Here are three ways to celebrate your stepmom.
Stepparents are often the unsung hero in the story. They’re sort of like an adopted child who doesn’t belong with their adopted or natural family. The dynamic can become increasingly more challenging depending on the biological parents’ relationship, age of the children and which parent the children live with.
I grew up in a middle-class family with my mom, step-dad, and brother. And, I AM a stepmom. So, I have a special understanding of and appreciation for stepparents.
Being raised by my step-dad
My biological father was alive (he lived with my granny). I would see him every weekend, but we never spent any time together. How ironic. I spent the entire weekend with my granny.
My step-dad was a great provider and partner to my mom. I’m so thankful that he accepted me enough to legally adopt me and place his name on my birth certificate.
But my step-dad was not touchy-feely and always deferred decision to my mom (the proverbial “ask your mom”).
In that sense, I was an adopted child. Actually, literally, I was one.
I never had any experience as daddy’s little girl.
Being a step-mom
When my husband and I got together, he already had children. I have great relationships with them to this day. Although they were young when we met, we have had the fortunate opportunity of spending lots of time together to form our own bond and memories.
I’ve respected the boundary between myself and their mothers. I expected respect of children, as any adult should, but never forced a relationship on them. I’ve never overstepped the parental boundaries in their mother’s place or in my husband’s.
So, there’s never been any competition.
I think this decision has made all the difference in all of our lives.
3 Ways to Celebrate Your Stepmom
This post was written by Alexandra Stieglbauer, author, marketing leader and proud stepchild.
I’m going to put it bluntly. Being a child of divorce is difficult. There are many wonderful things that stepparents bring into our lives and more often than not we’re glad that our parents are separated.
The dynamics of building a new family, however, are challenging. Consider that 1 in 4 marriages involve a remarriage and you’ll realize just how many stepparents there are. Although there are many books and resources available for new stepparents, I’ve found very limited resources for teenagers and adult children.
Navigating holidays like Mother’s Day can be difficult for those of us who have a step-mom to celebrate in addition to our biological mother because we don’t have the tools to navigate the feelings of stress and expectations that are often involved. Use the ideas below to help create a memorable Mother’s Day for all of the moms in your life.
Honor your stepmom the way that you want to. If that means a card that doesn’t include the word “mom” or “step-mom,” that’s fine. Perhaps you simply thank her for being a caring woman in your life.
Honesty is always the best policy, and there is no point in using sappy sentiments if they aren’t truly felt. On the flip side, you may be very close with your stepmother and want to express that.
Go ahead and buy a card that simply says “mom” on it! My relationship with my stepmom has evolved over the years and I’ve found that staying true to that is the best way to celebrate her.
It started with a nice card that didn’t mention the word “mom” or “stepmom” and quickly stopping by her house to say hello and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Now, all of my cards are simply addressed “mom,” and I spend most of the holiday with her.
Leaving room for relationships to grow and change is key to building a happy stepfamily.
2.Create New Traditions
A good way to honor both your biological mom and step-mom or “mom without stretch marks” as I like to say, is to create different traditions for both. This helps both women feel special and allows you to honor them based on your specific relationship.
One might be a fancy brunch, and the other might be spending time working in the garden together. Again, these can evolve over the years as well.
If you happen to only be celebrating your step-mom, still create new traditions. I’ve found this helps our family feel special in our own way and eliminates the comparison or sadness that inevitably comes up when practicing the traditions we had pre-divorce.
Finding new ways to celebrate as a family of choice will strengthen your bond and make your stepmom feel especially loved.
The more people who love and support you, the luckier you are. Although it can be difficult at first to get excited about having a stepparent, reframe your thinking and be grateful for an additional person to be loved by.
This can take time, but over the years I’ve come to find incredible gratitude and joy for what my stepmom and stepbrother bring to my life and our family. Sharing your gratitude will also help the rest of your family come to accept the divorce.
Often children struggle with feelings of betrayal when they get close to their new stepparent. Having positive affirmation from the biological parent that they are happy for the new bond is invaluable and helps alleviate that guilt.
It may be on you as the adult child to start this conversation with your biological mother. Share with her the positive things your stepmom brings to your life and how lucky you feel to have two women to learn from and be loved by.
Reassure her that your stepmom is not taking her place, but that you do want to feel supported in that relationship. If your mother is a mature adult, she will be happy for you and put aside any hard feelings she has. This may take time but practicing gratitude yourself will help you navigate the dynamics in a more peaceful way.
Holidays with new stepfamilies can be difficult at first, but staying authentic to your feelings, creating new traditions and practicing gratitude for these new relationships will help you create your family of choice. Best wishes for a Happy Mother’s day, and remember that if your actions have positive intent the daywill be memorable for all.
Alexandra (Ali) Stieglbauer is the co-author of Chasing Perfection and the Business and Communications Manager at YESS! – Your Extraordinary Success Strategies. Her love of reading and writing incorporate well into her role at YESS! and her favorite assignments include conducting client interviews and running the company’s blog and newsletter. She serves as an admin to the three chapters of the Women Presidents’ Organization that Sue facilitates and loves the inspiring women leaders. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Chasing Perfection: Shatter the Illusion; Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold.