As if being a stepmom wasn’t hard enough, many stepcouples face another challenge—an age gap. And, while none of us is immune to the unflattering stereotypes heaped onto stepmoms (i.e., tramp, gold digger, trophy wife and evil homewrecker), those slurs are often hurled more harshly at younger women who partner with older men.
Almost everything you hear early on in stepmother life serves no purpose except to make you feel bad about yourself. People are full of advice about how you should feel, how you can make yourself into a better or more supportive parent and how you shouldn’t expect anything from the kids—especially at first. (At first? You’ve been with this family for five years!)
If there’s a relationship more fraught with emotion than that of the stepmother and the ex-wife, I have yet to hear about it—and I’ve made a 20-year career of counseling people about their relationships.
One of the most frustrating things about stepmotherhood is the positive regard our stepchildren have for their biological mothers. No matter what. A cognitive understanding of why they love their mothers simply isn’t enough to help us heal the wounds—real or imagined—which we endure in the name of parent-child loyalty. Too often, our response to our stepchildren’s need to protect and defend the love they have for their mothers takes the shape of redoubling our efforts to “win.” But what are we competing for?
It is a well-known fact that people are living longer and that the aging and elderly population is a growing one. This affects many aspects of society, including the growing number of stepfamilies that form later in life and are, thus, comprised of older adults with adult stepchildren.
A family is a family is a family. Two adults. Some kids. Does it really matter so much how and when the family was formed? Or that not all of the people in that family are blood related? You look like a family. You act like a family. Love conquers all.
The same rules ought to apply, right? Rarely do women who are not stepmothers understand just how wrong these assumptions are. They try to be supportive, but they just don’t get it.
Teenagers are not only a challenge for stepmothers.
It seems as though they were invented so that any adult who raises them will want to turn their bedrooms into sewing rooms instead of shrines when they finally leave the nest. After all, if sending kids off to college was as hard as sending them off to preschool, we might never let them leave home for good.
Biological parents bemoan the unpredictable and sometimes monstrous behavior that overtakes their previously darling offspring. Eye rolls, sarcasm and slammed doors seem to be part of the expected family paradigm when teens are present. Sometimes, even worse behaviors Continue reading “Teenage Stepkids – Inside the July 2015 Issue”
Let’s face it. By definition, stepmother relationships are complicated—not only for the stepmother, but for her partner, too: Never entered lightly, never entered without thought for already present responsibilities, never meeting childhood fairytale hopes of perfect, unencumbered romance. Continue reading “10 Secrets Stepmothers Keep”