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From a Stepdad to Stepmothers and the Men Who Love Them

Since starting Support for Stepdads I’ve visited several blogs devoted to stepmothers.  The number of stepmother blogs is plentiful which is in stark contrast to the number of sites dedicated to stepfathers.  I’m guessing it must have something to do with the way we men tend to be lone rangers and are not naturally wired to reach out to other men for help and support but that’s a topic for another blog.  This post is dedicated to women with the honorable title of Stepmother. 

Having experienced my own mixed emotions of disappointment, happiness and surprise on Father’s Day since first becoming a stepparent in 1995, I can easily identify with the feelings experienced by stepmother’s on Mother’s Day.  I sense the feelings are even more pronounced for stepmother’s considering their caregiver role.  As stepparents we feel as though we have all of the pain, frustrations and financial strain and difficulty of being a parent in name only but none or very little of the rewards or pleasures. 

One stepmom stated, “As it [Mother’s Day] approaches, I am reminded how disappointed and hurt I used to be when my stepdaughter didn’t acknowledge me on this day.  From the time I married my husband when my stepdaughter was only 4 years old, I always felt she viewed me as his wife rather than as a stepmother.”

Another stepmom related how being wished a Happy Mother’s Day by her parents and friends also felt bad. “How could I sincerely accept their considerate remarks when my stepdaughter didn’t recognize or appreciate my efforts in this capacity?  I felt fraudulent as a stepmother.”

A stepmother shared my stepdaughter handed me a card – the most wonderful card – in which she wrote a long note about how much she appreciates me in her life and how she knows I love her.  “It was completely unexpected – and exactly what I needed to hear – that the day in and day out struggle of raising a family are worth it, that the things we do 364 days a year are appreciated and noticed. It didn’t matter that I wouldn’t be toasted as the best of the best – just that the sentiment was said.  And as I went through my day I pulled out that card and read it again and again.”

Take aways:

1. For Husbands. 

a. Show Appreciation.  Use Mother’s Day as an opportunity to show your spouse how much you appreciate her being a good stepmother to your children.  Make Mother’s Day a special day for her by lavishing her with something you know she’ll really likes.  Remember to tell her you recognize her role as a stepmom is not easy and you appreciate how hard she works.

b. Focus on What You Can Do.  Don’t force your child(ren) to do something special for your wife on Mother’s Day.  Your child might feel it’s dishonoring to his mom to show appreciation to his stepmom.  To force your child(ren) to do something might create resentment towards you and/or your wife.  The resentment may be detected by your wife and will detract from anything you make your children do instead focus on what you can do for your wife.

2. For Stepmothers.

a. Manage Your Own Expectations.  The only thing you should expect on Mother’s day is the unexpected.  Setting your expectations low might be a good idea to minimize any hurt from unreasonable expectations.  While your desire to be acknowledged by your stepchildren is reasonable they may not have the maturity to sit down and really tell you how much they appreciate you and the things you do.  Additionally, their loyalties may lie with their mother and they may believe she will be offended if they acknowledge you their stepmother.

b. Be Happy with Whatever Form of Gratitude you Get. Focus on the great job you’ve done as a stepmother regardless of whether or not it’s acknowledged.  Be in a place where you can accept and understand why your stepchildren may not reach out to you on Mother’s Day. 

c. Tell Your Spouse How you Feel.  Your divorced husband might be unaware of the significance of Mother’s Day to you.  He may be traumatized by his divorce and need help to see how much you do for his kids. 

 Stepmothers as we approach Mother’s Day I hope you can find the following a source of encouragement.  

 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. ~ Galatians 6:9

Happy Stepmother’s Day!!!

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