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

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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 wondering if she’s living someone else’s life or if 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 your stepchild’s first gnaws at you. The sacrifice of pouring your heart into someone who could suddenly deny your love 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 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.

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

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 didn’t have.

 P.S. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many harsh realities of stepparenting.

25 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Want My Daughter to Grow Up to be a Stepmom”

  1. 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.

    • Having been in your SD’s life since she was a year old makes your situation very different than many of us for whom this post applies to. Your SD will never remember her parents together, their family splitting up, life with their mother and father before you…you have been a part of it since day 1 as far as her menories will go. My stepdaughters were 10 and 16 when I married their father. It’s been everything the writer has shared here. I love his girls but sadly, for me, the constant heartache that comes with not being their mother and is excruciatingly painful. I adore my husband, but to be honest, had I known just how hard, and how much drama his kids and ex-wife would bring into my life, I might have just dated him and held off on getting married til everyone was grown and out of the house. I also don’t have children of my own so I feel very left out. He gets to be the real parent and I’m just his second wife. How nice you get to have the blissful, fantasy, stepmom life so many of us dream of. Clearly this article doesn’t apply to you! It certainly does for me.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. It’s depressing to hear the words “my kids come first, and that’ll never change.” It made me feel pretty hopeless. I have 3 children ans he has 3. We have none together. After 8 years, I still come last. I feel like we should put each other first to show the kids what a strong relationship looks like, but he is stuck in his ways. Sometimes I wish we would’ve had a child together so I could experience what it feels like to be the most important. I feel guilty even typing these words, and I shouldn’t. Thank you for saying what we all are thinking.

    • Having a child together will not change the dynamic unfortunately. I can say so because I am experiencing it. It just feels like you are now stuck in a situation that you should have ended a long time ago. But now you feel even more guilty because there is a child between you two and you care more about his happiness than you will never allow yourself to think about your own happiness anymore. Besides you can not express anything about your step kids anymore because your partner will automatically compare your relationship with them with your relationship with the child you have together. Even if you must have a pre existing experience since you both had kids before having a blended family. I don’t know if it makes sense. Excuse my English I am a French speaker. Sometimes I wonder why I chose this life and sometimes I feel like I am just going to let go. You know that need of being passive and exclude yourself from all the mess surrounding you and that you can not fix. To be honest, I also have a blog but I never had the guts to write about this particular topic so thank you so so much Kristen to express our feelings in such a nice way. Dedicating it to your daughter.

  4. Stepmomming is one of the hardest jobs. I’m a stepmommy to 4 and I have 4 biological. We have a huge blended family of 10 all living together 24/7. Sk’s don’t see their biological mom due to drugs, but every chance she gets to connect with them over fb she degrades me and tells the kids I’m nothing to them. So I deal with my sd age 7 always saying I’m the reason she can’t see her mom. Its devistating and hurtful to hear. I continue to try to hold strong but I find myself asking myself why I put myself threw this.

  5. Great article. The reality is that when you become a step-parent you become second in many areas. This is not the spouse or child’s fault. It is the situation. Coming to terms with it does not mean someone is not loved less. It just means the whole situation is understood. It takes time to make a unit. Sitting back and providing unconditional support is the best thing you can do.

  6. I struggled reading your article. Being a step parent can bring challenges for sure, but so can the life of a bio parent. I wouldn’t trade the life with my DH and Sks for anything. If the opportunity presented itself to rewind time and I had the choice to choose the life of a Step mom again, I would do it again a million times over. I am so blessed that the three of them are in my life <3

    • I would too! But if I could have my family and the love we share without all of the additional stressors, that would be easier. I will support any decision my daughter makes when she grows up, and I will never talk poorly about my role to her. But I still hope she gets an easier path than I had. ❤️

  7. Wow….I was so grateful to read this. Being a step parent to three children I was wondering if I was alone in feeling just as you described. It has been the most frustrating and challenging part of my life so far, knowing that someone else has experienced similar emotions is so helpful. thank you for being brave enough to admit things that not everyone would agree with.

  8. I do love this piece, although I am not sure if I completely agree yet. I am still taking it in. I to am a SM of 2 girls 12 and 9 , I have my son 11 from my previous marriage and we have our daughter 6 together. I have been in my SD’s lives for a little over 8 years now and experience everything in this article twice and then some. LOL. I have not only been dragged to court with the custody battle ,but she did one better .She accused me of child abuse and even managed to get our oldest now 12 to lie about it all. After months and months and CPS found no evidence of course my 12 yr old then 7 finally fessed up. Phew!!! What kind of person does that . Not only could I have lost my girls(SD) ,but I could have lost the children I gave birth to. I will tell you what kind of person.does that . An Insecure person. Someone who doesn’t love and respect themselves. So they of course are in no way capable of being secure as a mother. Ladies I am a firm believer in letting go and accepting her (Ex wife) for who and what she is. She is loving and doing the best she knows how and you know what????? That has nothing to do with me . It will ALWAYS ALWAYS be directed at me but it has nothing to do with me. I am secure as a Mother and Step Mother and I choose not to feel 2nd, or not good enough or what ever terrible things she says or believes about me. It is a thankless job ,but I chose it and I would do it again. Ladies we are capable of unconditional Love. We are loving and doing for our SKs like they are our own. That my friends is powerful love.The way I see it we are super heroes. Ha! So all I’m saying is don’t allow yourself to feel 2nd or not good enough. Love that crazy Ex wife for what she is ,but you do not have to believe or be the cliche . Above all Love yourself enough to let it go and just love your children like any true secure mother would. It will all pay off in the end and if it doesn’t just learn from your experience . My biggest lesson is just learning from these and all the hardships I have experienced in life thus far. So I can help my babies or even a fellow stepmom.
    Peace and love ladies!!

  9. This post is so much needed at a time in my life where I felt like giving up. I came into my two step daughters lives when they were around 3 and 5. They are now 6 and 8. The mother/ex was still not over my husband and so she used the girls as pawns to get back at us. For the longest I was very hands off and uninvolved to avoid overstepping but slowly realised that this is my life and MY family. If she refuses to co-parent, oh well. She had her turn and I’m sure that SHE is the one who feels like the outsider, unable to share the experience of being a complete family as I do with not only her ex but HER kids. She has done a lot to cause turmoil in my home, the very home she sends their kids too. I come to understand that she is coming from a hurt place and me I’m complete in knowing that the power of two is always better and my husband and I have grown closer as a result of her hate. Sure that wasn’t intended on her part. The girls do suffer the most. After a long night of listening to her bad mouth me they are hesitant to hug me or look me in the eye. It’s truly sad and puts a huge damper on our relationship as it is. Being a stepmum is not a walk in the park or for the faint of heart. It takes a special individual to bear that title and actual stand on it.

  10. A lot of people may think this is harsh but I think this is dead On!! I have a step son and if you had the chance to meeting him when he was a baby or 1 Years old things would be different maybe but his mom talked bad about me and I’ve talked good about her and he’s grown up to be very manipulative, liar, when his dad is around (my husband) and he turns so manipulative that when his dad is working and it’s us and my daughter he is a pretty good kid with ups and downs. So it’s very rare that someone can have a great relationship with their step child. I tried for 10 years and it’s still manipulative with him and he tries to be sneaky. My husband doesn’t respect me
    In that sense that he lies on the other side and with school all the time!! I wish more step moms out there reach out to others bc it’s one
    Of the most difficult times in my life and I’m barely hanging on. Anyone else agrees?

  11. This is deep! I have experienced these feelings on some level myself and it can hurt sometimes. To your point about judgment, I hope that disappears for all stepmoms. We choose to love our husband’s children. That’s a sacrificial decision to make and deserves some level of respect.

  12. I understand completely. I am a stepmother to a 9 year old boy. Crazy as it sounds, I actually wished for this back when I was younger – having a partner and a child without actually giving birth. The part that came unexpected was that his biological mother passed away when he was two years old. Since she passed away, his father and he would always acknowledge that she is still a part of his/their life. They would visit the gravesite every year on her birthday. They still do to this day. I had to learn that sometimes my own selfishness needed to be put aside because I chose this life. I fell in love with his dad and what came with the relationship was him – the child. I chose this.
    There was a brief period in my life where I did felt like a “second choice” even after she passed away. In that period, I felt like a second option. I even had to tell my partner because it was bothering me for quite some time – eating away at me. He finally stopped showing the signs that made me feel very uncomfortable. The child would say, “I wish she were here”, “I wish she came with us”. I always felt like I was in the backseat when the child would say things like that. It made me feel bad – thinking, “I’m here, I’m here in the now, I’m present”. It definitely affected me in a negative way. I know I’m probably not even supposed to be feeling this way but I do…
    I do the best I can to help raise the child with my partner. I don’t have any biological children of my own. I’m 36 so my window may be closing soon. I’ve been with my partner for 7 years now.
    Being a step-parent is one of the most challenging choices I’ve ever taken on, but I know that he is loved very much.

    • First, please let me give you permission to feel whatever you’re experiencing. Don’t censor yourself by saying “I’m probably not even supposed to be feeling this way but I do.” You’re entitled to your emotions and experiences just as much as anyone else in your family. My brother and sister lost their mother at a young age, and they’ve had stepmoms since, so I understand your stepson’s situation. You’re all grieving. Your stepson’s grief is more apparent, but you’re also grieving the simple family life you thought you’d have when you grow up. You’re grieving your own infertility journey. You all need the freedom to process your emotions and grieve properly. Sending tons of love! If you’d ever like to talk through things in a 1-on-1 coaching session, I’m here!

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