Sticks and Stones: A Stepmother’s Guide to Being Disliked by Wednesday Martin, PhD
No matter what I did, they didn’t like me. His kids didn’t like me. And his ex hated me. I turned myself inside out trying to please the kids. They still hated every cookie I baked, every meal I cooked. Some days it felt like they hated me for breathing. Meanwhile, I bent over backwards to show his ex I was a good and kind person she could trust with her children.
I figured since I hadn’t caused her divorce, she would eventually come around and, if not like me, at least stop spreading vicious lies about me. No such luck. And so school drop offs became hell—the other moms whispering, pointedly ignoring me and snubbing me at committee meetings like we were in high school all over again. Every day I wanted to scream, “BUT I’M A GOOD PERSON! GIVE ME A CHANCE AND YOU’LL SEE!!”
Is this you? Not literally, of course. I know who it is—it’s a woman I interviewed about her life as a woman with stepkids. A woman I’ll call Karen.
But if you’re anything like the women I’ve spoken to over the last several years as I’ve researched, written and seen “Stepmonster” through to publication and beyond, some of the same concerns that bedeviled Karen may be keeping you up at night.
Do any of these describe your reality, as a stepmom?
- It feels unbearable that his children or adult children snub me, exclude me or don’t like me.
- I can’t stand the way his ex refuses to acknowledge that I am a positive force in her child or adult child’s life.
- It galls me to think about what my husband’s ex is saying about me. I want people who know her to know the truth about me and I expend quite a bit of time and energy wishing I could make that happen.
- When I’m in a conversation and I say I have stepchildren or am my husband’s second wife, I wait for the judgment that is inevitably there. Sometimes the presumption that I’m a “home wrecker,” “gold digger” or a “stupid younger wife” makes me want to scream.
The psychological and sociological literature, anecdotal reports by therapists and self-reports by women with stepchildren all suggest that the vast majority of women with stepkids struggle at some point and that they struggle with the same—rather predictable, but no less important to understand and resolve—issues that include kids or adult kids in loyalty binds, ex-wives unresolved to the remarriage or repartnership and unsupportive husbands or partners.
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