Step-Mom: A Thankless Job

One of the hardest days in a step-mom’s life, has to be Mother’s Day, especially if you and your husband don’t have any bio-kids. But why does that day have to be the hardest day….well because throughout the year, you do all the things a regular parent does (if you are a step-mom who actually cares about your step-kids, if you are the sterio-typical type then you can quit reading now….you don’t deserve anything).

a good step-parent plan their lives around their kids, whether they live with you full time or not.

But the truth is, a good step-parent plan their lives around their kids, whether they live with you full time or not. Many of my readers in the days leading up to Mother’s day were sending me e-mails asking how they should deal with their situation and their emotions, this wonderful day can bring. Then after the dreaded day, I got even more e-mails dealing with the tragedies this day brought.

Listen, kid’s lives are complicated, and for some kids, they hear the step-mom getting bad mouth by their bio-mom, and that puts them in a hard place. In unfortunate situations where there is an element of competition in the bio-mom’s attitude towards the stepmom, children may have received a message (verbally or non-verbally) that their mother does not want them to show their stepmother any positive affection; as she might see the step-mom as a threat. Ex. little Johnny and Amelia might worry that to show their stepmother any appreciation would be disloyal to their mother or could cause their mother to feel sad or upset or angry. This is something that I have to deal with when it comes to my son, and remind myself of that, whenever I call or text and don’t get a response from him. It’s like when Tyce is with his bio-mom, he has to prove to her that he loves her, by rejecting me. However, when he is with us we teach him that he has the room in his heart to love EVERYONE!

In an ideal situation, a child would freely celebrate both their Mom and their stepmother on Mother’s Day.

However, in order for this to happen, a child must perceive that they have permission from their parents, their father and their bio-mother. Not only do children need both parent’s permission, they will also more than likely need their father’s help to buy or make a card, bake a cake or determine an appropriate gift to bestow on their stepmother. 

Husbands it’s your job. 

If your stepchildren want to do something special for you on Mother’s Day, it’s your husband’s role to help in purchasing and picking out gifts or planning something special. Just as your husband, not you or the children, should speak to the teacher/school if his child is worried about only making one Mother’s Day craft instead of two. Husbands you have to be the ones who step up and make this day special for your wife.

Around this time of year, I know many dads like to remind their kids once they reach a certain age that your mom is “not his mother,” this is his way of pointing out that he won’t be taking a leading role in planning or gifts, you, the kids are. Unfortunately, husbands and dads with blended families do not have this luxury.

For many stepmoms, the only person who is there to celebrate them is their husband.

The truth is, for many stepmoms, the only person who is there to celebrate them is their husband. The kids will most likely spend Mother’s Day with their bio- mom (rightfully so), and unless they are old enough and considerate enough to think of it on their own, most won’t send a step-mom cards, gifts, flowers, or even pick up the phone to call, to tell you happy Mother’s Day.

So husbands, celebrating your spouse on Mother’s Day and every other day of the year often fall on your shoulders. Call your kids and encourage them to remember their stepmom once they have finished celebrating with bio-mom. Offer words of encouragement throughout the year when no one else remembers how much effort it takes to be a step-parent. Most important please remember, this woman loved you and your children enough to volunteer for one of the most thankless jobs in the world. You don’t have to go overboard, but showing up with flowers and doing what she asked, can go a long way. It will show her that you see all of her hard work, and you want to thank her.

As a stepmother, being ignored by your stepchildren on Mother’s Day – well, it sucks. Putting yourself in your stepchild’s shoes and looking at the situation from their perspective might help take the sting out of being overlooked or ignored on Mother’s Day. While considering things from the child’s point of view, you might also find that their response towards you on Mother’s Day actually has little to do with you as a person or as a stepmom, but more about their own feelings and struggles.


In a number of situations, adults and children generally have different views about what is going on in their shared world. Relationships and Mother’s Day are no different. There may well be a positive vibe and an element of warmth displayed in your day-to-day interactions with your stepchildren. However, it could be that they perceive the relationship to be more superficial and just not as intimate or emotionally close as you do. As a result, they may not feel there is a need of giving you a card or present on Mother’s Day is needed.


Our society doesn’t make celebrating stepmothers easy. You want to know why? That’s because they just expect us, to all be freaking adults about everything and put our difference aside for the good of the kids. However, why does it seem that the ex-wife can never do that?  It’s only been in recent years that you could find a Hallmark card appropriate for a stepmother on Mother’s Day. Why can’t your step child just give you a “Mother” card on Mother’s Day? You still are a mother. One of the reasons Mother’s Day can evoke so much emotion is because many stepmoms feel as though they have all of the pain, frustrations, financial strain, and difficulty of being a parent, but none of the rewards or joy. Stepmoms often feel “outside the family circle” and this holiday may be a reminder that she’s an outcast. As one stepmom put it, “I have all the grief of parenting, but none of the pleasures associated with being a mom.”


The truth is, Mother’s Day can be tough for blended families, just like any other day. There aren’t rules for how to recognize the sacrifices step-parents make, and the unfortunate truth is it is rare for stepmoms to be seen as more than an out-of-touch parent along for the ride. You can’t ask to be appreciated as a step-parent. Worst-case scenario, you’re the wicked stepmother (literally, that is the name of the character!). Best-case scenario, you’re some clueless floozy. However, you are viewed, there’s almost no chance you’ll be able to find a balance that pleases everyone. If you don’t call enough, you’re distant and don’t care about the kids. If you call too much, you’re probably trying to steal them away or convince them to abandon bio-mom (which is how I am viewed). If you don’t spend money on your child, you’re selfish. But if you do, you’re just trying to buy their affection!

I won’t sit here and act like, my family and I have things all worked out; because, we don’t.

While I did get to talk to Tyce on Mother’s Day, I didn’t get a Happy Mother’s Day, Telisa. However, as a step-mom you take what you can get. In-fact, my whole Mother’s Day weekend was nothing like I thought it was going to be. Mark had went and spent Friday night with his mom, for Mother’s Day. He came back Saturday and then we went to a party that his friend was throwing for his wife, in honor of her graduating. As the weekend progressed I kept getting this pit in my stomach and it kept growing and growing. I was beginning to feel disappointment. Let down. That weekend, was about him letting me know, that he appreciates not only what I do for him, but for Tyce as well. That’s what Mother’s Day means, appreciating the mom or mothers in your life. Sunday, when I woke up, there weren’t any flowers or token of appreciation. He did tell me, Happy Mother’s Day. I asked him about Brunch…..and yep, he said he had forgotten, But we could still go….I explain to him, that he had to make reservations….and now it was too late. He did go to the store, and bought flowers and things to make me a wonderful dinner. However, in the pit of my stomach was still the disappointment.

It’s one thing to feel like the world doesn’t notice or appreciate what you do as a step-mother, however then, when the man you love puts you on the back burner. It’s a knife through the heart. He even admits that he had dropped the ball and that he was sorry. However, it’s like dropping a glass plate and then trying to glue the pieces back together, it’s not going to look nor feel the same.

As a stepmom No One acknowledges you as a parent.

If your kids don’t live with you and their dad full time, or live far away, this will be your most irritating challenge on Mother’s Day weekend. Be ready for the “Ohhhh, right, you’re kind of a mom, too” after someone gives you an odd stare when you stand up in church during the “mom recognition” song on Sunday. I know that some step-moms choose to celebrate Step-mother’s day. It’s not a national holiday like Mother’s Day, however, that is why stores like Wal-mart and what not keep their Mother’s Day things out and extra week, because it falls on the Sunday after Mother’s Day. I wanted to mention it to Mark, as a way for him and Tyce to be able to do something nice for me….but I didn’t, because it will be like adding salt to a wound. I want them to do things because they want to, not because Im asking them too.

If there is one day of the year that can trigger either elation or sadness for a stepmom it’s Mother’s Day….

The day isn’t about the relationship with Tyce, it’s about my husband honoring me for the effort and tears I’ve experienced a stepmom! 


6 thoughts on “Step-Mom: A Thankless Job

Add yours

  1. Advice from a stepmom: don’t try to compete, but do insist that your husband require that his children treat you with respect.

    Don’t expect them to do anything for you – your position in the family tree makes you the natural place for their resentment to go – but if you are going to spend any time with them on Mother’s Day, you do have the right to expect that they will be well-behaved, respectful, and if you actually share the child-care role, then you have the right to expect that your husband will make them acknowledge that contribution, and that your husband will make them do so graciously, without any trace of bad attitude.

    Notice the key words here: “your husband will…” He has an obligation too: to teach his children to be gracious, respectful, and appropriate, both toward their mother and toward their stepmother. This is not a day for rivalries, but a day for focusing on teaching the kids to become good people.

    The entire family will benefit if both parents are gracious enough to encourage their kids to acknowledge not only their own spouse, but their ex’s new spouse as well. Remember this: the question isn’t just what each person gets now. It’s also what they’ll get when the kids are grown – what will they have learned from those who raised them?

    All the same in reverse on Father’s Day.


  2. Lot of good points made here! I also want to point out that many blended families celebrate Stepmother’s day, which is the Sunday after Mother’s day.


  3. I suggest spending the day just the two of you. Treat her like a queen, lavish her with something that you know she really likes. For most women it’s not the amount of money you spend but rather the effort her husband puts into the day. Remember to tell her that you recognize her role as a stepmom is not easy, and that you appreciate how hard she works.


  4. My first Mother’s Day his girls took me out for breakfast and they gave me a beautiful card with sweet, tender words. It brought tears to my eyes and I started to cry and then the youngest, age 14, also started crying. By recognizing my deep feelings on Mother’s Day, his kids made me feel very special


  5. Being a step mom is something I wouldn’t want to be. Because no matter how much you love a child, they will never really be yours. More power to you Telisa. You are a stronger woman than I am.


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