I love my family. My husband is thoughtful, helpful, and has the patience of a saint. My stepdaughter is full of joy, silly jokes, and cure-all hugs. My in-laws are kind, accepting, and understanding.

But despite all of the love and happiness, there’s also a lot of darkness.

Why I Don’t Want My Daughter to Grow Up to be a Stepmom

I don’t want her to ever question her worth.

My daughter should know her worth. She shouldn’t be put in a position where she questions why she’s second and if that is the equivalent of second choice or second best. I don’t want her to know the pain of thinking she’s living someone else’s life or that she’ll always come second to another woman.

I want her to feel confidence in her irreplaceable role as mother and wife.

I don’t want her love to ever be denied.

A mother never wants her child to be in pain, and my heart would shatter if I ever had to console my daughter should she hear the words, “You’re not my mother.” I know her heart, and she would love her stepchildren just as thoroughly as I love her. She shouldn’t have to bear the hurt of having her love denied or questioned by her stepchildren.

I can’t count on two hands the number of times I’ve extended my arms for a hug and my stepdaughter has run past me to hug her mom instead. I don’t blame her, and I don’t ever say anything. I patiently wait my turn. But wow, that’s a punch to the gut. The feeling you’ll never be first gnaws at you. The frustration of putting your all into someone who denies your love (or puts it second) is heartbreaking. I don’t want my daughter to know what that feels like; I don’t want her to endure long nights thinking about what she could be doing or shouldn’t be doing to earn her child’s love.

I don’t want her to know the pain of a custody battle.

The lowest point in my marriage came after we were served paperwork to modify the custody agreement. The negativity, the lawyers, the “us vs. them” mentality – it brings out the worst in people. I’m sick to my stomach just thinking about that time in my life. I don’t want my daughter to ever know that pain.

I know every marriage has low points, but first marriages that aren’t plagued by the complexities of custody and support are easier, simpler. I want her first fight to be about something silly like laundry or dishes – not custody or ex-wives.

I don’t want her to come second in her marriage.

Though it’s not true of all stepfamily marriages, many husbands put their children before their wives. At best, wives are tied for first with the husband’s children. I want my daughter to know what life is like with her husband before children. My dream for her is that she is first, always, with her husband, and they can bring children into the world together. She shouldn’t have to come second.

I don’t want her to experience jealousy of her stepchildren.

It’s unnatural and one of the worst feelings to be a stepmother jealous of her stepchildren. The love and bond your husband has with his children that came before you – it’s enviable. Of course you want that same love. You aren’t jealous of your biological children. They don’t have a bond with your husband outside of you; experiences don’t exist from before you were part of their lives. My daughter shouldn’t have to experience that jealousy and pain.

I don’t want the stepmom label to make things more difficult for her.

The judgment from others who know nothing except that you are “stepmom” is mind-blowing. The restrictions because you’re not a “real” parent are offensive. The disrespect she would know as “just a stepmom” has the potential to drag my daughter down. I want her light to always shine through; I desire for her to always receive the respect and validity she deserves.

I don't want my daughter to grow up to be a stepmom.

Of course I’ll support whatever decision she makes when she’s old enough to date.

The role of stepmom truly has the power to be transformative and fulfilling. It’s cliché, but my husband and stepdaughter have shown me a piece of my heart I never knew was missing. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I wouldn’t change a single part of my blended family life.

But I also don’t want my daughter to know the pain and sacrifice that comes with the stepmom role. I want her to have the fairy tale first marriage, experiencing all of the firsts together: first proposal, first wedding, first house, first baby…

I want my daughter to have the fairy tale I couldn’t have.


 PS: I’m tired of pretending I don’t enjoy when strangers mistake me for my stepdaughter’s mom. Are you? Read more here.

3 Responses

  1. Jenn

    I don’t know how I feel about this particular piece. Because I was raised as a stepdaughter then later became a stepmom. I have seen my mom go though child custody battles and we have had our arguments when she was a single mother. I saw the heartache that she went though, and I know that I may have broke her heart a couple of times while growing up.
    The dynamic between myself and my stepdaughter is effortless. Our love and respect for each other does not exude the stereotypical cliche. I love her like she is my own, and the only heartache that I’ve ever felt is when she was being coached to not like me, but when that situation presented itself, I had the support of my husband and my mother in law to help me through. My stepdaughter and I are an awesome team, and I couldn’t ask for a better child. I have been in her life since she was a year and 1 month old. Needless to say, regardless if you are a stepmother or a biological mother, you will go through ups and downs, feel heartache, and unbearable hurts. It just depends on how one would view and embrace the relationship.

  2. Hole in my heart

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this. To know I’m not the only one feeling these things and then feeling guilty for feeling them.. I cried because I finally did not feel so alone. Stepmomming can be a very thankless role. A lot of giving without much in return. It’s support pages like this that keep me sane and to focus on the positive. I can’t thank you enough.

    • Kristen

      Thank you so much for sharing with me. I absolutely agree. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one that feels like this, but you’re definitely not alone.

      Thanks so much for reaching out. It means the world to me.


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