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The “S” Word: Stepmom is Not a Bad Word

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The only half in this house is the half and half creamer, and the only steps in this house are the ones that lead upstairs.

You’ve seen the quote, right?

I used to find it cute, but now it just makes me cringe… and maybe a little offended.

What is so wrong with being a half sibling or a stepmom? I’m proud of my title, and I don’t appreciate you insinuating there’s something shameful about it!

Stepmom vs. Bonus Mom

I’ll start with the disclaimer that I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the phrase “bonus mom.”

But, here’s where I take issue with the term: when you use it because you don’t like the word stepmom. Bonus Mom is a term we use to feel better about ourselves.

I am technically, legally a stepmom.

Yes, Disney (and others) have misconstrued the term stepmom in popular culture, but instead of shying away from it, we should be working to change the connotation of it!

If I know my worth and the contribution I provide to my family, why would I say that I don’t like the term stepmom and instead advocate for a separate term like bonus mom?

Contrarily, my good example of a stepmom necessitates the spreading of that example associated with the word stepmom even more. Don’t we need more positive examples like this?

If I brag about being a proud stepmom enough, people will begin associating the word with me instead of the evil stepmoms of the fairy tales.

There is no shame in being a stepmom, and you don’t need to be called “mom” or “bonus mom” to feel good about this role. There is so much to be proud of as a stepmom. I stepped up, I stepped in, and I have loved and cared for someone else’s child.

It’s not futile.

I can practically hear your frustration through the screen. “I can’t possibly change the connotation of a word! I’m just one person!”

I want you to understand it’s not futile and words can change meanings. 

The word awesome today is synonymous with incredible, wonderful, and great. However, it originally conveyed that something was fear-inducing (source). The word awful has the same root of “awe” but still has the negative connotation today.

Another example is the word terrific. This word is also a positive term which did not originate that way. The root of terrific is terror, and the word terrible maintains the negative association; whereas, terrific has turned around its meaning completely.

I want to do the same thing with the word stepmom.

Stepmom is Not a Bad Word

We assign values to words. Without our interpretation of words, they’re just a combination of letters.

I will personally choose to regard stepmom as a positive word. A stepmom is a woman of great strength and dignity who has provided for and cared for another woman’s child by choice.

Becoming a stepmom is an admirable choice, and I refuse to be ashamed of it.

I know there are some bad stepmoms out there, and I won’t pretend that’s not the case. But there are a lot of really tremendous stepmoms out there, too. I had an incredible example of a stepmom growing up, and she has inspired me in many ways.

I have many friends today who are phenomenal stepmothers, and I hope they’re proud of the impact they make daily as a stepmom. The choice to help raise another’s child should be celebrated, not condemned.

I am a proud stepmom. 


P.S. While we’re at it, let’s stop saying this to stepmoms!

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