3 Things Stepmoms Want Most for Mother’s Day

Stepmoms and Mothers Day


Every year millions of stepmoms wonder if they’ll get the call.

Which call? The one in which the voice on the other end of the phone says: “Hey! I know you’re not my mom, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day anyway. I think you’re pretty cool and I know you care a lot about my dad and our entire family. Thanks for everything you do for me.”

The women who receive those calls are lucky.

They’re the ones whose stepchildren are free to embrace them. The reasons for this vary. Maybe they never got caught up in loyalty binds. Or weren’t subjected to the crossfire of divorce. Or stopped grieving the loss of their first-family long ago.

Yet for most stepmoms, unless they have children of their own, the phone won’t ring on Mother’s Day — or on Stepmother’s Day (the following Sunday). Regardless of their status as full-time, all-in, hands-off or behind-the-scenes stepmoms, the result is the same: Their efforts go largely unnoticed and that stings!

The women who subscribe to StepMom Magazine tell me that being recognized on Mother’s Day isn’t about wanting gifts or cards or flowers. It’s about wanting to feel like what they do matters.

Dads who are divorced and are dating or re-married should take note, especially if their children behave less than enthusiastically toward their partners. What stepmoms crave most nearly every day of the year can’t be bought, but you can give it to her and it won’t cost a penny!

Stepmoms devote time, attention, emotional energy and (often) finances to raising children who may never recognize their efforts — much less appreciate them in the same way they do their biological parents.

A few words aimed at letting your partner know how much you appreciate her efforts can go a long way toward renewing her energy and buoying her spirits when the stepfamily seas get choppy.

Make your partner’s day by saying, “Thanks for everything you do for my kids!”

A stepmom’s role is the most complicated and least defined role within any family structure. People with no real stepfamily knowledge or experience (often her co-workers, the bank teller and even your mother) will tell her to love your kids like they’re her own.

No pressure, right? In the meantime, your ex threatens to scratch her eyes out if she lays claim to kids who aren’t her own. If she dares to vent or complain (like “real” moms do), people will say hurtful things to her. “You knew he had kids when you married him!” is a classic.

A stepmom’s job is complicated, which is why one of the best gifts you can give a stepmom is validation. You may not be able to fix her problems (Hint: She doesn’t expect you to!), but you can acknowledge that her role is a difficult one. Because it is.

In many ways, women who live with or marry men who have kids join a family already in progress. Traditions, routines and shared experiences were established long before she entered the picture. Because of this, stepmoms are prone to feeling like the odd man out. Those who study stepfamily dynamics call this Outsider Syndrome.

But helping the stepmom in your life feel like an Insider is a gift that costs nothing at all.

This gift comes in the form of an invitation to join in the conversation — especially if everyone else is talking about sometime from your distant past. Invite her sit next to you as you watch TV with the kids. Rest your hand on the small of her back while you make your way through an event where your ex is present.

These gestures signal (to everyone) that she is with you, belongs there and is accepted. And coming from you? That’s the best gift of all.

Don’t let Mother’s Day get you down.
Get the guide:

Stepmom Guide to Mothers Day


*By Brenda Ockun, Founder & Publisher. This article also appeared in the Huffington Post.








8 thoughts on “3 Things Stepmoms Want Most for Mother’s Day”

  1. Especially the stepmoms out there who love their step children as much as their own, but were trained to be hated. So said when bio moms cant be grateful that their child is loved. Mothers let their own insecurity destroy children.

  2. I never get calls or even emails for mother’s day or my birthday. My husband’s children were teenagers when we married they are now in their early 40s. He had custody, so in essence I had custody. I love them and I think they care about me but I never get the little courtesy calls just to say they appreciate me. It really hurts. I have two children of my own and they make a big deal out of everything, but the day is always bittersweet since the steps don’t seem to care.

    1. As long as you know that you raised them the best you could that’s your personal reward. And you’ve clearly done a wonderful job with your own children who show you the appreciation you deserve on the holidays! My step daughter is 12 and I’ll probably get a frown not a card haha. But that’s ok! Happy Mother’s Day to you xx

  3. This hit the nail right on the head all the things that were said is an every day feeling and I felt alone. I came into my boyfriend’s life 3 years ago and we have been dating for 2 years which we have lived together. There isn’t a biomom involved she passed 8 years ago. My step-son is 14 yo and every day we struggle with his emotions and his teenage issues. But this helped reassure me that I’m not the only one facing these things.

  4. In my home it’s different. I live with my husband, my step daughter (16yo) and my biological daughter. Since my step daughter’s mother withdrew contact a few years ago, I’ve told my husband that I don’t want to celebrate mothers’ day. I don’t want to celebrate the one thing my step daughter is grieving the most.

    Still, when I got up this morning, I had a little note and some beautiful soaps from my step daughter sitting on the table for me.

    We choose this day to make a fuss of the grandmothers instead.

  5. God is faithful and he sees your labor of love and don’t ever have regrets- you can’t force love it has to grow and if things don’t change always remain respectful to the children in their issues… children hurt and if they don’t get counseling to heal the pain of the broken family they grow up in broken adults…. Stepmoms are a blessing and love the man who trusted you enough to ask you to be his wife his life his love… God hears your prayers and sees your desires- just trust him. In the meantime and between time and on today Happy Mother’s Day!!!

  6. The absolute worst: getting cards, gifts, flowers, etc., from your steps knowing that it is because they HAVE to (i.e., been cajoled into it by their dad). He always says that they mean it but their actions speak louder. I’ve been married to their dad for almost 12 years. Their biomom more or less abandoned them to us about 2 years after we got married, so I have tried to do the “mom” things for them since then (but of course she still gets upset if they don’t acknowledge her on Mother’s Day). Plus my husband (their dad) travels on business about 10-15 days a month so I have been a “single mom” for all practical purposes for many days and nights. In fact, he leaves on business in the morning (yes, Mother’s Day) so the day belongs to me and the kids (who are 19 and 20 now). I burst into tears when I read this artcile because it hit close to my heart. At least I know I’m not alone…

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