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Beyond Blue


Stepmonster: 8 Reasons Why Stepmothers Are Prone to Depression

posted by Beyond Blue

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In her insightful book, “Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do,” author Wednesday Martin, Ph.D. explains why stepmothering is the “perfect storm” for depression. Here are eight risk factors she lists:

 

Risk Factor 1: Isolation and Alienation

Stepmothers often feel cut off from their husbands over stepfamily issues and different from the moms in their circles of friends who don’t have to deal with the tension and conflict involved in blending families.

Risk Factor 2: Rumination

What happens when you are isolated from the rest of the pack, estranged from the group of moms who are clueless to your issues? You think. A lot. Too much. Way too much. Martin quotes Yale psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D, who defines ruminative thinking as “a cycle of rethinking the past, worrying excessively about the future, not taking action, going over and over the same issues, letting concern spread to other issues, until there’s an avalanche of concern and a feeling of being overwhelmed.”

Risk Factor 3: Relational Tendencies

Martin calls the stepfamily a “tinderbox of sorts,” when you consider the combination of the stepmother’s relational tendencies with that of her often less emotional or relational husband and a bunch of resentful stepkids.

Risk Factor 4: Overcompensation and the Need to “Fix It”

Writes Martin: “With the specter of the wicked stepmother floating above our heads, we are under enormous pressure to prove–to the world and to ourselves–that we are not corrupt or sadistic, that we are, in fact, good, even perfect and beyond reproach. A fifty-eight-year-old stepmother named Belinda calls this the “Cinderella-in-reverse syndrome”–the stepmother’s drive to be whiter than white, better than best, and her tendency to overcompensate at her expense.

Risk Factor 5: Double Standards That Disempower

Martin has a great point here. Stepchildren are allowed to dislike and resent their stepmoms, while a stepmom must always show unconditional love for her stepchildren. And the author is right, too, when she argues that stepchildren have social support when they vent about their evil stepmom. The stepmom? Better close the trap.

Risk Factor 6: Punching Bag Syndrome

Do stepmoms get blamed for things they aren’t responsible for? According to Martin, the blame game has been documented by many stepfamily researchers and experts. Stepmoms can rest assured that they are not just imagining this inequality. They are, according to the note-takers with lots of initials after their names, receiving heat for stuff they didn’t do.

Risk Factor 7: Unsupportive Husbands

Writes Martin: “A woman’s husband can make all the difference in her adjustment to remarriage with children and to the smooth functioning of the family. One study, however, found that nearly half of the remarried men with children interviewed expected their wives to be ‘more maternal’ than they were with their children. Such expectations can clash with women’s agendas and desires, especially when we are repeatedly rebuffed or disappointed in our attempts to build a bridge to his kids.”

Risk Factor 8: Professional Bias and Bad Advice

The “avalanche of unsolicited advice,” Martin contends, can be a real home wrecker and an emotional wrecker if you let it. All moms have to deal with the self-righteous, in-your-face opinions of people who just don’t have a clue. All moms resent this. But a stepmom gets even more of these “you’d better do it this way or you’re damned” pointers than the average mom–and the pointers are probably even more dangerous–because a stepmom’s situation is so complex and thorny.

If you are feeling depressed, it might be helpful to contact the National Stepfamily Resource Center to find a therapist who can help.

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  • Your Name

    I don’t have a problem with the kids. The problem is the mother! She is absolutely vulgar calling me every bad name in the book and we haven’t even met! It’s awful! The kids are stuck in the middle and my husband doesn’t want to hear it and defends her. It’s been really tough being in this relationship.
    Dee Carlson- Hearn

  • Debbie

    I have been through the same things you have. My husband has always defended his daughters mother using the excuse “Thats my daughters mother” Well, enough of the crap. I have not been allowed to talk about my kids father, but we defend his ex-wife. I got fed up and finally said thats it, no more. You cannot imagine what I have been through. My step daughter is now thirty two, and she is mine now, totally and completely, not her mothers, not her fathers. She comes to me when she needs someone, and that tells me I did something right. Sometimes I see little things in her of me. Of course my four girls have me in them, they are supposed to, but because of the step daughters mother, to see yourself in your grown step daughter, and to know you did something right, is worth it all. We still have the occassional problem with the ex, but it is turned around now, she now wants to know something about her daughter, because they do not have much contact, nor her with her grandkids, which are mine now too. I feel sorry for her, but she did it to herself. We didn’t talk bad about her mother, or complain. She just finally seen it for herself, and realized what it was all about. Good luck in your endeavors with your step children, you have a hard road ahead of you, but I pray in the end, everything will work out for you.

  • Maria J

    So what do you do when you are in a situation where the step mother doesn’t do anything for the kids. She won’t even watch them.

  • Tamarel

    I have to agree that a husband’s support makes all the difference. My husband and I agreed not to let our children being step or otherwise come in between us. We set a standard of rules in our home and they must and will be followed by everyone. The other thing we do is hold family meetings to discuss any issues. In the first meeting I made it clear that I was there for all of the children and even though it may sound mean, I told my step children that I do not owe either of them anything and that everything that I do for them, I do it because I care.

  • Jan

    I want to buy this book for my stepkids and their mother! My husband’s ex-wife thinks she’s married to two men, her husband and her ex-husband, and she’s very coniving. She puts me down at every opportunity and does it very slyly so she doesn’t come across as the bad guy. And my stepkids were spoiled rotten and now as adults think they can still get whatever they want from Dad. They have driven us into the poor house. I dread every family get together with them.

  • Your Name

    I have been there and my second marriage ended in a divorce because of his children (all of whom are grown). His children were jealous and resentful of my 2 children (who are grown) and the relationship they had with him. A better relationship than what they had with their own father. I am still very much in love with him and I probably always will be. He has moved on to someone else; who has children. I can only wonder how long this relationship will last.

  • Carol Franklin

    I have had problems with raising stepchildren mainly because of no support from their father. My stepdaughter now is gone more than home, she considers this place as a stop off rather than a home, when things go wrong in her relationship with boyfriend she is back then when things go good again she is off again. The same can be said with the stepson…when he was in school and there were problems I took care of it because I was the one at home, the dad was working then. When the time came for payback from the stepson, the ultimate refusal came and dad wouldn’t support me in any way. I eventually stopped trying to correct or guide my stepkids because it was futle. My stepdaughter doesn’t know how to clean house, or establish a home for herself and a boyfriend, my stepson doesn’t know how to cook or clean, and thinks all there is to life is games to play. I wish I had more of a say in their upbringing, stepdaughter was nine years old when I came into the picture. stepson was a teen. And yes, there is very much allot of stress put upon women who take on other children whom belong to the spouse.

  • Fran

    Does anyone think it is okay for a stepmother to stop having a relationship with her husband’s adult children? There are grandchildren who are welcome in their home. but not the parents and not the son. The father has given them alot of money over the years and still forks out money when they ask for it.
    The father has contact via phone, internet and his visits to them.
    They live in another state. The stepmother in the beginning did wonderful things for them. Instead of being happy for their father they made remarks against her. She finally said to her husband that is enough. Now the husband is saying to his wife she is unforgiving and to be the bigger person cause he wants to have his children be able to visit them.

  • Your Name

    I had no idea what I was getting into. My stepkids have a deadbeat mother, and have no respect for me even though I have done more for them than any other woman they have ever lived with. They steal from me, talk back. Dad is too exhausted to deal with it. Thank God that they are teenagers. One way or another, this current situation will end soon. I hope that they understand one day that I really tried to be there for them and was not the “evil stepmother” that they think I am.
    I think one of the main problems is that many people view the role of the stepmother as a “friend,” rather than another parental figure. I don’t feel that I’m doing my job if I notice wrongdoings and not point them out and try to correct them. I can see some improvements and growth because of my guidance.

  • tom miller

    Believe me, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t. This is coming from a dad in a blended family. As I look back, I recognize my actions to re-marry were selfish. I was not thining of my kids. Ladies,if you are considering doing this, please DON’T.

  • My Name

    We reached a point a long time ago that my husband and I have a right to a life with each other, and that we were going to SEIZE that right and take full advantage of it. His kids can’t come between us, and don’t dare. His ex shuts up as well, although she used to gossip a lot about him and wonder why I didn’t leave him the way she did. So much for exes. I am his wife and sorry everyone, but that’s the way it’s going to stay.

  • nh

    Sounds all negative to me. I waited till my kids were out on their own before I remarried….16 yrs later…only to be in the situation as discribed above………..I had good “friends” support. After several attempts to be a part of that silly family and the mind games the xwife and children play, I gave up and on the weekends that the kids came, I went off on my own, and was gone for most of the day and returned close to bed time. Vacations with them were a disaster! You know what it’s like….if you’re the step mom. After 2 years of trying, my husband agreed to just take them once a year on a nice vacation, and I went to visit my children who all lived in a different state. My husband and I got along much better after those decisions………..Now, that even his children are grown, I get along very well with both his kids, we have a very nice repor…..It was worth the wait, my husband and I are still married, after 14 yrs. and my sanity was saved by giving the much needed time my husbands children needed with their father without me………….Unfortunately, I feel they lost out in such wonderful opporunities they could have had if they would have accepted me. I had a lot to offer, and only now, do they realize that. They have both apoligi
    zed for the way they treated me and wish they would have accepted me. I have known soooooooooooooooo many of my friends who went through 2nd marriages with children…………..I recommend, unless the man is verbally and physically abusive, do not get divorced if you have children……………..I hestated after I first got divorced when I read about the incests, cults, gangs and other things children get into when they are not happy at home and when 2nd marriages occur where there are children involved……remember, the person is not the true parent of the children, and their is not that maternal bonding like the true parents have. Stress is the number 1 cause of death……why die before your time. You need to take care of yourself and be happy yourself before you can help someone else.

  • lilmomma

    I am a stepmother of a 12 yr old boy. I have two boys of my own from previous marriage. I met his father when he was 2 yrs old and my youngest was also 2 yrs old, so we were instantly thrown into the terrible two’s… times 2! My oldest son was 8 when we met and he has adjusted the best to everything. He always has tho. He is so easygoing.
    The first few years were hell but he still lived with his mom and resented me, even at 2 yrs old he was calling me by other girls names and then would give me a very evil look while he did. Anyhow, his mom went to rehab…..several times… and we hav had custody of him for right at 4 yrs. now. He and my youngest son fought like nothing you have ever seen….he (stepson) once counted the pieces of ice in a cup to make sure he got just as many pieces……VERY JEALOUS CHILD! After he came to live with us, he saw that I was the same way with all kids EVERY day, not just when he was visiting. It took over a year for him to become more at ease but it finally DID happen. He and my son are doin much better…nothing more than the usual sibling dissagreements now and he has even called me mom a few times without realizing it. I have taken over the mom role and he is now old enuff to see that we dont always have to agree on things but that I am always there no matter what! Finding the place where everyone can be themselves and still respectful is the key. We arent perfect and still have a rough day now and then but that is life. He know I love him and would do anything for him and my sons know that my husband loves them and would do the sme for them.
    It is really all in how you handle it! It is a hard lesson for everyone but worth it all!

  • Your Name

    I am glad to see all of this. For awhile now I have felt all the above…and have some resentment to my husband for how he has (or hasn’t) handled things. I had no children of my own, so there was no “i treat you like i treat my own, punishments and rewards, etc” and saying “i treat you like i WOULD treat my own” just doesnt hold water. Things have gotten somewhat better since the oldest moved away from home at 18…but she and her boyfriend are two of the most irrepsonsible people i’ve met in awhile. They have wrecked about 5 vehicles between them, blew their insurance money, dont have jobs, borrowed our vehicle in which he got a DUI and our car was towed away. (we made them pay, finally my hubby stood up) yet the STILL want to borrow our vehicle. I hated having to be the monster and put my foot down to my husband, but i am sick and tired of having checks bounce because hubby will give them money, or bail them out, by taking money from OUR account (and yeah..i work making as much as- sometimes more than-my husband. Things would be better if all along he had shown a little bit of discipline. and his ex thinks he is stil supposed to help her around her house and fix things…and yeah, she has remarried but he cant fix anything. I want to be helpful, but at the same time..we raised the kids with NO CHILD SUPPORT from her, and i am like “uh, if you wanted him to fix ur house..u shouldnt have left him for someone else, who cant fix a thing!” no, my husband..not urs. And she makes the kids feel guilty if they dare utter “happy mothers day stepmom” to me. We should have a stepparent’s day!!!!!!!!!11

  • My name

    I had issues with everyone. The children’s Mom was constantly putting me down to them, no matter how hard I tried to be perfect as Factor #4 describes. The children would lie about me, she would believe it. I could never do enough for the children. When they wanted something they would be nice, but if I had to say no, they would make my life hell. My husband uphold household rules or allow me to. If I would tell one step-son that he couldn’t play his video games for the rest of the evening because he hit his brother, my husband would sass me for hours. I was completely alone in my efforts. I am divorced now.

  • anon

    My partner has 2 children under the age of 3 with his ex wife. I have only been with him 10 months. I see his children every other time he see’s them and this seems to work ok. I’d like to have children with him of my own. He’s not sure and will think about it. I dont know how much input he would like me to have in his childrens life in the future and I dont think he wants to scare me with ideas of me having that responisibility. At the moment it works well but I do worry about what the future will hold and what my role should be. I find it hard that not having children of my own not to feel envious of the fact they will be the most important thing to him. I know they have to be and they are very cute. I am just new to this and uncertain what the future will hold. I guess with the children being so young they should get used to me as a family friend??

  • Shon Blake

    I find being a stepmother one of the most rewarding, yet challenging aspects of my life. I brought two to the marriage, he brought two to the marriage and at 40, my husband at 45, we had one of our own. This little guy is only 3 and has become an uncle twice. The two oldest boys, one his, one mine, graduated from high school the same year. Then they went on to each give us a grandson. We love being grandparents and new parents at the same time.
    My issues with stepmothering center around one child these days. He is 13 and can be rather disrepectful and obstinate. I’m the kind of stepmom that has an invisible jet parked in the driveway and a golden lasso at my hip. My gold crown is polished by my husband and thank goodness for that solid breastplate because I often need it.
    In the beginning I justified defiance coming from the ex because I understood that she was worried and jealous for her kids. I empathized with that a great deal, always believing time would end her fears and doubts and then she would see that I have the best interest of her boys at the front of my mind all the time. Indeed, for a long time we enjoyed an amiable and inclusive relationship; so often I have been made to feel that I am one of the family, her family. (Her family is not willing to part with my saintly husband and I could not blame them one bit).
    Lately however, there has been some grave contention going on. I feel pitted against by the ex. In one fell swoop I felt bridges start to burn and that stings, because of course it is not in the best interest of the boys for this communication breakdown to occur and it is a sense of dread for me because after years of bonding I now feel on the defense once again. I feel that after all I’ve done for ths family how could they turn on me like this? Can’t they see the sacrifices I’ve made and the progress the boys have made and damn it…where’s the gratitude? I let this tear me up so bad I started having anxiety attacks I thought were heart attacks! One night I was in the emergency room and a few weeks later I ASKED an officer to take me to jail after he refused to give me a ride home and told me to go home and I was so on the verge of flipping out. I could not wait for my congregation, mother, bible study group, etc. to read that in the paper! It is okay…I can live this down quickly…in fact, it was the best nights sleep I had had in a long time.
    My doctor, whome I am very fortunate to have an open, honest and trusted professional relationship with, put me on Xanex and now everything is so much better. I could see the clarity I needed, I could hear what my Father in Heaven had been trying to tell me for so long, which is the reality check that although a good relationship with my husband’s ex wife and family is desirable, it is not the foundation of my success as a wife, mother, stepmother, daughter, sister, friend and citizen. I would prefer to have continued moral support but it is not essential to my well being. My priorities are my marriage, my kids, my gandkids, my ageing mother, my home and my life. If they don’t want to be a part of that anymore it is their loss. My door remains open to the ex and her family, as does my heart, but they have to meet me halfway and in the meantime, I carry on as best I can and thank my Savior everday for the solid breast plate!

  • charlene

    I completely agree with this statement that stepmoms have to show unconditional love and the children dont. I am a 39 year old that just married her husband in July of this year. I have 3 children of my own and a grandson. My kids are 23, 19, and 15, his are all boys 10,13,15 and all have been diagnosed with ADHD and what I believe to be some major behavioral problems as well. All his family understands where I am coming from on this because that is all I have heard since the first time was Mark is a wonderful man, but I hope you can deal with the “Boys”.. that has been said to me more than once. Also he has full custody of them.. so they are here all the time.. I only have one left and it is a grl that I have to deal with and you never know she is here.. because she doesnt like to stay here because of them, and the way that act. There dad, thank God has been supportive in all my decisions where they are concerned, he has even said he knows they are bad, but what to do….. that is my questions exactly.. what to do.. And the EXXXX doesnt help matter either, she pumps their head so full of crap it isnt funny. Thanks for letting me vent, because I know my family is tired of hearing about it. And just to say.. I love my husband with all my heart, he is the best.. if not.. I would be goneeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lori

    ok I think being a step mom is hardest thing I’v ever done I have raised my two step daughters since they were 4 and 5 and they are now 15 and 16 and they hate me still and make me crazy. the oldest says mean, nasty things to me. Not infront of her dad.She plays her dad and I aginst one another. and it SUCKS!!!!!!!!! I have kids of my own 18, 16, and 11. They all hate eachother and don’t get along.I dont understand what Im doing wrong the oldest girl will be nice to me but only if she wants something from me. I love my husband and thats y I stay. It is hard to even do that. anyone can help please email me at angeleyes_2307@yahoo.com

  • Renee

    I have always felt that I was alone all of these years in my guilt and frustration about my step-daughter who came to live with my husband and me when she was six. She came from a bad situation with her mom and my husband overcompensated for it. She has always been more important to him than I have and I admit it makes me jealous. I understand that she needs to be important to him, but it really hurts to know I will never be that important to him. We have two children together and they both mean the world to me, but so does my husband.
    We had an extremely hard time when she became a teenager because my husband would go to work and I was in charge and she didn’t understand that. She would be rude and confrontational with me and my husband would take her side EVERY time. I really believe that success and happiness in this situation greatly depends on your husband’s support. I didn’t have it. He just kept telling me to deal with it and get over my jealousy — no matter what his daughter had done.
    The worse the situation got, the worse I felt about myself because I didn’t like her, I didn’t want her there, and I felt like I was a horrible person because of it. I have seen other step-mothers that get along great with their step-children and I couldn’t figure out why I was such a bad person that I couldn’t get along with mine. Lori, I know it sucks because they can be so mean to you when their dad isn’t around and then totally different when he is. My husband was totally convinced it was all my problem because his sweet princess would not show him the side of her she showed me. I really feel for you. The only reason I stuck it out was because I love my husband and I didn’t want my kids to have to go through a divorce. I counted down every day until she was 18 years old. She moved out and it was literally the happiest day of my life. I thought maybe if we weren’t living together it would be better between us, but she hates me and resents her dad because he stayed with me. I don’t have any advise because I obviously didn’t handle it well. All I can say is they do eventually move out and you get your life back. It is such a long road though, but hearing that others have trouble with it too really does help.

  • Your Name

    I am married to this man that has 2 grown children and we have let them make our marriage into a mess.They have to know everthing that we do or go.My husband does not support me he will side with them and I am going to leave. I can not take it ant longer.

  • Stephanie

    Hi! I am 29 yrs old and live with my boyfriend of almost 6 years. He is divorced with a 12 yr old and I have to say it is almost impossible to deal with. When his son comes over he is aloud to do whatever he wants and nobody is aloud to tell him different. I have tried to and all I do is get into arguments with my boyfriend. I He accuses me of being mean to his son and not liking him and all I have done was try to help out and no matter what I tell his son my boyfriend will take his side, usually right in front of him making me look stupid. Every weekend I usually end up crying cause I havent done something correct(like hug his son the way he wants me to) or I didnt say something he wanted me to( like cheering for his son eating his dinner).I usually stay in my computer room on the weekends cause they are in the living room watching whatever his son wants and by the time he puts him to bed its past midnight and I am going to sleep as well so we dont get to spend any time together. It has gotten to the point that I dont even bring anything up cause I am wrong about everything and I have no right to say anything cause I dont have kids of my own. It was surprising when I read other peoples story and that this situation is pretty common. Thanks to all who wrote the troubles they have.

  • sandra

    i am 24 yrs of age and i just married my long time live in partner for 5 years now. he is a widower and has 3 kids..two are with him..i met this guy when i was 18 and got pregnant when i was 19, we ended up living together with his 2 kids, the eldest boy 10 and the second girl is 9. It was a blessing to me that these two kids have loved and respected me. in return i gave them what i could even if i wasnt that matured to understand some our argument as a couple. today, the eldest boy is already in college and the girl is already in highschool. I am just so thankful that i have been able to show them respect and given them the concern and love they needed despite the differences which they in turn showed me now. i do not have any problems with my step kids so far. i think one key to it is to show them that you are fair to them with your own kids. give them all the suppport needed. if you something to say against them don’t say it in front oof them to your husband. include them in all of the family’s activities even in family pictures, showing them that you embrace them as your children will help a lot and listening to their yearnings and sometimes gives in to what they want helps too..

  • Your Name

    First of all ladies I understand what each of you are going through. Wow Im glad I have found this discussion. Its like each of you have something you are going through that I have as well. I must say, step parenting can be a bit stressful. Im married to a man with a 16 year old daughter and even though I have helped raise her since she was 5, its still some tension in our house. She lives with us. There have been times she have lied on me just to keep from getting in trouble. She have been very mean to our children. By the way we both have two younger boys together (8&6 years old).
    She gets a bad attitudes at times around the house when she doesnt have her way. All of this has made me turn a bit silent toward her. I try not to get into it with her and thats something that never really happens. Yet I am the woman of the house and I be dam if I let her try to run me or the house. I am at home most of the time anyway while my husband is at work.
    He also have two other sons that may come over sometimes and when they do, they are loud and likes to walk in and out the house. Its a bit stressful but I try to do all I can to work things out. I know prayer work and thats what Im going to continue to do.

  • Anonymous

    I have just married my eldest daughters father. Our daughter is 16. After we broke up (17 years ago), he married and had 2 children. He was married for 11 year and got divorced and got the kids. We reconnected and we got married. So my daughter is just now meeting her half-brother and sister. 15 and 9 years old. His children have a couple of big issue that stems from their mother and father’s divorced. Right are this moment i am working in Iraq, and am not home to set down some rules. One thing is, i have dads complete go ahead to try and straighting out this house. I feel that even if the kids (mine included) don’t like me for trying to help them be better people, it’s worth their dislike if i suceed. You can not always be friends with your kids or step-kids. sometimes you have to put your foot down and they can like it or not. I have been a singel mother for 16 years and i have 4 children. And i have learned that you can not let your kids determine if you are going to smile today or be upset all day. I can discpline me kids and turn right around and still have a great day. Now you may think that i’m hard and that my children and step-children must hate me but oh no that is not the case. Sometimes they are mad at me for a while but me and my children are friends. My 16 year old and i still hold hands and walk down the street and she still kisses my good-bye for school”right in front of her friends”. AMAZING. I love to joke with my kids and make them laugh exspecially when they’re mad at me. But they know that if i have to choose between being a friend and being a mom, i will chose mom every time. Oh and when i say “my kids” i mean all of my kids. Step and otherwise.

  • Your Name

    I give up after 23 years of trying to be a good step-mother. I get little respect from her and no support from my husband. This is bringing our marriage down to its knees. I can’t even talk about problems with the step-child to my husband as he just doesn’t want to hear about it. Thus, we are not close anymore and fight all the time. So I am done. It is only a matter of time. I have one project to finish and then it is time for the lawyer.

  • Your Name

    I have been married to a man for 6 years now. His ex-wife had a child by another man during their marriage. He decided to “sweep it under the rug” and raise this child. Because this litte girl was not his, he really tried to overcompensate by indulging in her every wish. She is grown now and still expects him to hand her everything! She sees me as being in the way of getting the last “drop of blood” out of my husband. I guess she is right in a way because I cannot stand to see her treating him like her personal door mat. She knows who her biological dad is, and keeps in touch with him. As far as I am concerned, she is his ex-wife’s family, she is toxic to our marriage, and he should just cut the ties.

  • Annie

    To anon, posted on Nov. 13 at 12:31
    My best advice to you would be if you see a door to get out, run as fast as you can from that situation. I wish I had been smart enough to see that before I married my husband who has a daughter. In the beginning, while we were dating, everything was soooo wonderful. He was the perfect gentleman, nothing else in the world mattered to him but me. The relationship between us and his daughter was very promising, and then I said “I do” and my entire world changed. All of a sudden, that pedastool he had me on crashed to the ground. I was not as important to him anymore. His daughter took center stage,and thats where she stays. I cannot even talk about the situation anymore because he says, I am in the wrong. I understand the fact that his daughter needs him and needs to be important to him, but I need that too. I thought when we got married, we had our ground rules established, he and I were the parents. But now it’s like him and her are family, and I’m just there.
    If you choose to stay with him, although his children are cute now, more than likely you will have a life time full of grief; and especially if you want to add your own children to the mix. Every situation is different. If I had it to do again, I would have left my husband alone the first time he said hello to me. Most of the time men with children have a hard time balancing his new partner with his children from the previous one. So in most cases he will cling to the children and leave the “stepmom” to fend for herself.

  • Gevinn Banks

    In light of your 8 Reasons Why Stepmoms Feel Depressed,in combining all 8, it is my understanding that the stepmom feels pressured to compete with the biological mother of the children. This can often be frustrating, as there are qualities and perhaps a bonding there that noone–including a stepmom–can replace.

  • jo

    It really sucks if the child is a brat, mom has nothing to do with him, pays no money, and all of that effects your children. It is impossible not to resent the kid for being a constant nuisance and the husband for feeling sorry for the kid b/c his mommy doesnt want him—word of advice, if the kid is a brat, turn the other way b/c it won’t change!!

  • Your Name

    Amen to that, Jo

  • Marella

    I am a stepmother of now 20 and almost 22 stepsons. I have 2 sons of my own 18 & 15. My stepsons are not in the picture at all now. I nor my husband have heard from or seen the 20 yr old (except for his graduation-we were not invited, he does not even know we were there) in over 4 years. The 21,almost 22 year old has become a total loser, leeching off us even recently until I – yes I – had to throw him out of our home in Aug.
    My husband, who once stressed biological relationships as being most important now looks to my own sons as “his” and they treat him like a real father-not just use him for material things and come and go as they please.
    It has never been easy to be in my situation and if I had it to do over, I agree with Annie, I wish I had never fallen in love with my husband or at the very least met his 2 children before I got too involved with them.
    I have helped raise them and I sacrificed attention to my own 2 in order
    to do that. The 20 year old were I thought actually close but in his decision to put dad out of his life for whatever reason, he also has erased himself out of my life as well.
    The older stepson was always a challenge but this past year he was just totally unbelievably rude to me. Oh, and to make our situation even worse, the 2 stepsons came from 2 different mothers!
    I can honestly say I am glad they are out of my life but there are times I do miss the one and wish things could have been different for all of us.

  • Your Name

    I don’t have the exwife to contend with I have my Husband Mother she has raised he children for as long as I have been in the relationship. The son was 8 and the daughter was 5 when I said I do. I have 4 children of my own they have all accepted my Husband and we have no problem with them. One reason is and yes I’m going to say it, if my kids have ever gotten out of hand or were disrespectful I busted their butts. I wasn’t raised to be that way and I haven’t allowed mine to be. Now that being said they are very happy and well respected young adults just I am. Anyway we tried for awhile trying to raise them ourselves but when ever anything didn’t go their way they called Grand maw and I was to feel like a little kid (yes Mam no Mam) I couldn’t take it anymore and sent them back to her.
    His son was a liar and a thief at an early age and his daughter is the biggest drama queen I have ever seen. If I say anything to either on Grand maw is on the war path. I stayed as far away as I could until my husbands mother bought him some land right next to hers. So I’m back in hell. He wouldn’t shut up or leave me alone until I agreed to put a house here. I hate it. The son has graduated now and he doesn’t bother us to much anymore but the daughter ahhhh she just turned 14 and any problems she can cause is a delight to her. For instance last year because she felt like she wasn’t getting enough attention shouted that she was going to commit suicide so Grand maw took her to a shrink and he wanted to committee her all of a sudden she was fine but the ploy worked and it was all my fault she said. Because of me she can’t stay with her dad.
    When she comes to my house I am not allowed to say a word if she does anything mean. She’s allowed to talk to me how she wants and my husband just grins because his little BRAT is happy. I’m about to BLOW.
    My advice to any woman that thinks she’s met the man of her dreams and he has kids…RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!!!! It a nightmare you can not win…… Oh and my husband is a Lazy piece of crap that will not lift a finger to help out at the house. Anymore if he’s not at work he’s drunk.

  • STEP MONSTER

    , Ive been a Step mom for 13 yrs now. I have struggled with it since the beginning. I love his kids but the feeling is NOT mutual for sure. I raise the kids while he is at work , I became extremley close to the oldest who actually ended up living with us while his youngest lived with his ex. now I have 2 kids from a former marriage as well. they have been raised together from very young ages so they get along like biological siblings which is just wonderful! BUT!! recently my oldest step daughter who is 17 now got into a car with her boyfriend ( when she was supposed tobe at work) and lied about being at work when we knew she wasnt she lied and lied and then yes I smacked her for trying to make me look like the lier in the whole thing! mind you it wasnt a hard smack it was a total love tap! tips of my fingers only. anyhow she didnt even react to it just gave total additude for it which I would expect . I apologized and my husband was even wittness to the whole thing ( standing 1 foot from me) my step daughter went to school the next day and called children in youth on me and had told them that she was scared of me and that I called her names and it was all horrible terrible lies that she told them. they came out and interviewed all of the kids alone and my husband and I alone and decided that she was ” using the system” to get her way because the same night I “slapped” her I also made her quit her job and took away the car we just baught her. I was NOT going to be responsible for a 17 yr old getting pregnant and who would do anything to have sex at her young age. she has always told stories on me to her mother and of course her mother believes anything she is told because her mother is a very jealous bitter woman who loves to hate me. whatever really but I have sacrificed so much to raise this child , she has been nothing but trouble since day one and I cant believe that she went that far! I was protecting her! Id love to know how the school alone would even consider letting her call CYS when they know what she is like! they know that my step daughter is one to do ANYTHING for attention , they are wittness to her crazy ways. There wasnt even a mark on her ! I would never hit her to do any type of damage , just wanted her to wake up and see what she was mainly doing to herself. so yes step parenting SUCKS!!! my husband made her move back with her mother that week and now his daughter wont call or come out to the car if Im around ! what the hell? now his ex wife is letting her date that same boy and giving her everything she wants and is so happy that my step daughter did what she did. Ive never raised a hand to any of these kids before and this one time I did , im an abuser? LOL! wow. there is so much more to this 13 yr old story that I cant even waste anyones time going on and on but really you understand right? all of the things Ive given up to be mom to everyone , all the time and love and fun all to make the kids happy and this is what I get? it SUCKS! I was a worried MOM , ME! this is what happens….run women …run!

  • Wicked Stepmother

    I have been a stepmother for 5 years. Their own mother left them when they were 3 and 4. My husband did everything for them and I helped. I have two children of my own. What gets me is I cook for them, I clean, I made sure they had their graduation pictures taken and in nice clothes. I did everything for their party, made all the food sent out the invitations, entertained the guests. Even their mother. She had to be invited and I waited on her. Anyway, what gets to me is she is the great one because she sends them money and picks them up at Christmas. Well, now they go by her but I am nothing. I get no thanks and no present. She is the great one but I do all her work. I resent them everyday and can’t wait for them to move out which I doubt will ever happen.

  • Your Name

    When I met my now ex-husband, he had no communication with his 2 oldest sons, he saw the youngest when he could. I had 2 daughters who are younger than his boys. Me being me got the boys back in dad’s life, tried to get his boys on track since they were in there late 20’s and doing nothing but drugs. Needless to say you cannot
    help those who don’t want help – they affect my life with my girls,
    my neighbors, and opened my eyes to my husband – he is an drunk, enables his kids so they drink with him and do their drugs, don’t work, live off dad…I lost the home I built with my daughters to him and his sons but there is no price on peace of mind which we now have.

  • COFRANKLIN

    I have and still have problems with stepdaughter! Is there anyone out there whom would be willing to chat with me about these problems? I really do need advice as to how to go about dealing with her, she has gone from bad to worse, and blames it all on me. she is twenty years old and should be able to support herself but she doesn’t work, has a boyfriend she is in contact with 24/7 and when not with him comes here to antagonize me until she leaves to be with him again. she has bad mouthed me in person and on her myspace and facebook sites. she has verbally threatend to slap me. how can I handle what she is dishing out to me. oh, daddy won’t do a thing about her attitude with me. and tells me to deal with it. this is getting way out of hand. I need advice! please help!

  • Your Name

    Cofranklin, honey I have lots of love and understanding for you, 20yrs married,4his, 2mine – your deadbeat husband should stop shirking his responsibility,at 20yrs of age this young lady should be in school with a parttime job, or a full time job.my advise to you is when she wines, wants and needs something develop a blank look and a shoulder shrug “go see your dad about this” when dad comes to you, your response is”Icant help her I figured you can” and look bewildered. Either he’ll get the message or she will..As for the face book, do not read her comments-delete her as a friend and skip her page..remember you are the adult… and there is light at the end of the tunnel.. God bless all stepmothers for without them so of these kids would be lost….

  • http://community.beliefnet.com/doxieman122 Larry Parker

    While sexist archetypes pretty much dictate stepmothers have it a lot worse, spare a thought for stepfathers — and that’s coming from a 40-year-old man who shares mutual contempt with his.
    My karma, as my fiancee would put it, is now being matched up with two teen-age boys who idolize their father precisely for his absence, belittle their mother precisely for her presence — leaving me, with limited parenting skills as it is (I have no kids of my own) to tiptoe around the minefields.
    The issues with my fiancee aren’t so much ex issues (we don’t like each other but he literally lives on the other side of the world; he is in the service) as issues where she returns to the dynamic of “just the three of us.” I have no problem with her making decisions for them without my input per se; I do have problems occasionally with her making decisions for them THAT AFFECT ME without my input.
    Call me selfish. But while I certainly didn’t expect love from the boys, a little respect wouldn’t have hurt — and unfortunately, in a family that already had bad dynamics, neither of us get much if any.

  • Renee

    It seems like we are all going through much of the same pain and frustration. I would just like to thank all of you for sharing your experiences because it has made me feel like I am not the only Step-Monster in this world. I think a lot of people who have not been through this don’t understand how bad it can get and don’t have a lot of sympathy for step-parents because you should just love the kids and it should all be o.k. I wish there were more answers to help those still going through it, but I am afraid all I can do is give you my sympathy and let you know you are not alone.

  • Your Name

    I married at eighteen yrs., a divorced man with three children, after thirty-seven yrs. of marriage we lost him to cancer. Two of the three children lived with us, my favorite is the oldest son who lived with his Mother. They were a joy to have around most of the time, they were very supportive throughout the illness, I could not have gone through the battle with cancer without them. Two of them were fighting after the funeral, we did not live happily after ever, the death ripped everyone apart. We all went our different ways to find some peace, and start the long healing process. I tried my best to stop the fighting, but was not able to deal with all the emotions, we lost the love of our lives.Everyone went their own way. I remarried two yrs. after I was widowed, a divorced man with three children, we have now been married five yrs.,my three step children are beautiful people inside and out. My ex wife in law is very much in my life, she is a good Mother, we spend holidays together, there are five Grandchildren, and one due in January. I have grown to love this family, and make them my own, I never had children of my own, and being an orphan makes it easy for me to embrace having a family. Life is all about loving people and making memories. Put God first in your life, do your best, and God will do the rest. Remember that childrn love their Mother and Father, divorce is not natural, but common in this world. I respect the biological family that I have become a part of. I have a great Husband, he loves me, and he loves his children and grandchildren, and so do I. I have been twice blessed. I still have a relationship with my grandchildren from my first marriage, they have stayed close to me. Also my stepdaughter keeps in touch, however there is no relationship with the youngest son, he is still mad at the world, also he is bi-polar. I pray for him everyday, that God will heal his heart. Until then my new family keeps me busy.

  • Madeline

    hello I am in a stepfamily I’m the witch all the time i really need help!!

  • Your Name

    I have been a step-mother to 2 children the same age of 2 of mine. I have a 20 yr old son, 18 yr old son and a 13 yr old daughter. My step-children are 17 (soon to be 18 in March). I have been their step-mother (and father at times) for the past 8 years. I will admit at the very beginning it was extremely trying and painful. (Literally, my step-daughter would hit, kick, scratch and bite me and her father would do nothing about it) As a result, I ended up in 4 years of therapy, but wouldn’t trade the therapy sessions I received for anything. It taught me to live my life to the best of my ability and to parent those children with love, understanding and the nurturing that they have never received. Everyone in their life has always abandoned them and as a result I paid the price. I LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY and wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. It has made me a better understanding “mother” in general.

  • http://Step-Mother Your Name

    Continued my other step-child is a 13 yr old girl. After this year, the three oldest will be leaving home for college and the marines. Therefore, I will only have the 13 yr old’s to raise and by the Grace of GOD and with his help I will bring them up with respect, love and understanding of other’s needs besides their own.

  • Lori

    I’ve been on more than my share of sides of this. I have 2 biological sons (21 and 24) who had one horrible stepfather (baaaad mistake) and now have a man in their life who does not try to parent them but instead lets them come to him. Easier now that they are older but they did try very hard to get along with the other one. Alot of this, in my opinion, comes from ALL the parents. I made a HUGE point of staying in touch with ex-in-laws and new partners even when I thought my head would explode just so that I could stay in the loop. It worked most of the time but certainly not all. I read…ALOT. Now I find myself a stepmother to a 10 year old girl whose mother passed away just after she had her 7th birthday. I’ve been there since that day. My heart does not know that my body did not give birth to her. I deal with the maternal family and oh yes, we have battles but I stay true to myself, to her and to my husband. It is HER that matters in this mess though. Kids don’t ask for the hand they’re dealt. I take no prisoners when it comes to fairness but I have armed myself well with as much information, meditation, conversation and guidance as I can. I also never refer myself to as a step mother. I am her earth mother…I am part of the village raising her..I am Mo…I am not a ‘step’ up or nor down from her mother…I am simply another person who loves her.

  • Liz

    At first I was happy to find this blog. 8 years ago I took on the role of Stepmother to 2 young boys. At first, what a blast. Having no children of my own, and a great love for children, I had all the fun in the world. But now its more a chore then naught. Like everyone else, I strive to be a step above and receive very little appreciation.
    I find all the comments quite disheartening. Especially the dear woman who after 37 years of commitment and the loss of her husband, she has lost her whole family. That is my greatest fear, and a fear not adressed here or understood by many people, that when a mother loses her spouse she still has her children. When a step mother loses her spouse she loses her family.
    I’m close to giving up. When I’m exhausted and lose all hope I strive to be true to myself and then I’m more relaxed and everyone seems to get along better.
    But how does a person stay true to herself while trying to live up to the expectations of so many others?

  • Your Name

    Add a multicultural aspect to this equation and it gets even more complicated. When my husband and I first began dating I considered it a plus that he had a pre-school age daughter from a (very brief) marriage. I naively considered it a plus that he had experience with children as he and I both wanted more of our own together. I considered it great ‘practice’. I tried to personify the “Cinderalla” mentioned in the article ignoring slights from all in-laws. Dad would simply ignore them or disappear during visitation hoping things would work themselves out. I was villainized for the estranged relationship of Dad and daughter while her new stepdads (Mom twice remarried) were heralded heros. My solace came when I was finally able to admit to myself that I was neither responsible for the failed previous marriage nor the birth of this child. Likewise I would not bare the burdens of the ensuing choses made on her behalf. It took us over a decade to find peace enough to begin a family of our own. We are still trying to heal through time and prayer. Is there a scare? Certainly.

  • Your Name

    I feel the worst job I have had in my life is being a stepmother. I’ve been with my husband for 11yrs, his daughters were 14 and 10 when when we started dating, they were rude but I felt sorry for them because they didn’t have a good relationship with their mother. I have two daughters so I tolerated so much and now it has backed fired on me. My husband feels I’m being reasonable because I don’t like the idea that they just walk in my house, go into te fridge and cabinets like they live there. They are grown women now and my husband refuses to accept that so I have decided to let him go. I am so stressed out and depressed I just can’t deal with him anymore, if I try to bring up my feelings about these things, he find something to complain about in reference to my 15yo daughter that lives with us. Pray for all stepmothers because this not an easy job……

  • Your Name

    I live with the father of my youngest son. He left me when I was pregnant, for another woman whom he married and had three children with. Two of those children were born with cerebral palsy. His wife passed away about 6 years ago. We got back together about a year later even after he had shown no interest in our son over the first 10 years of his life. After much agonizing and fighting over many issues, things seemed to have gotten better. We have our own home and My oldest daughter has given us a grandchild with another on the way.
    I have worked hard to get rid of my resentment for his love for his “babies” while treating my/our son like an outsider. My stepchildren are “special needs” kids, I understand, but they are now 12 and 14 years old and he still treats them like toddlers. There has been steady improvement in all issues, however being a stepmother is hands down the hardest most thankless and sometimes excrutiating job of all time! It’s hard not to feel like the wicked witch when you always have to be the heavy.

  • Diana James

    Thank God I found this post. I’ve been feeling like I’m losing my mind.
    I have been stepmothering for about ten years now. There are several children involved, and I am exhausted. I entered the relationship promising to love the children as if they were my own, and I think on most counts I’ve done a fair job of it. (I have no children of my own.)
    Their mother has mental problems, so the children have been very hesitant to spend any time with her. Now that the children are older, they find they have much more freedom with the mother so their father and I get left in the dust. They only come home to shower, sleep, and collect allowance. And when we ask why they don’t stay home a little bit (even to just have dinner at home) we’re told that there’s nothing to do at our house. It’s SO boring at our house.
    I just feel abandoned. I gave up so much to mother and protect these children when they were younger and now I’m nothing more than an ATM for them. Thankfully my husband is wonderfully supportive and doesn’t make me feel stupid when I tell him how I’m feeling. He is less bothered by the kids spending so much time away because he sees it as them spreading their wings, growing up, becoming more social, etc., but I just feel used.

  • Resigned & Retired

    I’ve been a stepmom for 31 years. I’ve known stepson since he was 2 years old. He was the ‘best man at our wedding when he was all of 5 years old.” After we were married 3 weeks, his dearest mommy decided he should live with us because he didn’t get along with her boyfriend. I had just lost my own mom and thought that this was some kind of sign from her that maybe this was my time to be a mom. My husband was thrilled. His son moved in in January, instead of the end of the year.
    There were warning signs from the get go that would be red flags down the road: Mom was In a rush to get rid of him. Boyfriend more important. Couldn’t even wait til the end of the school year.
    In other words, her life was more important than his life. I cannot emphasize this enough.
    All parents want a break from parenting. But in divorce, it’s just too easy for one or the other parent to decide their own version of a timeout. A long weekend, an extra few hours here or there, a summer, a year…..
    It took years until he would call me Mom. But it was only after I had 3 sons of my own and they all shared family vacations, Christmases etc. I sent him care packages in college, with his first new apartment. But then as he got older and I called him on the carpet like I would my own kids. Guess what? He just wouldn’t talk to me. Sometimes months. Once he went over a year. Then we patch it up and resume our lives as a family. I never ever introduce him as my stepson. I don’t even feel comfortable using that word because it’s foreign to me. He is my sons; brother. Not half brother. He and I have talked about that over the years as he’s gotten older because we felt that it just divided families more by the constant division. half/step/blah blah blah
    Now he’s in his 30s. He eeked out a living in his 20s working at a bar, then found a gf who basically supported until she threw him out. Turns out he is hooked on prescription pain pills. He called us a year ago, hysterically crying. His mom told him “I wish I never had you….”
    Any wonder why he’s on pain killers?
    I have learned that in divorce, the parents become saints and step parents are the villains. And kids will use that into their adult life, manipulating both sides, getting out of holidays or working each side for a new car, extra money.
    In a regular marriage, the kids see both parents with all their faults and qualities. Nobody’s the villain, they’re ‘just’ parents.
    The kicker. No matter how many thousands of dollars we have spent on him, it’s never enough. And I will always be the bad guy. But not anymore. I’m sick and tired of being the “good mom” when his mom is too busy dating her latest boyfriend. BTW, his mom has lived with her mom for the past 15 years. She has never remarried and she only has this son.
    When his drug problem surfaced, an intervention was planned. She asked my husband and my sons to participate, but not me.
    That was the final straw for this stepmom. As of today, I’ve resigned as stepmom-the most thankless job in the world.

  • Post-Storm (pretty much)

    I began step-parenting when his boy and girl were 4 and 6, respectively. My son was 7. His boy came to live with us half way through kindergarten, literally right in the middle of a cross-state move (no work near home). “You want these kids? Well he wants to live with you, too.” . . . and dropped him off about an hour before we picked up the moving van. The daughter wanted to stay with mom (much more freedom there, and she already wanted that at age 6). We spent most of the next several years driving back and forth across the state so he could see his daughter and his son could see Mom. My son’s father was only marginally involved, so my poor kid mostly got stuck with us as we crashed at grandma’s boring house, spoiled the girl rotten for the weekend, and then picked up the equally (but in different ways) spoiled son from his mom’s to head home.
    Drama was a regular feature with the unstable, overly permissive mom. Many times we’d have to do advance recon to “find” mom & daughter before our trips. The courts & child services were no help. We were told, “Being homeless is not abuse or neglect. No, you cannot have even temporary custordy of your daughter.” Obviously, we did not let the boy stay with her when she was homeless. Consequently, my step-son’s natural male protective nature was on “turbo” over his mom & sis most of the time. That left me the natural position of Medusa. Every time my husband and I had an argument that the boys overheard, the step-son would go to school filled with glee and tell anyone who would listen, “My dad and I are moving back with my mom!!” It was really lovely in a small town — NOT! When Child Services FINALLY removed the daughter and sent her to us at age 14, it shut the boy up about living with mom, but by that time the girl was a wild, wild thing. She taught the boys things they NEVER needed to know, and dispelled any illusion of parental control that remained in our home.
    But you know what? In hindsight, I never should have tried to demand of myself that I feel the same way about my step kids I do about my son. I don’t, and faking it fooled nobody. All it did was wear me out and make me shrill. We are empty nesters now and as it turns out, the boy is still close to his mom. But his girlfriend laughs because while he is his mom’s buddy, apparently my word is Gospel. I take that victory, look at the decent, hardworking young man he has turned out to be and think, “Thank you Jesus, we did OK!” The daughter? By the time she came to live with us, it was too late. She writes from prison that she respects and admires me and wishes she had listened. She always did know the right thing to say. I hope she manages to have a decent life some day. I cannot take responsibility for the way she was raised, I got basically no opportunity for input while it mattered. My son? Another decent, hardworking young man. The boys are fairly close to each other, and neither wants anything to do with the girl, if/when she gets out.
    You do the best you can, and spend lots of time in prayer. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll still have a great marriage on the leeward side.

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