As a stepmom, you may have heard the phrase “You’re not my mom!” Upset kids can really hit you where it hurts the most! Unfortunately, as much as this phrase may hurt, there is a grain of truth to it.
Not in the sense that you genuinely are second-rate, but that there is an underlying—if very misguided—prejudice in our society that you are less than a “real” mom and thus, not always allowed the same grace. Whether it’s coming from your partner, the ex, your stepkids, you, or society in general, stepmoms deal with double standards all the time!
You have to be Extra Careful when Disciplining the Stepkids
How you discipline the stepkids (assuming you’re allowed to at all) vs. how mom does is one prime example of stepmomming double standards.
Moms are often allowed to dole out whatever punishment they feel is suitable (no matter how harsh) when the kids are out of line. But stepmoms need to be extremely careful how they react.
Research shows that stepchildren are less forgiving toward their stepparents for discipline than they are their parents. As such, stepmoms often have to proceed with caution when it comes to discipline.
Plus, any onlookers are going to judge the heck out of you. Discipline too harshly? Not okay. Too lenient? What a pushover. Sometimes as a stepmom, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
You’re Expected to be Perfect
Stepmoms are expected to remain cool and calm in all, and I mean all, situations—including those where any other mom would go bonkers!
However, the reality is that stepmoms are just as human as moms (and dads) are! As such, we do lose it at times. Yep! We too may shout, storm out, yell, or get really upset about something that seems small on occasion, just like a mom might! Who knew?
“She’s tired,” “The kids have been driving her up the wall,” “I don’t think she slept last night” … The justification and excuses we give moms goes on and on. But if we stepmoms react similarly, we aren’t given the same benefit of the doubt.
We aren’t looking for permission to lose our tempers all the time, but, at the very least, stepmoms would like to be removed from the “perfect” pedestal and given some leeway to be human!
Unfortunately, we don’t always have the unconditional love or approval of the stepkids or society’s sympathy to get us off the hook.
You’re Not Allowed to Complain
Being a parent is full of ups and downs, lessons learned the hard way, struggles, good days, and bad! Yes, it’s challenging—so is being a stepmom! Where moms and stepmoms differ is that moms usually get to complain about their kids without being judged too harshly.
I think that this comes from the belief that it’s impossible for moms to ever not love their kids. Therefore, when they complain, they’re just letting off steam, are tired, frustrated, or simply struggling with naughty kids.
However, complaining is a slippery slope for a stepmom! Complaining about your stepkids to someone who’s not a stepmom is sure to be met with hesitation, if not full on judgment.
Outsiders often think we should be grateful for time with our stepchildren, and they see complaining as proof that we aren’t grateful for our families. At the end of the day, complaining about our challenges as stepmoms feeds into the misperception that we’re all just “Evil Stepmoms.”
Others Won’t Always Acknowledge All You Do
“It takes a village to raise a child” – or so the saying goes! As stepmoms, we often play a big part in nurturing, caring for, guiding, and helping our stepkids develop into healthy, happy young teens and adults.
Despite these contributions, we don’t always get the credit we deserve for our part in raising our stepchildren.
Examples range from blatant like not being acknowledged on Mother’s Day (or even Stepmother’s Day) to subtle like standing nearby as the parents get all of the compliments for raising such a great child.
You’ll Often be Expected to Take a Back Seat
When it comes to parenting your own kids, you’re likely at least 50% decision-maker; however, when it comes to parenting stepkids, it’s an entirely different structure! Your partner and the ex likely make most (all?) of the decisions while you follow.
Despite being involved in helping raise your stepchildren, you’ll often be in a position to take a back seat as a stepparent while the child’s parents do most of the heavy lifting.
Though not the case in all blended families, this double standard alone can drive many stepmothers crazy!
Feeling Frustrated with the Double Standards?
I get it, girlfriend! In fact, no one gets it like another stepmom.
If you’re needing support from someone who understands your unique stressors and frustrations, fill out our application and find out if stepmom support coaching is a good fit for you!
The double standards between moms and stepmoms are real. But you don’t have to live in a place of frustration or anger. You can have a life of peace and happiness despite the unfairness and the stigma.
P.S. This is just another one of those realities of stepparenting…