Honoring Stepmoms on Mother’s Day

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With Mother’s Day just a few days away, many children will be out looking for a special card or gift for their mom. The card stores are filled with cards for wonderful biological mothers, but it will not be easy finding one for a stepmom.  You might have to get creative and write your own or add the word stepmom to a card to personalize it. Stepmoms deserve recognition too.

Why do stepmoms get less recognition? Aren’t they moms as well? Let’s face it: Stepmothers have been put in a lesser role and have been the target of many negative comments. No fairytale daughter is complete without a difficult stepmother.

Children deserve love and an adult to help them to learn how to be happy, productive people. They need to understand how to set appropriate boundaries and have a role model for a good marriage. Once upon a time, most people assumed that marriage was a lifelong bond and that all couples would have and raise their own biological children together. But today, we have a divorce rate that hovers around 50%. A second or third marriage is not unusual at all. These family changes might leave children feeling stranded. These young people need continuity of care, and stepmoms are often part of this process.

Mothers usually don’t have to assert their right to nurture or protect their children. Those roles are usually taken for granted. A stepmom may face quite a delicate and difficult task if she wants to be a good role model for the children that a new spouse brings into her life. Children who were upset by a divorce may focus that anger on their father’s new partner.                stepmom and stepdaughter talking together on bed

Custody arrangements are not always ideal, but a stepmother has little power to change such an agreement. It is a situation that requires diplomacy, to say the least. The mother and stepmother may have very different ideas about how to raise children, and savvy kids can try to manipulate all of their adult caregivers to win concessions that are not necessarily in their best interests.

And yet, a devoted stepmother does not give up. She will hone her communication skills, propose compromises, and experiment with new limits and rewards. But above all else, she will be a loving presence in her family’s life. She may have to put up with hostility, acting out, or being seen as less than a “real” mom. But in her daily routines, her loving gestures, and the assistance she gives her stepchildren are often unappreciated. But in the larger picture, she is the heart of her home, no matter what her family’s history has been.

Let’s include and celebrate the women who take on the amazing and heroic task of helping raise their partner’s children. It’s not easy, but it can be rewarding if it is based on genuine attachment and emotion. That deserves recognition and thanks. So however you can manage it, with cards or gifts or a heartfelt hug, make sure your stepmom knows you are grateful for her role in your life. Mother’s Day is her holiday, too. ❤️

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