How to Be A Stepmom’s Friend

5 01 2010

My Dear Stepmothers: Please pass this post along to your best friends, sisters, mothers, cousins, or anyone else you go to for support.

How to Be a Stepmom’s Friend

When I first became a stepmother, my best friend listened to me talk about what it was like to becoming a stepmom. I dished to her all my fears and feelings. Yes. ALL. The stepmothers who are reading this before sending it along to friends are cringing right now. Because often when a stepmother tells the truth of what she’s feeling to someone who is not a stepmom, she hears responses such as the following:

How could you hate a kid?

What do you mean you don’t love your stepchildren?

You knew what you were getting into when you married him / moved in with him / decided to date a man with kids.

Why do you need alone time? Don’t you want to be with your family 24/7?

You sound like a wicked stepmother.

Shouldn’t you be at your stepchild’s soccer game?

Why would you go to your stepchild’s soccer game? You’re only her stepmom.

What a stepmother’s friends don’t typically know is that the hard feelings we have as we become stepmoms are a normal part of stepfamily development. But since this is not common knowledge, stepmothers are often made to feel like crazy, evil, heartless, and stupid women by the very people who love them most. And that makes the job of becoming a stepmother, more difficult.

If you’re friends with a stepmom, here are some tips to help you stay friends as she blossoms into stepmotherhood.

Have an open heart policy. Even if you’re a whiz at active listening, pay attention to how you offer your new stepmom friend a shoulder to cry on. Try to listen to her feelings with an open heart and mind. Even if she says she hates the six year old who knocks on her newlywed bedroom door every night, please don’t judge her. Instead merely say something like, “I’m sorry honey. That sounds like it’s really hard for you.”  

Give her the benefit of the doubt. Assume your friend is still the generous, kind, loving woman she was before she became a stepmother. Becoming a stepmom can knock a woman to her knees, especially if she has challenging stepchildren who are openly hostile. Even when she voices things that you don’t understand or agree with, consider voicing this thought: “I don’t really understand what you’re going through because I’ve never been a stepmother, but I love you and support you no matter what.”

Remind her of who she is. No matter how long your friend has been a stepmother, she needs to be reminded of who she is outside of her stepmom role. Help her remember what she’s like when she’s happy and light-hearted. Take her out to do things that you both love that don’t involve husbands or kids or stepchildren.  

Read a book about stepmotherhood. Consider this quote by a reader who reviewed my book, A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom. “I am not a stepmom or a stepdaughter but my best friend is both. There was no way for me to understand the kinds of issues she faced as they courted and got married and built their new family; this book makes it all so clear.” Whether you read my book or one by another author, you would do your friendship a great service if you learned about the normal phases of stepmother development.  

Support her positivity. Don’t let your friend just vent to you about all the negative aspects of stepmotherhood without touching on the positive parts. A stepmother needs to be armed with optimism if she’s going to make it to the finish line. So help her remember the many reasons she loves her husband and what she feels she’s done well.

No one dreams of becoming a stepmother but now that your friend is one or is about to become one, she will need you more than ever. On behalf of your friend, I thank you for your willingness to love and support her. If I were in your presence right now I would give you a standing ovation!

 And to my own dear friend. Thank you so much for listening to me with an open heart. You always make me feel supported and understood even when you disagreed with me. I love you!




11 responses

5 01 2010

Oh, yah.

I can see by the looks on my friends’ faces that they Just Don’t Get the whole stepmum thing.

Why it is so hard. Why I don’t just walk away. Why I even care.

Nothing makes me feel so alone. If my sister wasn’t also a stepmum, I’d never get through.

Thanks for another great post.

6 01 2010

Best post EVER Jacque. So many truths here. You should write a book on this subject alone. I LOVE this post.

6 01 2010

Thanks ladies! And Carrie, what a brilliant idea! I’ll get right to work on that one. You are so right.

6 01 2010

I’ve been a stepmom for three years and I’m at the place where I have silenced all my thoughts and feelings on the stepparenting, my stepfamily, and my relationship with the stepchildrens dad. When I tried to talk about it with my friends or family they have turned on the kids dad (almost mad at him for putting me in ‘this situation’) or frustrated at me because ‘I chose it’ or ‘I knew what I was getting into’. I quit talking about it with people I know because when they turn on my husband it hurts me far more than when they are judgemental just towards me.

7 01 2010
8 01 2010
Eyes Wide Open

How about the response, “You really need counseling,” from friends. None of my friends are even married, nevermind stepmoms. When we meet for a cuppa and they ask me how things are, I always get back something like that, eyes aglow with pity. Sometimes, all I need is a listening ear, and though couseling is definitely not a a bad idea, when it’s said with pity and a tone of “you’re effing crazy” it doesn’t help the situation!
Thanks for this post!

9 01 2010

Fortunately, I have one very close friend and two sisters who listen in a non-judgmental way. They are not stepmoms; but, as my friend puts it, “she knows me.”
These women know I have a good heart and that my intentions are in the right place. When I vent, she knows I just need to get it off my chest (…and it helps tremendously to be able to vent to someone).
She also vents about her own biological children to me. It helps to hear that biomoms often feel frustrated and angry with their own children and husbands, as well. It makes me feel more “normal” to feel that way as a stepmom.

12 01 2010
Peggy Nolan

I’m one of the odd balls – many in my family are remarried (except for my three brothers…they’re all with their first wives…) dad, mom, sister, my favorite aunt was married to her 2nd husband for 50 years before he passed away last year, my four favorite cousins, the core group of friends hubs and I hang out with are on their second or third marriages and my best friend since high school is on #4.

The question I get the most often from my remarried girlfriends is “how do you make it work?”

21 01 2010

Becoming a stepmother really does knock you on your knees. You just don’t know what you’re in for until you’re right in the middle of it. I particularly love this piece of advice: “help her remember the many reasons she loves her husband and what she feels she’s done well.” On harder days, you sometimes can’t help but wonder why you’re doing it. The good days make up for it, though. Help us remember the good days!

19 06 2010

You know what’s worse? When other stepmothers criticize you! I can’t tell how many times I’ve heard stepmoms say these things to other stepmoms.

12 08 2010

I met my stepmother when I was 16, we got on okay then. 20 years later she’s my best friend and definitely family.

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