For Stepmother’s Day, a Stepmom Who Was Also a Stepchild Shares Lessons She Learned

"When a child walks into a room, your child or anybody else's child, do your eyes light up? That's what they're looking for".  --Toni Morrison

Family is many things to different people. The 50s ideal of a stay-at-home Mom with dinner on the table by 5 and a working Dad who stay together till death is no longer the absolute norm, and if you ask someone younger, they may say it is probably no longer the ideal. That black-and-white vision of yesterday has certainly become a colorful view in this day and age.  Yet, the image of the evil Stepmother has been around for a long time shaped by Fairy Tales like Cinderella, Snow White, and Hansel and Gretel.

Being both a stepdaughter and stepmother has given me a bit of insight into the role, and I feel it is one of great importance in a family. It is definitely full of rewards and blessings but also difficulties. I certainly made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I feel I did some things right as well.  I think many of us can agree that relationships are just plain complicated and can hold struggles no matter the dynamics. So obviously, being a secondary mother to children is going to come with some complications and struggles.

Stepmother’s Day was established in 2000 by Lizzie Capuzzi, a 9-year-old girl from Pennsylvania who wrote a letter to Senator Rick Santorum, who helped push the idea forward. She wanted to honor her stepmother, Joyce on the Sunday after Mother’s Day. It became part of the Congressional Records that same year.  It is May and the month to celebrate all mothers, so there is no better time than now to share and celebrate the important role of a stepmom in the family.

Here are 5 things I would like to share that I learned from both being a stepchild & a stepmom:

The Negatives & Positives Are Not Equal

There is a quote I recently saw by Elsa Punset that says, “Our brain is Teflon for the positive and Velcro for the negative.”  I think that is a powerful quote! From my experience growing up as a stepchild, I found that the negative things that happened had a way of sticking with me more than the positive.  This is a shame, but there have been scientific studies on the ratio of how it takes 7 positives to counteract 1 negative.  My take on this is; if we are struggling and have made repetitive parenting mistakes, we will need to put a lot more energy into doing many more things right. Looking back over my life as a stepmom, I have realized that it was the things that happened on a daily basis that set the general tone and built or tore down the relationship.   I have learned through it all to choose positivity over negativity and that my blessing is that my stepkids are awesome!

The Power of Parenting

The adult holds the power and responsibility to cultivate the relationship. Children are at the mercy of the choices the adults in their lives make. If you want to have a healthy relationship with your stepchild, then it is up to you to create that positive atmosphere. If your heart is in the right place, then it will show, and what radiates outward has a way of always radiating back. It is a win-win!

Give Yourself Some Grace

Give yourself a break! Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  Just as all parents make mistakes, so will all stepparents.  Do your best, take a deep breath, and when those times do come when you have lost your patience or handled a situation poorly; acknowledge it and make amends.  Saying you are sorry and that you realize you were wrong with true sincerity can go a long way.

The Golden Rule Applies to Everything

I used to always tell my son, “The golden rule applies to everything”. Whether you are dealing with strangers, friends, or family, the golden rule is the best principle to follow. No one wants to be treated badly, and if we want fairness, kindness, and respect, then we should also want to give that in return.  Unhappiness and anger can both be contagious, but so can kindness and consideration. May we choose kindness!

Be the Present & Be Present

The best gift you can give anyone is your attention and time. If you want to be a part of someone’s life in a positive way, give them your full attention, care, and time.  There is a quote that I love by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” The giving of yourself is a gift that lasts a lifetime, says I love you in an even bigger way, and it is something we never forget.

To all you Stepmothers out there I want to say, “Happy Stepmothers Day!” You are an important part of each family, so I am glad there is a day to celebrate you!

Here are some books that relate in different ways for all you readers of fiction & non-fiction too:

16 Gifts from a Stepmom


The Stepmoms' Club

I Could Not Call Her Mother


The Stepmother

If I Have A Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?

Cold Hearted

All the Ever Afters

Not-sew-wicked Stepmom

Not-sew-wicked Stepmom

The Stepmom Shake-up

Always Your Stepmom

The Totally NOT Wicked Stepmother

Seriously, Cinderella Is So Annoying!