A Stepmom Bill of Rights…Dangerous to Stepfamilies?

13 01 2010

Ladies, I’m afraid that this might not be a popular post but I feel I must write it. Currently there is yet another version of the Stepmom Bill of Rights circulating online among stepmothers.  I’ve seen many of these over the years. Though the contents of these missives are often well-meaning and make stepmothers come together in a rallying cry, I believe portions of them are actually harmful to stepfamily development. Please, hear me out. Yes, stepmothers often have one of the most difficult roles in a stepfamily, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else gets off scott free. In fact, everyone has a difficult role. The children. Dads and Moms, Stepdads and Stepmothers. We all have our crosses to bear. It’s very easy to take the research that says stepmothers have the most difficult role in the family and swing too far to the other side of the pendulum where we become self-righteous or victims–and that does not a happy stepfamily make. In fact, the Stepmother’s Bill of Rights actually highlights the tension and conflict that is a normal part of  stepfamily life. I have reproduced below the latest version of this bill of rights and I’m going to respond to each point.

1. I will be part of the decision-making process in my marriage and family at all times.
Yes, this certainly is a reasonable sentiment in most cases. However, it is the nature of stepfamilies that things happen that stepmothers have no control over. To insist that we do is to set ourselves up for heartache and a troubled marriage. In the best cases, stepmothers are on the decision-making team and their husbands make them feel like their opinion counts. These women are lucky. But even in the best cases there will be times when the decisions of what happens to the children are up to Dad and Mom.

2. People outside the immediate family – including ex-wives, in-laws and adult children – cannot make plans that affect my life without my consent.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if this were the case? Wouldn’t it be great if this were true in our families of origin let alone our stepfamilies? Ex-wives do make plans without our consent. They sign their children up for basketball and baseball and swimming lessons that directly affect our lives. Adult children consult with their Dads instead of us. One of the reasons stepmothering is so difficult is that we parent from the backseat. To tell yourself that it should be any other way is to deny the reality of stepfamily life. Plenty of research talks about the fall of the fantasy when our dreams and reality conflict. Believing that no one will make plans without consulting you in a stepfamily is a fantasy. Your reaction to those frustrating times is what you can control.

 3. I will not be responsible for the welfare of children for whom I can set no limits.
As a stepmother, role ambiguity is one of the issues that makes stepmothering challenging. It’s hard to know what role to play with our stepdaughters and stepsons. You often won’t be able to set limits for the children. That’s up to Dad and Mom. If the children are older when you get into their lives, it is highly likely you’ll have no say whatsoever in discipline not because Dad won’t let you but because the children will not accept it from you. And yet, you are responsible. You have no legal rights. But you are responsible for the children’s welfare when they are under their roof. This again speaks to a few fantasies of stepmotherhood: 1.) That you will have control. 2.) That you will be able to totally disengage if you don’t have control. Big mistake. If you totally disengage it will affect your marriage. If you try to get too involved, it will affect your marriage. Stepmotherhood is a balancing act, one that take a great deal of maturity and is not for the weak of heart.

4. I must be consulted about which children will live with us, when they can visit and how long they will stay.
Once again, this is a statement right out of fantasy land. Often it is a judge that decides or a divorce agreement that dictates which children will live with you, when they can visit, and how long they will stay. It’s not up to us stepmoms. A biological parent has a legal responsibility to care for his children. To allow this friction into your heart and into your marriage is dangerous. The fact is the rate of divorce for stepfamilies is higher than first marriages in the early years. If you can make it past the chaotic early years, the divorce rate actually falls below first marriages, but only if you decide to move out of Oz and be fully present with the realities, both wonderful and challenging in your family life.

5. I will not be solely responsible for housework; chores will be distributed fairly.
This one I can agree with!

6. I will be consulted regarding all family financial matters.
Consulted, sure. But at the end of the day, a biological father has a legal (if not moral) responsibility to care for his children financially. Once again, the agreements he made before you came along must be honored. This is a hard pill to swallow for stepmothers because it has an impact on her new family, but it is something you must accept if you’re going to be a happy stepmom.

7. Others may not violate my private space at home, nor take or use my possessions without my permission.
This is a great one. Make it a household rule. But remember that kids are kids and sometimes they don’t follow rules.

8. I will never be treated as an “outsider” in my own home.
I want to pull my hair out on this one. Being an outsider is one of the definitions of stepparent. This is what makes it so difficult! We don’t share blood with the children who live with us part- or full-time. You will be treated as an outsider. So what will you do about it? How will you react to it so you don’t blow up your family life? How will you develop bonds with your stepchildren to reduce this feeling? Stepfamilies can feel like family but usually only after a lot of years have gone by and our actions toward the children and our husbands and ourselves have made us feel like family. This is an incredibly harmful stepfamily myth, that we’ll all love each other and feel like family instantly. You will not. You will feel like an outsider. And you might always feel that way occasionally. (At graduations and weddings, for instance.) But you’ll find a role that fits you and your family. Researcher Patricia Papernow calls stepparents “Intimate Outsiders.” We will never be blood, but we can develop very strong, positive relationships that ultimately feel like family.

9. My husband and stepchildren must treat me with respect.
Yes! I’m on board with this one. In fact, this is one of the rules of a house that can help a stepparent feel better as she works through the challenges of finding her place in the family.

10. Our marriage is our first priority, and we will address all issues together.
YES!!! This is hugely important. And the stepfamilies who make it to the finish line are the ones in which the marriage is a priority. But children are a priority, too. Sometimes a child’s needs come first. It’s not either marriage  or children, it’s marriage AND children.  Still, a stepmother needs to feel secure in her marriage. A woman who feels confident in her relationship with her partner is better able to handle the normal stepfamily challenges.

So. Does this mean I think that stepmothers don’t need a rally cry? Absolutely not! Stepmothers need to band together. We are often unappreciated and left out. But please remember that some of these rally cries come at the expense of your relationships with your family. Be careful. Be gentle. I wish for all of you to always feel at home in your own home. I hope that you all feel empowered and among a sisterhood of like-minded women who support you. I also hope that your families are growing organically into something really wonderful and special that enhances each member’s experience of life.




99 responses

13 01 2010
Peggy Nolan

Awesome Jacque! I hope every stepmother reads this and realizes that much of the “stepmother’s bill of rights” creates more problems than it attempts to solve.

13 01 2010

Thank you for this, Jacque. I can absolutely identify with the need to claim rights in our own homes. But the reality is, choosing to be a stepmom means giving up some of those rights. Decisions that some random woman my husband happened to have married and divorced before he met me affect my life on a weekly basis. If BMs were all rational, kind, wonderful, sensitive people, they would still be married to our husbands. But they’re not always. Sometimes they make stupid, selfish decisions that spoil things for us and our households. And while I absolutely identify with the desire to scream “IT’S NOT FAIR” at the top of my lungs, it’s not going to change things. Signing up to marry the most wonderful man in the world also meant giving up some control over how I want my life to run. I don’t love it, but when I stopped feeling like my “rights” were being violated all the time, I felt a lot better. I’d be mad ALL THE TIME if I adopted this bill of rights. It’s violated almost daily.

22 03 2010

Just had to respond to your comment about if BM’s were kind, etc., they would still be married to your husband. What if the husband was not kind, was unfaithful and walked out? The BM’s are not always to blame. I am both a stepmom and my child has a stepmom. I want to get along with her so badly but she cannot tolerate me – sometimes. I never know when the times will be that she is nice to me. My ex and I had a great relationship before he married her. I get along with my husband’s ex. I get along with most people.
There’s not always an easy or cut and dried answer,

28 03 2013

Hi michelle exactly!! I have 3 children and 3 step children, my ex was abusive and threatened to kill me. He started dating his wife the month we separated, someone he had worked with, anyways she has hated me from day one since she felt threatened I would go back to him because he wanted me back. I want things to be civil, she causes trouble. I get along with my husband’s ex-wife great. I love my step daughters but I don’t overstep those bounds. My kids step-mom makes appointments for them, even had taken my daughter for oral surgery to have her wisdoms teeth removed without even discussing it with me. According to our paperwork she is not to be involved but it doesn’t stop her. I think as the mother who has joint custody and 50/50 parenting time she should not come to these appointments he can go home and talk to her like I go home and talk to my husband we then email and make decisions usually unless they are going behind my back. Due to my order of protection we do not talk on the phone or text etc. I know how frustrating it is to have things planned without my knowledge from both my ex and my husbands ex and I just Smile and go with the flow.

22 03 2014

I get along with my wife ex he pays his support and is there for our daughter. Not saying all be are bad I am married to a good woman who is a stepmother and be mother.

16 04 2012
Sue So

Thanks Jennifer – and I am right there with you. Funny how we sometimes think more about how things could be (if our hubby/wife didn’t have kids when we met him/her) instead of thinking of how to evolve into your your life. Most of us, when we left school to be an adult and take care of ourselves, didn’t spend time moaning about how unfair it is that we are no longer kids because it was pointless. We didn’t have a choice, right? Well same goes for stepparenting. You had a choice to marry him/her or not. Once you make it, you can either evolve or squander your short life away.

13 01 2010

If a bill of rights like this is violated almost every day, then maybe there’s a problem…
I agree that it’s not fun to be mad every day. But most of these “demands” are quite reasonable, and if they are not being met, maybe you need your own space. Rather than suppress your anger, try to fix it, or admit it can’t be fixed, and get your own place.

1. I agree that Dad should make the decisions regarding his children. But what if he decides that he’s going to leave the kids at home with you, the stepmom, every day during the summer, and it’s your job to entertain them? You need to be part of that decision.
2. Ditto plans that affect your life: people can make them, but if they don’t consult you and it affects you, you’re not obligated to go along with them. The “babysitting” plan above would be an example.
3. The part about kids without limits is hard. If they are watching tv constantly and won’t do their homework, fine with me. Not my kid, not my problem. If they are shooting at each other with BB guns, I’m going to intervene. If it affects their safety or mine and they are minors, I’m going to act authoritatively whether Dad likes it or not. If they’re adult children and they are violent, they have to leave. Simple.
4. Which children live with us: most stepmothers are with dads who don’t have custody, yet the kids often live with us anyway. I think stepmothers absolutely should have a say here. And if the kid refuses to be minimally courteous, Dad should ask the kid to go to mom’s house.
5. no argument re: chores. But if we can make this stick, why not some of the others?
6. About money: keep your finances separate!
7. Kids and private space and possessions: Yes, kids may violate this, but they need to learn not to. In our house, teens and young adults routinely took things and never brought them back and denied that they had them, yet we found them at mom’s house later. Once my car keys were lost for weeks and turned up at her house. Somebody had needed a house key so they took all my keys.
8. The point is to never be an outsider IN YOUR OWN HOME. Graduations and weddings happen outside the home. If you are being shunned and dissed in your own home (I was, routinely), there’s a problem. You have no refuge.
9. If people are treating you with respect, you won’t feel like an outsider; they wont’ take your stuff; people will consult you about plans; and parents will sent limits on how kids treat you. This rule contains all the other rules. Again, if you can make this rule stick, why give away the other ones?
10. Yes, little kids’ needs sometimes come first. But teens and young adults can learn to respect adults’ relationships. If you indulge them too much when they are little, though, they won’t.

Don’t give up the fight for stepmother’s rights! Don’t give away everything!!!!

22 03 2010

thank you so much….I agree with all but these 2 got me. I am a bonus parent (don’t like bonus mom or step mom title)
1. I agree with you totally. In the beginning my husband and the bio mom would make schedule without consulting me. DH traveled a lot, so I was expected to fill his shoes. Naive me, did it for a long time and it started to impact my health, cuz I couldn’t do it. I commute 100 miles a day and with school drop offs, pick ups, sports and cub scouts etc., I physically just couldn’t do it. One day, I said to DH, “It’s your child, you take care of him. I am not a nanny and if you think I am, then pay me.” (I had plans to hire a sitter with that money). Well, things changed, now it’s a breeze. I tell them what works and what doesn’t work and when it doesn’t work they have to take care of it. Their jobs are no more important than mine.

6. Our marriage agreement includes that I am not responsible for financial support for the child. I am sorry but I don’t want to forgo buying shoes to contribute in child support. The smartest decision I made in this marriage. Well, my bonus son and I have pretty solid relationship and I take him out, buy him things, and of course I make sure he has proper clothes but I do it on my terms. It may work for someone that your husband’s responsibility is yours, but it doesn’t work for me.

I will say that I am a great BParent. I take pride in being a good influence on my BS. We both argue like other kids and adults but he told me that he doesn’t love me like I love him but he respects what I do for him and he likes how I listen to him. I respect his honesty and I respect him a lot. I may not take him to the most fun places because I don’t feel like but we talk a lot. His parents know what’s going on with him through me.

13 01 2010
Jennifer Newcomb Marine

Excellent and thought-provoking response, Jacque. Well done!

Once again, I am in awe of how difficult it must be to be a stepmom, and I SO wish I could get the attention of more moms and help them understand this. Sadly, the majority of our audience seems to be stepmoms, and in particular, stepmoms who are battling an ex-wife who doesn’t care a whit about working together. Everyone suffers because of it.

Thanks for all you do in creating understanding beyond traditional stepfamily/stepmom stereotypes and assumptions. You’re empowering women, even though, from the outside, some of what you’re saying is initially discouraging.

22 03 2010


I am a BParent. I don’t have kids of my own and I will not be having any either. As much as I want the same, I can understand that it is difficult for a BM to give some control of her child’s life over to you. It is husband’s responsibility not Bio mom or bonus parent’s repsonsiblity only to make things work out. In many cases, husbands are too chicken to come up with some great plan to make things work so BM and BParent do the only way they know how to do it.

I have a great relationship with the Bio mom. No, we are not friends, but about a year ago we had a chat and I told her:
1. I don’t do anything to be nice to her or my husband, anything I do is for my BSon. I choose to do it, so you can either be happy that your son has someone who loves him or you have to say it to tell all of us in the family that you don’t want me taking care of your son.
2. I am not your friend so please do not say anything negative or degrading about my husband to me or in front of me. You have friends, so talk to them.
3. You can accept help from me or fight with my husband.
4. I am not a mean person but I do have the capabilities of defending myself, my territory, and my good will.

Well, Bio mom is a really nice person but she was just mean cuz she felt like she had to defend her and that’s the only weapon she had. I do give props to all the bio moms who come around after a while for the good of their children.

24 11 2010

When I met my husband at the time – he had a 4 year old child and a not very friendly ex wife.
The EX wife argued that she didn’t want HER CHILD exposed to girlfriends. That she didn’t know what type of person/example I was, to trust her daughter to be around me.
At the time I simply could not understand and that made no sense to me. I remember one of the couple times I spoke to her on the phone, she said; that I would only understand if “I had a child”.
That made me really mad, and I remember thinking: “This B!tcH thinks she gave birth to the holy grail? What makes her think that Im less – for not having popped a child out ”.

Now, I have a 3 year old girl – and yes, she is MY HOLY GRAIL, and the ex was right –
Something we can ONLY understand by having a child is what UNCONDITIONAL LOVE really IS.
You THINK you love your Mother. You THINK you love your husband. You THINK you love yourself… But if you –ever- have your own child you will see what kind of LOVE I’m talking about.
Your quote ” I don’t have kids of my own and I will not be having any either.”
So you wont ever really know how it feels to be divorced + child.
And you don’t know how protective, or how threatened you would feel in that situation.
The way you expressed your self, you talked about your HUSBAND’s child, like he was less than the neighbor, that you take out for a ice-cream, and help out whatever is possible/convenient for YOU.
You should realize that this kid is a piece of your husband, and there is no such a thing of EX CHILD. You are the wive “in charge” today. God knows about tomorrow………

13 01 2010

I agree with Elizabeth — especially this: “If a bill of rights like this is violated almost every day, then maybe there’s a problem… Rather than suppress your anger, try to fix it, or admit it can’t be fixed, and get your own place.” But I definitely second her entire repsonse.

13 01 2010

I have one more thing to add: it is really not in the interest of the children to allow them to walk all over you–take your things, treat you disrespectfully, not observe normal limits, etc. Kids who are indulged in this way do not turn into nice adults. They have lots of problems at work and in their relationships. So, letting them act badly in order to stay married is a Faustian bargain: it will come back to haunt you when they are grown up. I’ve been there. They don’t just go away when they’re 18.

13 01 2010

Ladies, thank you for the thoughtful responses! As all of you who have read my work know, I believe very strongly that stepmothers should not be walked all over, but as an adult stepchild myself I can also see the other side. As I said earlier, it’s a balancing act. Demanding control is a mistake.

16 04 2012
Sue So

Righto – it’s like demanding control at your workplace. You can demand it, but the sure way get control is to earn respect first.

Quick note – once I had my own child, I realized how difficult it must be for the biomom to know her boys are with another woman who also loves, feeds, helps, gets calls for playdates and from their school…and hears the occasional “i love you” or compliment from their kiddo.

If you have a biochild, try to imagine how it would feel to have the new stepmom demand that she be consulted and have the right to veto any decision about your child. Wouldn’t you be even more outraged? (If you say no, you are the most gracious person ever, and kudos to you)

13 01 2010

I would agree that demanding control doesn’t work — we can’t make anybody else do anything, and we can’t make anybody else be different. BUT we can have a strong sense of what is okay and what is not okay, and we can ask for what we need and want, and we can take steps to get what we need and want… without demanding control. I see it as the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. We can change situations to an extent, we can leave situations, we can bring people into situations that help us meet our needs, we can do less, we can do more. I don’t read the stepmom’s bill of rights as a demand for control — or a demand for change from others — but as a reminder of what respect and love often look and feel like and a reminder to steer myself in that direction, to ask for it from others and to not see the absence of respect and love as “my due”.

13 01 2010

I think that it is imperative that ‘the kids have suffered this horrible divorce so now they have come first no matter what so you better suck it up’ meme is to some degree harpooned which is where this ‘bill of rights’ is coming from.

But perhaps instead of talking about ‘rights,’ which is an end point perhaps it should talk more about ‘how’ to get there.

For example the b.f signed The Child up for swim lessons the week she is staying with us even though he won’t be able to drive as he’s recovering from surgery (I’m taking the week off to help out). Now the reason he has done that is because he thought it would be good for the child to have an activity so I wasn’t entirely responsible for entertainment during the week.

However flicking me a quick text so he’s at least consulted with me makes feel involved in the process and good about helping out rather than just being a resentful taxi driver.

13 01 2010

I’m beginning to think that it’s a mistake to get married and move in with a man. Whether he has kids or not. Women need their own space. We need to be physically safe. Disrespect often leads to violence. In my case, we tolerated disrespect for so long that ultimately one of the adult stepchildren threatened to kill me.

If you read about the history of marriage, you find that first the first families were matrilineal clans: a mother, her siblings, and the mothers’ children. Women lived in the safety and protection of their own families. Nobody had a husband or knew who their father was. The male “head” of the household was the mother’s brother. The Na of China still live this way.

Then matrilocal marriage began: a man might move into a woman’s clan and be part of her clan, while visiting his own clan from time to time.

Finally, patrilocal marriage and patriarchy: a woman moved into a man’s village and clan, and lost all her power and any protection she might have had from her own clan.

This is the situation of the stepmother today. It is dangerous and demeaning to women.

14 01 2010

Elizabeth, I think the point is that, yes, you can follow this bill of rights, but it will come with a price. You will be in constant a struggle, almost a sort of torture if you think every need and want of yours will be filled in this step-family situation.

Elizabeth, you don’t have to shunned and dissed in your own home to feel like an outsider. The kids I live with part-time are respectful and nice to me, and yet, I’m the outsider. I’m not their mom or their dad. And sometimes I feel like an outsider in my own home for the simple fact that I can’t fully be myself because I have to be a responsible adult when they’re around. I can’t tell dirty jokes or cuss, etc…

They will always call their father’s name when they need something. They will always go directly to him instead of to me. They will yell goodnight to him and not me, even though we’re in bed together. I bet they don’t even notice they do it. And as a step-kid myself, I believe I did the same thing. I got along great with my step-mom when I was young, and now as an adult I’ve asked her about her experience. And she confirmed, she felt like an outsider. My dad was shocked to hear this, he had no idea. We had an ideal step-family life, but still, she felt like an outsider.

It sounds like you had a tough experience, (I have no idea, just guessing b/c you said you were shunned in your own house), and maybe you think NOT agreeing with the bill of rights means living a life like you had. I don’t know, but I can tell you besides having to deal with a crazy ex-wife, my life is damned good, and I still feel like an outsider when they’re around. I’m going to have to agree with Jacque on this bill of rights. I have a great relationship with my fiance b/c I don’t make all those demands. I make sure that my needs are met. My fiance makes US a priority which helps, but I don’t put the responsibility of meeting my needs on anyone but ME.

22 03 2010

There is nothing that can protect us, the “bonus parents”, from feeling like outsiders. I feel it all the time. It’s not that my BSon does it on purpose but it’s natural for the kids to ask for their moms and dads than someone else. A lot of times kids don’t realize they are doing it and sometimes they are competing for attention from their parents and sometimes they feel like they are betraying their parents if they pay attention to you and not the bio parents (they act differently as they grow). I do know that my BSon talks to me more and tells me about his life more than he tells his own parents. He gives me his attention in his own unusual style and I respect that space and time that he gives me. I feel special when I know things that his parents don’t know. Hope I don’t sound evil but hey, I enjoy knowing that he likes mango juice with pizza when his parents don’t know. Hehehe

14 01 2010

Elizabeth, it would be interesting to hear more about your thoughts — and more about what you have read, too — about the history of marriage and about what would make more sense for our society. Do you have a blog? If not, I hope you will think about starting one! I would be interested in reading it.

22 03 2010

I agree… Go Elizabeth!!!!!!

14 01 2010

This post makes me feel sad. So much energy spent needlessly in our step families. As wives, we should be honored as the priority for our husbands. Anything less is just demeaning and hurtful.

And you’ll find that if you are honored as the priority, your relationships — with your husband AND your stepkid(s) — will improve. Because you’ll be at peace.

22 03 2010

Isn’t it sad Carrie.

I say, ” No one loves you more than you love yourself”. Care for yourself without being mean or nasty to others and people see it and they start respecting you. they treat you they way you treat yourself and if you are nice. You don’t have to love anyone else, but just be nice – a smile never hurts anyone. I have lived throught this and I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel but for the longest time I didn’t want to go through the tunnel cuz it was dark and lonely. You have to go through that tunnel cuz there’s no going around it if you want to see the other side (or you can chose to not see the other side).

14 01 2010
Carolyn (the grown up child)

Wow Jacque. This post is so brave and really reflects both your expertise and experience living in more than just one role in a step family. I commend you for having the strength to write this post, giving stepmothers something to think about from another point of view. I can’t help but think about the exact points you made when I read that bill of rights myself. As I’m not a stepmother, I don’t have the first hand experience to discount it, but as a mother I always think of that age old advice that keeps me sane most days: ‘pick your battles or you’ll end up living in a war zone’. Nobody wants to live in an environment where they feel unacknowledged and nobody wants to live in an environment which is always embroiled in conflict. There needs to be balance, but what a difficult balance to find!

Would you mind if I reposted this?

14 01 2010

I have such mixed emotions about this. I have been a “part-time” stepmom for 15 months. We have his two children every other weekend and various holidays. To be honest, if it turned into a full-time job (and yes, it feels like a job with no compensation) I would be out of there. If I had known then what I know now I never would have married my husband. My life was so much happier “before.” Don’t get me wrong; I love him with all my heart and it tears me up inside to feel this way. I wish I didn’t. However, living every day with the feeling of being the outsider, not feeling comfortable in my own home, having decisions made without my input, being the chief cook/maid/laundress, having my private space and possessions violated by his children…well, let’s just say I am not a happy woman. It is really starting to affect our marriage. Daddy is so wrought with guilt that he won’t say anything to his kids without my prompting. Then I feel like crap for making him uncomfortable. This whole situation is slowly killing me.
Yes, this stepmom bill of rights may not be perfect and we may not always get things our way but at least it gives us some sort of voice.

22 03 2010

Tamela, I am with you on this. I would not recommend this to anyone. If I had known this was how my life would be (at the beginning), I would have never ever ever married my husband.
I feel sad that you are going through this but if you love yourself and want to be happy, don’t pay the price for your husband’s guilt. It is his responsibility to be a father to those kids, not yours. Whatever it is, just be nice to those kids. You only have to be nice (whatever your definition of nice is). Get on your husband’s case, it’s not the kids fault. these children only know what they have seen. They see how you treat yourself and how your husband treats you, so they do the same.

22 03 2014

You also should know what your getting yourself into when you enter a marriage with a step child. Yes it is hard, mother or father but depending on how hard you work together as a couple is what matters. It has a lasting affect on the child or children.

1 03 2012
Irma Eakle

I can relate to your heartache and can only tell you that things will only change if you sit down and place your house in order. I have two step kids 6 & 8 and they both are adopted and were born with drugs. Although they are considered special needs I feel the everyone needs to work together to make things go smoothly. The children are not at fault but the parents/stepparents need to step up or step back. I a willing to help a nd have worked with children with disabilities. However, because I am knowledgeable and flexible I have felt taken advantage of by the kids and my husband. I finally decided people will take from you, run you into the ground and never say thank you. I have decided to become the person to give solutions but not be directly involved 27/7. At least they have noticed I am a much happier person and don’t have to be exhausted all the time. I give full control to the parents and responsibility to everyone that needs to take thier responsibilty serious. I told my husband he and the adoptive mother made the decision to adopt and that comes with lots of responsibility. I am just the bonus mom and I enjoy the gift of time, love and helping. Therefore, I will give the time I have after I taake care of my needs, love them unconditionally knowing I don’t have to give up my life and/or interests and help to the extent of them learning to be independent! I don’t want to hear from the other parent as she is a hostile person and this just brings on negativity and wastes lots of valuable time I could be spending with our blended family. We bonus moms need to rise above it all and pick our battles. I love being a bonus mom, as I drop my kids off at their day camp! I am off to my yoga class too!

9 07 2014

I feel the same way Tamela. You’re are not alone. =)

14 01 2010

I agree 100% with Elizabeth. I couldn’t have expressed it any better.

14 01 2010

Some books about the history of marriage:

Woman’s Evolution: from matriarchal clan to patriarchal family, by Evelyn Reed
A Society Without Husbands or Fathers, Cai Hua
The Creation of Patriarchy, Gerda Lerner
Marriage: A History, Stephanie Coontz

@ Original Flowers: I would settle for respectful and nice.

Right now I’m trying to focus on feelings and needs, a la Nonviolent Communication. It’s pretty clear that my need for emotional safety is coming into conflict with my partner’s need for closeness and connection with one of his daughters. I am quite afraid of her and don’t want to be in the same room with her; he wants me to be present when she visits and act “normal.” My proposal is that he spend as much time with her as he likes, as long as I don’t have to be there.

I felt very hurt yesterday when he told a story about rescuing a co-worker from a bully at work. It seemed he was willing to offer protection and sympathy to a co-worker, but not to me. When his kids are bullies, it’s hard to get him to step in and stop the bullying, or even let me stay away from them. He didn’t understand why hearing this story about his “good deed” at work upset and hurt me so much.

14 01 2010

Wow, it sounds like you’re living a nightmare. If I didn’t have my partner’s support there’s no way I’d stay. I wonder if couples counseling would work for you? or family therapy? I don’t know, but if it continues I hope you do what you need to take of yourself. No one should live like that.

15 01 2010

Last night we made some progress on this issue. I acknowledged that his desire to have his family be all together and all get along was a legitimate value that I shared. But I said that as long as there was violence or the threat of it, protective force was needed.

It turned out that he is still reluctant to be in the same room with his ex-wife when his children host gatherings for Christmas etc. He is still quite angry with her and she with him. So I suggested that he attempt to reconcile with her. He expects everyone else to put aside their differences, but he hasn’t done the same yet. He saw this point. He doesn’t yet know how to approach his ex-wife for “truth and reconciliation,” but he’s willing to seek some coaching from his counselor.

15 01 2010

Thanks for the book list! I am adding them to my to-read list. They look good.

14 01 2010

I have four blogs, but none of them are about being a step-parent! If I wrote publicly about my experience as a stepmother, something terrible would happen. I think one of them might really kill me, as one has already threatened to do.

14 01 2010
Kara G.

Jacque, I really appreciate this post and wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying. Some of the worst-case scenarios other respondents have posted here (being forced to babysit without being consulted, being threatened by stepchildren, etc.) seem to me to fall into the realm of basic human decency – ways we ALL want and deserve to be treated, whether or not we are stepmothers. I expect and do receive basic human decency in my house. If I didn’t get that, I’d say there were bigger problems in my life that weren’t related to being a stepmom but, rather, were related to the mental health needs and lack of basic compassion in others, and I would look to therapists to help the family rather than a bill of rights for myself. I think that pushing a “stepmom bill of rights” on my family would do nothing but emphasize a separation between me and my partner, not to mention his two sons who have always treated me with the respect and affection any adult in their lives would get.

15 01 2010

There are always two sides to every situation. I think there are basic areas we need to be respected in as adults, whether we are a step parent or not. If respect is a major goal of a family, it will eventually develop.

15 01 2010
Wilma Ham

For me it is a matter of carefully selecting ‘what is so’ and what is acceptable in every indicidual situation.
I do get to see that accepting that step parents will always be an outsider is important. If you want to ignore that you will be in trouble.
However it is a difficult position to be in because everybody can hide behind the step parenting lable. I do not think there are hard and fast general rules other than that the marriage needs to be a priority and there needs to be a lot of talking going on in which there is a genuine listening without straight away spouting of judgments and opinions. Than any situation can be solved day by day and be step family specific. There are never hard and fast rules about life, and there never will be any about step parenting. We do have to sort it out together and if you can’t, well, what choice do you have?
I loved the clarity of the post, Jacque and your compassion.

15 01 2010
Sparkling Medusa

Jacque: I’m new to this role…stepmom…and am like a dry sponge, soaking up all information, seeking as much support as possible so I may be equipped to handle this role…that I have CHOSEN.

I’ve got a copy of one version of the bill of rights inside the cover of “Stepmonster” (I had to special order your book which took longer to receive, it is next on my what to read list) and it is timely that you post this here. The longer I live, the more I am reminded that there is no such thing as coincidence.

As hard as your comments on the Bill of Rights may be to swallow, I think it’s important that we realize that we signed up for a relationship where we’re not always first, where we can’t always decide our fate.

If it wasn’t for a supportive fiance, I would not be in this situation. He is the reason I am choosing this life and also the reason why I want to get this right the first time. There are days when I struggle with my choice, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember (even if it’s for a millisecond) why I’m in this.

It needed to be said, Jacque, and you put it eloquently as always! Thank you!

15 01 2010

I really appreciate your candor and insight. As a custodial stepmom for 10 years, I’ve come to accept that there is very little black and white and a whole lot of gray. The road that I’ve traveled as a stepmom has often been a very challenging one, but as a bio mom of 3, I also accept that even the bio ones can present extremely difficult behavior. While it may be impossible to expect to be consulted on every matter or to be appreciated, a good starting point and bottom line is to be treated with respect and dignity. If you can lay that as a foundation, there’s hope that the rest will develop over time.
Thanks for giving us all something to think about.

15 01 2010

Thank you for this, Jacque! Whenever the Stepmother Bill of Rights has come to my attention, it’s left a bad taste in my mouth. I never put a lot of thought into it, just read and moved on. I appreciate the time and care you put into a response and I agree with you whole-heartedly!

15 01 2010

I wonder if people are having different reactions to the Stepmom Bill of Rights based on different understandings about what a stepmom would or should do if her life doesn’t match the Stepmom Bill of Rights.

I like the Stepmom Bill of Rights. My life does not look like it all of the time. It’s not something I’ve ever showed to my husband or stepkids. It’s definitely not posted around the house for my family to see.

But. I find that the tendency of the people around me was, when I first came on the scene, to assume that they could make plans that affected my life without checking with me. That they could use my stuff without checking with me (kids). They the could allocate my resources (adults). They all acted like it was normal, and my tendency in the beginning was to think that maybe they were right, and to go along with it. The stepmom bill of rights reminds me that it’s NOT something I just have to go along with — that I can be a human being and take up space. That I can correct kids who use my stuff without asking — or I can move the stuff to a place they can’t get to it as easily. That if adults make plans for my time or money without asking me, I don’t have to go along with them, and that doesn’t make me a bad guy, or an evil stepmom. That if a kid regularly doesn’t listen to me and does things that seem dangerous for that kid or other people, I can let my husband know that I don’t want to be responsible for watching that kid by myself. The stepmom bill of rights reminds me not to be a doormat — that’s all. It doesn’t make me controlling or competitive. It just reminds me to stand up for myself when I’m not being treated like a full human being. I reminds me that my needs are legitimate and that it’s okay to go about trying to get them met.

I worry that extended stepfamily systems pit the weakest members against each other: stepkids and stepmoms. Stepmoms may look like they have a lot of power — especially to kids — but they often don’t. I suspect that parents find it easier for kids to be mad at their stepmoms than at them, the parents. A stepmom getting her needs met does not have to conflict with a stepkid getting his or her needs met. It’s not an either/or situation. Adding any new member to a family — a baby, an adopted child, a grandparent who moves in — will disrupt a child’s life. When those people are added to a family, a child is expected to make room for that person in their life and to treat them with respect. I think moms and dads often feel guilty about getting divorced in the first place and don’t communicate the same kinds of expectations about their children making room in their lives for new family members when it comes to stepmoms.

16 01 2010

Jill: I agree that kids and parents often find it much easier to blame everything they’re unhappy about on the stepmom. If kids are mad at mom and dad (for getting divorced, being too busy for them, or just not letting them stay up late), the kids can scapegoat the stepmom and stay on good terms with mom and dad.
This is one way that stepmothers really do become the outsiders.

Unfortunately mom and dad frequently also see this as a good solution. Maybe unconsciously, but still.

Also I think divorced moms and dads frequently do feel quite guilty, and they don’t want the kids to blame them for the divorce. They’re nervous about their relationship with their kids, worried the kids are mad, worried the kids will never forgive them, etc. So they bend over backward to avoid crossing the kids in any way. If the stepmom just stands up for her normal human needs–for safety, respect, autonomy, etc–she’s seen as The Bad Guy, by the kids. And the other adults don’t do much to mitigate that. Why would they want to be The Bad Guy too?

So maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to post the Stepmother’s Bill of Rights on the refrigerator! Just to legitimize the idea that stepmothers are people too, with legitimate human needs.

I also think that in the long run, the other adults may need some counseling to get over their guilt about their divorce, and to feel ok about disciplining their kids. Kids need structure. If guilt-ridden adults let kids do whatever they want, it makes kids feel less secure, not more.

1 04 2010
Scottish Mum

Elizabeth – I couldn’t agree more with this post of yours – you are absolutely 100% spot on. This is exactly what happens and is the root cause of all the problems in stepfamilies. Stepmoms who don’t have this to deal with don’t know how lucky they are.

18 01 2010


I love everything you have said. Your last comment is my exact life in a nutshell. I’ve been the scapegoat for over 4 years and now the mom is threatening to take me to court because I finally stood up for myself and told stepson, NO MORE! I am sooo tired of being the bad guy all the time. I don’t like hiding in my room, or finding places to go in order to keep out of the way of my husband and the steps. I really think I need to print out these rules, and I need to print out the comments. We are going to conselling this next week, a request I made months ago, but finally is happening because of my taking a stance with stepson. These things might help me to collect my thoughts on how I feel and what I’ve been going through. I really want the therapist to understand that I am not perfect and I’m open to whatever suggestions he/she has in order for things to move forward, but I’ve been placed in an impossible position and there wasn’t anything I could have done differently. I was going to be the “bad guy” simply because I exist.

21 01 2010

Glad my comments made you feel less alone.

My partner and his adult daughter went to counseling together this morning. She ranted and railed about what a victim she had been, how he had abandoned the children 11 years ago, how we couldn’t accept her for who she was, etc.

The truth is that we were always just a few blocks away; she was always welcome in our house (even though she was often verbally abusive, stole things, and trashed her sister’s room); and we’ve always accepted her beliefs even when she screamed them at us. (What I don’t accept is verbal abuse and violence; she hits people sometimes.) Her dad has always been available to her, but often when he tries to see her, she’s too busy or doesn’t want to.

The point is, don’t be surprised if your attempts just to stand up for yourself and your basic human rights are construed as a major affront. It might help to read a book about narcissism. My favorite is Why Is IT Always About YOu? I believe that my partner’s ex, and at least one of his children, has some rather severe narcissistic traits that make it almost impossible to deal with them as you would with normal people. They think they have a right to ignore other people’s basic rights, and they get very angry when you defend yourself.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t do it; just don’t be disappointed if they respond with extreme rage, and be prepared to stand your ground and call on the authorities if you have to, in order to prevent violence.

18 01 2010


I appreciate what you said about a new sibling, grandparent or whomever coming into the household. It is the job of everyone to make room for that person, things will naturally change and each family member will have to find a way for those changes to work. It seems when it’s a stepparent, everyone else forgets that the stepparent is one of those kind of changes and deserves respect and a place too.

The kids mom is really great when it comes to my in laws but both the steps and their mom have pushed me out completely. I am no one and deserve less than no one. How very interesting. I’m going to give this some thought.


19 01 2010
Another View on the Stepmom’s Bill of Rights — The Grown Up Child

[…] A Stepmom Bill of Rights…..Dangerous to Stepfamilies? […]

21 01 2010

I think the main thing that stepamilies need to realize is that EVERYONE has to choose their battles; not just the stepmom. Often times, we are so quick to assume that she should just quit crying and not take it personally. She should be okay with the fact that she won’t be consulted about many decisions, even though they directly affect her, because it’s all apart of marrying a man with children, etc. But, Elizabeth gave a wonderful example of the types of decisions that stepmothers expect and should in fact, demand to be consulted on. If mom and dad make a decision for the stepchild to visit during the summer knowing that stepmom will be responsible for him, then they probably should consult her ahead of time, and stepmom is not wrong for demanding such. Mom and dad need to choose their battles, too! And, I’ve been to court SEVERAL times, and the judge is not solely responsible for determining such schedules because he doesn’t know mom and dad’s schedule. Mom and dad do have some input regarding the visitation schedule. The court orders only enforce the final agreement. Stepmoms don’t expect to be consulted on choosing doctors, dentists, schools,etc. Those decisions should be left up to mom and dad. BUT, it isn’t unreasonable for them to expect to be consulted on decisions that affect them.

My husband and I are madly in love, have been together for nearly 10 years and make it a point in our marriage to love, respect, cherish and honor each other. Apart of that means that he does consult me on certain decisions (it took us a while to get to this point), especially if they affect me, and he is not betraying or dishonoring his child by doing so. It’s called a marriage and it is what is supposed to happen; be it a first or second marriage. It’s one of those things that a couple should consider, expect and commit to when they decide to remarry; just as a woman should consider, expect, and commit to certain things when she decides to become a stepmom. It works both ways!


27 01 2010
Stepmom in Training

I agree with “some” of what you say, however, you lost me at your own contradiction:

“Our marriage is our first priority, and we will address all issues together” you said YES.

How can you say that the marriage is the first priority, but the fact that you are also basically saying “suck it up and accept that others control your life when you are a stepmom” is ridiculous to me.

Yes, there are things outside of our control, but there are in all families. The simple fact is that anything that effects us should be discussed together. Not just “oh well, you married a man with kids…he runs the show and if you try to stick your nose in it you’ll ruin your marriage.”

I am not marrying a man with kids to become everyone’s doormat. I think your idea of stepmoms “demanding control” is confused with demanding to be respected as part of the family that you help care for, pay for, and arrange your life for as well.

27 01 2010

Stepmomintraining: I read the initial post about the Stepmom Bill of Rights and subsequent posts which ended in yours. I totally agree with your point of view. I don’t think I should have to just suck it up either. My husband and I have 3 18 year old; one is mine and two are his. I have been very good to his two children. I get on well with his son but his daughter has caused a lot of problems in our marriage. She has lied, stole, skipped school, run away from home and has targeted my daughter. He almost always excuses her behavior because her mother died and she has had a tough life. I do feel bad for her for that but I don’t think she should get a pass for all the things she has done just because of that. He almost always will defend her and take her side even when she has behaved in an obviously cruel and mean fashion. What is worse is that he is very critical of my daughter who doesn’t have half of his daughter’s issues. While he is not mean to my daughter’s face he is mean about her to me. It has nearly destroyed our marriage. He thinks I should just let bygones be bygones and move on but I can’t seem to let it go. We just had our first marriage counseling. I hope it helps.

29 01 2010

For some reason, Dads seem to almost blind to their children’s bad behavior. Not sure why. It’s not good for the kids; more structure and discipline is needed. I hope your counselor will point that out.

We have been in counseling all fall for similar issues, but we could never find a counselor that was very helpful. Most of them seemed to think that I should let bygones be bygones despite the death threat and verbal abuse. They were not very assertive about getting my partner to be more authoritative with his kids.

Finally the other day, I just got sick of it. I had lain awake all night–again!–worrying about being forced to be in my stepdaughter’s company and being abused. Meanwhile my sister was getting ready to have surgery for brain cancer. What is wrong with this picture?!?

I told my partner that I needed a break from worrying about his children and their behavior. We agreed that I wouldn’t have to be in the company of his two abusive children again for a while. And we agreed to stop talking about them for a while. They are taking up way too much bandwidth.

We also stopped going to counseling. It was expensive; insurance didn’t cover it; and in some ways it was making things worse.

31 01 2010
Mary Kely

Excellent Jacque. What I loved about your response is that you are focusing on reality rather than preference. We can have all the desires and preferences we want, but reality wins out every time.

8 02 2010

I haven’t read all the comments but, as a stepmom to 6 kids I need to respond. I agree with most of what you write. However, I do have kids of my own, so we are a blended family….and I did have to withdraw my help from dealing with my one step son in particular when it began interfering with the safety and well being of the rest of my family. I have been a part of these kids lives since they were toddlers. WE were all really close as a family. Then….He got in a lot of trouble with the law, drugs, alchohol, you name it he did it…including stealing my van to end up in bed with his girlfriend at the age of 14. He finally assaulted my husband and was taken away in handcuffs and cut himself off from us almost completely for a year while his mom let him run around and do whatever he wanted. Then he was arrested and she promptly deposited him on our doorstep where he threatened my 14 year old son’s life, took advantage of me etc etc. My children had to move out and in with their dad for their own safety and sanity. He then assaulted my husband again, and is now back with his mom. He is on probation however, his mom lies and covers up for him. He only calls his dad when he wants something. I have lupus. It gradually got worse over the course of this last year. I had to pull myself out of the equation and it was the best thing I ever did! All this to say that there are times when a stepmom has to say “I have had it!” At the same time I can tell you that my step daughter is now living with us along with our 5 year old grandson, she is pregnant and getting a divorce and I would have never denied her that! So, I think there are probably exceptions to every rule when it comes to step mothering!

22 02 2010
Scottish Mum

I think both versions of this bill have their good points but Jacque’s alternative has been written a lot more positively. A lot of this is about interpretation, too.

For example, I would accept that a stepmum would be “the outsider” in a relationship and she should always accept that her husband and his child(ren) would want to have a relationship together or do things together that don’t necessarily involve the stepmum. However, I do think that a stepmum should not feel uncomfortable in her own home. Yes, she’s going to be an outsider in terms of the relationship, but she should not be made to feel as if she can’t stay in her home if the atmosphere becomes unpleasant. But Jacque’s bill covers respect and having a private space of your own, so is consistent with that argument – if everyone respects each other then nobody should feel uncomfortable.

Considering the one about decision-making. I do think the stepmums should be consulted when they are directly affected, but this all depends on how good their relationships are. If the stepmum has a good, solid marriage and a loving (or at least civil) relationship with her stepkids then this one’s OK. If, however (as in Elizabeth’s case and many, many others) the relationship is not so good or even hostile, the stepmum should be given some warning or consultation if she’s about to be put into an uncomfortable situation or if she’s suddenly expected to become the free taxi service or cancel her plans to spend time with kids who can’t stand herand don’t respect her, so she can at least prepare herself for what she has to deal with (it comes down to choosing your own battles – don’t let someone else choose them for you!!).

As to the finances each case should be looked at individually. The stepmum should accept that her husband has a financial obligation to his children (and this should be discussed before the marriage). One example I can think of where the stepmum should be consulted is, perhaps, if the husband takes out a loan, without consulting the stepmum, to finance something for his kids over and above the regular obligation and this leads him to get into debt which the stepmum then has to pay back – but this is an extreme case!

So, I think there are some situations out there where the blended family is just not working out so the stepmum will have to stand up to herself or at least keep out of the way. However,Jacque’s version of the bill is so lovely and positive and if you start off with a good, solid marriage and a supportive husband (which can sometimes be a pretty big “if”) then this is the one to read and stick to.

17 03 2010

Your rebuttal to the “bill of rights” is correct.

As a stepmother for 5 years, I know exactly how difficult it is to give up control, but it is necessary. It is very strange to me that there are stepmoms out there who expect to have a say in everything. You may have some input on some issues, but final say always goes to bio mom and bio dad.

You especially cannot control the bio mom. She will likely have more influence over the child(ren) than you do. This will obviously affect you and your life no matter how much you wish that it wouldn’t. She may even pit the child against the dad (your dh) and there is nothing you can do about it.

These types of situations, common in many stepfamilies, are exactly those things that you cannot control. If you spend all your time trying to compete with bio mom for control and influence, you will fail every time.

And you are correct that we are always outsiders to some degree. Even when our relationship was at it’s best, there were always some things I was left out of. Even if your step child confides in you, comes to your with their problems, trusts you to help them, etc. , there is no comparing to the bio family relationship.

Notwithstanding extreme situations like Elizabeth’s. Abuse is totally different than the simple lack of control that you experience in most stepfamlies. I recognize my lack of control and agonize over my lack of influence…but if my stepchild disrespected me in some extreme or abusive manner there is no doubt she would be out the door in 3 seconds flat!

22 03 2010

Sasha, I think you brought up good points: feelings of outsider, bio parents making the decisions.

I will say this – If I am paying for anything, if I have to change my schedule to take care of their child, if something impacts my life to where I feel have to change my plans (with friends, family, not my husband), well believe me, I need to be consulted. They bio parents don’t pay my bills or take care of me, so they have no right or say in changing my life without consulting me. Otherwise, I could care less if they buy something for their kid, take him somewhere , enroll him in some sport , teach him something that I don’t believe in, whatever they do, it’s parents decision and I need to respect it. Parents know better and I need to shut up.

1 04 2010
Happy StepMom

Have enjoyed reading all these comments and hope that “new” stepmoms find these tools very helfpul. Wish there had been this kind of information around 15 years ago.

Have several comments:
1) For the marriage to work, it is absolutely essential that the marriage is the #1 priority. Translation: More important than the children.
2) Your home is your home – your little spot to stand in this big world. You must be respected. If you are not loved by the children – their loss most likely. But you must be respected. The father has to make sure of this. I will say outright that in my situation it’s fairly easy – the children are in my home every other weekend, so speaking from the view of visitation over custody. My role is to facilitate activities for them with their Dad most of the time and stick with dinner as my big thing.
3) Issue: Consulting with StepMom. If we are consulted – Stepmom can buy into whatever decision is finally made. If we are not consulted – and some responsibility ends up with us (I read “taxi” in some comment) – I believe that responsibility is immediately dissed if you don’t like it. Sorry, you “two” will have to discuss it again and come up with an alternate plan because I am not available.
4) The ex never, ever controls my life or my plans. Oh – she will try and try and try. Changing schedules – the list is endless. I think it’s funny! “How about never? Is never good for you?” My husband may have to jump through loops on occasion – but I don’t. Not my ex. Not my kids. (Unless I want to agree to the change because it doesn’t infringe and I am feeling sorry for the children.)
5) Expectations: Kids will presumably be more attached to their bio-parents than a stepparent. (Plenty of exceptions but let’s go with this for the sake of this comment.) I am SO okay with this. I do love my stepkids (conditionally). But it has never entered my mind that I wished they were mine! Heaven forbid! I know parents think their children are the greatest beings which were ever born on the face of the earth….. and that is a wonderful thing. But that doesn’t make it true. What is true is that I, as a StepMom, have the opportunity to offer them some kind of positive influence they would not have had otherwise (kind of like doing volunteer work) – and hopefully they will be better people for it. Meanwhile, my life – my pride – my joys – my interests – my accomplishments – my reason for living – are with my marriage and our lives. (We actually do have a life outside the kids!) And the children’s future college graduations – marriages – having grandchildren – etc. etc. can be fully anticipated and enjoyed by their bioparents without me feeling that I am “left out” or taking one whit of my essence from me. Because who I am, has nothing to do with these children. They come here to my home – I care – I make them welcome – I give – they go back. I enjoy them because I am not inconvenienced. I am not inconvenienced because I choose not to be. Hence – no resentment. No expectations. Just a part of my marriage. And not the most important part.

Hope this helps! I think it does all boil down to expectations – real and fantasy. It is what it is. Think about it – when you were growing up as a young child yourself and some obnoxious adult asked you “What do want to be when you grow up?” did you EVER say “I want to be loved and respected by the children my husband had with some other woman? I want to have control and influence over them as if I gave birth to them myself – even though they don’t look like me, act like me, have any of my family traits, and they really aren’t setting the world on fire and probably never will.”

GET OVER IT! Life is too short…you didn’t go through all the pain of growing up yourself – working hard – looking for happiness -finding love – to give it all away to someone else’s little bundles of joy! They’ve got another 80 years on you to enjoy their lives. This is YOUR time.

13 04 2010

Thank you so much Happy Stepmom… I so needed this today. I kind of feel that someone should have shook me really hard and told me about this before I got married. I have been very independent woman and I just did things because they needed to be done (very action oriented). I never had time to depend on anyone else to take my responsibilities. I loved it and was so happy doing it. I now feel that I have gotten nothing more than just responsibilities of my husband by marrying him. I don’t feel sorry for myself because I know I made a committment and I will continue with being true to that until I feel that marriage is a burden rather than a life I want. Thank you so much for sharing because I really feel like that it’s my time to enjoy it.

19 04 2010


This is absolutely true and seemed to be missed by a lot of others here.
I think a lot was read into the Bill that isn’t there. For instance, I see nothing about taking “control” away from the parents. Everyone is going to see this from her own perspective and we all need to sit back and reflect on why we have these individual perspectives.

For instance, #4 says “consulted”. It is outrageous for anyone to think that decisions involving extra laundry, housework, food preparation, money, time, energy, etc. shouldn’t be discussed by the married couple before any actions are taken. The other part of this is that some bio parents can’t have it both ways. Moms can’t constantly instill that having custody means “home” is with them (including all decisions), but suddenly Dad’s house becomes “home” because Mom can’t deal with the kids. (Personal experience)

#3: From my own experience, a kid can say “Mommy would say it’s ok”. This might be said for anything from wearing makeup at 11 to jumping into the shallow end of the pool, etc. How can stepmom be responsible for safety if she can’t say no?

#6: Nowhere does this say that Dad should not fulfill his obligations. I read this more as Dad can’t withdraw $1000 from the bank account because his kid wants a dirt bike – and it puts the mortgage in danger next month.

#8: As someone else said, it reads IN MY OWN HOME. Why would anyone think that isn’t ok to expect?

19 04 2010

My post above left out the part I was referring to when I said “this is correct”.
It was:
I will say this – If I am paying for anything, if I have to change my schedule to take care of their child, if something impacts my life to where I feel have to change my plans (with friends, family, not my husband), well believe me, I need to be consulted.

4 10 2010

I agree with the fact of needing to be respected and consulted, but there is nothing that offers any comfort relating to the child’s behaviour toward your other children let alone the child’s father (hubby) being completely blind to himself being more compassionate toward his own flesh and blood. It leaves me feeling completely helpless to stop my children from feeling any jealousy or unfairness and encourages the step-child to be worse as he knows damn well he is treated nicer. I cannot approach my hubby. The closest I have come is to enforce the same rules as my children have to follow, this worked, however, unfortunately the step child gets so many chances, yet mine automatically get the punishment. The child comes to visit half holidays and every alternate weekend. The mother is a ‘cotton wool’ mother who claims her parenting style to be ‘positive parenting’ – no boundaries and a child with adult priviledges but no responsibility other than to eat, watch tv and have cuddles with mummy. It is sickening and although my hubby has realised that we need to be the stabilising influence for his son it is so hard to help a child who has been moulded not to care as mum has no need to work as she lives at home with mummy and daddy with two kids and has told the child she is entirely proud of the fact she left school and that education is not necessary. Drinking is a major part of her life and unfortunately I believe that this child has fallen victim to fasd with the poor child’s looks. Although he is picked on for being so ugly, not being washed, for being fat and smelly he is also the bully with so many issues as he has no social skills for kids his own age. He believes his best friend is his mother’s best friend and will tell social stories of what they all get up to. I see a very spoilt, sad and confused boy that needs some serious help, Authorities will not get involved as he is being kept alive, doctors terms ‘well nourished’, has clothes on his back (whether they fit him or not) and is being loved. Family court seems to have the same opinion other than his school work deteriorating but it is not enough to remove him from his mothers care or enough to make her be a mother. The child on occassion pushes me around and my hubby has to step in and remind him that he is below me and not an adult and ofcourse that violence is not tolerated. What does a step mom like myself do with a child like this, I so badly want to help him but it always falls on deaf ears and as soon as he’s gone all the things I have taught him (like how to talk without a lisp or a slurr) are out the window as soon as he runs into his mothers arms. How can I stop resenting him for being treated so differently by my hubby? how can I stop resenting him for how he treats my kids and myself? how can I stop being upset for the impact this child is having on my kids?
please help,

12 01 2011

I get along with my ex-husband’s wife. Better than with my ex-husband actually. SHE has always been respectful to me, even when my ex-husband has not. Things run pretty smoothly. My new husband’s family? Not so much, even after many years there is continued drama in their lives. But #2 on the list? Laughable. So step-moms will not allow people outside the immediate family to make decisions that affect their lives? Including ex-wives? How many new wives, or step-mothers, consulted with the ex-wife before marrying? So how is that for making a big decision that affects someone else’s life, and that of their children, without first seeking permission. And #1 could be funny too, if the new wife or step-mom is a former OW…sad but sometimes true.

14 02 2011

Loved this! Thank you so much. It actually gave me some good insight into my fairly new stepmother that I didn’t have before.

I’m a well grown woman with a family of my own. In fact I’m nearly 40, had been married many years myself and had several children before ever having to deal with a stepmother. My father had long-term relationships before but never remarried. What a difference it made! Truly, I was surprised to see the instant change that happened between my father and stepmother and the rest of us once those rings were on their fingers. Overnight it went from the years-long status quo of reliable family gatherings that went pretty much the way everyone expected to confoundingly changed expectations. Even just dropping by to say hello is frustratingly different.

There’s no question that my stepmother is really the most anal person I’ve ever met. Now I can see the changes she’s tried to imposed without a word–whose house we’ll get together at for what occasions, when, how long, what level of formality, etc.–as a combination of her way of gaining control over her own family life and just plain trying to jump in as a parent in a family situation where she won’t really ever be regarded as any kind of parent by her spouse’s children. My youngest sibling was living on his own out of state before this marriage happened. She’s more an in-law than a parent.

I can see her point of view better now and empathize better. I can concede easier on things that don’t make a big difference to me just because I know this is hard for her. There are things we’re all doing unintentionally wrong but she comes out the loser in most cases. It’s unfortunate that she’s got such a drive for control in situation where she has so little.

Again, thank you!

4 03 2011

Reading through this blog has given me a lot to think about. I have a 4 year old daughter and am a single father. I have been dating someone for about a year and a half. I would like to give the father’s perspective on these situations. Its not easy for anyone when there is a broken home. I care and love my daughter till the end of the world. I want to make the correct decisions for her to live a happy life. Having a child with someone other than your significant other will put a strain on your relationship… My girlfriend has brought up some of the issues discussed her. How when she see’s my daughter it is just a constant reminder of my past relationship.. She has trouble being around my daughter and understanding what role she has.. So I came here to look for help. It has now come to a point where things may have to end. I have to keep my daughter’s best interest at heart, even if it means sacrificing what I love. I am not sure what to do and hope someone can help us.

I want my girlfriend to have a relationship with my daughter and know its OK that she has a voice. And we can discuss things together(privately) regarding parenting. Her word is a part of our relationship. However it does not mean I will always agree. I know my opinion may be biased but I believe my daughter is well disciplined and my girlfriend agrees with me. Although at times she does think that she needs more discipline at times, and I can see her point. But I have always disciplined her and she is well behaved.. she does have her moments.. as only toddler would. I take these things into consideration. I want our relationship to work.. I love her and need some advice. I really understand that she feels left out or an outsider when my daughter is around. I do my best to help her not feel that way. I do not allow my daughter to disrespect my girlfriend. This may all seemed jumbled together but I cant seem to find a solution here. I am not the type to throw in the towel and not really really try to work things out. But I feel selfish in doing so.. It pains me to think that my daughter will feel like an outsider when I have her every other week (50/50 custody). In a perfect world.. I want this to be our family. Different from the normal definition.. but this world is not perfect and I don’t want to give in. Its funny because even though I am leaving my name anonymous on this blog I still fear to be judged. I feel like my girlfriend doesn’t want to try to become a family with us. I feel like she just wants a relationship with me and to keep a relationship with my daughter almost non-existent. As if my daughter is a roommate. I know in my heart that cannot happen, I cannot allow for it to play out that way. I feel torn.. My only advice to myself is to seek help.. Couple counseling.. Maybe my woes seem selfish and I dont want to become like my father. I want my daughter to know that my home is our home.. and that she is always welcome. I put my daughter before myself and maybe its unrealistic to feel that my girlfriend should do the same. As many of you said its a balance. I need help finding my balance here. I always thought that the step mother or bonus parent should have a close relationship with the child or children. After reading this maybe I am wrong.. I don’t know I am rambling and it takes a lot for me to ask for help. Please be kind but more important please be honest.

Thank you

12 03 2011

I hate to say this, Father, but sometimes you do need to move on and find the best relationship for all involved. I’m wary of a woman who doesn’t seem fond of a 4 year old. Perhaps she just isn’t comfortable around small children and it will change as your daughter gets older. Ask her if that is the case. However, there really is nothing wrong with stepmoms creating their own space and allowing dad and child to have their time. Stepmom doesn’t need to be an actual parent in many cases. Good luck.

18 01 2014
Somebody's Daughter

You are a wise and wonderful daddy. You can find love and understanding at the same time. You and your daughter deserve nothing less. Just make sure your girlfriend is a true love that is willing to learn to love or at least like your daughter. Don’t make parenting decisions off of sexual feelings.

20 06 2014

Hi, I would recommend couples counseling. Some of the feelings that your describing about your girlfriend I have felt. We are seeing a great therapist almost 9 months and our marriage has improved dramatically from the wisdom of this therapist that The Lord has blessed is with. We are continuing to see this therapist and he has helped us to develop a healthy marriage. Hope everything works out, pls continue to pray only god can answer our prayers, and seeking the wisdom of a trained therapist.

9 03 2011

Anonymous father – Wow, kudos to you for being so thoughtful about all of this! You are doing the right thing by thinking about this and seeking out advice. Like many other posters here, I’m a stepmom. Like your girlfriend, I struggled with the emotions of my husband having already been married and had children. It’s an irrational jealousy that can take a long time to process. And I resisted becoming a part of my stepkids’ lives for a long time both because I was nervous to be around his ex (at sports and school events) and because, frankly, I felt cheated out of time with my husband. It takes a while for most of us single girls to get used to dating a man whose schedule isn’t as flexible as ours, who can’t be our go-to date for concerts and dinner parties because he’s got to stay home with his kid. Hopefully, with time, your girlfriend will accept that her life is not going to be quite as she had planned. (It took me about three years to really accept that and stop fighting the “if only he didn’t have kids” thoughts.) So I guess what I want to say is this: Don’t give up hope! Your girlfriend might just need time. I think you’re doing the right thing by not being willing to sacrifice your daughter’s wellbeing for your girlfriend’s. But, I would say that during times when your daughter isn’t around, your girlfriend needs to feel like she’s as big of a priority as your daughter is. She needs to feel like she isn’t playing second fiddle to your daughter, isn’t in competition with her. That might help her be more willing to forge a relationship with your daughter. When my husband (at the time, boyfriend) would rearrange his schedule with the kids to be able to go to a meaningful event with me (a friend’s wedding, for instance, or a concert by my favorite band), that was huge. That was a tangible thing that showed me that I was important to him, that he was willing to make little accomodations in his life for me the same way I was willing to make changes for him. Maybe you can find ways to show your girlfriend that, too.

Now, five years after starting to date my husband, I enjoy cooking for my stepkids and doing little things to make them happy. I would never have imagined that would happen! (Especially because I have never been a kid person, which is an added hurdle for some of us.) But, honestly, in the end, everything I do for the kids, I’m really doing for my husband. I care about his kids because he cares about them. I will never love his kids the way he does, and I think that’s okay. They have a mother to love them, and that mother isn’t me. But I’ve figured out what place I have in their lives. It took a long time. I read some books and websites, which helped me think it through. Encourage your girlfriend to educate herself about the many possible roles for stepmoms that exist, and for her to decide (with your input) what kind of role she wants to have. Keep in mind that that role can change over time, too. And I’d encourage you to let go of whatever ideal you have for how a woman in your life should behave toward your daughter. Obviously she should do more than treat your daughter like a roommate, but I think you have to be open to the fact that your girlfriend won’t have the same relationship with your daughter that you have, or that your daughter’s mother has. Okay, I’ve babbled a lot…but I hope the perspective of a woman who was once in your girlfriend’s shoes has been helpful!

27 04 2011

Thank you all for your comments! i found this site today after a horrible night. I have been in a relationship with my husband for almost five years although we have only been married for two. I am young (22yrs) and i get the “your too young to be a step parent” all the time. But I am and so I do my best to deal and work with my 5year old bonus child’s bio-mother. I almost laughed when I read the Step-moms bill of rights, and almost cried all at the same time. I have none of these rights eventhough my husband sincerly tries to make me feel like I do.

My husband is young also (25yrs) and doessnt have his drivers lisence due to fines when he was a teen. I am responsible for driving the 3 hour round trip to pick up and drop off my bonus daughter. I usually have no problem with this but due to my job (waitressing) the hours are inconvient and the trip is usually made before or after work. This is the least of my issues.

In person the bio-mother is usually polite to me. On the phone and through text messages she is always rude. Last night for the first time I told her ” You dont have to be rude to me over the phone, I am polite to you and expect the same respect from you. thank you.” the response I received was, ” I respect you as much as I respect anyone who tries to take control and tell my child what she can and cannot do. You will understand if you are ever a mother and have her go away from you for any amount of time.” This upset me so much I cried most of the night. I am typically emotionally strong but feel myself weakening over time. I feel as if I am powerless over my own life and have started to accept this as truth.

I am reaching out because of sheer deperation to anyone who thinks they can help/give advise that may help me or even if I am down right wrong I want to know because changing myself feels like the ony thing I can do to help myself.

This is the first time I have reached out like this. When I talk to my husband he thinks I am mad at him when really Im mad at the situation. Because I feel like this is tearing me apart I have decided to reach out to this site instead.

18 10 2011

I think your persepctive on SM being outsiders is downright hateful. My stepson’s mom recently remarried for a third time, making this the 3rd step parent my ss has had to adjust to. He remarked to my husband that dealing with stepparents was different. That is upsetting. It’s only “different” because he makes it that way. He ignored/ignores every single one of us. What’s to commom denominator here? Him and how he treats us.

I know for a fact that his ex-stepdad, his current stepdad, and I all love him and would gladly cut off our right arms for his, but treats us like crap. I blame both the parents. They allow him to treat us differently. If the parents would enforce that, then the children will follow suit.

This is a fixable problem, usually caused by over indulgent parents.

This wouldn’t be an issue if it were a new aunt or cousin. Stepparents are just people who want to care about the people they love and live with.

I should NOT have to feel like a stranger in my own home! That IS my right.

25 10 2011
Sarah Rider

This bill of rights was made for step-moms who aren’t currently raising your husband’s children. When my husband & I started dating, his children were age one, two, and five. The biological mother sometimes goes 9 months without seeing them, she’s currently in prison, and can’t wait to get out to be a part of the children’s lives. I can’t wait! I’m being sarcastic! I also had one of my own coming into the marriage, and then we had one girl together. All together we have five children. I’ve done most of the child rearing. the younger two call me “mom,” and always will. The main problem I have is with my husband’s ex-in-laws. They accuse me for any and everything they can think of on a very regular basis, usually after his children visit them at their home. Not only that, but they want nothing to do with my son, or daughter, and our daughter is actually blood related (half sister) to my husband’s children. Their immaturity baffles me and hurts the family as a whole. They continuously buy things for only my husband’s children, bribe them to visit, constantly accuse me of trying to sabatoge their relationship. Unfortunately they live in the same town as us! I wanted to move away for the last 3 years! I’ve had to block their cell phone #, because i dealt with gossiping, hateful texts sent to my husband about me! so they can only communicate with their house phone!

27 12 2011

I completely agree with the Bill of Rights as they are, especially with what goes on in my own home. No one should have to sacrifice the one place where they are supposed to feel most at home and secure for someone else’s kids. How to you deal with a father who is more concerned about playing the “cool Dad” and not willing to set any rules for his pre-teen/teen daughters in a house that we share together? When it comes to his kids, our relationship has suffered greatly and has been an absolute fiasco. I will NOT be an outsider or disrespected in my own home. Unlike their BM who has never worked a day in her life (even before she had kids), I DO work very hard,, always have and will not be walked on in a home that I pay half of everything for. Many parents today are too worried about whether their kids will like them or consider them the “cooler” parent instead of teaching them simple manners and/or how to be courteous in a home that is not their own. In my opinion, since our house is not their primary residence then they are considered a guest and should act as such when they are in it. We should have a different set of rules that are applicable to our lifestyle for the kids when they visit.

21 01 2012

I had sort of the opposite problem. I don’t want my SD to feel like a guest, but she needs to behave as she would at home. She acted as if being at our house was wild and free time! No rules! Rules were only set by her mom because “mom has custody of me”. Ahem. Our society has really done a number on these kids.

12 01 2012

I am a stepmon for 6 years and my SS is now 12. I have 2 young kid 4 and 3 with my husband. My SS comes when the days he does not go to school , that is all weekend and all school holidays. We have very different life style and a horrible relationship, we always argue. My SS is well spoiled and over protected by his Bparent and he thinks that I am his enemy and I have ruined his life. And , damaged his family. My husband’s atitude intensified the situation. Over years, I keep discussing with my HS how to build up some rules for us living better. It is too sad that we have to argue on some common sense. We have talked about separates several times but it is diffcult because of our young kids.

Below are some of my requests, please tell me if this is too much.
1. My SS must stay clean, show aleast every 2 days and brush his teeth by his self.
2. My SS should eat what we eat. and can not eat meal at his room.
3. Keep his room tidy. Aleast tidy up the moulded choclate, or melt chocalate.

(because my sons like copy my BS behaviour)

My insist cause more and more arguements between my husband and me. And a week ago MY SS said if you are not happy, you can go. Finally I wake up and made up my mind, tell my husband take his son away, he can spend time with his son outside but his son is not allowed to stay in our house. After a week’s trial, my husband also agree this is not a bad solution. He stay fews days a weeks in his ex garden shed to spend time with his son and stay with us in balance time.

21 01 2012

Your husband should not allow his son to say such things to you. He also should not have allowed the situation to get to the point where he is spending nights away from home.

17 01 2012

I couldn’t disagree more. We have so little rights and have our lives run by an ex-wife and sometimes step children that don’t care if we exist. These rights have been the key to my sanity and the privacy of my life and home.

17 02 2012

I’m 48 and a step mom Been married since 2007 my husband has 2 kids(20)boy and (18) girl.We were fine for the first year but after that it’s been down hill from there.Their Mom died in 1996,their Dad gave them everything never said no them the kids always did what they wanted and nothing was ever said.They live at home and still doing the same thing.I’ve tried to talk to my husband about this since we got together to know avail.I’m frustrated,angry, and about ready to give up.Any advice on how to help me through this would be great

25 02 2012

Frustrated, what exactly bothers you?

25 02 2012

What frustrates the most is that they walk all over him and I’m trying to tell him that giving them everything is wrong that it will pose problems down the road and it has both are into drugs come and go as they please without saying a word up all hours of the night but that is what they are use to doing.It is putting a major wedge between the two of us and i don’t know what to do I don’t want to leave but in order to keep my sanity I might have to

26 02 2012

If you are not intend to seperate, you have to be well prepared to flight this battle .

Try something which may work:

1. You may not have good relationship with your step children, but try to understand them.

2. couple workshop /counselling which specialized for step family.

3. any living arrangement for yr step children living away from home? even partime? broading school?

4. Mark down the issues with examples and dissusse with friends and counsellors as possible . Read books about step family. Try to get some balance view. And Discuss with your husband
– When your husband keeps silence . Ask him more question. Ask him how he feels and what he thinks.
– When your husband does not agree with you, support your point of view with opinion of counsellors, friends and books. Tell him your point of view are not just feeling , they are non bias view.
– if he still not agrees, ask him to talk with his friends / go to couple workshop/counselling for step family.
-Dissuss with your husband peacefully . I sometimes do that discussion when I message my husband. Everybody like message so your husband most like will not get too angry and be more listening. It may take many many disscussion to let your husband agree more with you.

5. Carefully plotted some drama
– When your husband is not around, confront your step children ( must be rational and well prepared) from time to time even if it cause agruement.
– Discuss the possible outcome of your rational confrontation with his kids before their kid complain to you.
– Imply to their kids if they are not happy, they are welcome to live their own life away from home. Anyway they are adult already.
-you better try all your best to maintain good relationship and intimacy in front of his kids even it is pretending. It is important. Remember this is a hard game!

6. If you feel your husband are more listening to you, oassionally use cold war and test his reaction. Gradually, increase the times of confrontation with his kids even your husband is around.

7. Finally, your step children is adult already, be patient they may move out quite soon.

Good luck!

26 02 2012

How do you make someone talk when they won’t they just sit there in silence.The step kids don’t have any desire to leave because daddy gives the every thing they want and need.They take off don’t say a word come back as if everything is ok That’s very frustrating when you try to talk to him and are told your negative against his kids.To me that is down right wrong.

27 02 2012

Do you have any interaction with your step kids ?
Do you cook for them? Do you washing clothing for them? Do the dishes for them? Clean the house/ their bedroom for them? Are they just sit at the table are assumed you are the waitress to serve them everything? Are they working with contribution to the household? Or they just studying?

I think it is ok your step kids to be silence but they have to respect you say, eg. Help with the house chores. about 4 years ago, when my teenager step daugther started living with me I asked her do the dishes everyday and hanging out washing a couple of weeks. I believe this is very reasonable as everyth night I really cook a nice dinner. At the begining she is ok , but later she refused. I did remind her and she kept silence. I told my husband if she did not help with the house chores I would not cook for her and wash the clothes for her. Finally she still not helping and so I did not cook for her nor do washing for her. My husband was a bitup set but it was fair for me and he couldnot say anything. But anyway she moved out a couples of year later.

My husband did the same thing to me whenever I talk to him about my expectation with his kids , he says I am complaining and I only pick on his kids. And he says I am a Chinese so my old fashion parenting is not suitable for Australia. But I did show him how my parenting style is quite reasonable, because I got advise from a lot of different sources:

1. we watched supernanny together and discussed.
2. we discussed with the step family counsellor and she agreed with my point of view.
3. I discussed with my personal relationship counsellor and he also agree with my point of view .
4. I did talk with friends which know my family and got their advice.
5. I also knew a couples of step family , the stepmoms are very struggling and got depression. I told my husband I was getting depression soon if you did not go to couple counselling with me.
6. I did talk to many friends and my sister too.

I was frustated before like you but now since I made some arrangement with husband recently, my step son(now 12) is not coming to my home anymore. I never feel so peaceful as now since we married. My husband also felt the same as me and my step son also happy with the arrangement. But it takes 6 years for me to work out a triple win solution, after millions times dicussion and arguements with my husband.

28 03 2012
ally oneal

Thanks for this post! I am the stepmom to two stepsons full-time. I also have three biological children. We all live together. We started out with good intentions with our family. However, all too soon, I realized that my mother in law and stepsons control my husband. The oldest is a narcissist who believes the world revolves around him. The younger is patterning his brothers behavior due to an over indulgent grandmother and a father who feels guilt for their biological mother’s abandonment. As an educator and a loving, accepting person, I am lost in this relationship.
If I could survive independently on my teacher’s salary, I would leave.The bullying that I endure is horrible. My own children are reasonable and grounded. They ignore the gifts, money, expensive clothing that their stepbrothers receive. They are appreciative and respectful and take responsibility for their actions. I feel that as their mother, I am allowing them to be treated unfairly. They never complain. But, they would have to be blind to be unable to see the inequality.

16 04 2012
step son of my own

Dear Ally:
Have you considered therapy? My husband and I have been involved in couples therapy because of the over bearing mother in law and the guilty dad. It saved our marriage and changed our outlook on how to raise our blended family. Otherwise we would not have made it! Stay strong and I hope you find a solution!!

16 04 2012
Sue So

Spot on. I remember thinking all these things in my first 2 years of being a stepmom. Now how I see how fantasy land was just a bad place to be, not just for my bonus kids but for me. We still have a lot of conflict so I’m thinking about counseling for all three of us (me, dad and biomom). Anyone else had success with this?

31 07 2012

I am engaged to a wonderful man who has two teenage boys. 15 and 17 to be exact. I have learned to be patient, a characteristic I thought I already had in check until it was put to the test as a sudo step mom. There are many obstacles we meet each and every day some not such a big deal others I just want to shake each and everyone involved and say “really! this is reality…grow up!”
So today I found myself being “tested” as a soon to be “new wife” to the man who has two boys and an “ex-wife.”
The “ex-wife” is looking for a new location for her business and showed up next door to my office space! We would share a common area. See each other every day and perhapse walk out of or respective businesses at the same time coming face to face with each other. To see her walking up to the door at the same time my finance drops me and and sends me to work with a sweet kiss… REALLY! can’t she go somewhere else? I asked my sweet finance’ to tell her find a new location and he says it may fuel her to spite you and move there just because. Urgh so I am being patient, awaiting, hoping, praying that this woman will NOT move her office right next to mine. I pray she will have the sense to not put herself through those awkward moments all too many I couldn’t even imagine…
sorry I had to vent to people who would understand my frustration.

26 02 2013

Wow I’m so glad I visit this blog. Lot’s of Women in my shoes. I myself is a SM and BM. In my case I married the man of my dreams which was the BM’s too. Yes 2 BM…. My husband has never been married till me. The SD and SS are 8mths apart. My BS is 17yrs. The children was 3 and 4yrs when we married. I feel as the BM’s always tend to want to get close to me. BUT I had to draw the line when they both expected me to stop and drop everything for them. Like taking them to games, pick up from school, appointments. My SS BM is a drama queen. She is highly full of meds. BM mother has always taking care of the BM. For 5yrs I have seen BM in and out of rehab and hospitals. Now she lives with her Mom with her kids. My DH gets text from BM to come get his son because BM and Family are fighting. DH asked me if I would help him with SS. The BM allowed him to stay with us for 3 1/2 mths. The BM has called DH Mother and borrow money and need rides her and there, while the child is at our home. I did all the things a BM would of done. My SS is 11yrs old and was getting low grades. I worked my tail off with him to bring the grades up. Then the BM said she was ready for her son to come home. BM is on a walker due to some illness she never told us what happend so that’s why grandmother is doing it all. So he goes back after another 6wks grades drop. Been called two times to get him because of the drama with mom. DH feels like he would hurt the boy if he removed him from there. NOW I had to take the child to 5 appointment for his teeth because the BM never took him. ME still doing what I can for the child while he is with BM. Last night the BM calles DH to ask me if I would carry her mother to her doctor appointment. The grandmother is going to have surgery on that appointment. I told DH “NO” that is strange to me. It had nothing to do with SS. Then BM tells DH that i’m rude and need to stop trying to be her son’s mother. (IN FRONT OF SS) WTHeck?? So now i’m back at square one. Still hoping DH see’s that this is not healthy for SS. So NOW the other BM of SD is asking me to pick SD up at after school because she don’t have anyone to get her. I’m at my ends with this because I feel I miss out on my sons life dealing with Stepkids. Remind you I’m a 39yr old who has Ramsey-Hunt II and not able to work because of side effects of seizures that are brought on by stress. I’m so ready to throw in the towel. DH and I have came through alot of hard times. Like finding out i’m ill. BUT I never stop for my family. So all the ladies going through this just think I have 2 BM to deal with. Thank you all for letting me vent. Please feel free to put your input. I need to hear that i’m not the bad SM.

26 02 2013

Also just would like to add. I try not to pass judgement on the BM but I knew the road she was taking. I was on meds too and have been off my meds for 5yrs due to the withdraws of them. I know I needed them to help but NO meds is worth sleeping and missing out on my childs life. It’s not easy to either take the meds to help or know this illness will take my life. I made a deal with myself that if this illness takes me it will not take me with a fight. So if anyone need a rest its me:) My husband is the only one working in our house hold. Blessed to have him and the BM needs to accept that i’m here and will always be in thier kids life too. My son BD and I have never put our child in anything like this. We wanted him to be safe at both houses. My son’s SM is his mom also calles her mom. The other mom has taught me how to be a SM the best I can. I just wish my DH’s BM’s see i’m here to help the children not to make BM’s life easy. That’s not my job to take care of them at our home and BM home.

6 11 2013

I am a 46 year old professional woman no children of my own. Fiance is 49 with a 13 year old son and 17 year old daughter. Son and I – great. Daughter and I hate each other. For a long time (first year) I tried to make her happy, clothes, money, taking her to lunch,doing her laundry but then after about six months she became different- really distant- no talking at all- not even a hello. I got so pissed over time I stopped saying hello to her as my fiance has allowed her rudeness to continue and I have become- angry hurt and alienated over time. Now it is at a head, I cant take it anymore. I cant live in a house and financially support a house when I am treated like this all the time. I understand i am an outsider as this blog says, but to financially support a house where a girl cant even bother to say hello and goodbye is beyond the pale. My fiance says everyone has contributed to this problem and says “why cant you just get along” but he never enforces the boundries of respect and she can act as rude as she wants. She is selfish, arrogant, lazy and inconsiderate. I have come to realize i don’t like her at all and she reminds me of her bio-mom. We have the kids 9 days on and bio mom is 5 days on alternating. My fiance has been in court trying to get them full time. I love him very much but I feel overwhelmed by this and I feel I have been treated unfairly. This is heartbreaking to be in this situation. Especially since when Me, Dad and his son have blended well and she has created such strife.

25 11 2013

I think this was a great post, as you are looking in from both perspectives and first, acknowledging that a step family will not be “one big happy family” but CAN be “one big happy step family.” I see a few issues arise from so many friends and including my own situation.

From the majority of posts based on this type of forum, however, it seems many step mothers who tend to focus on the ex wife have the most difficulty in accepting the new children; for example if there was some affair involved, those negative feelings that they have toward the ex BM seem to translate into the new family system and this will naturally group the step kids in with that as well. Again, It only seems natural, as the new family came out of a negative situation (the ex marriage-it is an ex marriage for a reason, usually). Therefore, the question has to be brought up: How can anyone, as the adult-parent, expect the kids to treat them, as the new step mother, a certain way and as a “part of the family” -feeling completely welcomed-if you are not willing to go “all in” and do the same for the children? If you bring your unresolved issues toward the ex into the new family and think of the kids as “separate” it can create problems that last many many years. Or for example, if a woman, as the new step mom, is more concerned as being “number one” to her husband (when in reality the kids from the previous marriage have been his priority for the first part of his life and with trying to change this it WILL be hurtful)–It is not a first marriage, it is a second one-it does not mean you are any less to your husband at all, BUT the old marriage CAME with children, who have feelings just as you do. So, this is NOT to say the step mother should not be respected, but the step mother needs to respect that the children were there first, and it will feel hurtful if you try to force them to be less important–it is going against nature. There needs to be so much communication and encouragement for the father to communicate with his kids, which includes a way to prioritize your marriage without leaving the kids feeling as if they are a “separate” part of the family situation. After all, you do not see mothers competing with their own children for attention in that same way–they enjoy it if their children has a great father figure in their life! Of course, keeping the marriage healthy and making the wife feel number one and important IS essential, BUT there ARE ways to do both without making the kids feel left out!!! Not either or, and the more you try to ignore nature and force something, the more feelings will be hurt along the way. Instead-face it all head on and put a plan in place.

Think about how you treat your own biological kids. Since the step kids are just kids, it would be unreasonable to expect them to follow these new rules when they are just victims in the situation, without being hurt/confused/rejected/acting out–if someone disrupted your normal routine and you had very little understanding/no control over it, you’d feel confused as well. I truly and firmly believe it is the step mother AND father’s responsibility to work this out to not make the kid feel as the outsider. And sad enough, I have heard this story many times. So somewhere the messages are getting lost and misconstrued.

Mixed messages:

Especially when there is a new family, you cannot expect the kids to not feel left out when you are married to their own father and have your own kids, yet treat your kids one way, and then treat the father’s kids another. Yet, this naturally happens, because it is just a natural part of life–because they are not your own. Therefore, I think it needs to be recognized, and there needs to be boundaries set by the father AND I believe if the stepmother has issues and feels threatened then it needs to be discussed between the father and stepmother. A stepmother cannot expect the child to act as if “she were her own mother” and then get angry when the ex wife brings the kids at the wrong time or something similar. If you are going to expect so much out of kids, you better be on your A game–or the kids will feel rejected, confused, and this is mixed messaging at its best.

Talk it out. Even if it is awkward. Yes, the step mother deserves to be in control of her family, however if this is at the expense of a step child, please reconsider your approach. Look at how your treat your own children, and see how this compares to how you are treating the step children.

Sometimes men have trouble communicating, and this too can leave a child/teenager/adult/ANYONE feeling out of place or an outsider-especially if the stepmother will not make the effort either to encourage the husband to keep his kids in his life– this can also leave a bad situation. If the stepmother truly cares she will not get angry if the father talks to his children, but encourage it.

Not sure if some stepmothers look at it through this perspective because I have heard so many stories of people who have no relationship with their father, yet the new family created with the father and stepmother is treated as priority—but look at it this way: if the father has biological children, are they not also to be treated the same and as the priority–they are HIS children after all, and you married him, so they become a part of YOUR new “one big happy step family.”

I commend the step moms who truly try-and that is all you can do. If the kids are not receptive, you cannot control the outcomes, but you can do what is in your power and work out the details with your husband. Regardless, the issues have to be talked about, because many children-teens-and adults are hurting from communication gaps, resentment, security issues, etc.

18 01 2014
Somebody's Daughter

As a Stepdaughter who really loves her Stepmother but still recognizes hurdles to beat, I thank you so much for this article. Recently, I attempted to reach out to step moms on the steptalk forum and was met with so much hostility that it made me question the whole idea of a healthy stepfamily. Thank you thank you thank you.

22 03 2014

Can a stepfather/biological father speak on this bill of rights for stepmothers? I am a father of 3 “hers mine ours” Having full custody and dealing with a mother that doesn’t deserve that title of motherhood is given that title time after time through the court system or law officials. Doesn’t pay support isn’t forced to, doesn’t spend any quality time with child, but gets rewarded for being a mother in the Justice system? As far a the stepmother my wife plays every mothering role except for being able to protect or have a voice in the matter because stepmothers aren’t given rights. Father’s are given limited rights and support even when they are given custody as long as bio mother has one foot. They even give grandparents rights over fathers. It’s pretty hard fighting a dead beat when they are supported by their parents and the court allowing them to have one foot in without any regards to child’s welfare.

14 05 2014

Sorry for joining in so late. I’m actually a stepchild (now an adult). On the one hand, I have been blessed with my Mother having an amazing new partner, and am very happy for both my mother and father that they have moved on, and recognise that they are both much happier now they are apart. However, my now former step mother didn’t seem to understand the concept that there is no such thing as “ex children”. This would range from her having tantrums when my father was out with me on my birthday, to her trying to cut me out of all social events. Needless to say, I don’t think much of her as a result. The time eventually came when she tried to force my father to support her brother (a very long story) over me, and that was their relationship finished. I raised this point for a simple reason: do not try and make your partner choose between you and his child (regardless of how old they are). You will not win. And this is why I had to commend this article. It’s a relief to find a forum where step mothers genuinely want what is best for their partners, whilst reasonably having to deal with having a blended family. I can assure you that I did not hate this woman simply because she was my step mother – her selfish behaviour and poor treatment of me ended up bringing about the end of her relationship, which ironically is what she was trying to prevent in the first place. So I just wanted to let all of you on here know, that while it might be a struggle initially, the points raised here are some very good ones. Although your step children may not show it initially (particularly if they are younger), they will later on appreciate you trying. Sorry for the long rant, I had a frustrating encounter with said-former stepmother today. This forum actually me me feel a lot better, it’s good to remind myself that there are realistic and decent women like you out there. I hope I have better luck with Dad’s next partner… thanks for writing this 🙂

2 06 2014

I have an amazing stepmom…she takes care of me when she doesnt have to!!! I love her SOOO much and respect her t
shes so good to me and caring and makes my dad soo happy. to me, i have 3 parents , not two!! I live with her and my dad about 90% of the time which was my decision and i lOVE it!!! Shes amazing and since my mom and i arent and have not been on good terms for 3 years its amazing that shes there…I lOVE HER! she is not unappreciated by me!!! Not all stepkids hate stepmoms…i adore mine!

6 08 2014

I have been a step-mother to two children, who were 5 and 6 years old, and came into the marriage with two biological children. It has now been 25 years. My husband’s ex died when they were in their late teens so I only had to deal with her neglect of the children for a few years. All four children have many scars from both bad marriages. There is no such thing as a “Blended Family” – it is two families doing their best to co-exist. I have been consistenly placed third; my husband’s loyalty lies with his children and they know it. I take full responsibility for my lack of action in standing up for myself. We have separated at least twice, instigated by me, and gradually everything slid back to the way it was before. If I had to do it all over again, I would never have done it. I always felt like a cook, maid, chauffeur, the one who took blame for anything and everything because it worked well for the three of them. I was an easy target and it took all focus off of them and how they might be contributing to any problems. Only recently have I started to stand up for myself and say “no” or remove myself when it doesn’t feel right. Slow learner but better late than never! I could write a book on every single thing a step-mother could do to contaminate the relationships. I did have such good intentions but was living blindly and I am sorry that six people suffered. As a post-script, all four children have grown into adults, all four have had relationship problems (one divorced and remarried, one in a long-term marriage with a husband who has had extra-marital relationships, another in a long-term but difficult marriage, and one who has had a child out of wedlock and a difficult marriage). I blame us as parents for showing a bad example of how relationships should be and not realizing that they should have had some good, straight talk about what good relationships look like.

21 08 2014

I am really frustrated with my husband’s ex-wife. She is rude, demeaning, and demoralizing. She shares her negative sentiments about my husband with their daughter, and it is lending to the formation of my stepdaughter’s opinion of him. Furthermore, she is constantly demanding more and more money from him over-and-above the child support he faithfully pays. When he doesn’t capitulate to her demands, she sends nasty texts and emails and has gone as far as publicly accosting him in a manner that runs the risk of their child witnessing it. She has accused him of not doing enough to support their daughter and told him that if he were still married to her they would not even be arguing over these things. (NOTE: the divorce was at her initiation – he now has a new household and family to support). However, she never discusses with him in advance the programs and activities she has registered the child in. It is always after she has committed their daughter to the program or activity that she expects him to pay the bill, and he runs the risk of being the bad guy in the eyes of his daughter if he says no.

My husband loves his daughter dearly. In fact, one of the reasons I fell in love with him was that early in our courtship he said, “My time with my daughter is very important to me, and I won’t anything or anyone get in the way of that.” Having been a child of divorce, I was in awe of his attitude and commitment to her.

It pains me to stand by him and see how frustrated and upset he gets, how much sleep he loses, how burdened with guilt he is, and how desperately he wants to do right by his daughter. He is very fearful that his ex-wife would go so far as to refuse him visitation with his daughter if she doesn’t get her way. While I would like to believe that this would never happen, I have to acknowledge that he knows her best and his fear must be founded on the history they’ve shared.

I wish I had wisdom and direction to help him through the difficulties he is experiencing. If you have any thoughts, please let me know.

18 12 2014

Thanks for all your excellent and brilliant advice. I have learned a lot of things that I did not know before. It seemed like stepmom should not talk about the issues because it will turn into a wild fire. On the other hand, if you and your husband dont talk about it how are you going to coming up with solutions? It is a sad and difficult place to be. Help us Lord!!!!

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