest roles on earth.  You are always walking a tightrope with huge precipices on either side.  With practice to you turn into an acrobat, but there is some preconceived ideas about your role as Bonus/Extra/Stepmom that do not help and really must die.

I personally found that the biggest problem with being a stepmom is not the kids.  Not at all.  The biggest problem with being a stepmom is boundaries.  There are invisible boundaries  and walls that you did not even know exists until you walk straight into them.  If we could celebrate every woman that help raise our children instead of seeing motherhood as a competition or as a role we have to fiercely protect, we would all be so much better off.

We celebrate teachers, coaches and grandparents, but as soon as another woman helps raise our children we see her as competition.   I am allowed to say this as I am also a Birthmom that send my kids to another mother and not ‘just’ a stepmom.

When I read all these wonderful advice articles for stepmoms I feel like pulling my hair out of my head.  I used to gobble this nonsense up and read everything I could get my hands on.  After ten years of being a stepmom and spending half of that sending my kids to a stepmom here’s my advice: “Find out what works for you and do that.”   Ignore all the experts who think they know everything and listen to your instinct.   No one knows your life, or your kids, like you do.  And yes, they are your kids too.  After wiping their bums and noses and putting them to bed for years, you’ve earned that privilege.

There is a list of preconceived ideas about Stepmoms that we need to retire.  Their time has come and gone and it is time that we hold a funeral and move on.

Here’s my list of ideas that must DIE.  You are welcome to add a few of your own in the comments.


1.  The Stepmom is a nanny

A Stepmom is not a nanny.  You do not need to send her list of things that was in your child’s bag or a list of everything you think she should do.  You cannot control what is going on in her house and she does not need to follow your rules.

Rather speak to the Stepmom and tell her what you are worried about and work with her.  You can discuss homework and agree on a schedule that suits everyone. Communication is the key.


2.  The kids have only one home

This is not true.  The children have two houses each with their own rooms.  They should be allowed to leave clothes and toys at both houses.   Personal and private space are important for children who visit part-time.  They need to feel part of the household and not just a visitor.   If the kids occasionally forget something at the other household it is not a crisis.

Don’t make the children take basic necessities back and forth.  Rather, make sure that they have pj’s and a toothbrush at both houses and worry about special things like a teddy bear or school books.  If you discuss this with the Stepmom she more than likely would buy the kind of shampoo you prefer for your kids.  Life is too short to waste time on petty things.


3.  Meltdowns when the Stepmom is called Mom

The fact that the kids sometimes call their Stepmom ‘Mom’ does not diminish your role as their mother.  A Stepmom fills the role as mom when you are not with them.  Please stop feeling threatened by what the kids call their Stepmom.  In the end it is just words.  Your kids know that you gave birth to them and that you cannot be replaced.

The term they use to describe their Stepmom is not important, the fact that they have a good relationship with the other person helping to raise your children is.  Let them called her on her name or extra mommy or even mom, whatever they feel comfortable with.     Rather celebrate that another woman love your kids enough that they love her back.   Do not make the children scared to talk to you about their Stepmom, just in case they refer to her as ‘mom’ and they know this will make you unhappy.  What the children calls her is their choice.   This is not a reflection on you as a mom.


4.  The Stepmom have no place disciplining my children

I have heard too many people say discipline is the responsibility of the ‘Real’ parent.  Being part of your children’s lives makes the Stepmom a real parent.  Stepparents are always advised that they should wait to tell the ‘Real’ parent whatever the child did and then the ‘Real’ parent can discipline the kid.

If the kids are jumping from the roof or running in front of a car would you want the Stepparent to wait till the other parent is around before the Stepparent interfere?  I did not think so.   When you drop your kids off at your parents house you expect them to follow the rules and respect them.  The same applies when the Stepmom/dad is the adult in charge.  Rules are mainly there to protect children, part of the job of the Stepmom/dad is to protect your children when you are not around.  Yes, most discipline issues, especially when kids are older should be handled by all the adults involve, but it is not practical to convene a meeting every time your child breaks the rules, or when they are in immediate danger.  You cannot choose when you want the Stepparent to be involved.


5.  Visitation is a power

Some moms see visitation as power that they can revoke when when things do not go their way.

The rules and laws are changing and the courts are recognising that the role of a Dad is just as important as that of a Mom.   (I am not talking about cases of abuse or neglect, just ordinary people trying to make a blended family work.)

It is in your child’s best interest to have a great relationship with their dad, however you might feel towards him as a person.   The only relationship you harm by taking away visitation rights is the one you have with your kids.

Don’t let your own insecurities spill over into the kids’ relationship with their dad.  One day they will grow up and realise how hard their dad fought for the right to see them.


6.  Seeing the Stepmom/dad as the enemy

A stepparent is not your enemy.  It is disrespectful not to greet them, especially in front of the kids or other people.  It only makes you look bad and set a bad example for the children.  A civil greeting, whatever your personal feelings, is polite.   It is one of the skills children need as functioning adults in society.

Discussing the Stepmom and your feelings about her in front of your kids are not ok.  You do not want to be discussed behind your back in front of the children.  Respect her and keep your opinions to yourself till you can discuss it out of earshot of the kids.

The stepparent did not divorce you and whether you like it or not they are helping to raise your children.  They deserve the same respect as you would show any other mother or father.


7.  Turning motherhood into a competition 

Being a mom is a competition that you must win at all cost is an idea that needs to die.  Biology is not the only way to be a mom.  Yes, you have the stretch marks of carrying them inside your body for nine months.  If you are lucky your kids will have a Stepmom that will carry them in her heart.  We do not always have to see motherhood as a competition and compare ourselves to others.   You do not take love away from one child to love another.  When children starts loving their Stepmom it does not take anything away from the love that they feel for you.


Lets try and be a little bit more like Meerkats and celebrate and appreciate the fact that there is another mom that loves our children.   An extra set of eyes to keep them safe, extra arms to hold them and another mom that keeps them in her heart.   It’s time to let go of these outdated ideas about Stepmom and Blended families.


Parenting is not a competition from  #parenting #love #motherhood #stepmom #blended families



If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy:  Rules for Stepmoms

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52 replies
  1. Brandi Clevinger
    Brandi Clevinger says:

    I initially clicked on this to send to my mom’s friend who is a stepmom, but I couldn’t help but to read your words. I am not a stepmom, however, I do have a stepmom. As a child coming from a torn home a stepmom, I agree with your numbered list. A divorce and remarriage isn’t difficult just for the parents. It is also difficult for the kids. These items can help ease the tension for everyone especially for the kids. Kids are younger and do not understand despite their ages.

    Thanks for setting some misconceptions straight for blended families. I found your post at This Is How We Roll Thursdays.

  2. Corinne
    Corinne says:

    I have friends on both side of this equation and everything you say is so true. Birth mothers can sometimes use visitation as a weapon which is truly traumatic for the children. If only individuals could set aside their own insecurities and hurt feelings and focus on what is really in the child(ren)’s best interest, a lot of problems could be avoided. Thanks so much for sharing your insight and for linking up at This Is How We Roll Thursday.

  3. Channing C
    Channing C says:

    I agree that stepmothers and biological mothers should try to act mature and come to an understanding and agreement about how to handle their families, as well as stepdads and biological dads. One thing I can’t agree on however, is the discipline thing. I say this coming from a home where my parents were divorced and my dad remarried and my mom is just remarrying now for the first time, that it is definitely not a good idea to try to discipline them yourself. When I was younger, (I’m almost 27 now) my dad and new wife did not discuss this before hand and then we she would try to discipline me, it would only end up with us at odds with each other. Just think about it, if you had met someone in your life, and they were relatively a stranger to you, and they moved in and started trying to tell you how to live your life, you wouldn’t like it either. My dad and stepmom eventually got divorced because they had other problems much deeper than that. Now my mom has met a man that she wants to marry and he hasn’t made a good impression on me in the slightest. I’m 26 and I don’t need anyone telling me how to live my life at 26. I have my own place and support myself, but he still tries to talk to me like I’m a child. The problem with step parents is, they should start off trying to get to know the kid and get close to them before deciding their going to start imposing rules on them. If either one of my parent’s spouses had started off with me on the right foot, I probably would have been more receptive to their advice, rules, discipline etc…

  4. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    What a beautiful and honest perspective. Refreshing. I agree – why does it have to be a competition? It isn’t. There isn’t a limit on the amount of love someone has. Thank you!

  5. Louise
    Louise says:

    Very honest and thought-provoking post. I am the child of a blended family and although I don’t have step-parents, my siblings biological parents have always been part of our lives and if there was any difficulties in the relationships between them and my parents, I was never aware of it. I agree that you have to do what works for you and that it is not a competition – we should all be on the same side after all. It is so important for the children that the parents can at least be polite to each other because after all they are the ones in the middle of it all. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I agree with everything except #6 and to an extent, #4.

    My ex’s girlfriend, I’ll call her J, is not someone my daughter likes all that much (my daughter is almost 13). J doesn’t treat my daughter as an equal to her own biological kids. My daughter is expected to clean up after J’s kids, and J. She’s not allowed any privacy (as in, cannot be alone in her room, not even to do homework). She use to spend a lot of time with my parents and grandparents (saw them almost daily), now she sees them just a few times a month, as J’s family is the “priority” now. So we DO talk about J. It is important for my daughter to know that I WILL listen to what she has to say, that I will believe her, and I’m not going to say “Oh that’s fine” to things that are NOT “fine.”

    As for discipline, J uses corporal punishment, to include the belt. I do not believe in corporal punishment EVER. J also uses extended grounding (the last time was TWO MONTHS for a lie that wasn’t even a lie, it was a misunderstanding). My daughter was not happy, nor should she have been expected to be, when a relative stranger came into HER home and started telling her what she could and couldn’t do, and treating her like Cinderella.

    My husband is a step-parent. My daughter loves him, because he treats her well. Honestly, probably better than I do! There IS a wrong way to step-parent.

    It really all comes down to the birth parent though. My ex supports J in all that she does, which makes him just as bad as her. I can’t put all the blame on her. He shares it with her.

  7. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. My kids are still relatively young so in many ways have it easy as we were not dealing with teenagers. It is always good to hear from someone who had a stepmom is well adjusted.

  8. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Thanks for stopping by Corinne. It think the hardest thing for me personally is that the negotiation about visitation seems like a never ending battle. The most important thing is to put the children first. In the end we are all just moms doing the best we can.

  9. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Hi Channing C

    Thanks for stopping by. I do think that every situation is different. Our kids are still young and we are not dealing with teenagers. I’ve been part of my stepdaughters lives for almost eight years.

    It is not like a stranger trying to discipline them. If I leave my kids at my friend or sisters house and my kids get into trouble I expect them to do something about it.
    (I am not talking about corporal punishment). I do find that the rules change and peoples have very strong feelings about this as soon as a stepparent gets involved.

  10. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Hi Stephanie

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I do not agree with corporal punishment in any form so I’m 100 % with you on that one. I do not mean that you should not discuss the stepmom with your kids if they have something to tell you. It is really important that our kids know that they can come to us with anything. I do mean that venting your personal feelings about the stepparent to another adult while the kids are in earshot is a bad idea.

    Yes, there is a wrong way to step-parent. There is also a wrong way to parent. I just think there is a whole bunch of us (stepparents) that love all our kids all equally that are getting a raw deal here.

    I hope your situation gets better for you and your daughter.

  11. Rachael Boley
    Rachael Boley says:

    This is helpful. I haven’t crossed this bridge yet, but when I do, I pray that I will have the grace to appreciate and partner with whoever may be a step mom to my children. I have no idea what our future looks like yet in that regard, and it scares me a lot, but when the time comes, in certainly gong to try to implement these ideas. #mandaylinkup

  12. Tessa Shull
    Tessa Shull says:

    Good read. I personally have no experience in the step field, but I can see how difficult and frustrating it may be. I think in any divorce situation it’s important the adults work together instead of tearing each other down and undermining one another. Awesome things for parents to consider here!

  13. Bridget/The Recipe Wench
    Bridget/The Recipe Wench says:

    This was really well written. I found it very interesting even though I’m not a stepmom. I actually have a stepmom but I didn’t get her until I was 46! I think I’d have a really hard time not feeling competitive if I were to have to send my children to a stepmom. Your article would be something I’d carry around in my purse so I could refer to it over and over again!

  14. Shailee Butalia
    Shailee Butalia says:

    I don’t have any experience in the step-parent area but I think this is valid in so many different areas. I am definitely considering your words when it comes to the thought of us all being on the same side.

  15. Jenn @ mommytime365
    Jenn @ mommytime365 says:

    I am a stepmom and it’s the hardest thing ever. After 10 years my wart on my nose hasn’t left. I came into his life when he had just turned 3 and he has hated me from day one, has never given me a chance. It’s awful, I actually dread him coming over. He glares at me behind my husband’s back and just mopes around the house now. I was never this disrespectful to my step parents.

    Great post!

  16. Tina Marie
    Tina Marie says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. Being a stepmother for the past 20 years, I can relate wholeheartedly to this post, as I’m sure my husband can in return being a stepfather. For me, no matter what, the child is the first on my agenda! You are so very right…it is not a competition and children should never be used. Being a parent of 3 of my own and 1 benefit child (stepson) and 7 grandchildren I find the word “step” is not in my vocabulary any longer. A “parent” is one that loves, cares, and nurtures a child regardless.

  17. Emily
    Emily says:

    Ugh, I can so relate to some of this. It’s hard not feeling like you always have a say of what goes on in your own house. Or for example, we went to my teenage stepdaughter’s school musical a couple of weeks ago and the ex was there, as well as her large family, and her best friend. I’m getting the icy staredown as if I was some homewrecking mistress who broke up the marriage, even though the marriage had been long over before my husband and I even met. I get so tired of feeling like I’ve done something wrong by those people when all I do is love those kids and try my best to be a good stepmom to them. One would think the ex and her family would be HAPPY that I care so much for the kids, right??? Grrrrrrrr!!!! It’s so nice to know that there are many, many others out there who can relate!

  18. Yanique
    Yanique says:

    I’m not a step mom but I worked with numerous blended families in the past. Oh it was quite a doozy! There was so much competition and many of the families were more concerned with being right than doing what was in the best interest of the children. I love the idea of not letting the kids feel like they are visiting and letting them have basic neccessities at both homes. Great list!

  19. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Thank you for stopping by Rachael and I’m sure your boys are going to grow up to be wonderful young men with a mother like you.

  20. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Thank you Tessa. Yes, it can be very frustrating, it is important to remember that the kids did not choose the situation that they are in.

  21. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Thank you Bridget. That is a very kind thing to say. I think by 46 you’ve worked through most of the issues kids have with stepfamilies and that you are glad that your dad found someone to spend his days with.

  22. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Hi Jenn
    I’m so sorry to hear that you still having a hard time. Sometimes the kids feel by liking you that they are betraying their mom. The only encouraging thing I can say is that hopefully one day he will realise how bad he has treated you. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way.

  23. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Thank you Tina. I wish there was a word that did not have all the negative connotations that ‘step’ has. Extra mom and bonus mom are both great, but not a lot of people are using them.

  24. Mariet
    Mariet says:

    Hi Emily
    There is a whole tribe of stepmoms that can relate to how you are feeling. It is convenient to blame someone else for your problems and unfortunately a stepmom can be a very easy target sometimes. I feel your pain. Hopefully it gets better with time.

  25. Ashley Beolens
    Ashley Beolens says:

    My partner is “step-mum” to my sons, and would agree with much of what you are saying (I’ll show her later so she can), and I also had a step mum growing up so no a little about these things, and in our house there is no step (Zoe is just Zoe to the boys, my step mum is just mags to me and nanna to the kids). My son (11) summed it up beautifully the other night, we were sat watching Blended (the Adam Sandler film) and I turned around to him and said, we are a blended family and he turned, looked at me and said “No dad, we are just a family”.

    Out of the mouths of babes we learn the true reality of life as a “blended” family, done right it is just family.

  26. Lisa (mummascribbles)
    Lisa (mummascribbles) says:

    Such a great post and a lot that people should read and learn from. Obviously it’s not always the case as some of the other commenters have said but a lot stems from how the parents act towards each other and kids seeing negativity is not good. Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  27. Janine Halloran
    Janine Halloran says:

    I think your advice to find out what works for you and do that is perfect. So many times, people keep looking for answers in other places instead of looking to what they already know about themselves and their kids. Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.

  28. Mia
    Mia says:

    Wow, that’s some really great advice. I too send my kids elsewhere and have other kids that are welcome to my home as well. I’ve always lived by the motto that whatever is best for the kids, I’ll do whatever it takes!

  29. Spidermummy
    Spidermummy says:

    That’s a really lovely piece, it must feel like a minefield when you’re first put into the role of Stepmum, or sending your children to one, if everyone was as thoughtful as you there would be a lot fewer messed up kids around!! x

  30. Holly
    Holly says:

    What a fantastic article! Thank you so much for sharing and for linking up with Waiting on…Wednesday @ While I’m Waiting!

    Have a great day!

  31. Tasha
    Tasha says:

    What a beautifully, well written post! As a stepmom myself, it perplexes me how easily someone can use their own child a weapon and project their insecurities onto them. It’s nice to have an honest, non-biased perspective of someone who experience both sides!

  32. Meredith@MommyAtoZ
    Meredith@MommyAtoZ says:

    I really love this! I can imagine it would be hard not to see the “other woman” in my kids’ lives as the enemy…but you’re right, anyone who loves and helps care for my kids is a pretty worthy person in my eyes! I’m sure lots of people will be helped by you sharing your perspective! Thanks for linking up at the Manic Mondays blog hop. Hope to see you at the next one!

  33. Mrs. AOK
    Mrs. AOK says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this with us at Mommy Monday!!! This is such an insightful post. My friend is a stepmom and she does such a wonderful job at loving her son. I do hate when the stepmom is painted as the villain not all stepmoms are bad and not all moms are good…
    Your quote “Parenting is NOT a competition. We are all on the same side.” <<< I wish everyone we consider this.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  34. The Giggles Family
    The Giggles Family says:

    You’re so right that parenting isn’t a competition. It is a tightrope and I agree needs to be done in a unique way for each family. I think communication is the key #Brilliantblogposts

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