5 Big Fat Lies About Being A Stepmom

The rules for stepmoms are often unclear and contradictory. Here are 5 things we tell stepmothers (and why you shouldn’t believe any of them!)

Stepmoms: Tell us what you think about these big fat lies! Do you have any to add to the list? Are there any stepmom misconceptions or stereotypes that really irritate you?

5 Big Fat Lies About Being A Stepmom | Video Transcript

Hi there. I’m Brenda Ockun with StepMom Magazine and you’re watching StepMom-TV
…because even when it’s good, it’s complicated!

Has anyone ever told you that to be a good stepmom you should love your stepkids as your own? But, have you also been told that you should never forget that your stepkids already have a mom?

Or, have you been told that the kids should always come first? After all, they’re kids, right? But, have you also been told that your relationship with your partner should be your priority?

Confusing advice? You bet!

The reason being a stepmom is no walk in the park is because of something called role ambiguity. Role Ambiguity basically means that the rules for being a stepmom are really unclear and often contradictory. On top of that, a lot of the information and advice directed toward us is simply not accurate.

So, today I’m going to set the record straight by sharing five big fat lies about being a stepmom and why you shouldn’t believe any of them!

Big Fat Stepmom Lie #1
You should love your stepchildren like they’re your own. Listen, anyone who makes you feel bad or guilty for not loving your stepkids as your own needs a lesson in stepfamily dynamics, ASAP!

Love between anyone takes time to grow and develop and falling in love with someone is not an automatic guarantee that you’re going to love their kids too. In fact, unconditional, maternal love between a woman and her stepkids is extremely rare. The bottom line? Smart stepmoms strive for kindness and respect and if love develops? Great. It’s a bonus. They don’t let anyone else’s expectations define the course of their family’s natural progression.

Big Fat Stepmom Lie #2
If you are nice enough to them, your stepkids will love you. Ladies, sometimes, no matter how wonderful we are. No matter how hard we try or no matter how much we give, our stepkids might not love us, or even like us, or even want to acknowledge us. Ouch!

The truth is, that when mom and dad divorce, or if mom has passed away or even if mom has walked out and isn’t present, accepting dad’s partner can feel like a betrayal to mom. This is especially true if mom hasn’t moved on yet or has made it very clear to her kids that she does not approve of you.

It’s called a loyalty bind and it’s no reflection of you as a person. Ironically, many stepmoms report that stepping back and doing less for kids in these situations actually helps ease the pressure and improves their relationship.

Big Fat Stepmom Lie #3
Becoming a stepmom automatically makes you a parent. Woo-hoo! Now I know this one is going to ruffle a lot of few feathers. But hear me out. If your stepkids have an active mom and dad who are both ready, willing and able to participate in their lives, your stepkids likely don’t want and may even resent your parenting efforts.

Now, when I say parenting, I’m not talking about being a responsible adult within your own home. I’m talking about decisions like:

Should sally be allowed to pierce her belly button?
Will the kids be raised vegetarian? Will they attend church?
Should Johnny be grounded for failing math?

These are decisions that can be left to mom and dad. Remember, just because the word “stepmom” has the letters m-o-m in it, doesn’t mean you have to assume the same responsibilities. The best part? Leaving the parenting dirty work to mom and dad allows you to be a neutral third party in your home. Something stepkids, especially teenagers, can come to really appreciate and depend on.

Big Fat Stepmom Lie #4
You should always put the kids first. This one is simple. But sometimes we need a little reminder. If you repeatedly put the kids first and yourself last, you’re teaching those around you that your needs are less important than everyone else’s. And this isn’t healthy for any family. If you feel angry, burned out or resentful, there’s a pretty good chance it’s time for you to stop putting everyone else (including the kids) first.

Big Fat Stepmom Lie #5
Stepmothers are wicked. I know I don’t need to tell you this one is a lie. It’s the worst one of all! It’s a tired old stereotype, reinforced in books, movies and hundreds of fairy tales that date way, way back. The best way to combat this lie is to stop letting it influence how you feel.

If you’re embarrassed to admit that you’re a stepmom, if you can’t even say the word stepmom or if you insist on only using euphemisms like bonus and blended instead of step – it’s influencing you. Wear your stepmom label like a badge of honor because lets face it, only the strongest, smartest and most amazing women are able to do what you do!

Now, I’d love to hear what you think about these big fat lies. Did I leave any out? Join our conversation by leaving a comment below and don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE this video, too. And remember, you’ll find great tips and advice inside our monthly, online magazine when you subscribe. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you, next time, here on StepMom-TV.

If you liked this video, you’ll LOVE the monthly magazine!


136 thoughts on “5 Big Fat Lies About Being A Stepmom”

  1. This video was helpful. Although I have two step-parents of my own I am still finding being a step-mom of 3 difficult. The lie regarding parenting truly hit home with me. I would like to hear more about that. We have 50% custody and I am often home with the kids (7, 19 & 12) myself. The kids like me and we get along but our biggest challenge is the differences between me and mom regarding acceptable behaviors in our home and at restaurants. I’m working on my patience and letting Dad be the regulator but it’s hard for me. It’s difficult when I am alone. I don’t want to go to restaurants with them and I expect them to keep their playroom and our home neat.

    1. Hi there! I hear you! I have three step children (18, 15, and 10) with my husband and we have a son (4) together. Their mother is way more permissive than me. The kids do not have designated places for anything in their home! In fact, it has taken me six years to be OK with them leaving their coats shoes and backpacks wherever. I just finally had to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t my kids and I am not going to have any significant impact on who they are as people. It is the responsibility of their parents to impart the personal mannerisms, beliefs, ect that they feel are best. Any contradiction to this is confusing and seen as intrusive to their parental roles. The kids are also encouraged to bicker as their mother is an only child, she sees this as something siblings do and does not set limits other than they cannot beat each other up. For me this is further complicated by the fact that I am trying to turn my child into a polite, helpful person who makes himself useful. This does not describe the others who basically sit or lay around during their visits and when told to do the dishes, wash only select items that they define as dishes. I let their father deal with it. I also do not set foot in their bedrooms other than a quick peak every now and then to be sure that too many dishes have not accumulated. ( They are not allowed to eat in their bedrooms.) When the mess is too intolerable, I tell their father to handle it. If he doesn’t, Ii usually just keep their doors closed and remind him. My best advice is to let it go if you can. You have the right to expect them to be polite and live peaceably, anything else is icing on the cake. Good luck!

      1. Wow… So nice to hear there are others out there experiencing the same issues as I am. My husband’s children are 11, 14, and almost 18. I have two daughters who are already married and two grandchildren.

      2. How can you just sit by and let all of that be happening in your home? We have a mud room and the kids just throw their stuff all over the place. I can’t stand it. Why should they get to come over and make messes while my kids who are living with us have to keep things clean? It isn’t fair. So basically what you are saying is the kids come to your house and do whatever they want? Ughh no thanks.

        1. I totally agree. After we got married, we moved into my home which is already paid for. I have my own son too. It is soooo hard for me to not be a “mom” to them while they’re in my home. I have strict rules for manners, cleaning, etc. in my home. So when my stepkids (21, and 10) come over, I have no say basically and hate it. WTH? It’s my home, why can’t I say anything? But my husband says they hate me cause I’m on them nonstop about everything. Their bio mom has no rules but here they do, but having to stepback and let my husband “handle” things is driving me crazy. So hard to sit back and keep my mouth shut. And at restaurants the youngest stepson knows no manners, also drives me crazy. I’m almost to the point of not wanting to go out to eat with him and/or wanting to ask my husband to do things w/his son alone. Sad but everytime I do say something or correct him or anything, I get chastised by my husband, in front of the kid. He says I’m always negative towards them and never positive. I’d be positive if he’d clean up after himself, has manners at the table, leaves the room every now and then from video games, etc. I’m so not liking the rules are different for his kid and my kid. I can yell at or get onto my kid when he’s doing wrong or the room needs cleaning, etc., but cannot get onto my stepson at all?? So not cool. So not right. I may not be his “mom”, but I am THE MOM in the household, so why can’t I be the MOM cause his dad is not being the “mom” or “dad”.

          1. This is exactly me too. My stepson let out a huge burp at restaurant and didnt really get reprimanded. I was trying to hold my compusure because I can’t say anything.

          2. It sounds like your husband needs counseling. I am dealing with younger kids, so right now they’re sweet and cute. At they same time, their mother has behaviors that I absolutely detest. When I see the kids behaving like her I have a hard time not freaking out having that behavior in my home. Some how it really stuck with my husband to make our house our home. This means that if I feel something is important to teach or reprimand or create our home, he is very supportive. Of course, not of everything and there are times I know his kids are lying to him, but he sides with them. For the most part, my husband is very supportive of building our home and doing his best to not make me feel like an outsider. I’m trying to remember that he’s lived with his ex and their way of doing things for 8+ years. He learned those behaviors to make them work, or he was taught the same way. Luckily, he is open to many of my ideas and hopefully seeing error in what he is used to.

          3. I am a bio mom and Step mom. I dont understand why the stepmom is forced into a certain behavior jeprodizing your own mental health!!!!!!!!!!
            Why is a bio parents wishes and behavior okay even if it causes pain and distance in a marriage. Why are we the ones that must seek help…counseling etc?
            Why is not rules applied in different households, just like rules at school ?
            A family has to function happily together, not just one part or side of family…”like your feelings, rules are of no concern when MY childern are visiting”… none of it makes any sense what so ever!
            What does this teach the kids?
            Shows no respect for your spouse…to let the kids rule the roost, no matter who’s kids they are!!!!!!!

          4. Oh I am so connecting with your story. It is like our lives have been ripped out from underneath us and our property handed over – I refuse to hand my hard earned property over and I never miss an opportunity to make sure my partner and his kids know that it is my property. I am grateful that my partner is wise enough not to EVER chastise me about his kids bad manners – I have but one life and it isnt going to be consumed by ungrateful people

          5. You are on the road to losing your husband with that attitude. Respect him and his kids, you married him, love him as he is. Don’t try to change him or fix him or the way he raises his children. Your kids are yours to decide what to do with and give him that same respect. I just ask my husband to get his kids to clean what I think they need to clean or I mention things I think they need to do differently in private. Works great! I get along with the kids just fine and he gets to parent his children. At the end of the day I had to realize they aren’t my kids and I really have no influence. Doesn’t matter how great I am, I am not mom, I am another person in thier life. To address your example, it’s like going out to dinner with a friend and his kids, you can’t parent someone else’s children. Period end of story. A stepmom is like being a mentor or a close aunt. I love his children and we are close but I have relieved myself of the job of replacing thier mom at our house. Life got so much less stresssful for me and for the kids. 🙂

          6. My fiance and I are supposed to marry in Sept. this year, after 8 long years. And for the first time I’m actually thinking of calling it off. I have a dependable 15 yr old from prev. marriage, our daughter together is 6 and I’ve been basically stepmom to his son since he was a tyke at 4 years, now 12. His mom was a drug and alcohol addict for years, leaving stepson with us for months off and on. Constantly hours late to pick up or drop off. My fiance has always been rediculously nice to stepsons mom when he really shouldn’t have been, given her mental condition at times. It makes me jealous sometimes to feel treated worse than her. I basically raised stepson- doing homework, helping with chores, discipline, everything. I was stay at home mom and school started calling me to handle his school affairs because bio mom would leave him standed at school and his dad was at work. His behavior wasn’t good because dad and dads parents coddled him, feeling bad because of bio mom never being around, at first. He started doing better with my one-on-one and we got a lawyer about custody. Lawyer said instead of calling children services, to document everything for proof of bio mom’s unfit behavior. I did, for a year. But he never took her to court. Instead, dad continued to play nice with bio mom and coddled stepson. I continued to document just in case as it was all I could do. A couple years ago bio mom finally cleaned up her act. I thought things would get better, but they’ve become worse. Im all of a sudden not allowed to discipline stepson. Stepson gets coddled more now because its become a guilt game between his dad and his mom. Fiance depends on my own son for everything because he can’t with his son. While Im all of a sudden stripped of the duties I once held, his dad not willing to step into that role because “its something he did when he was younger” and his mom and grandparents think his issue is that he just needs “a ton of love”, he’s started getting into trouble at school again. Mainly due to his lack of respect for the teachers and lack of effort, and it’s trickling into our home. Its put a huge rift between me and his father, and I don’t think I can continue down this path any longer. It breaks my heart, I don’t know how to move forward and I’m so depressed / resentful that I quit wanting to help fiance with any of his latest and greatest ideas and listening to him talk about himself and his interests only irritates me more. Maybe it was only the convenience of me that he really loved, but I used to believe we were a team.

          7. Similar issue here. I just refuse to let anyone who is not paying the bills in a house that I purchased with no help from their father ruin my home. You can keep it clean or you and your father can go. I am to the point where I am just not going to yell or be angry in my OWN home that I pay for. I am young and do not have kids of my own so I can easily begin again if needed. Sorry to put it out there like this but sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself. I noticed than when I began feeling this way, he was much more stern and on board with keeping the home more tidy. I will say that it has affected how I feel about him and the marriage. I hope that we can get back to bliss at some point……..

          8. Any adult in the home, especially if it is YOUR home (I am in this situation) gets to make and enforce HOUSE RULES.
            Any parent who cannot abide that can move on. I love my partner, but after a lot of struggle, mostly with his older (now adult) teen, my partner gets it. His son is passive aggressive and looks for loopholes and does the bare minimum. It gets old.
            My partner had been parenting our of guilt, and it was obvious. His son was kicked out of mom’s house years ago, and I allowed him to live in my home full time, util he finished HS. But that was almost a year ago, and he now ignores rules, lives as though he is the center of the universe, and resents rules because he believes he is an adult. Thing is, he still lives here and contributes nothing. And his attitude is pure shit. Hell, he even brags about manipulating people, and his ex gf accused him of rape, so he played her up to look crazy.
            You try to be compassionate, make clear rules they can either accept or reject, and let them hang themselves with their lack of respect.
            After they graduate, it should not be your problem.
            And remember, no matter how much you love your partner, if they can’t be unified with you and respect and support you and be on the same page, you will never have a happy relationship with them. Love can only flourish when respect is present.

        2. Totally agree! I have two step-kids ages 10 and 13 and a 13 year old of my own from a different relationship. My husband has had to get use to being a parent full time and a step dad as much as I have had to become a step mom. Any rules we have for my child equally apply to my step kids as they are in our house and everyone contributes. It was a challenge at first and they fought the differences in their other home to ours, but it is about respect and consideration for others to abide by the home rules. Even guests at out house have the decency to politely folow our rule of no shoes in the house. Why would I as a step parent or any mom expect their stepkids to not do their fair share? Rooms clean, chores and respectful behavior is a must in my opinion if you want to keep your sanity. If they don’t want to do the things you ask them to do, then you and your husband should have a set consequence for them, like no video games or tv until they have done all you’ve asked. That will get them moving if you stick to your guns and follow through. My advice to all the moms who have just given over their power to their stepkids, is to take it back! You are the grown up, you are not their best friend, they as kids expect you to set boundaries and limits, that is your job. There may be some resentment at first or a lot of whining or evil looks, but you are helping them develop behaviors that will follow them into adulthood or not. You don’t have to see the results right now, but they will he influenced by your good example, don’t let someone say that you can not or will not effect your stepkids, that is just bullroar.

      3. I am a step mom of 2 teens. I love my husband beyond belief. The problem that I am having is that I am not at all allowed to say anything to his kids. I am not allowed to ask them to pick up their clothes. I am not allowed to tell them they can not eat upstairs in their bedrooms. He doesn’t say no to them for anything. I have asked them a couple of times if they have picked something up and he jumped on me for doing so. Their house that they live in is trashed so I feel I have a right to ask them to pick up after themselves when they are in my home. They are teens, not babies. He waits on the oldest one hand and foot like she’s a queen. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even enjoy them coming over because I know I have to bite my tongue and I have no say so in my own home about anything. I can’t even ask him to tell them not to eat in their rooms. He will throw it back in my face and say something like if it were your kids you would let them…which is not true! I never let my own kids do that! I’ve worked hard for what I have and want to keep a nice home. Why can’t we just have some rules? I feel like an outsider in my own home.

        1. Joanne, I feel your pain….. My husband has 2 children from a previous marriage (ages 15 and 11) and we also have one together (2 yrs old). My stepchildren run my home, Im not allowed to say anything to them remotely sounding like discipline. My husband treats his 15 year old like his wife…. constantly asking her if she needs anything, how her day was. Hes affectionate with her to the point that it makes me uncomfortable. His son is one of the most disrespectful kids Ive ever met (says things to me like “Your just someone who came into our family”, ” I dont need to show you any respect”, ” I dont need to listen to you”) and yet my husband expects me to put them first, take care of them financially just as he does and cater to them just as he does. I usually end up in my bedroom with my daughter in the evenings because I cant stand to be around the 3 of them !!

          1. When my husband is around his adult son, on the phone or in
            Person all it turns into is a b.s.
            Session… my husband eats it
            Up….it’s so sickening…I hate
            Being around it and usually
            Leave when he comes around.

          2. I’m sorry to hear this I do know how you feel..i feel like an outsider in their relationship. Father to son. Everytime I see the son I’m reminded I’m not his mom. I want to help raise him to be the best ever but his mother has a different way of raising him. As if the child is the leader. Well not in my home. I get so mad when my husband won’t correct him instead he gets mad at me. Creates an argument and I just go my own way. I won’t lie. I get sad I can’t see the son often because the mother controls everything and my husband won’t fight for his custody rightd so then I choose to forget about it then when we do get his son I have to readjust and sacrifice my sleep my time and my nerves.. I don’t have a child of my own sometimes I wish I did so I could know the feeling of love from a parent to child and not feel like an outsider..will it change things no. But it will help me to not feel like I have to compete for my husband attention whe. His son is around. he baby’s his son as if he’s an infant and he’s 7. I know your pain..my only thought Is he will be 18 soon..

      4. Hi, like you I don’t step foot in my step daughters’ room because it triggers something in me so I stay away, unless I really have to. And when I have to and can’t even open the door because there is too much on the floor I make them get thrash bags and have them put everything on floor in it regardless if its important or not (it won’t be on the floor if its way too important is what I always say) then they don’t get any of it until a certain time. Then there’s the begging and tears. Then they call other parents because they have the most horrible step mom☺

      5. Those things are completely unacceptable.
        Idc whose kids you are. In my home you respect it and do as u’re asked.. or leave your junk outside somewhere. Rent u a storage space. Or don’t come to my home. Period.
        Step or not, if you’re in an adults home you take care of things to a degree their way. Such as their home. Back packs coats purses shows do not belong “everywhere” even in their own rooms at some point there is a cleanup time.
        Bioparent can allow whatever in their home, but in your home you have your ways. They’ll adjust or the parents can keep them away.
        Simple as that.
        I agree with so much of this. That first one. That double standard that gets me like nothing on this Earth. I hate it.
        Treat em like yours but don’t discipline or teach them or make rules like they’re yours… Nah. I’m good.
        It’s a miserable life.
        If people are intelligent they will stop creating children whence not married and having animals first to care for to see if they are compatible in their raising etc. Animals or something. You’ll lose love fast.
        It’s nearly impossible.
        Not just with steps.
        Just procreating in general.
        Better off just not.
        Or alone.

    2. I’m currently only eating a guy with two young ones, but we’ve been dating for quite some time and plan on having our own child together. I agree with all statements except the one about me having no say in the discipline. I expect my future child and my future step children to all have the same expectations of them within our household. And me being looked at as someone without any say is someone I just can’t really get on board with.

    3. Annoyed at this article. If a man or woman is remarried then they are one. All decisions should be done with their spouse first. It’s fine if the person with the ex spouse relays the info. But the step parent shoukd and needs to be included in any discussion before a parenting decision is made. The step parent and their spouse come first.

    4. Step parents need to set boundaries with their step kids. If kids are acting nuts at restaurants then the dad need to discipline them. And kids need to learn rules at moms house are different then here. It’s your home do not let them run it! If a 19 year old is not respecting you then they need to be out if the house!

  2. This is something I needed to hear so badly. I have been a stepmom for 8 years now and my husband works out of town often and he expects me to parent them. We have had 50/50 custody all these years, now at 10 & 14 the kids want to be at our house only when there dad is home because our household is a house with rules. I have tried to step back in regards to parenting decisions but I am not about to let them come here and treat my home, my son and myself so disrespectful. My husband refuses to let them stay with her and be here on the weekends when he is home and when I refer to myself as stepmom he acts like it is a bad word. Any advice?
    Thank you

    1. Wow….I’ve been married for 4 years and my husband has 4 kids (SS 22, 19, 11 and SD 18) with 2 baby mamas prior to our marriage while I have one child from a previous marriage and now we have one child together who is now 2. My SS don’t clean up either and disrespect me and my home. The oldest one doesn’t even speak to me….yes, he lives in my home and walks around in my house where I pay the rent and utilities consuming the food i buy, the electricity i pay for that he runs all day and night and the cable he watches to no end ordering movies and recording everything that comes on…..even stops the recording of shows I like to watch so he can record his stuff. But yes, he walks around in my house and doesn’t even speak to me when I provide all of this for him. I have to speak first to be spoken to. I got fed up with it so I stopped speaking first. But if I utter the “stepmom” my husband gets upset and says their “our children”. And I think to myself, NO they’re not my kids. My children are friendly, clean, have manners and are respectable. I never wanted to be their mom when we got married. They have mothers. I only wanted to be a support system and there if/when they needed me. But how can you support something or someone that disregards you?

      1. Same thing here. Sooo hard to “let them get away with whatever”. In my home and I have no say?? When we got married, it was never discussed to have custody of my stepson, but not my husband is talking about it. Why? I don’t want that at all. I have no say in anything he does but yet you want to move him in here cause his mom is a bad mom?? No thanks. I do feel bad for my stepson that his mom is hardly involved in his life, that he’s always at grandma’s and not with her, that she doesn’t watch his food and/or weight. I do feel bad, but that’s not my job. And when I do say something, I get told “it’s not my job to be his mom”? So why does my husband want custody? Cause his son would have so many more options here (after school stuff) and have his food and weight monitored better – by whom? By my husband or me? But I’m not allowed to discipline or correct my stepson or anything. So not cool. And not cool for my son who lives here w/me full time. Just don’t get it.

        1. I came looking for a forum like this – so I hope someone can relate?? I am a new stepmom to 8 yr old twins and we all get along great – we discipline when necessary – but not really a huge issue. When we are altogether, we are a family…but when they go home to bio mom – she grills them and manipulates them so they tell her it was not good, and that I am mean to them. Telling bio Mom what she wants them to say…when in fact it is not like that one bit and not at all true… I am so hurt and upset and angry at my husband for just letting them do that? I know they are not doing it to be mean, they are scared of their mom, which is why they are very close with me…how do I get through this? I feel like just staying out of their lives but…please help me..

          1. Yes my stepson has “blamed” my son for him being sore or whatever and having bruises from playing w/his older biological brother. Of course the bio mom texts my husband saying to get onto my son for being too rough. Really, my son wasn’t even around that weekend. He tells his mom all kinds of “false” things knowing that’s what she wants to hear. So gives her more ammo to hate me and my son, when none of it was ever true to begin with. I was once accused from the bio mom as telling by stepson “I wish he was never born”. Again, never ever said that. So frustrating

          2. Sadly you can’t control what they say when they aren’t with you. I have the same situation with a bio mom. She’s insecure bc you would think I was the bio mom given how close I am with my two stepsons. They are afraid of her unfortunately and my younger guy won’t say boo to her bc he doesn’t want to deal with her bipolar reactions. The only thing you can do is try to teach them the right way to handle certain situations. We either name someone they know that acts similar to their mom or just describe a “type” of person rather than point her out and tell them what they need to try to do.( If you point her out then you’re bullying her and are the bad guy)There isn’t an instant change but the repetition and consistency does eventually show them the light. My oldest is doing much better and we are still working on the younger one. I met my SS when they were 6 and 9. They are now 16 and 13. The more you and your husband deliver the same message and show the kids what a healthy relationship looks like, the better the kids will turn out in my opinion. Stability and consistency for kids and teens is really important and not often there in divorced or blended families.

  3. Another AWESOME video! This made my day, my week! Thank you for such great affirmation of what I daily hope is the truth. This is such great stuff! Thank you!

  4. Very helpful, thank you. It definitely does get complicated especially when there is a less than active bio mom involved and dad and stepmom have full custody. Stepmoms in that position DO have to take on a parenting role, especially if there are other kids in the household. You can’t wait 10 hours for dad to get home from work to ask how to handle a behavioral issue that requires immediate attention. Also, decisions that are made for stepkids do impact the rest of the house, they don’t live in a bubble. Stepmoms are often these days in a “mom” role for their stepkids, especially when the bio mom has limited involvement or does not have appropriate or responsible actions. It is a struggle to put aside maternal instincts in lieu of ambiguous “rules”. We strive to be kind and respectful and responsible, but we are not invisible. Stepmoms who take on the mom role out of necessity, should not be forced into a corner for fear of crossing a “boundary”. It is really a tough spot to be in. If we do too much we are being inappropriate, if we do too little we are irresponsible. As a stepmom in this situation, believe me I would LOVE to defer all issues to the bio mom and focus on the rest of my family needs, but not everyone has that option. I am doing homework and going to parent teacher meetings and dealing with behavioral issues 24/7 since my stepson was 3, but am reminded by the bio mom that I am not his “mom”. Ok, I get it. I didn’t give birth to him, but I take on all the responsibilities of a mom because she revoked hers. It seems so unnatural to raise a child and deny him an opportunity to have a nurturing and bonding experience with a “mom” figure simply because she is not his “mom”. I don’t know why anyone would want that for their children. I don’t think it needs to be that complicated.

    1. I agree 100%. I have a very similar situation as you. Bio mom walked out and gave up all rights when my stepson was a toddler. She now lives in a different state and rarely calls my stepson. She sends gifts at Christmas and on birthdays, but that’s it. My husband works nights, so that leaves me raising his son and doing everything I’ve been told “isn’t my responsibility because he’s not my biological kid.” My husband wants me to parent his son, too (but doesn’t always make decisions with me…he makes some decisions and I am left to enforce them when he is at work). It is a very tough spot we are in.

      1. I have noticed more and more women are in our situation, is there a rise in bio mom’s giving custody to fathers or is it just that I am noticing it more? In any case, it is nice to relate to others that fall into that ‘ambiguous’ role of mom, but not mom scenario. We are not every other weekend Stepmoms, we do the grunt work, but bio mom comes around every so often with the toys and fun stuff and I am no fun stepmom who makes them do homework and eat veggies. It is hard not to be resentful, even on the best days. I try to rise above and just focus on giving my stepson a stable, healthy and safe place to be and not focus on the drama…. but come on, we are only human. Give us a break! I would like to see more helpful info on how to handle bio moms who overstep their boundaries and how to deal with the friction and drama it creates. Please!


        1. I’m in the same spot. I just recently wed to a man with a 20 year old, 15, and 6. I take care of the 6year old on a regular basis. The bio mom chooses her social life and her needs over her own daughter but feels threatened because I had to step up and make her daughter feel loved. The 6 year old wants to live with myself and her dad and calls me mom even though I try to somewhat discourage this. It’s very frustrating.

    2. This is exactly my case. I can relate so very much. There are good days and then there are bad but the main thing is, I’d like to do the right things in nurturing a person who lives with me, who I have come to love. Come to think of it, I’m the person closest to a mom figure for her so I try my best, without expecting anything in return.

    3. Oh so agree!!! My stepson lives with his mom in another city, 3 hours away. But I’m the one who goes to get him and drives him back here to go to the doctor. I make the dentist appointments and take him here in my city. I do all the “mom” stuff but yet I’m not allow to be a “mom” in other areas such as discipline, etc. But I do get to be the stepmom he resents though, yay me! I’m good enough to do all the other stuff that moms are suppose to do (cause his mom will not), but not good enough of being a mom to him while he’s in my home? Three doctors say he’s extremely overweight, his mom does not care and just lets him eat and/or drink whatever in her home and in his grandmother’s home. But here I try to do right by him like the doctor says, watch his food and drinks and weight, but I’m the “mean” one? I’m so confused and lost it’s not even funny.

    4. I am a step mom to 3 kids aged 7,10 & 13. By two different women.. Plus I have 3 biological children of my own aged 5,7 & 9. It’s not easy but with 2 of my step children the mother is Mia pretty much and I’ve become the active mother in their lives. They didn’t come out of me but I do consider them mine and it sucks when their “mother” does decide to come around and play mom to them… When I’m the one busting my ass to raise them. When their sick, have homework, doc appts where the hell is she?? I’m the one there…now my step daughter is diff we got temporary custody of her 5 months ago and her mother gets supervised visitation with her 1 day a week at our home…I’ve grown very close to this little girl after all she is the only girl out of 6 kids. Her mother is constantly starting problems. She lost her daughter bc of drug use. I’m the one raising her and I’ve taken on that role bc I love that little girl. I think my problem is I get so close to these kids and I truly have grown to love them as my own. I don’t see them as a burden they are gifts. I get grown them under my heart but I grew them in it! Now where I’m struggling is these bio moms want to come around when it’s convenient and play mom. Yes they are the bio moms but I consider these kids mine. I’ve raised them for 3 years now and it hurts me to see my kids hurting. Being a step mom isn’t easy

      1. This bothers me, too. I haven’t been a stepmom long, but last week, the kids’ mother came back from 3+weeks away doing army stuff. Before she left she gave the youngest an army bear to hug when he missed his mommy and she got all teary eyed. When she got back, she lied to my husband about when she would be home. Well, she moved just a few blocks away and I saw her driving in the neighborhood when she was supposedly delayed in Texas. My husband confronted her and let her know we would be dropping the kids off to her house at 5 that evening. Well, she didn’t respond at 5, so we waited an hour and stopped by at 6. The oldest was able to get in her house and didn’t see her anywhere. They all came back to the car and the youngest one (5 years old) was crying. I don’t have any of my own, so I don’t know if I can say that I love these kids like my own, but I want to protect them and show them as much love as I can. I want them to be my own. I was enraged me that this little boys mother could crush him like that. She has no idea what she is blessed with. Turns out she was off with her friends. What teary eyed mother who supposedly has a hard time leaving her kids upon her return can find time for her friends before her own children? She doesn’t deserve those kids.

    5. That is my life. Bio mom see her daughter for 48 hours every other week. I have been the full time mother figure in this now 5 year olds life for 2 years. I call Bio mom the egg donor. She only had a child to experience pregnancy. Raising her daughter got in the way of her job and having a social life. However, my possible soon to be husband treats her like she is the greatest mother influence in his child’s life. I call BS. Even though he is very supportive of me and the things I do for him and the child I do feel as if I come second when it comes to big decisions. He’ll run it by her first and let me know what they decided. Then I have to implement it. It sucks. I am really having a hard time with being a stepmother and after reading my own words I really need to do some soul-searching and determine if this is really what is in the best interest of myself and that little girl. God bless all the women out there going through this. It is not easy. And sometimes walking away is the best thing.

  5. More, more, more! I so needed this information 18 years ago when I became a StepMom. I don’t believe that I would have functioned differently in my family but I sure wouldn’t have been as emotionally depleted, confused and sometimes simply “DONE” if I had known the basis for these lies.

    Question: my stepdaughters are adults now and I want to know if I should share this video with them as I send it to the rest of my family.
    Thanks Brenda!

    1. What great question ! I would be interested too. I guess it would depend on our relationship with our step children?

  6. Hi been a step-mom for 22 yrs now. Oldest 27, 26 (3 children of her own with 3 different fathers). 25 Ours 21,18,13,6. total of 7 children and 3 grandchildren (step). Thank- you for the video . I wish I had resources,at the beginning. It would have saved some pain. The first five years were the worse ( in out of court), even before they were teens. But through the struggle and pain, came some joy too. The children lived with their mom, and we saw them on and off. many due to distances. They are now grown, and can make their own decisions for their lives. I had support from our church and family friends, which made a big difference .I made a promise to my husband, before we wed. I will support him, encourage him. I love my step children dearly, I choose to love them because I love their father and they are a part of him. and my step grandchildren. Do I agree with their choices not always, that doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Its been harder on my husband, their father and on all the children. There is jealousy, from time to time. Our 21 has been spending time with the older ones which brings joy to my hart. No we not the Partridge family .. or the Brady family.. Learning to forgive was the most important for me.

  7. Thanks Brenda. Excellent advise. Being a stepmom myself isn’t easy. Too much resentment too much pain too much hurt. It never ends. Year in year out. Same story different day. Tiresome so I left the vicious circle to them to fight amongst themselves. I just am so worried about my husbands health as he is exhausted. Great thing he has turned to our Lord who gives him strength and wisdom to do wots right. Step moms out there trust in God he sees and knows everything. Don’t judge so that u can’t be judged by him. It’s hard but I have faith in him. God has a way with all of us to do wots right. He finds a way.
    Keep up the great points Brenda. Everyday is not as good as today. I have sad days and can’t cope very well.

  8. Dead on! Thanks for the confidence boost. Just too late since the child is 30, lives in the same city, and gave birth to the first granddaughter in September without including us! Keep up the outreach for even the scarred, too late models!

  9. Thank you for the video and your website! I am new to this whole thing (only 3 months in). I have a 19 year old son of my own whom resides with us, and my boyfriend has a 15 year old who also lives with us, and he has a 19 year old that lives with her mother, both girls. Lets just say it’s been interesting so far. I didn’t think that it was going to be this diffucult. At times I have found myself wondering if I should have just stayed on my own, just kept dating him and not moved in together. I hoping that chatting with others in my situation will help me feel not so alone.

    1. Thank you! I loved this video. My husband’s three kids are grown and we have three grandkids. I became a grandma at 38 and have been unable to have my own children. I mistakenly believed if I was loving, kind and compassionate I could handle the role. I adore my stepdaughter. The two boys don’t acknowledge me really. I have bent over backwards and recent events punched me in the gut so hard I cried for two days straight. My poor husband doesn’t really understand the lonely/outsider feeling. Anyway, never knew it would be this tough but I truly feel like now that I know a bit more about the complexity of it all (and that I’m not alone!) I’m going to take a step back and just breathe. It is time for me to face reality–I am a loving, positive person in my stepdaughter’s life, but I am not and never will be her mom.

      BREATHE ladies!!!

    2. Hi Treena,
      I have just watched this video and have been reading all of the posts. Yours is the most similar to my situation because of the “Just months ” and I am 9 months new to this! OMG!! I just wanted you to know that I am here, and as well as you are, trying to get some advice. I’ve been with my fiancee for 16 years, I have known 4 out of 5 EXACTLY 1/2 of his 27yr old baby girl whole life! See HATTTEESS me with a vengeance!! Has been VERY aggressive towards me, and her dad let’s her screaming threats towards me go on without a word to her to cool it!! I’ve been threatened, (in her own quoted threats) “I hope you die!, I am going to KILL you, I hope you OD OVER Dose!!” ect: Just 3 nights ago, I had to have my best friend pick me up, to take me back to his Corvette, because he “forgot” to renew his registration, and failed to put an insurance card in the car. I told him, police spoke to me, saying “If you drive this car from here, we will take his license plate and impound the vehicle. ” As an adult who cares about his best interest, I was NOT going to let this happen!” Seeing he was out of town, I called and asked him where the new tags were. On the sofa, at the house. Was his reply… I waited 2 hours before my b/for to come to get me, 33 miles away, and then take me 40 miles to get these frigging tags, and the “sheet hit da fan!” When his daughter comes down stairs and FLIPS OUT on me and my best friend of 25yrs, SCREAMING ” NO, NO, NO, WTF IS SHE DOING HERE! I DON’T KNOW HER, AND YOU BOTH NEED TO GET OUT OF “MY” HOUSE!! I AM IN FEAR OF MY LIFE!!!” (I started laughing!) Seeing that she and I are both handicapped, both of us physically, along with my TBI. She calls for police, and her Daddy. Then she hangs up, and starts screaming again, EXTREMELY racial comments on us, being white trash beeaches!! Her Dad defeated her and her behavior!!! I explained to him that the police had given me the worning that they would pull me over and take the plates, then the car would be impounded. When looking for these “tags” I find the new insurance card which was A month old already, but not in the vehicle! Along with the fact, she HAD to get an indoor dog who pees and poops EVERYWHERE!! And she let’s it stay like that. Ohhhh did I mention that she had a baby not quite 3 mo. old? The dog pees ON her swing!! And I haven’t seen her sterilize 1 bottle, pacifiers dropped out of the baby’s mouth and lands in the pee stains, one time it was still wet, and doesn’t wash o ffloyd or put it in her mouth, just sticks it into baby’s mouth!!! Diapers are put into trash when there’s NO more room left, about 2-3wks, there in the room!!!!!! I had to tell my friend to head out, because I knew if the police came, they would have C.P.S. here as soon as they could… I have been the one cleaning up after the dog for 2 days. I have had it. How can I find my ”man” sexyou, when he’s not going to EVER stick up for me, because he wants to be her best friend??? So outta here…

  10. All I can say is that watching that video made me want to cry. Everyday I have a different emotion. For the most part, I’m unhappy. Bio mom left SD with us less than 10 years ago. I’m a nice kind woman who actually enjoys children, but I’ve struggled so hard with her. I feel guilt, and resentment towards SD, her mom and my husband. Bio mom lives less than 10 minutes away and only sees her daughter every other weekend. It hurts that I have to do so much. I don’t talk much about it bc I don’t get much sympathy, “well, you knew he had a child…”

    Now I have a young daughter that I completely adore but I can’t lavish her the way I want because I don’t want SD to feel (or find out) that I love my daughter more than her. SD idolizes her mom, yet expects me to care for her as if she is my child. And I do because my husband wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel so fake around her when I hug her or show affection, but I don’t want to turn her away, so I just “fake it til I make it”. She’s the true victim having been abandoned by her mom and probably doesn’t realize it.

    Wow sorry for the vent. I hurt so much. My stomach hurts every time I have to deal with the bio mom. I dont hate her, I just resent that she hasn’t changed her lifestyle to make her child a priority, when it’s expected that I make her a priority. She hasn’t contributed ANY money (no exaggeration), doesn’t return clothes, doesn’t discipline, but she shows up when it’s time to pretend like she’s an active mom.

    I try so hard not to judge but it’s so hard for me. I end up so depressed over this and I’ve considered divorce for years…

    1. Megan, thank you for your comment I am in the same boat with one SD and a bio mom who lives minutes away and is not involved at all. For me it’s the constant drama that is brought into our home due to her bio mom and how checked out she is. It creates this overwhelming amount of resentment and frustration for me! I have 3 children with my husband and I agree about wanted to lavish on my own daughter because I’m so self conscience that i’m not being “fair” towards her or not including her but honestly I don’t, I just want to bond and have special time with my daughter! It makes me feel like a horrible person for not loving her the same or wanting to include her! Plus I don’t want my SD to lash out in jealousy on my daughter! Being a stepmom is no easy picnic…good luck to you!! I hope we both find a way to deal with this!

    2. Megan,
      I can completely relate to what you have to say. My SD’s mom is an utter disgrace to mothers. She blames her adult problems on her daughter and was willing to give her to us if she did not have to pay child support. My husband was drained dry by the time we won our custody battle. Now that the little girl is in our custody, I do everything. I pointed out to my husband that he needs to have an active role in his daughter’s life. I am his backup not the primary parent. The little girl has been my stepchild for almost 6 years now. I have watched her grow up. My husband spoils her so rotten that all of our other kids resent her and don’t come around much. I told him that if he cannot be fair and treat everyone the same then I, too, will leave him with his child and they can see how it works for them then. He thinks I have changed. I have. I am much better than I ever was before. I am older. I am wiser. But I am no pushover. I communicate with his ex because the two of them can’t pull their heads out of their netherregions in order to take care of this child. She calls me mom but misses her real mom. I am a little jealous and resentful because her bio mom doesn’t deserve her love. I also know that is not my choice to make. I feel so selfish for just letting it out but I know something has got to give. I am tired. I have grown kids and a couple grands that I would much rather spend my time with. I am at my wit’s end but I keep pushing forward.
      You are not alone. I will be praying for you.

  11. Thanks for the great video – wish I could have shared this with my husband after we were married. It might have helped both of us clarify our roles in the family. By far, being a stepparent has been one of the hardest roles I’ve had – and I have a 23 year old daughter with a developmental disability!! StepMom Magazine was a life saver for me – helped we realize so much and helped me stop feeling so powerless and crazy and so alone. My step-daughters are 19 and almost 18 now, but it can still be difficult and sometimes the awkward feeling of not quite truly being part of “their” family still rears it’s ugly head and takes me by surprise. It really helps to remember the stepmom lies presented here. When I stay focused on what makes me happy and on my relationship (which did not come easy which my husband putting the girls first most of time), I usually can remember my goal of being kind and respectful with the girls – with bio-mom, well, that is still a work in progress LOL.

  12. when u say stepback & stop putting the kids first & everyone elses needs, what do u do if ur husbands license is suspended, the ex refuses to do any driving for visitation, & the court order says she only has to meet 1/2 way on sunday & she wont deviate from the order. she doesnt care if he gets to c his kids. i have had enuf & i have children of my own. then my husband fights with me that his kids r suffering. i think their mothers should b more worried about that not me.

  13. Thank you for the wonderful video! You are spot on!! Another one that trips my trigger,” you knew he had kids when you married him, you knew what you were signing up for”….. ummm no. You never really know what it’s going to be like until you are actually in that position.

    1. Oh girl, I totally agree on that. I got married when I was 43, to a man who had small kids from a previous marriage. Had I known being a stepmom was going to be as hard as it has been, I would have insisted on couples or family counseling first.

      1. Exactly. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have insisted on dating way way more. Not sure I’d have married…it’s just so hard being hated for no reason, so hard not being respected in your own home, so hard not being heard when I speak, so hard of being contradicted by my husband in front of his kids, so hard of wanting to speak my mind but biting my tongue…and so on and so forth.

  14. My step-daughter and I are completely bonded in a very parent-child way. I make many parental type decisions, and she is both respectful and appreciative. Her parents are low drama, and even though her dad and I are divorced, I still co-parent with him as if she were my natural child. That said, we HATE the evil stepmom stereotype. When she tells people at school that she lives with her step-mom the first questions kids always ask her is, “is she evil?”
    I really feel that she’s more bonded to me that her mother, because of her mother’s addiction issues, but she always longs for her mother’s attention and care. I can meet many of the needs in her life, practical needs and most emotional needs, but she is always going to need something from her mom that I can’t give her. She is always going to long for her mother to be present and active in her life. She is always going to want to know that she was wanted by her mother. It’s sad, because her mother seems incapable of giving her what she needs.
    From the outside, I think few people understand just how powerful that longing for mother really is. As time goes on, I see her longing for me in that way, when she is gone. It warms my heart when she calls to tell me she misses me, but I always try to keep myself in check that although I am mom-ish (can’t even really say step-mom, being divorced from her dad now), she’ll never stop hoping that her mom would rise up and start acting like a mother should.
    I guess my point is, even when things are about as good as they can get between as step-kid and step-parent, it’s still complicated.

    1. Thank you for this comment – I am a stepmom of 2 girls and their mother is also struggling with addiction. I have a great relationship with them, but they will always choose mom over stepmom if they have the opportunity and that is really difficult. we give and love endlessly, but it’s not equally returned (due to no fault of the child). You put it best when you said, “even when things are about as good as they can get between as step-kid and step-parent, it’s still complicated.”

  15. Hi All,

    Love this video wish I had see it before I made the decision to marry a man with kids. I think lie #2 strongly applies to me. No matter how nice and caring you are – No matter how much you take the higher ground with regard to the kid’s mother (when she truly has just behaved in a very bad, immature, and mean manner) you will be treated as if you are a third cousin – twice removed always. Some background. I have been a step-mom for 18 years now. When I first met my step-sons they were 13 and 12. I have always tried to be kind and nurturing with them and have tried to be a sounding board for them. I never tried to be their “Mom”. I thought I understood my role. Once when they were staying with us I did try to correct their table manners by asking them to take their elbows off of the table – but that was met with a nasty note from their Mom telling my husband that I should back off and they would learn all of their table manners, and everything else from her. So I quit trying to teach them things. Fast forward to now. They are 33 and 31. The oldest one is getting married for the second time in a few weeks and the youngest one and his pregnant wife are moving in with his mother while he looks for a job. I do not have children of my own – I always wanted them. Before we were married my husband told me he was looking forward to having a child with me but then after we were married he told me that he did not want to pay for any more children and that his kids would be my kids. Ha! I spent so much time and every holiday with his kids. Even when we went to visit my family they were always with us. At the time I thought, isn’t this great! The more the merrier. Never realizing it took time away from me being with my family and my friends. Anyway so here I am now. My family has all passed away. His kids are polite to me but really I am only a step-mom filling really a distant second cousin kind of role. I’m expected to show up with a smile on my face at all of their events (and help pay for most of them.) I truly feel completely alone. I know that you all are going to say that this is all of my own fault which is completely true. So here is what I have to say to anyone who is going to marry a man with kids. Just don’t do it. Stay single, stay involved with your friends, live your life, further your career, and make all kinds of friends and savor every minute you have with your own family. Or you could find yourself old, alone, under appreciated, and merely tolerated by your husband’s family just like me.

    1. I’m so sorry. Your reply just really breaks my heart. You had (and clearly have) a good heart and good intentions. It has been some time since you posted this. I hope you have taken some of your own advice. Of course, the past cannot be undone–but you have spoken wise words that can still apply to yourself… To make all kinds of friends, to live your life from here on out. Please know you can still set boundaries for your own good and limit how much pain you take on from not being loved by your stepsons as you’d hoped (I’m working on this myself right now!). Say “no” or leave early from gatherings that bring hurt–and go out and live your life on new terms, on your own terms. Please seek professional guidance if you need it (I’m also working on this). Sending you my best wishes for you to find peace with the past and in all that still lies ahead… your own life and friends and moments to savor that you can yet create and enjoy! That is my sincere hope.

  16. I’m so glad I found this magazine, site, blog… invaluable support and insights! I’d love to hear more about the parenting situation because often my partner looks to me which, incites death stares from either or both teenagers. I don’t want to be submissive – aka: look weak- when I do have an opinion, even if it it just to support him. Often the things that upset me from a parenting standpoint effect me directly, like either parent agreeing to take kids various places without consulting my schedule or allowing sleepovers when I have a big event the next morning. Lastly, the idea that everyone elses’ feeling have to be considered or preserved before mine. Sometimes I feel indulgent talking about ‘my feelings’ all the time, I really do consider others’ feelings first. But when I feel like I’m being told that I’m the grown up, their kids or that a situation is out of my partner’s control, or that the kids aren’t ready for me to be included in an event… these are all things that make me feel like I’m the only one NOT be considered. But speaking up makes me (feel or be seen as) selfish and not speaking up makes me a doormat (someone to ignore the way ‘Dad does’). My eyes and ears are peeled for tips and tools. I’ll keep reading! Thanks!!

    1. You are so not alone! My husband and his ex use attachment style parenting to raise their kids and it has been hard for me to adjust to that. In my way of thinking, when a kid misbehaves, you tell them not to do that again or there will be consequences. With Attachment parenting, everything has to be discussed at length in order to ensure that everyone’s feelings and self esteem are intact. When I have spoken up in the past about maybe there are other effective ways of handling bad behavior, you’d think it was blasphemy the way my husband reacts. Even though he wants me to be a parent to his kids, he has a very specific way he wants that managed, and I don’t always agree. You’d think I suggested cannibalism when I gently ask the kids to turn off the lights or flush the toilet after they’re done. It’s getting better, but I definitely feel like I have no say as a “parent” most of the time and am made to feel like a freak because I want the kids to clean up after themselves so we can live in a clean house. Like I said before, you’re not alone and you’re not wrong for wanting to have a voice in raising these kids that are a big part of your life.

      1. How is that soooo many stepmoms are experience the same thing but yet nothing has changed in decades on ways things are in a “blended” family?? So am experiencing the same thing, ugh. So frustrating. How can we break this crazy cycle?

  17. Thank you so much for this article!!! I became a stepmom 1yr and half ago. At the time the oldest was 12, 8, 7, and 3. A month after myboyfriend and I decided to move in bio mom called and said that she had packed all their belongings and to pick them up. Apparently the children did not want to be with her. I had no choice but to open the doors to my home to them. It was the hardest thing to do. First of all I was just starting to get used to living with someone and second Ive never really been very fond of children. To top it off the children werent really used to being around me. The good thing is that all 4 are the sweetest kids I’ve known and we really didnt have much of problem getting along. The frustration started when I realized that bio mom was not intending to be an active mom. So I started to do more parenting especially when it came to behavior in my house. Thats when the oldest and I started clash a lot. Ive also had to get involved in their schooling. Bio mom believes that picking up report cards is enough. We have 50/50 custody and she does nothing. She only sees them every other weekend. The kids complain that when they are there she doesnt really talk to them. She doesnt play with them. She doesnt sit down and eat with them. She tells them not to bother her. When we ask her to help with something its has to be convenient for her because she cannot go out of her way.This transition has been really difficult on my and on my relationship with their father. Im in my first year of law school married with four stepkids. I was starting to feel like a horrible stepmom but your posting has given reassurance that everything is going to be ok and that I’m not the only one. Thank you!

    1. You’re not the only one, that’s for sure! Please sign up for our FREE tips (in the sidebar on the right-hand side of this page) and consider subscribing. You’ll get lots of advice from our experts and access to our online support group where women like you can talk, vent and problem solve. You’ve got a lot on your plate with 4 kids and law school … let us help you! Best of luck!

  18. I have to vent… I love my stepchildren, as a mentor loves their student… I want them to succeed and feel confident that they can be successful in whatever they do… My problem isn’t with the step kids… it’s with my husband and their mother… Their mother has admitted more than once that she shouldn’t be financially obligated for her three children because I am now their step mom and I make more money than she does… my husband says nothing to her when she talks this way (she has even said it in front of the kids)… We have the children 98% of the time. Also my husband lived with his parents until right when we got married so for five years he made all decisions consulting them and still is! Not once has a financial decision been ran by me… and I am talking big decisions… car and home purchase… he ran to mommy and daddy for advice and support… they were bad decisions and now we are in a mound of debt… he is mad at me because I refused to continue to pay the phone bill… I moved the three kids and him off my bill, i kicked them off my insurance and I stopped paying the electric. I give him $200 a month to cover the 1/5 of my portion of the house note… I don’t pay for his car insurance anymore and I refuse to put anything else in my name that regards him and his children..mainly because he opened three charge cards in my name to pay for Christmas presents for them and has never given me a cent to pay them off… I have become distant from him and the kids… he blames me and tells me he feels alone but refuses to address the financial situations he has and continues to put me in… I am at my wits end and am so glad I have chosen to never have children. I just want to move out and never look back…

    again sorry for the rant I just needed a place to express myself.

    1. We’re so sorry to hear about your situation, Liv. You’re right, your problems aren’t stepfamily issues, they’re relationship/marital problems. If your husband is open to couples counseling, we highly recommend it. We wish you all the best and hope things improve!

      1. Your magazine has so many comments on this article but I see very little response! You’re supposed to be a step-mom magazine and these people are crying out for advice! Answer them! There are many of us out here struggling with similar scenarios and we NEED to know!

        1. Hi Heather. We do our best to provide as much free information and advice on our website as possible. We do address ALL of these questions -and more!- in the monthly issues of the magazines. Each issue contains articles written by qualified, licensed therapists who understand how complicated and challenging it is to be a stepmom. Hope you’ll check us out!

          1. I am so happy to found this page and read through all the advices and situations other stepmom dealing with, I’m grateful to know I’m not alone, other women out there struggle just like me. Tell me I am not a bad stepmom, I am my kids mom i raised 2 grown daughter very independent and responsible, they both have a career and live on their own. I got married 3 years ago to my husband who have 2 boys teenagers with 50-50 custody with their mom but recently since August we have full custody of his kids. Since we married I discover his kids are very manipulative and they specially the oldest son and his mom have tries so hard to causing problems for our marriage, on top of that my husband always put them first, but I remind myself theyre not going to be kids forever they will grow and be on their own maybe my husband and I will have our life together . The boys are so lazy disrespectful often play mom and dad against each other, Many time I have to put my feet down and said my house my rules and orders toget things done st home, I don’t asked any of them to clean after me or clean my house but I expect them to clean after themselves and expect them to leave things the way they found it. On my husband side he fully cater to them and very defensive and protecting them when I addressed things were out of control. He makes so many different excuses of why kids the way they are, now 14 and 17 They didn’t have any motivation but games all the times, I always encouraging my husband and stand by his side pushing for him to stand strong on his feet give them guidance, structures and advise teach them things so they can be independent and one day they can be out on their feet for them just in case he didn’t know he not going to live forever to take care of them but of course I’m always a bad person at the end of every conversations. He recently posted note on refrigerator and bathroom mirror chores for the kids to do their own things like clean bathroom empty trash clean dishes in their area and their mess But nothing gets done and no actions happen, just so you know the action he is nothing but first time no games2 hrs, 2nd time no games 3 hours,3times no games 4 hours. We talking about 14 and 17-years old here, dishes still filling up in the sink their masses spreading all through the house, get to the point I had enough and spoken to my husband and addressed to the kids, And you would not believe they all three gang up on me as I was a bitch and all I do just bitch at them, my husband now only buy food for kids because he is not going to mess up my kitchen and also try to not use the bathroom at home which means they Will be out more, instead of correcting kids this is how My Husband showed his kids to live, am I going too far here? Am I a bad wife and bad stepmom? When I only wanted to push for my husband to stand up and means what he say and says what he means so the kids can learn something but instead I am just a bitch to them. In August the kids have got kicked out of their mom and stepdad house because of some problem they have there, makes me think it’s probably something the same as I am facing here in my home. I don’t know what to do knowing I don’t want to live like this and why did my husband see this? Only wish my husband see through things and stand by me for his kids but instead I think we are heading for divorce and I’m just one bad person, very sad please tell me what should I do here?

          2. Thank you for your comments. We are sorry for your situation. Stepfamily life can be very complicated. We’re not able to provide personalized advice on this site. We do, however, recommend you find a qualified counselor (one who’s trained in stepfamily dynamics) to help you work though and resolve these issues. We wish you the best of luck.

  19. I am so happy to have find this website. I am from Mexico City and I have been dating my boyfriend, who lives in US, for more than 4 years. He has 2 kids (almost 14 and 12) from a previous marriage and a girl (almost 7) from another relationship. He proposed last year and I cannot wait to be part of his everyday life but I honestly afraid. The little girl lives with him and the mom is never around so the last year I have felt that his daughter is behaving worst instead of getting better. I am trying to be patient but sometimes I just can’t. I am 16 years younger than my fiancé and I really enjoy being with him but the kids are completely different as what I am used to in my family. I am subscribing to know everything that I can to be a great stepmom because my fiancé really worth it.

  20. Well….some of us are wicked 😀

    Thanks for the surprisingly reasonable article. Just because you marry someone doesn’t mean you have special obligations to their children other than the same obligations any other random adult would have. You don’t have to love them, you don’t have to like them you just have to co-exist from time to time.

    Too many people are out there thinking you need to somehow imprint on them like a wild animal and take them as your young. If you like them great, if you love them great, but it’s not guaranteed, should never be expected and should never be condemned if it’s not there.

    Also if you’re putting your kids first you’re not in a healthy marriage/relationship. Kids need to see spouses putting each other first. It teaches them a good lesson for building relationships later in life.

    1. I so agree with this. A man’s kids are his and his ex-wife’s. I don’t see why we should be expected to love them as our own born children. We don’t have that biological link or time bonding with them since their infancy. I sometimes like my step-kids but I am still getting used to this whole dynamic, having married only last summer. The eldest just turned 18 and my husband is going to end visitation with him in a few months. Of course the bio-mom is blaming me for this and criticizing other things about me. I wish we could just move far away from it all.

      1. I so agree. I just simply cannot love his kids as my own flesh and blood. He says he loves my son as his own but I find that hard for I do not feel the same in return/vice versa. People say I should love them as my own but I do not. I cannot even say “i love you” to them, cause I truly don’t feel it in my heart. The more I try to distance myself from the “mother” role from the kids and put it more on my husband to handle, for him to do more of the stuff for his kids himself, he gets mad and frustrated. It’s so hard to try to be there for them in the beginning, then pushed away, then I finally stop trying and my husband doesn’t really see it or wonder why. He’s never asked why I’m so standoffish, he just sees it as me being a “bitch” or selfish. Just don’t understand how the father’s don’t get where we’re coming from. Like as the new “mom”, we’re supposed to immediately take over as their biological mom did? Nope! I’m not the mom replacement.

        1. I am a “bio” mom and my ex-husband just married a woman who has no children of her own. Our kids are preschool age. I have to admit that it is refreshing to hear stories from stepmoms who understand the limitations of their role. Too many stepmoms try to be the second mom, insult. blame, and degrade biomoms, and don’t understand that kids need their mom and dad, not two moms. I share 50% physical and legal custody with my ex, but he continues to threaten to take me to court for sole custody. He claims that he found a new mom for our kids – despite my being a healthy and very involved primary caregiver. I don’t think his new wife knows what’s in store for her. I’ll try to be as respectful and understanding towards her as possible and I never undermine anything the kids tell me she has told them (rules, etc.). But the moment she acts like she can parent my children better than me or take my place… there will be a problem. I like the respectful stepmoms who have posted comments. It gives me hope. I wish my Ex had married you!

    2. Hello. Stepchild here (15 yr old girl). You said that, “Kids need to see spouses putting each other first. It teaches them a good lesson for building relationships later in life.” Sorry to be crass, but it stings a little, that logic. Picture this. You’re born and you’re dad loves you. Other than his mom, the only other woman he loves so much is your mom. Wait, scratch that because they break up. Obviously, it wasn’t unconditional love. Sure, your image of marriage as a lifelong and loving commitment is marred, but the damage is done. Their love wasn’t unconditional, but you’re his kid! It’s got to be different for you and him. He finds another woman to love. Suddenly, it’s her over you. His spouse comes first. Even though. Technically. You. Came first. Into his life. I see what you’re saying and this is all conditional to everyone’s own experiences. But please take it from the view of a stepchild for one moment. Seeing Daddy find another girl hurts bad. You start to feel like you’re your mom and now you’re both on the back burner. I’m not too embarrassed or ashamed to say that jealousy is a part of the resentment that many stepchildren feel. Not trying to attack or criticize you. I agree that it’s important for kids to see a relationship work so they don’t have any unhealthy misconceptions, but it’s not about being “put first” or being made a priority. No one is a priority or on a pedestal when you’re trying to make a family unit. I mean, that’s the point right? Of marrying a man with children? You maybe didn’t understand the difficulty but it’s understood that the goal is to create a healthy /family/ unit. It’s enough to ask a child, who is still growing and developing their mind, to concede the “I had him first” rights to their father. But to demand or expect to be made first by your spouse? Look, definitely don’t put yourself last, as a stepmother. That will just create resentment toward your husband and his children. And then what. Y’all divorce too? No. But everyone should be considered equal in a household and it’s selfish to think otherwise. This goes for stepchildren and stepmothers.

      1. I know it is hard on kids, and there should be a period of time when you are all in the healing process. But a lot of single parents skip that and run to the next relationship, and it leaves kids in a state of arrested development a lot of times.
        It’s hard for adults to process difficult emotions, and harder still fr kids. You do not have the life experience or tools yet to get through trauma without help.
        However, that said, it is important to do the healing work whenever you realize you need it. And part of healing and moving forward is realizing that you will always be your parent’s kid, and that is something no one can take from you. That is yours forever. But it does not mean you won’t have issues, and that you get to control the parent in any way. You do not own them, and they do not own you. Show on the other foot, what if you started to date someone and your parent rejected them and you felt you had to choose between the person you love and your parent. It is the same.
        You do not own him. You cannot fill that need in him that he has as an adult. Are you going to sleep with him? Because honestly, when kids feel they are the most important relationship and want to be central to their parent, it is the first creepy thing the rest of us see. We see daughters who want to live in dad’s lap and hold his hands and be cuddly and receive the kind of physical affection daddy gave them when they were 5. But now you are 15, or whatever, and it is actually really unhealthy to want this level of attachment. I mean, would you still want to suckle mom’s boob as a teenager? Because it is the same.

        Your jealously can be worked through. Your dad owes you love and respect, food and shelter and clothes, and nothing more (except whatever the court may order, which he may resent as much as you resent dad’s new partner). I live with an entitled teen causing trouble in my home and his own mother is not expected to put up with him but apparently I am supposed to.

        Your job is to GROW UP, and to become SELF-SUFFICIENT. Dad is there to assist in that. But, you don’t get to keep him on a short leash and control his relationships with other people. If he has a new partner, you should respectfully discuss any issues you have, but be open to the possibility that you are being controlling and if you are, it could cause your father to count the minutes until you leave.

        Furthermore, you should know, just because people have kids doesn’t mean they wanted kids. My partner didn’t, but he has honored his commitments to his kids. But he regrets having them and wishes he’d used a condom. Sorry to break it to you: mom gets a choice, but generally dad does not. And people LOVE to screw. Often when drunk and no condoms. And voila, baby.

    3. YES!!! I only like 2/3 of my “step kids”– I say it like this because I really resent being referred to as a “step mom” and I’ll never stop correcting people who call me that. I always say “No, I’m their dad’s wife.” I don’t have children of my own, I won’t be having any, I’m not these kids mother either, I’m honestly just waiting til they’re all grown up and moved out so their dad and I can continue our life together just us. I buy them gifts for their birthdays and christmas, I cook dinner about half the time, but I’ve stopped trying to get them to love me. If they do, fine, if they don’t, I honestly don’t care! So liberating to step back and stop trying so hard to be a “family”. If these thoughts and actions make me wicked, then so be it 🙂

  21. I have moved in with my boyfriend and he has 3 kids. They are great. It has been difficult but is getting better everyday. His kids are 12, 13 and 18. Mine are 15, 17. His oldest totally despises and blames me for all, of course. My youngest is on the nasty rollercoaster. It’s on a day to day basis. I practice lots of patience with the four youngest in the home. The oldest lives with her mom. My advice? I mother and spoil mine. I only spoil his. I give him advice when he asks…and I advocate for his babies to my boyfriend when they ask. He does the same for my girls. I respect the space of all four kids. I only do things for ANY of them if they ask nicely. I can honestly say this experience has made me a more patient and relaxing mother to my girls. And to my step monkeys? I have come to love them for themselves not just because they are his kids. They are funny and have good hearts like my girls. My boyfriend and his Ex did as good a job as my ex and I did. We raised good hearted although selfish, sloppy, unapreciative, spoiled, dramatic, unperfect children. So everyday is not perfect. I just remind myself that even tho I completely adore my daughters…i sometimes don’t like the little shits. So why would his babies be any different? As for his ex? She is not perfect, but then again neither am I. She is their mother and they love her as they should. I speak of her as I would want my own mother spoken of no matter how unreasonable and crazy she gets…with kindness and as much wisdom as I can. If there are no good words to say? Then I say none.

    It has been a year. I honestly believe it will only get better with time and I am truly blessed to not just have him in my life but his 3 kids too. They are wonderful to know and have in my life. I truly thank God for them. They are teaching me and my girls alot.

    As for his oldest daughter? She hates me for now….and I hope she does not hate me forever. But my life does not end if she does. I encourage my boyfriend to have a good relationship with her and never give up. You never give up on your kids. I will always be good to her. She is his baby. I will not however fall in to the “you hurt my feelings” childlessnes. Hopefully she will work thru her anger issues and go on with a positive life. I will help wherever she allows. Respect will always be expected of course. She is a great kid with a lions roar. I can see the great young woman she is even if she does not at the moment. I will always hold out with hope and patience.

    My point is this.

    You are not their mother. They don’t want you to be and it’s ok.

    Never talk bad about their mother. Ever. No matter what.

    Sometimes we don’t even like our own bio kids. So it’s ok to not like our step kids when they are being stinkers.

    Don’t take stuff personal. I was a step kid and I was super terrible. So when they do the same to me…i just smile and tell them all the horrible things I did to my stepmothers and how they are nothing compared to the champ…me!

    Be supportive of their Dad’s decisions but advocate to remove the stick up his butt when he is being too strict and let him do the same for your babies.

    Be honest with them and yourself. Always. Kids hate fake and can smell it a mile away.

    we are getting married soon and I am looking forward to becoming my honeys wife. His babies are a real treasure added to my life…even when they grow horns!

    1. Monica,
      Many moms may be upset with your response, however I have read all the responses at this point and I relate to yours the most. I am new at this…. Engaged to a wonderful man and soon to be married. I moved in about 2 months ago with him and his oldest 13 year old son which he has custody of. He also has a 5 year old son who lives with his mother down the street. She is a control freak who stalks me and has overstepped her boundaries in every situation possible. Their adorable, sweet, beautiful child has taken to me and even starting loving me before I thought humanly possible, and I am beyond thankful for that. He has told me that his mom said he can’t kiss me anymore, and that I’m mean and he and tells daddy to tell mommy that I’m nice. He even randomly out of the clear blue said multiple times one day that I’m beautiful and mommy is ugly and mean!!! Which tells me that the poor child has said something about me being pretty in his eyes and has had his mom tell him over and over that SHE’S beautiful and I’M UGLY, and that’s the ONLY way he’s allowed to think. That’s how she is. ( of course i told him to never ever say such mean things about his mom and that she absolutely is beautiful and that she loves him… And didn’t ask what would make him say such things) Fortunately, this little guy has a mind of his own and doesn’t like being told what he’s supposed to think or who he can love. So i feel pretty confident so far with my relationship with him and I am confident i will be able to be a solid structure in his life, unlike his poor miserably unhappy momma whom i honestly pray for daily. Already he has learned to respect me and listens to me, and knows my limits. I know without a doubt that i am better equipped and have more experience dealing with difficult people, allowing me to better handle his mom with her jealous that someone else in the world is happy, questioning, crap talking, boundary pushing, over extensive-about-nothing attitude problem…. Plus i let no one walk all over me or even have the opportunity to take advantage of me, unlike his super sweet, do-anything-for anyone-to-keep-the-peace daddy lol. (Yup, learned the hard way… And i was truly raised this way by my hard working, tough loving, no shit taking dad…… Pluuuuus the 12 years + managerial experience in retail enabled me to only give a crap and want to resolve an issue and help someone out if the person didn’t have an attitude problem off the bat, or if they didn’t scream and yell at me for something that was told to them previously and they signed our copy knowing that they were responsible for. Lol. I learned to politely/firmly put those people in their place and to have no problem telling someone how it is if it’s absolutely necessary, and they left every time kissing my ### and thanking me for all my help! )
      His 13 year old is a bit more of a challenge for me, some days better than others. I’m a little more confused with him. He goes to his mom’s (different mom than the youngest son’s) or grandpa’s or brothers house or possibly all three places every weekend, and has a descent relationship with his mom. He remembers seeing his mom do terrible things, and she lost custody by going to jail. She has straightened up a lot the last few years and her and I honestly get along very well and I like her, the person she is and especially what she has potential to be. She means well for sure, I feel pity for her and I would never want her son to know the things his dad has told me about her past when he was too little to remember or understand. The only other “step mom figure” in his life was the youngest’s mom, who he disliked and saw thru from the very beginning. He wouldn’t come over on his dad’s weekends because of her and the drama she and her other kids constantly brought to the table. So i know he’s been scarred and in result, a bit reluctant to trust in me. The poor kid has seen the worst in both possible scenarios. I was a product of divorce as well, and have had an evil step mom and step dad both. I relate to the kid the only way i know how, and i know he appreciates it…but i haven’t enforced more than a friendship with respect boundaries with him. He pushes them sometimes, and i realize his age results in little attitude problems. He does randomly offer to help me with extensive things I’m working on, but i don’t expect it and am probably overly appreciative of his help when i get it. He’s a dang good kid and i love him, and i feel that he has more of a difficult time offering his love to me. I understand respect and love is gained thru time, so i would never push it on him. I think he also struggles because his best friend more recently happens to be his little brother’s older brother and they live only a minute away. I know (because he’s told me) that his best friend’s mom (my fiance’s baby momma with the youngest son) has made her son hate me, and therefore that kid says mean things about me that his mom said, and I’m sure my fiance’s son is torn about whether to defend me or laugh and agree…. And I know how I woulda reacted at his age so I’m assuming the latter lol. Sometimes it gets to me and hurts my feelings though…. Our house is across the street from the school and they walk home together, the other keeps going and my fiance’s son will cross the street and typically go straight inside and flat out ignore me when I’m outside working on the landscaping or whatever. Some days he seems to wait long enough for his buddy to be out of sight and he’ll come talk to me for a minute…. Other days not so much. I understand the poor kid dilemma, and I get it. It sucks for him. On those days, my stupid girl feelings are hurt. I’ve found that kinda blowing him off on the days he blows me off have a bit better results… And it seems that he kinda sucks up a little, although i have never brought anything up to him whosoever…cuz we all know that being emotional just freaks any aged male out and scares then off lol. I won’t let him see my tears.
      I know there’s gonna be days when both the boys completely dislike me, and i know I’ve already had days when I’ve thought to myself what little shits I get to deal with my whole life…. Lucky me lol. Having no babies of my own makes things hard…but somehow easier for me in reality in the end, I believe. I always wanted kids. I think I’m better off accepting this blessing I’ve been given of two boys I didn’t have to give birth to. All I’m reading about otherwise is how much more complicated it gets and harder it is to raise your own when there’s step children involved already. I’m not trying to take over or fill their mom’s shoes by any means, i just want to help guide them and love them in my own soon-to-be step mom way.
      I need to know from you experienced moms/step moms if anyone thinks I’ll be taking a sacrifice and will someday regret my decision to not have my own kids? My fiance told me at the beginning of us that he wanted only two kids and that he was strongly thinking of getting fixed. I let that sink in and accepted my lack of destiny and decided that i wasn’t meant to be a mom. Now he tells me over and over how much he wants a baby girl. My argument???? —> “What if you created us another little boy and you didn’t ever get your little girl???? You know it’s the dad who determines the gender of the child right?” He’s also 11 years older than me and I think he just loves me so much that he wants me to be fulfilled in life by having my own baby. I’m almost 31…. We’re both getting older. What should I do ladies?????

      1. I wanted to revisit my comment months after I had written this to see if I had felt the same way I had for 3 years… Little to no progress has been made with my relationship with the kids. They are determined to never “betray” their mother, still by refusing to notice my existence no matter how nice I am to them, plus I ALWAYS respect their time with their Dad. Their father explains to the kids that there is no way I would ever try to replace their mom at all and that this situation is actually not so bad at all, and that they would really like me if they would try. But, They are so loyal to their mom, and fear their mom would disown them if they accepted me. They “don’t like what I represent” which is another reason they refuse to accept me.

        I’ve learned to not let it bother me as much… I always have tried to put myself in their mother’s shoes and the kids’ shoes because it is a tough situation… I know because I’ve been in their shoes. But, I was always taught by both of my parents to always show respect and to accept people for who they are. My boyfriend’s kids have never been taught how to respect or accept people because of their social status. The kids also demonstrate this with other people in their community; it’s just I get most of the disrespect since I’m around more.

        My solution of living across the street from my boyfriend’s house is working. We have a very strong relationship and don’t plan on living together until the go to college/move out. I have heard that most of the time it gets better when the kids grow up, but I’ve also heard that it Never gets better…

        This will never stop me from being nice to them… I’m just going to be patient, having no expectations… But, it still hurts because it’s not just me they’re hurting; they are hurting. I feel really sad for the kids.

      2. Emily – Totally the same story for me as with your youngest SS. My SD get upset and confides in me when her spiteful mom says mean things about me to her – poor kid is being emotionally abused by the woman who is supposed to protect her. Husband just wants everyone to be happy so won’t confront the mother, which leaves me feeling let down and worth less to him than his ex. I never say anything mean to SD about her mother and even said to SD when she was telling me how fat her mother had gotten that she mustn’t say that to her mom because she might hurt her feelings. Yep, I’m a fool, more so because I know it and keep putting up with it. Now SD has become more distant with me and doesn’t kiss and hug me like she used to. When we first got together SD told us that her mom had said if daddy kisses her [me] in front of you it means he doesn’t love you. Two guesses as to why this little girl who tells me what a lovely step mom I am (not like the wicked ones in the films) is withdrawing. And another two guesses what my husband is doing to address it. Nothing, other than to tell me I’m not trying hard enough with SD. They say you hurt the ones closest to you…

      3. P.s. If you haven’t already, have your babies. I hope to although it hasn’t happened yet. You have all of the qualities needed, in stepmom circumstances, you should have the chance to get that love back from a bio baby.

  22. This article is so spot on. I have the most disrespectful bonus teenagers (13, 15, 17). It’s a COMPLETE nightmare. None of the kids has any consequences (especially from the mother) and are the most spoiled kids I’ve ever met. I have been in the kids’ lives for 3 years. They have been taught by their mom to call for a “rescue” EVEN if I step foot in my boyfriend’s yard. Just about every time, the mother will drive over and the kids will run to her and say “we don’t feel safe around her.” “We don’t have to be in this uncomfortable situation.” When they do come back in, they yell at their father and tell him that “she (speaking of me) hurts us. You need to tell her to go away.” Their mother has taught the kids to never accept me because I am an “inappropriate” person. “Inappropriate” because “I have a tattoo” and I don’t go to church every Sunday (These are the actual reasons the kids have claimed) and that I’ve “brainwashed their Dad” (but the kids know how abusive their mother was and still is to their dad).

    The courts are slow to stop parental interference in the state of NC, and with the mother’s manipulative behavior, it will never stop. I have never tried to parent them and never have told them what to do ever. I am always nice, mature, happy, and normal with the kids. I have taken the liberty to live separately from my long-time boyfriend. The emotions that went through my head almost every day used to consume me. There is nothing that I have done to deserve the way they treat me. I’ve never been treated with such disrespect EVER.

    I used to be so upset (still am somewhat) because they have gotten their way, but it would NEVER be a win-win situation no matter how hard my boyfriend and I tried. They have been poisoned by their bio-mom to hate me. According to the children, I am the worst thing that has walked on this earth… They try to abuse me constantly, even if their dad and I are on the phone with each other.

    I feel so bad for these kids because I have a feeling their partners (when they get older) will cheat on them and divorce them because of their manipulative A-hole behavior, and honestly, I hope it happens to them because nobody deserves to be treated the way they treat me. The bio-mom treated my boyfriend that way their entire marriage – This is how the kids learned to treat me and my boyfriend this way. Yes, they do treat their father similarly. It’s unbelievable.

    And therapy didn’t help because their mother would be present every time and manipulate the therapist and nothing would ever progress forward. This bio-mom is so unbelievable – She is a Jodie Arias, and so are her kids. The therapist said “if you are in an uncomfortable situation, run or call for a rescue” – But the kids use this excuse (and so does their mom) for things that are completely safe and totally normal. They don’t know what unsafe is!

    I am a health and wellness person, so I am like the most positive person on this earth (well up there at least). Plus, I’m such a kid person – kids have always loved being around me. In order for me to have any type of relationship with my boyfriend, I want nothing to do with his kids until they grow up (if they do) – Their mother never grew up past age 8 emotionally. The only solution for me is to not be in their lives because after many attempts including therapy, it has only gotten worse.

    Oh, and I should also mention the bio-mom has an MD degree and has NEVER worked one day in her life and refuses to get a job and is trying to claim 50% of my boyfriend’s salary for the rest of his life. There is totally something screwed up with her, obviously, and she is demonstrating to the kids not to get a job and that working class people are beneath her.

    It really doesn’t need to be like this. These stereotypes about dad’s girlfriend or Dad’s new wife are so falsely engrained into people’s heads. It’s not a healthy way to think! Divorced parents are the norm in the US. When are people going to realize it is OKAY and kids WILL Still have healthy lives? And, Why don’t bio-mom’s EVER leave their ex-husband alone? It’s not payback for anything when the bio-mom was the abuser! She isn’t happy unless she has control of everything in her kids’ and ex-husband’s lives.

    I know most, if not all, of you understand and there aren’t many places for me to vent with this. Thanks for listening – I’m so thankful for Stepmom Magazine.

  23. This is definitely a one-sided argument. I believe that empowering step-moms to hang in there and not feel stressed over their confusing role is extremely important, but this information doesn’t empower women – rather, it gives them excuses. How can a group of people consider themselves a family if they do not strive for love? Parents (whether biological or step) should be leaders who teach the children in their home how to be good human beings, for the good of society and because it is what adults are meant to do. Often, as we grow older, we forget what it was like to be a kid. Kids need love, support, discipline, and reassurance. They get that from the adults in their life. Just because you aren’t their biological parent doesn’t mean you should just give up on them. The kids didn’t choose for their biological mother to die, for their biological parents to get divorced, or for you to be the person to marry their father…..ever think of what it must be like to be the child in that situation? And a child is not an adult. A child doesn’t understand the situation like you do, so don’t pride yourself with the “step mom badge” if you aren’t a decent enough adult to commit to the role of being simply a family member to the children of the person you marry. Kids get mad at their parents and family members all the time, but a true family member overcomes it because they care about the child and want the child to know that he or she is loved and cared about by his or her family no matter what. Of course it is more difficult for a step mom to overcome the difficulties that children present to parents, so step moms really need to be empowered to love and care about their step children whether it’s easy or tough because THAT is what makes kids love their parents when they grow up and are out of the confusing child and teen years. This article suggests step moms should give up. As a step child to a woman who I wanted to call mom after she married my dad, a woman who I wanted to fulfill the role of mom since my mom died when I was 10, and a woman who lived by the outlook of this article…..I’m telling you that this is NOT the answer. You need to love the step kids because they ARE family regardless of your genes, because they CAN grow to love you if you extend unconditional and resilient love to them, because you SHOULD discipline a child when necessary since you are an adult role model in their life, and because thinking that these five things are lies ARE what turns you into an unloving family member that is essentially what people mean by a “wicked step mother”

    1. You must not be a stepmom. This is ideal but impossible. No one comes into a relationship with a 50% mentality. I truly believe stepmoms try their best everyday, but we are humans. It gets tiresome when you have to be the bigger person regardless of the neglect from stepchildren or scrutiny from your husband if you speak up about anything. It gets old and you will become miserable. In my perspective, the husband has the responsibility to create that harmony in the home between his kids and the stepmom. Too often the husband does not know or understand how to…and therefore, resentment forms between all parties. Why is it the husband’s duty? Because he is the connection between his kids and stepmom. He has to remain neutral and show support for both sides. Most importantly, he has to be patient and loving to both. Is this hard? Absolutely! So is being a stepmom. Kids do not have the full comprehension adults do. That is why the husband needs to be more active in supporting both sides. Having “reassurance” from the husband, will help the stepmom learn to love her new role, and in return truly love her stepchildren. The thing husbands forget is, the nicer he treats his wife, the nicer she will be to his kids. Might not be true in all instances but for the most part, it is.
      It is easy to say we must love our stepchildren like our own blood family members. The truth is, stepparents and stepchildren will never love each other unconditionally. There is always a condition. Heck yes I will pride myself in wearing the “stepmom badge” regardless if I have yet to fall in love with my stepchildren. There are abundance difficult steps in being a stepmom…stepmoms contribute emotionally, financially and make daily sacrifices that she never imagine she could overcome. Some tasks seems impossibl but the stepmoms are still there….she is still being “resilient” and tenacious to endure the hardship in raising kids that are not hers while trying to be a loving supporting wife, and building a new family.
      To be empowered is to learn the truth. To understand what adversity there is out there and how to cope with your own. There is no flowers and butterflies in the sky with being a stepmom on a daily basis. It does have its rewarding factors but we work darn hard to earn it. This is real life and women are empowering each other by showing they are not alone. People will make their own decisions but cannot speak for each other. If you have a flawless relationship with your a stepmom…more power to you.
      Come back and blog after a few years if you ever have the honor of wearing the “stepmom badge”. It will be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, and it will change you as a person. Let’s see if you will have the same perspective.

      1. You nailed it spot on Lorie, when married my husband I didn’t believe I would have any problems with his kids at al, to me they’re kids and they only wanted to be love, knowing I’m not their mom they have their own mom, but in my home I am a mom and I’ve always and still reminding my husband in our home we are the parents, we need to show kids we are on the same team other wise they will try to play between us, that just how children are. Often my husband wear the guilt on him and let them get away with so much to the point I loosed my patience then they all three gang up against me. I have not asking or demanding them to do anything in the home or for me but to picking up and cleaning up after themselves, seem to be too much to ask for? Is that too high of a standard of expectation? I didn’t think so. I’ve never treated them as they’re step children, they are children and they live in my home, as an adult and married to their dad I’m a mom here in our home, and children always needs structures, guidances, boundaries, consequences. Parents in the home need to stick together strong in order for children to learn anything. All from beginning of my relationship I wasnt worry about his kids but I was and still worried about dealing with my husband, Ive seen him wearing so much guilt on him I know I will have trouble parenting in my home and I will have trouble having him being on my side to be supportive of me like I would and always have for him. Constantly reminding him good parenting it’s not easy to practice and often feel horrible like you are bad parents and kids hate you, always have to remember this is for them not for you, if we have to repeat ourselves thousands of times to get kids to remember understand the things we put out for them to do and expect them to do then we need to do so until they don’t want to hear us anymore then that’s when they will automatically do it, But I fail miserably because I continue reminding them to do things into the point I losed my patience, now I’m just a bitch to them. I feel sad and broken, feel betrayed because every intention I put out for his kids none of that’s benefiting me or for me, feel like I’m fighting the loosing battle, feel like just walk away, I don’t need this. My kids are grown, i always work and take care of myself and still do, why do I need to take on this kind of life? Why do I need to stay in this marriage? when husband and his kids gang up against me, thought we were on the same team instead we fight against each other. I know I’m not a bad person not a bad mom and my own kids can confirm that. I’m in need of help to clear my mind and need to make decisions on what to do here. Please advise needed ?

  24. Can I just say that after a stressful past two years of being a stepmom this article has given me a lot of hope? Just knowing that there are others out there like me who aren’t prefect but are trying helps so very much, you have no idea. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  25. Thanks everyone for the comments. I have been a step-mom for ten years and the dad and mom have equal shared custody with no primary household. The boys are now 18 and 13. I recognize my role as step-mom and all that comes with it – the good and the bad. They have two homes and the boys know this is their home as well and see me as a parent. There are differences between mom’s home and our home and we don’t compare them – what they do there is non of our business and vice versa unless it is something that both mom and dad need to deal with. And, I also respect they have a biological mom and I understand her role vs my role.

    From the beginning, the only thing I ever asked for is “respect”. I didn’t expect to be “loved” and if that happened, well, that would be awesome.

    I know I’m a step-mom; however, that does not take away my rights as a person and someone who co-owns and co-runs a household. The dad made it very clear from day one that I’m an adult, a parent and that they need to respect me and to listen to me when with us. I do make a lot of the decisions. The boys tend to come to me first with request, input, advice, etc. And, I’m comfortable providing this information. They talk to me about everything (and some things are challenging; however, I listen and respond.) They do challenge me from time to time (they are now teenagers :-); however, I look at the situation and take the necessary steps required. Yes, this, at times, means I do have to make tough decisions, i.e., time outs, removal of technology, etc. I talk to them about why the decisions are made. I also have “talks” with them about life, who they are, where they want to go, their aspirations, etc. If I’m in a parent role, I’m taking it seriously.

    Over the years, I got the most amazing cards from these boys – on mother’s day and on birthdays. These are loving cards that make me cry and validate that what I’m doing is right, appreciated and acceptable. I’m not always right and I acknowledge that as well. My younger son wrote: You are not just a step-mom – you put a step in the word mom.” This turned me to mush! You know you are doing right when kids tell you.

    I know my role and just asking for one small thing “respect”, made all the difference. To this day, ten years later, I’ve never been told, “You are not my mom” nor have I ever received “I hate you”. I am told everyday (not from me asking) “I love you” and I get lots of hugs and kisses. I am proud to say these guys are my family and, to me, they always will be.

    To end, I know I’m very lucky to have the love and support of a wonderful man. He wanted me to be a equal part of this family and he made it happen. I just gave the respect I asked for in return. This then turned to love and respect.

  26. I have been married for 17 years to a great guy. His daughter was 3 and son was 5. They live with there mom. My husband refused to speak to me for 6 months because I told him that I didn’t consider is daughter my family. That was 2 years ago & things had leveled out, but then it flared up again because I set down some house rules, specifically not wanting his son 21year old son & his 17 year old girlfriend to lay on top of each other on the couch while in the family room. He actually had a slight erection. He father was stricken with anxiety over telling his son not to lay with her. He couldn’t do it because he didn’t see a problem with it. Needless to say we have had countless problems but they have gotten worse because I have reached my limit. His priorities are to his children and our marriage has never been worked on. He wants me to love his kids as if they were my own, but I do not and I feel like the worst human being that has ever lived. We are now on the verge of a divorce. But it’s the strangest thing because I think I feel releaved. Is there something wrong with me?

    1. Jean,

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. From what I hear, you are doing everything you can. You shouldn’t feel bad about having to tell his step son and step sons girlfriend not to lay on each other on the couch. All you are doing is teaching the boy morals, I see nothing wrong with that. Maybe you should sit down with your husband and discuss what you are trying to do and switch the roles around to him. As if his daughter was laying ontop on her boyfriend, I think he would change his mind on that one. You are doing what every sane woman would do.

  27. Hi there,

    I definitely need some major advice. I’m am soon to be a stepmom and I have been having a hard time with a lot of things. First off, my fiancé almost acts as if his own mother is his wife when it comes to raising his 19 month daughter. I have voiced my opinion about the situation, but it never truly gets resolved. Another thing is, I hate to say it.. But I’m having a really hard time with the fact that he has a daughter and I dont. I love his daughter, she is adorable, but it’s almost like a jealous feeling I have toward his ex wife and my fiancé.. I just feel heartbroken when I think about the situation. What do I do ladies? Be honest.

  28. Wow it is interesting to see how different women handle being a step mom. I know it’s different coming into a relationship with older children but I was lucky enough to have entered into one when my husband’s child was very young he calls me mom these days despite my effort for him to call me by my name and i love him. His mother lets him do anything, carries him arround like a baby, I Could go on for days listing all the things she does that i disagree about and we get left dealing with the bad behavior. But when he’s at our house he is just one of the kids. He is expected to have respect for everyone just like the others he gets timeouts for bad behavior he helps clean the house. Often he volunteers to help clean the kitchen or make dinner. But I try my best to treat all the kids equally and it seems to work well. Even with his mother trying to make him not call me mom or say not nice things about his father and I he is very strong willed, this kid surprises me all the time. He went to her and told her “I have two mommies” and that was the last I heard her say anything about it. I really do love this kid he’s great, even with his moods he’s great. I wish you all the best of luck .

  29. Good advice. I was going to give you a variation on #1 just before I read it–you shall love stepkids as your own (not). I don’t know exactly where this one got started, but it’s sort of toxic, I feel, for several reasons. For one thing, those kids already have a mom and a dad. Your kids (if you have any), only have YOU and their dad. If you split your attention between your stepkids and your real kid equally, the stepkid ends up making out with something like 150% of the attention while your own kid gets 50% (remember, they don’t have another parent to counterbalance the energy you are throwing the stepkids way). This is a big reason I don’t think, except in rare instances, stepkids should factor into a stepparent’s will. They have families of their own that are providing for them, so why should stepmom make sure that they have a college fund, car, etc? It just drains resources from herself and her own kids. The stepkids, additionally, are often not appreciative of efforts like these. You could give them a house, car, etc., and they’ll just take it like an entitlement and think nothing of you; they still have their bio mom they’re bonded to in every way that counts.

    A little bit of (bitter) personal experience talking here. My husband was under the impression for a long time that I should extend the same energy to my stepkid that I did my own kid, but without any authority (books call this “responsibility without authority”, watch out for it or it will creep up on you). I don’t know if his honest intention and circular reasonings were to take advantage of me, but it ended up feeling that way, so I ended up cutting them off.

  30. I feel that anyone who claims they “cant” love a child because it’s not theirs, probably was one of those women who’s “maternal instinct” doesn’t come easy. I have three AMAZING step children, one of whom lives here full time. Their mother HATES me and has CPS calls out the rear.
    I know my step sons having issues because when he came home from Christmas break, I cried I was so happy to see him, and we hugged forever, it felt like. That same week he asked his mom on the phone questions, trying to gage how much she misses him.
    Come to find out she sent him to a cousins for christmas eve and day, so she could spend it with her “new” family and my youngest step child. He feels his dad and I care and love him more. This absolutely breaks our hearts. I will not lie, she’s a bad parent, but I would do ANYTHING to give him a good relationship with his mother. It’s not about me, it’s about him. I always wished my parents cared more, but they didnt. A great step parent would have helped me immensely.
    I can’t have my own kids due to my health, but always wanted to adopt. What’s the difference?!? I have the sons and daughter I always dreamed of. Does it matter who’s tutu they fell out of?? I don’t think it should. If your relationship with a “step child” is too hard, leave. No one deserves to feel unwanted. They are children, they have little choice in these matters, but your an adult, who chooses EVERYDAY, weather you will be the best step parent, wife, husband, etc, or the worst. If the child is acting poorly, look at the situation, how you react, etc. Children arnt equipped to deal with adult issues, because we’ve yet to teach them. If you are upset at the children, maybe you should leave or at the very least remember that you only get from the world, what you send out into it.
    I’m not saying being a step parent is easy, it’s hard, but so is everything that’s worth something, like having a great marriage, doing well in school, having a biological child, and life in general. Maybe you just arnt trying hard enough….
    Children often show signs of distress in childish ways, don’t take it as an affront to your abilities, your love or anything else. Get outside yourself, and help the child with their issues and it will help your relationship. It helps elevate issues, shows you care and are steady. Children will test you, even if you gave birth to them, the only difference is, in most step families, the step parent knows they have an out if they don’t “like” the child or the relationship, yet as a biological parent, what are you going to do? Divorce your child? Stop thinking about the fact that you can get rid of them and deal with them as if you will never leave them.

  31. I’ve Never given Birth (but I have children)…nephews nieces and their kids Plus my girlfriends kids . .I recently been married 6yrs and for 3yrs my husbands daughter’s been living with us LOVE THEM!!!… But I always told them…Don’t introduce me as your “stepmom.. .They have a MOM…I Say Im your father’s Wife. Am I wrong…i need advise…

  32. It was number 5 that got me. “Step mothers are wicked”.

    I’m not wicked. However, the woman my ex-husband has married is. I’ll call her “Josie”. Josie is very demanding and becomes outraged if I need five minutes to get our kids ready for visitation with their father. By terms of their divorce, I am obligated to pay all co-payments and deductibles for medical costs. If a bill for $5 appears in the mail, Josie will call our house literally yelling and demanding instant payment. Those are issues though that are between adults. Now, I’ll explain why “Josie” is a wicked stepmother.

    I found out about six months ago that Josie has been spanking my nine year old son. Apparently, when he visited his dad and step mom, he took a small sum of money that belonged to “Josie”. I would have punished him for this by grounding him. She had different ideas. According to what my son told me, she pulled down his pants and gave him a spanking over her knee on the seat of his briefs. When I complained to my ex about this, his response was that when the kids visit their house she is “mom”. I was furious. I even checked with a lawyer. The lawyer told me that as long as she spanked with her hand and the kids were at their house, she was within her rights.

    So, its just a bad situation. Some stepmothers are wicked though and Josie is proof of that.

  33. Hi,

    I am a stepmom to 7 children (7,8,10,13,16,17,19) and I brought 3 into our marriage (9, 14, 16). We have been together now for 5yrs so his youngest was 2. We won sole custody of his 6youngest children because their mom took off to Arizona. She does Skype them weekly now and sees them about 2 time per year which means we have them like 95% of them time. My husband is a fire fighter and I’m a stay at home mom. With my situation, I am their “mom”. I take to and from school, cook, up with them when sick, at every function, supportative in learning and life skills, I’m the one having to discipline pretty much year round so as I can see some of these points being true as I am a product of divorce myself with step parents but in my case I struggle with these lines because I am their mother by definition of mother. I call them my children, not step children and they refer to me to their friends as mom but they do get torn and struggle with loyalty because of that bond with their real mom because she hates me and tells them all the time that I am not their “real mom”. This makes them angry at her but then also makes them feel guilty for loving me like a real mom. There is no advice for my situation. I struggle with being hurt because they don’t tell her all the good I do or the fun we have just the mistakes. I struggle with jealousy because she get to be just the “fun parent” 2 times per year while I’m the fun and the bad. She never has to discipline them or do the really hard stuff. It just hurts but I do love these like my own. Did it happen over nite, heck no!! We developed relationships and with my older stepkids I told them I wasn’t here to replace there mom, I wanted to start out as friends, that is before she left them. With the old set, he got to choose where he loved but in a family meeting his dad and I asked all the kids what they needed from me, or expected and the one thing he said was I just need u to not discipline me, let my mom and dad do that (again before she left)I told him that was acceptable and that I just needed respect in return meaning do ur chores, be kind and respect that I am the adult in the home when dad’s not here. We have a great relationship now because we were able to form that respect early on. I still won’t ever try to replace her amd encourage their relationship with her but I do have to do her responsibilities so it’s a fine line of what my role really is. It’s sad really because she is their mother and they want her here so much. She’s missing so much of their lives and they are hurting because of it. There will always be a hole in the shape of my kids mother that I’m very aware I won’t ever be able to fill. It breaks my heart because I try so hard to be a good mom to them, to ease their pain as much as possible but being a good mom means sometimes making the tough decisions like discipline. I personally don’t use the word “step” because as a child I was always called the stepdaughter and then there were the biokids. There was always this Line that I knew I was different, not as loved and cared for and knew both parents had their biokids back but not the stepkids. I just never felt “good enough” because I was a stepkid. I never want my kids to feel that way! They told me they perfer to say I’m their mom to their peers because they get judged if they say stepmom or if they have to explain where their biomom is and why. I just tell them you call me whatever u are comfortable with. My older kids call me by my name but refer toe as mom, my younger kids call me by my name and sometime mom and also refer to me as mom. If their mom lived here I don’t think it would be hard for them. My biokids dad is very involved and has then week on week off and they have no problems with identifying their dads. They also have had a talk and set clear understanding of what everyone needed or expected from one another. We do call ourselves a blended family because we are! We did horse therapy that helped us learn to bleND, developed bonds, trust and accept leaders in the home and roles, built confidence and love for one another. It was the best thing we ever did for our family!

  34. I’m not a stepmother but my cousin is. I feel so bad for her as she’s really trying her best to be there for her stepchildren. She’s gorgeous and has tons of guys wanting to date her. She became a stepmother in 2002 when her husband’s daughter(lets call her Cece) was 3 years old. You’d expect them to be able to mingle well. But no. Cece had always had this mind set that my cousin is the one to blame for the separation of her parents. She doesn’t talk much to my cousin or should i say she doesn’t talk to her at all. My cousin has always treated her as her own and has always wished to be called mom by her. She was only 25 when she became asstepmother. She’d get upset inside when she’s introduced as a stepmother rather than a “mother”. Because practically for her, Cece was hers , she raised her and was there for her at the most important stages of her life. Cece’s biological mom isn’t a bad person but she was practically no where near her except for holidays where she would bring Cece for weeks.My cousin has always put Cece in top priority. And all her efforts paid off eventually as Cece finally started calling her “mom” when she was 8. It happened randomly. They were at Cece’s school to collect her report card and a new teacher asked Cece who my cousin was and she said : ” She’s my mommy. “. My cousin was so freaking happy that she had tears.

  35. Personally, i love my step son as my own. His mommy is in the picture but the time we get to share with him are my favorite. We don’t have any kids of our own yet, but my step son without questions wants a little brother. He’s very sweet and when it comes to discipline, I prefer to leave the hard stuff to the dad, if need be I am always there for him when he needs to talk about what bothers him, or explain hard situations in a soft manner, my hubby also comes to me when making decisions to ask my input, because he knows I always have the best intentions and interest for the child not myself. I’ll never try to replace his mom, she is a good mother and takes care of him and raised a very well mannered boy. I thank her for that, when you can put aside jealousy-anger-feeling unappreciated, basically every feeling that doesn’t serve your purpose, is a good thing for a happy home and happy life. Sure things come up, you mess up, baby mama is acting up, kid gets mad at you, kid resent you, whatever it is, if you take care of yourself and just keep loving and keep doing what you do, because your awesome and you chose this life, now handle it like you promised you would from the start. I can’t look at my step son and not love him, he’s his fathers spitting image, and my greatest joy is when he arrives and brings the light of day everywhere he goes. I grew up with my grandma and then foster care, luckily for me my foster parents treated me as there own, they never made me feel otherwise, because blood or not we are all human and when love drives us we can overcome any and everything.

  36. There is a “support” group on FB for Stepmoms, and if I share this in that group, they will eat me alive.

  37. So the other day my husband tells me while my SD was using my laptop she opened up an attachment, a resignation letter. I was quiting and was starting a new job but I didnt want them to necessarily know because they tell their mom everything that goes on in our house. My husband tells me she read it and that I just neededto explain that I was starting a new job. I was so pissed. It made me feel very uncomfortable that evening because they know he is going to tell me. I was like did you tell her why she is looking at my personal stuff?? Ofcourse he didnt. Then later that night they want to play a board game and I felt like watching tv. A couple nights before we were playing Leftcenterright. My husband got mad that I didnt want to play (we can never say no to the kids) and was not happy with me because I was making it very uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. It got uncomfortable when my SD tells her siblings and her dad about my email. Hell yes Im the one that felt awkward. So sick of having to kiss these kids butts. They dont even really respect their dad because of their bio mom. Any advice?

  38. I am full time “mom” to my step kids and have been for the 6+ yrs..their bio mom lost custody a long time ago and my husband struggled with 3 kids alone to help them/correct them and teach them while working full time also. I didn’t realize what I was stepping into at the time but I knew those kids needed me badly and so did my husband! I have 3 kids also (25,20 and 18) the 18 and disabled 20 yr old are still at home. His 19 yr old moved out as soon as she could to BM house. Step kids 17 and 15 still home, they go to BM every other weekend during school and every other week in summer but 17 yr old was diagnosed with severe anxiety and the 15 yr old we thought was adhd but after testing was diagnosed with ICD (impulse control disorder due to early childhood developmental trauma) this made me realize how much is wired in a child’s brain early on in life. When he was little mom disappeared with the kids and was on drugs, had 2 more drug addicted babies and when the kids were removed from her the home was dreamed un inhabitable for humans! There is a lot we still struggle with but with therapist guidance and strong parenting they have all come a long way especially the 15 yr old. We had to wash our hands of the 19 yr old sadly. She is still their “mother” and they love her but she acts more like a bff or fun aunt. Kids who are raised by someone else with their life styles and habits are difficult for another woman to raise or parent. In some ways I had it a lot harder because they were in such bad shape but in other ways I had it easier because I could shape them and put them on the right path without much interference for BM. My kids are 50/50 but my ex has and works full time so when kids need things/redirecting etc they stay with me and 20 yr old stayed full time last year to get threw school. It’s sad one parent has to be the “enforcer” but it happens in even most regular non divorce households too. Step parenting just adds sooo many layers and complications but we love the parent and try and do the best we can for the kids

  39. I am so glad to find you ladies. I need help. I too sit in my room wondering what I am doing here! I am divorced after 20 years. I raised 2 great kids all grown and on their own. I am currently living with my boyfriend of 3 years. He has a 12 and 16 year old. The BM has not been around. They lived previously with another girlfriend that was horrible to them. Now they have consistency and a stable home. The older is fine the younger is so hard to deal with. Smart mouth. Everywhere we walk he follows. He wakes up saying what are we doing today. We are to entertain him every day. We have no alone time at all. When we plan something something always happens and my boyfriend seems that it doesn’t bother him. We do family things but if there is no one on one what do i have? We can’t even talk privately. Sex is barely happening. I left a marriage because we grew apart and feel the moment I moved in with this man I am back in the same boat and these kids are not even mine. I have voiced my concern. I have written letters. He act like he tries. He says we can do anything the kids can stay home but it never happens. We bought a boat for weekend fun. he invites his ex girlfriends grown son to come. I cant take all the ex’s kids on top of his too. So now really invasion of alone time amd now he hides the fact that he talks to the exs kids on the phone. no bounderies at all. If we didn’t live together we would never see each other at all. We would not be together. I feel no appreciation. I understand the step parent thing and do not expect much from the kids. Over time will help. I do however expect him to realize that I do not have to do this! I get s,art remarks like you will not marry my dad. My boyfriend says nothing. I feel they push me away more every day. Is this Normal? Should I wait and see what happens when they are grown? Am I wasting time? My true heart is in it but my mind tells me this is wrong. Now that I read I am not alone I ask for advice. I was beginning to think I am crazy.

  40. Confused, lost…

    3 of my step-kids” recently lost their mother while their father and I were together. She passed away due to drug problems. She and I went threw things, first she didn’t like me and I didn’t like her, then we liked eachother, she was having extreme financial problems, I let them all move in, we feel out, she was very manipulative, and rude (fake)… so the kids no how she “felt” about me even though all I wanted was to help.. so she moves out and then passes away, we get custody of their 3 kids… 15, 12, now 6
    The 15 year old and I never have been close it was pointless even trying with her, until her mom passed, now we are very close and talk all the time about everything. 12 year old and I used to be extremely close when she was 9-10 years old, her mom passed, and she hates me, because I’m nosy and I care. She is having a horrible time at school. Being called mean names boys touching her with out permission, sending private things that she shouldn’t have been doing at her young age.. she just turned 12.. I feel as if she is using the boys as an out lit to make her feel good. And deal with her mom passing. We talked and she agreed to that. she gave me her phone password, so then obviously I’m going to look.. found so much bad things that no 12 year old should be doing. Her father knew about going threw her phone because he wanted answers in to why she is being bullied so badly at school, and harassed out side of school. so I tell him what I find, not everything because I would be embarrassed if my dad knew what I was doing, so I asked him to let me handle it, the way I felt was right and to let me be the one to talk to her. He agreed. So I talked to her and she tried to get all mad and stuff and I told her, you have once of two choices, you can do this with me, or your dad.. she chose me at first, then her dad… so i began to FaceTime him.. (he works a lot, out of town I’m with his 5 kids and our son 97% of the time.) she storms off, and I go to her and tell her I’m not upset because I personally understand why she’s acting out, especially in this way, because I did the same. So I tell her this is wrong and continued trying to talk to her. – In one ear, out the other.. and her dad and I agreed NO phone, No internet and no going anywhere.. (she’s also been a compulsive liar lately which makes me so sad because there is absolutely no trust.) so I let it be for a few days, and she sneaks an iPad. Gets on the internet doing god nos what.. so I caught her took it away then had to go delete all her social media. She hacked back in and man was I pissed because it took me 3 hours to turn all her things off – like her dad told me to do. I have a 1 year old, I take care of his 3 Year old, 5 year old, 15 year old and 12 year old. He also has 3 boys but they are easy and just so good.. but any way I’m 22 I take care of them completely from cooking breakfast to showering to shopping to cooking every meal, cleaning all by my self, and I put my entire life to a STOP because they “need” me. I’m tired. I try and try and try and she hates me. And continues to say I over step my boundaries and I’m not her mom, nor step mom and will be nothing to her ever… hmm that hurts so much… her mom wasn’t there the right way. Let them do what ever and they are difficult because now I’m raising them because their mom literally can’t anymore. I personally don’t think im overstepping boundaries because her father and I haven’t set any and he says I’m not doing anything wrong, but man in the back of my head I’m crying like a baby because she hates my guts. I literally do EVERYTHING for these kids and to be told I’m overstepping my boundaries is so annoying, I know I’m not their mom, but I wake them up for school everyday at 6am, like their mom should but cannot, when I could be asleep because my 1 year old is sleeping and doesn’t just wake up this early, I take them to school, like their mom would but cannot, & all three to 3 different schools, looking like so gross because I spend all my time in the morning taking care of my 1 year old, and getting him, their 6 & 3 year old brothers ready, showered, breakfast for the young three, medicine for the 6 year old, teeth brushed, hair brushed, face cleaned shoes tied homework done, I pick them all up from school, i clean up after all three of them because I want my house to look nice, I pick them up and take them to friends, I buy them all food and make dinners every night from scratch not any of the box crap. Make sure everyone has make up hair stuff pads, I take them to their doctors and get medicine, and I’m the one woken in the middle of the night when some ones is sick or had a bad dream, ME NOT THEIR DAD. I try and try and try and don’t no what to do anymore because I put my entire life on hold was going to nursing school but decided the kids and their father needed me more now then ever and I’m being treated like this.. is this okay?? Like am I really so bad? She even said she doesn’t no why her dad hasn’t left me yet and he thinks he’s cheating on me. She’s going threw things and I understand but too take everything out on me, do I really deserve this?? Trying to help so much, but am I even helping anymore?? And if I stop am I weak, and selfish? I’m a 22 year old mother to 8 in my eyes, and step mom too 7 other kids.. I have no friends nor a life anymore because I’m trying to “help” these kids, and this child but now I am lost with my life and don’t no if what I’m doing is hurting or helping. what do I dooo?????

    1. We strongly recommend you seek counseling for yourself and your stepkids. Your stepchildren have experienced extreme loss and are likely very angry. Your situation is complicated and a professional, who understands stepfamily dynamics and grief, would be very helpful. Please also seek support from other stepmoms. We offer an online group for subscribers: https://www.stepmommag.com/support-group-forum/ and there may be local groups in your area through meetup.com. We also recommend you read as much as possible about being a stepmom. Many of the issues you describe are addressed in our monthly magazine. There are also many good books available to stepmoms. We highly recommend The Smart Stepmom and The Smart Stepfamily. Wishing you all the best.

  41. Okay, advice would be awesome.. My husband and I married January of this year.. He has had custody of his 3 year old daughter since May 2015. We recently just had our son in September. Bio mom lost custody because of drugs and now will be sentenced for child endangerment on Monday. Well since we’ve been together she decided to become involved and demands to see her daughter blah blah blah, well.. We had a court case for relocation because we moved out of state it was granted but to be remediated in July because she was supposed to get her license back, lied about that. Well the first time we traveled 6 hours we gave her a drug test and she failed said it was prescription so we brought her again in thought she was going to give us the documents of prescription . She didn’t so we asked for it for 6 months, keep in mind she never calls her daughter or anything. Well last week she calls me crying saying her husband hits her and they are getting divorced .. So we offered to pay for her to come here, bus ticket whatever. Well “she can’t get off work in that short notice” my thing is.. She only calls when it is convienent for her to be a mom and to me that’s not right , especially because it causes problems within my marriage because I am not one to just kee it quiet I am going to state my opinion and not put up with all the bs of being a mom when you want to be. So now, after she talked to me crazy again and said “well we were engaged” like that matters to me my husband told her that she can contact his attorney about all of this moving forward. I mean it causes problems, makes me resent and honestly makes me depressed. So upsetting!

  42. I’m a stepmom to three kids (3, 9, and 10) and I have 1yr old with my husband They live here and are at their mother’s every weekend. My husband and I handle thing equally between all kids and we all get along wonderfully. The kids actually love having myself and there mother’s boyfriend in their lives, they think it’s nice having a bigger family. I have just as much say regarding rules and such in my house with the kids and it’s never caused any problems. I am very grateful I lucked out with understanding and open arms from all kids. Happy stepmomma right here!

  43. I’m on the other side of the equation, and I’m not finding much in the way of resources for an adult stepchild. I am the youngest of my father’s 5 adult children. My dad married my stepmom (mother of her own 2 adult children) when I was around 22. Fast forward about 20 years.

    We don’t have a bad relationship by any means, and never have. I, and my bio siblings, have felt like she is more connected with her own children – and that she has been steering our father more toward spending time with her children (and grandchildren) than with his. And we’ve accepted that as “the way it is.”

    And then… I found out that at a recent family holiday party, she mentioned to one of my children that she doesn’t feel like she “belongs” with the group of us (all my father’s bio children and grandchildren). I’m a little heartbroken to hear that, and wondering what I can do to make her feel more connected.

    Other than possibly a small amount of resentment that I have never expressed to her when she and my dad first got together (my parents stayed together “for the children”, and their relationship was toxic – so it was actually a relief when they split), I have 100% approved of their relationship – I think that she is SO much better for my dad than my bio mom ever was. I thought that I had always been clear about that – but maybe not? And, as much as I would like to “claim” her, I suppose that I never wanted to press the issue – because maybe she doesn’t really want to “claim” us?

    I’m composing a letter to her right now to try to bridge this gap, but like I said, I’m just not really finding much in the way of advice or resources for this side of the equation. Any thoughts?

    1. Maybe you should “claim” each other 🙂 Obviously you have respect for her and she respects you also. Sometimes I feel like the outsider, and my stepkids are young. My son has helped bridge that gap some, but I still have those feelings at times. I work ALOT, and my husband is the primary caregiver for all 3 of them, so I miss out on things sometimes.

    2. I think its really nice that you want her to feel included in your family. If I were in your step mother’s shoes, I would want to be reassured about how much you care, if you care about her a lot. Its always nice to be told and reminded that you are important. I am marrying a man who has children, and I find myself fantasizing about them being grown up and what kind of relationship we will have then. I hope that it’s good, and I hope that when they are all grown up they might appreciate that I was there. Maybe remind her in your letter about seeing your bio parents having a toxic relationship and how nice it is to see your dad with someone who is nice and sets a healthy example of a relationship? I think maybe she’s afraid to “claim” you because you already have a mom that you love, maybe she thinks she makes it awkward for you guys, I know that’s how I feel a lot of the time being around someone else’s kids and witnessing all their bonding and love for each other.

  44. Thank God I have come across this article tonight…in tears actually cz I feel horrible being a stepmom. I feel dirty disciplining other people’s kids and I feel they hate me when all I ask is for them is to shower! I have 2 step daughters that are apparently not used to showering and used to living like princesses. I swear to God they don’t know what their hands are for. 10 years old and 8 dont have a clue how to brush their hairs and armpits smelling like chopped onions. I finally got tired of talking and explaining how important hygiene is so I am literally sending them to shower ever so often because their body odor is just too much. The youngest is getting it real good but the oldest would call her dad and mom and leave massages like she is so scared and does not want to be at my house anymore. After that I stayed away with the fear of going to jail because of the lies the oldest has been saying. Not only that ,the mom has the tendency to over react and take my husband to court just for anything to lose his custody. But I feel horrible as a step mom…I know it is not healthy not to do anything with a child but I feel I have to protect my self from the oldest. As of now I dont feel the same way to the oldest one as I do with the youngest. The youngest have the biggest heart, very giving and kind. The oldest lies and have the tendency to sabotage her lil sister to make her self look and feel good. I am struggling with my feelings right now…I dont want to hurt my husband but I cant pretend that Im happy with the situation ?

    1. Sounds like you’re dealing with children from a narcissist mother. Children who compete like that are used to out performing the other to get the attention and gratitude from the narcissist. I completely understand your hygiene issues, we go through them with my stepdaughter. I believe hygiene is a direct reflection of the other parents interaction with the child. I do not tolerate nastiness, they can be dirty from playing outside but they will not go to bed dirty or to school or anywhere for that matter that way. I taught my stepkids how to bathe, wipe their butts, tie their shoes, button clothes, use zippers, brush their teeth, wash their hands; it wasn’t easy, it was a daily battle and consistency is the key. Your oldest has the most exposure to the bad behavior, she will take a little longer. Giving the youngest positive attention and rewards will help, and it will also make the eldest want to do better because the youngest is receiving the attention.

  45. I have 2 stepkids 6 and 7 and a 4 month old with dad/husband. Since day one, I’ve never had any issues out of my stepkids towards me. They do love and respect me. Their own biomother is a real piece of work and she’s only allowed to call them on Sundays to talk, which my SD refuses to speak to her. Both kids have been in therapy and SS has graduated out, SD has deeper psychological issues caused by biomother and her multiple male co-parts, so she is still in therapy. The amount of neglect and abuse is insane that these 2 children have endured by her over the years. I consider myself their mom, I hate when people say your only step-mom and biomom will always matter more, I don’t believe that. Sure she may have more “legal” claim to them, but I’ve helped mold them, teach them, nurture them. My influence will last forever, while her legal jargon will disappear on their 18th birthday; my love has helped heal the wounds she inflicted on them, my love has helped give them security and stability and most important a self worth and confidence. We have to stop step-parent shaming. In some articles you read about step-parents don’t matter and the next we are being praised for loving and raising children that are not our own. I am the positive stead-fast female they have needed all their lives, I am the maternal figure, I am mother.

    1. Wow you are incredible! I wish I could be so lucky, my influence might be positive and I’ve been there for a long time now, but I’ll never be my husband’s kids mother, they will never call me mom even though I’ve cleaned up their vomit, tucked them in, showed up for all their school and extracurricular functions, I’ve taken them to school and picked them up, I feed them (or try to), and I have to be ok with just being a nice person in their lives, their dad’s wife. I know their mom has messed them up pretty good, especially the oldest one, and it makes me very sad that she’s allowed to do this and that she gets to reap the rewards of motherhood and be the recipient of their love while I sit on the sidelines and watch. I’m still waiting to fit in, I feel like the kid in gym class who always gets picked last. Maybe when they are grown my time will come.

  46. Well, here goes nothing.
    I am married to a man I’ve been with for several years and he has children ages 17, 14, and 11. I hate the term “step mom” and resent being called this, because they have a mom and I’ve been reminded daily that she’s their mom and the only mom they’ll ever have. I’m their dad’s wife and if these kids want me as a friend, I will be that for them. I feel more like an aunt or cousin or family friend, and I am definitely not a mother (I have no children of my own and my husband doesn’t want any more kids).
    Their mother is an alcoholic and has been unable to care for said kids half the time like the parenting plan suggests, so they spend more than half their time with us. She cheated multiple times on my husband when they were together, traumatized the kids with her multitude of strange men coming and going from her house and all her hurtful drunken stupors, so the oldest one has been living with the father and I consistently for almost 4 years, refusing to even go spend the night with his mom once in a while (he is with us 24/7 and doesn’t even go do normal teenager stuff with kids his age). The other kids spend about half their time there, and in the last couple of years the mom has seemed to get her proverbial shit together with the drinking, it seems, but the kids might just be hiding her problems from us better now that they are older. The oldest kid has never accepted me. The younger two seem to be fine with me, and have even been affectionate toward me and almost loving it seems. I’ve never doled out discipline, raised my voice, or forced them to do anything, but I have and to ask their dad to step up and not be so lenient and passe with the oldest one, not so much with the others because the younger ones seem to understand that it’s not cool to act like a spoiled brat.
    The oldest kid never eats with us at the table, and refuses to eat any of the food we cook for any meals, opting instead for special food that the dad buys just for him to eat. He keeps a running list of specific groceries on the fridge and if dad misses anything, the kid pitches a fit. If the other kids try to eat “his food”, they get reprimanded by the oldest kid, who often acts like he’s the other parent, like it’s supposed to be him and his dad only. This kid has no driver’s license, no job, and spends all his free time when not in school playing video games on the living room television set and watching shows like Family Guy when the rest of us aren’t enjoying these types of entertainment, but dad doesn’t make him take it in his room instead, we all just have to accept and deal with it.
    My solution to my frustrations with this kid has been to remove myself as much as I can as often as possible. I spend a lot of time outside the home, I work a lot, I go out of town to visit friends and siblings on my own, and I spend a lot of time in my room reading or in the basement playing music. I find myself dreading “family” vacations and outings because this one kid is so unpleasant for me to be around. He likes to make a point of mentioning the mom when its completely unnecessary, which I find odd because he’s the only kid who refuses to go spend time with her. The other kids are living with her almost half the time, yet they never have these urges to mention her, at least not in front of me; they don’t seem to have the same desire to make me feel inferior as he does.
    This kid has what I consider an unhealthy attachment to his father. When I say this, I mean that he’s constantly talking only to his dad from the moment dad steps in the door until he goes to bed at night. He never acknowledges me either, like I’m a ghost in my own home. I’ve tried to win this kid over with money, stuff, attention, food, etc. but its all been in vain of course. I know now that there is no amount of money or niceness that can make anyone love you, so I’ve stopped trying. Recently this kid pissed me off so much (he invaded our privacy when my husband and I were behind the closed doors of our own bedroom) and since this happened, I can’t even look at him and have demanded that he needs to go spend some time at his mom’s house just like his siblings have to do. The new agreement is that this kid is to spend every other weekend, from friday after school until sunday afternoon, and his mom’s house. My husband and I need a break. I find myself wishing I could trade the two other kids for the one who drives me nuts, because honestly, they are a pleasure to be around and I wouldn’t mind if they lived with us 24/7 because they’re nice kids who never give me any crap.
    Wow that felt good to write. I hope I don’t feel this way forever. I just want these kids to grow up and be nice people who can support themselves and be independent and successful. I hope that their mother’s addiction issues pass them all by, and I hope that one day, even this oldest most difficult kid, can call me a friend. I’m just so tired of waiting.

  47. After some of the other comments, I feel lucky my stepson loves me like a mom. My frustration stems from the complete lack of legal status associated with step parenting. I have helped raise my stepson since he was 2. He is now 15. However, I cannot so much as arrange a doctors appointment for him or sign a permission slip. In the eyes of the law, I am less than a nanny or babysitter. And his bio mom is not making it easy lately. She abdicated making any decisions, saying when he chose to live with us, it’s now my problem. However my husband, his dad, works long graveyard shifts, so much of the daily s heduling falls to me. I feel so very belittled and demeaned, as if the love and care, and relationship we have is utterly meaningless to the outside world. It hurts me, and hurts a d confuses him. It is high time the legal system and reality do some catching up, and allow for guardianship to exist without termination of another parents rights. It would make it a lot easier, and at least let us truly parent within reason

  48. The problem that I am having is that these blog posts about stepmoms always take one person’s situation or experience and make a blanket statement about all stepmoms as if your understanding and wisdom is accheivable for every stepmom, where as some women ARE just PURE EVIL. I think I had this underlying belief that when kids are involved, wonderful amazing kids, that it would be impossible to do or say anything harmful to them, I mean who does not love kids? Narcissists don’t. They can and will turn your kids against you in a heartbeat, they don’t care about your kids losing a mom in the ordeal, they get what they want and a reassurance that hubby isn’t kicking them to the curb for a few more years at least. I don’t blame her for being worried, he left me for her, who’s to say he would not do the same to her, but I don’t see where I am to blame for her insecurities. She thinks projecting onto me is the answer to all of her problems, and it is abuse that I never signed up for.
    She stole my kids through manipulation and her immaturity gave her an ability to get close to them, she still thinks like a teen, so she was able to get way closer than is appropriate, and she still continues to harrass me. She had no respect for my relationship with my daughters. You would not believe the things this women did that my kids were oblivious to but anyone in their right mind would say WTF? She was and is the epitomy of wicked stepmotherhood. I never knew people could be so wicked until my kids had a stepmom, so, I’m just saying…. one person’s big fat lie, may be another’s big fat stepmom.
    I am a stepmom too, but I make sure my stepdaughter thinks her mom is superwoman, and she does, and i am pretty sure her mom talks trash about me to her daughter even knowing what I went through with my kids stepmom, maybe they could start a club for people that hate me or something. I really can’t stand the way her mom treats me, but that is just for me to bite my lip and not defend, maybe she will figure out one day who sends her presents and cards on holidays because it is not her ex, whom she seems to take no issue at all with. He would never tell her anything, but she doesnt want to hear from me, so now if there is anything I think she needs to know I will use his phone to message her so she thinks it is him, and that is called being the bigger person, as much as i wanted to tell her what an immature brat she is being, I will just get over it and let her continue to worship the man that left her.
    Fortunately I have one daughter that is mine, and an angel, and she loves me, so all is not completely lost.

  49. I am about to marry the love of my life in a month, with God’s will, and he has two girls. I love them very much, and vice versa, thanks to God, because otherwise I would not enter in marriage with him doesn’t matter how much I love him. At the begging it was all magical, he put us all in our places and I never felt left out, but past few months things changed. When he is with them he just doesn’t have time for me. We are in a long distance relationship which makes me even more left out. I am trying to be reasonable, but my patience is really running out.
    I understand he is focused on their school, he studies with them a lot, because they aren’t with him all the time, the mother has the custody. But I just can’t feel left out anymore, so I started with less messages, with less calls. Enough is that all preparations for wedding I need to do by myself, and plus this.
    I have stress of my own, moving in another country, new people, language, leaving my family and friends behind, my job, going there without no one, and when I go there I wont be priority to my husband almost never. I must say that I question my decision, and I am afraid to say that to anyone. Our surrounding is little bit old fashioned, they hardly accepted that me, good girl with master degree, religious is going to a man who was married before, and now…
    Uh my thoughts are going everywhere…

    1. Hi Valy, We are sorry for your situation. We highly recommend you seek the advice of a qualified counselor, both for yourself and together for couples counseling with your partner…before you are married. Work on the problems before you make such a big decision! Good luck to you!

  50. I felt so empowered by your video. I’m not a stepmom, but I am dating someone who has children and there is a good chance I will become one. Needless to say, sometimes I am terrified at the idea. Most of the time, though, I am excited and up for the challenge. I’m a successful young woman and I’m usually very good at logically dictating my decisions instead of letting emotion get the best of me. As such, I’m doing my research and finding a lot of videos about the struggles of being a stepmom. Many stepmothers have reported feeling pushed aside or not important, but I’ve always been able to find self-worth and have been hoping for some evidence that becoming a stepmom will not compromise that trait. Your video is the first I’ve seen that proves it is possible! Thank you for posting this. Someday, I hope to share my own “success story” as you have.

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