Here’s the deal. Being a stepmom is hard. Stepparenting is arguably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It’s not just getting over that you are your husband’s second wife. Or even just dealing with everyone that says “You knew what you were getting into.” There’s more to it than trying to get on the same page with your husband. On top of all of that, there’s the stepmom shaming.
There’s a royal societal stigma around stepparents. They need to be involved – but not too involved. Stepparents need to love the children as their own – but not overstep boundaries with Mom and Dad. Stepmom should act like mom – but not be called Mom. Biological children and stepchildren should be treated equally – but stepchildren should be given time alone with Mom and Dad too without stepparents present. They should parent – but not discipline. And don’t get me started on the nonsense that you’re not an actual stepparent until you have a ring on your finger.
As you can probably imagine, there is quite a list of things stepmoms are dying to say. They’re itching to have their voices heard. To shout from the rooftops that we’re here, we’re not going anywhere, and we deserve to be acknowledged.
Stop Stepmom Shaming! 30 Things We Wish We Were Allowed to Voice
I noticed a young woman’s post on Facebook discussing how she loved her biological children more than her stepchildren. She made no apologies or excuses. My first thought was, “Wow, good for her! You’re not supposed to actually voice that.” And it got me thinking… There are countless phrases we can’t think – or Heaven forbid, say – as stepmoms. We are expected to downplay our contributions, never question the children’s parents, and to sacrifice our own identities in the name of stepmotherhood.
So, I started a poll in one of my favorite Stepmom Facebook groups and asked the women what they wish they were allowed to say but can’t for fear of stepmom shaming. Not all stepmoms believe all 30 things, of course, but the majority of a large group agreed with the following sentiments. Here are the top 30 results, in random order:
- Stepparenting is more difficult than parenting.
- I have trouble liking my stepchildren.
- I wish I could discipline my stepchildren without being seen as the “evil stepmother.”
- I am jealous of my husband’s first wife.
- I think I do a better job parenting than Dad does.
- I am more invested in your child than you are.
- I think I know your child better than you do.
- Sometimes I need a break.
- If I could go back, I’d make a different decision.
- To friends/family: “Don’t date a man with children.”
- I hate that another woman makes decision that affect me.
- I don’t love my stepchildren as much as my birth children.
- I miss having time alone with my birth children.
- I sometimes wonder if life would be easier if Mom wasn’t alive.
- I get jealous of my stepchildren.
- I have completely lost myself.
- If someone says “just a stepmom” one more time…
- I love your child like my own.
- I hate that I’m the one that has to compromise when Mom and Dad disagree.
- I think I do a better job parenting than Mom does.
- I like that I get a break from my stepchildren every week.
- You don’t love your child more because you birthed him/her. My love is neither invalid nor inferior.
- I am putting off having children because of our blended life complexities.
- Sometimes stepfamily life really sucks.
- I feel completely taken for granted.
- I deserve better than this.
- I wish I had been first.
- I married a man with a lot of baggage.
- It’s not fair that all of my hard-earned money is sent back to his ex-wife.
- I should be valued as a parent in these kids’ lives.
Whether to avoid judgment or conflict, stepmoms avoid speaking their minds everyday. We suppress our own wants, needs, and opinions, and it’s time for that to stop. Blended families are on the rise as divorce statistics continue to climb. We need to move past the archaic mentality that all stepmothers are “wicked” and open the lines of communication. Allow stepparents to parent, and for the love of our kids, stop stepmom shaming.
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