Super Stepmom Syndrome

frustratedmom2I was watching Dr. Phil the other day; a show about overwhelmed moms. They talked about everything from discipline to co-sleeping to the expectation of having to do it all as moms. One mom confessed, “Most days I hate being a mom and just want to run away.” Dr. Phil replied with this question, “How many of you moms in the audience can relate to this mom, please stand up?” The entire audience of women stood up. Dr. Phil then assured her that she was definitely not alone and proceeded to tell her that she needed to learn when to let go, allow her husband to assume more responsibility and take some time for herself. He assured her that the world or her family would not fall apart if she did those things as we all have to recharge our systems, from time to time, in order to maintain our sanity. “Children need a mother, not a martyr,” he said.

Dr. Phil is right. It certainly isn’t uncommon for many moms to feel overwhelmed and at times, feel like hanging a “FOR SALE BY OWNER” sign on their children’s chests and place them in the driveway. As moms, we often do feel the need to do all and be all for and to everyone. Our emotions cause us to go overboard in wanting everyone to be okay that we often times allow those emotions to guide our decision making. In the process, we neglect to take time for ourselves. Can all of you moms out there relate to what I’m saying?

Now here’s a thought: STEPMOMS OFTEN FEEL THE SAME EXACT WAY, except the feeling is magnified times 10! Stepmothers feel the pressure and expectations from all angles; their husband, his kids, the ex-spouse and her kids as well (if she has any). As a result, some have a tendency to react to the emotional stresses within the stepfamily by becoming over-involved. It’s called the Super Stepmom Syndrome.

Stepmothers who suffer from Super Stepmom Syndrome step into the marriage trying to do it all. She wants  his kids to automatically love her; the ex-wife to be her best friend; her husband to realize what a fabulous mother she is to his kids and EVERYONE to be one big happy family. She wants to be involved in every single aspect of her husband and his kids’ lives. She doesn’t want to be left out of any decision, whether it directly affects her or not and she wants to be recognized for being the mother of the year; the one who is keeping the family together and at peace. Her intentions are good, but she can be just as forceful and intrusive as an intrusive and forceful ex-wife!

Super stepmoms need to first learn that they are no more entitled to every single area of their stepchildren’s lives than the ex-wife is. There are certain decisions that will not require your input. For example, you are not automatically entitled to be at every single parent teacher conference just because you are married to your stepchildren’s father. If you are invited, then that’s fine. But if not, don’t push your way in because you think you’re the new sheriff in town. Your spouse can inform you of anything that you need to know regarding the conference. Otherwise, let the biological parents handle that situation.

womanlaygrassThe next thing super stepmoms need to learn is how to relax and the art of when to make a point, and when it’s not necessary to do so. For example, if your husband invites you to that school conference, but his ex-spouse has a major problem with it, then step back because it’s not a battle that you just HAVE to fight. It’s the super stepmom’s insecurities that make her prone to fight for that sense of control. She might fear that if she isn’t involved in every single decision with her husband and his ex-spouse that her husband might do something stupid; something that she might not be able to live with. Additionally, she might even fear that she might wind up looking like the bad guy if she doesn’t prove that she loves her husband’s kids, and therefore wants to be involved in every aspect of their lives. All of these misguided fears and insecurities often end up backfiring and causing her a significant amount of undue stress.

Just like those moms on Dr. Phil, super stepmoms need to realize that you don’t have to be everything to everyone in order to prove your love or keep an illusion of control.  It’s healthy to just focus on yourself sometimes, and the more issues that you can let go of and allow the biological parents to handle, the better you will be for your stepfamily. Like Dr. Phil said, children need a mother/parental figure, not a martyr. Letting go and stepping back, in certain areas, doesn’t mean that you are a horrible step-parent. Remember, that every parent, including step-parents, need to recharge, from time to time in order to maintain their sanity. Ericka Lutz, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stepparenting, offered some great tips for the super stepmom in her book.

  1. Don’t take over.
  2. Don’t try to do and be everything; you’ll only fail.
  3. Try to do less and you’ll achieve more.
  4. Be a duck and let society’s expectations roll off your back like water. Nobody out there knows the reality of your life.
  5. Work to build a relationship with your stepchildren. Don’t pretend like there’s a wonderful relationship when there’s not.
  6. You cannot change EVERYTHING.
  7. In certain areas, remember that you might have some influence, but no control.

Relax, relate and realize that learning the art of letting go can be a huge stress reliever. Work on building trust with your spouse so that you can allow him to handle areas in which your involvement is not required, instead of trying to control handle every situation. You will find that it enables you to be who you NEED to be, not who you or society thinks you HAVE to be in your stepfamily, without losing yourself in the process.

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Comments

  1. I know of many mothers and step mothers who feel they need to do it all. I hear a lot of comparisons made of themselves to others they observe. And unfortunately the comparison is not to what they know of other mothers, but what they think.

    In my experience, every mother “loses it” from time to time when the kids are acting up. Every mother questions their value and ability as a mother. Every mother worries that they are not doing all they can. Every mother compares themselves in a self-critical way.

    Now these are not always to dangerous or harmful degrees. My point is simply that I have heard it over and over. My kids are now all in their teens. I have been hearing and seeing these things since they were babies by their mother and the mothers of other kids of the same generation.

    So I hope there is some solace in the fact that it is at least typical. I have also observed that many mothers are happy to share their burdens with other mothers who can relate.

    My step son has special needs. I have never seen anything like the bonding in a dialogue between mothers of children with special needs. They all empathise and support. None criticize or judge.

    I think the unanimous stand-up of mothers in the Dr. Phil audience is pretty telling of this point.

    Mothers and step mothers, give yourselves a break. You are probably doing a lot better than you think.

    Ciao.

    Chaz

  2. Marcie says:

    I seriously appreciate this article. I have been a stepmother to a 7 year-old daughter and am a new mother of a 6 month-old son. I have found myself surfing the web a lot lately for guidance and have been pretty disappointed. I am finding that there really isn’t a lot of research out there on how to cope with all of the responsibilities/stresses associated with being a stepmother. It is ironic to me, personally, because I grew up having a stepmother between the ages 5-12yo. I thought that I would be more compassionate than I am finding that I am. I am totally overwhelmed by the situation and feel as though my husband just doesn’t want to hear it. Everyone says “I knew what I was getting myself into.” They are clueless! I was clueless! I find myself cycling between trying to be the perfect stepmother/wife/mother, to completely giving up and just focusing on me and my son. Being a stepmother is truly a unique and extremely challenging role.

  3. Marcie,

    I am so glad that you found the information helpful. I know from experience how difficult it can be to find that balance as a stepmother. Just as you said, it’s a challenge to figure out whether you need to be the perfect stepmother/wife/mother or just focus on yourself. What I want women to realize is that in order to be a good mother/stepmother/wife…you have to be good to yourself! Being good to yourself means setting healthy boundaries; learning how not to over exert yourself; learning to say NO and be okay with it; and most importantly, realizing that doing the aforementioned doesn’t make you a bad mother, stepmother, wife or person. It just makes you whole and better equipped to handle the challenges of step/motherhood and wifeyhood. Trust me, Marcie, it gets better once you learn to release those unrealistic expectations that society places on you and that stepmothers often place on themselves.

    Thanks for stopping by! I wish you and your modern family the best of luck.

    *Kela*

  4. Adrienne says:

    Hi,

    I appreciate this post and was just wondering if anyone had any constructive advice about HOW to better handle being a stepmum?

    I have a 10 year old stepson and 13 year old stepdaughter. My partner and I have a 4 month old son.

    I’m 40 years old and my biological clock exploded last year. My partner didn’t want anymore children and I was in the process of going through IVF, using donor sperm, because I wanted to be a mother very much. My partner and I broke up through the process.

    Because of complications, I had nearly four hours of abdominal surgery in order to prepare my body for IVF and during my recovery my partner decided he did want to have children with me and fortunately I got pregnant right away. Unfortunately, he changed his mind about wanting to have a family with me but I was already pregnant.

    Although I had a dream pregnancy and subsequently gave birth to a very happy, healthy little boy, homelife has been very upsetting and stressful. We have tried to make it work and are still together however I’m really struggling with the whole ‘blended family’ situation.

    His two older children are his main priority, which I completely respect and understand, but I would appreciate some input as to where my son and I are supposed to fit in to all of this?

    What are some tools people have used to make a happy life from such a bad start? How do my partner and I make a life for ourselves that is not always in constant conflict about his kids? (They are reasonably good kids and although I have a lovely relationship with the 13 year old girl, I sincerely struggle to love/like his 10 year old boy.) I appreciate they have a rough trot not having Mum and Dad together however the boy plays on this and his behaviour and attitude is difficult to live with the majority of the time. Please be aware I try and be understanding, compassionate and loving towards them but inside I’m feeling resentful and wondering how I got myself into this mess!

    This is all coupled with the fact that I’ve been told I might be suffering from PND and I’m in the process of seeking medical attention to manage this. Whereas I used to go into reclusion previously when I was depressed, this is not an option anymore because there is nowhere to go and I will be damned if I allow children to be submitted to some ‘depressed crazy lady’ in their own home. We have them one week on, one week off and when the kids are here we play happy families and put off talking about or coping with ‘my condition’ until the week they are not here.

    My partner is at a loss to know what to do with me and we’re both miserable. (We don’t get the kids until tomorrow so my partner has left me at home for the day to sort my head out before the kids get here and the week starts all over again.)

    Some tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,
    A

  5. Hi Adrienne,

    Thanks for stopping by! Your situation is a complicated one, but not uncommon so you shouldn’t feel alone. As a stepfamily counselor and stepmother, I would suggest that you and your husband get some marital counseling from a therapist who is qualified to deal with stepfamily issues. That being said, the advice that I would offer right now is to work on your marriage. By fixing the communication issues that you and your husband are obviously plagued with, you will in turn make your family stronger. What you can do is perhaps change your approach. Instead of approaching your husband as if he’s the villian and you’re the victim, approach him with the mindset of collaboration, not confrontation. Don’t tell him that you feel as if his kids are his priority and you don’t know where you and your son fit in. Instead, express to him that you want to make your marriage and family stronger and you think that you might need a third party to help you get there. Use “we’re in this together” language instead of “we’re against each other” language. You will be surprised at how simply changing your approach can open up feelings of understanding, thereby changing the direction of the conversation.

    Additionally, read some of our articles on Stepmothers. It provides many tips and testimonies regarding what you can do to protect your mental health. It starts by taking care of you and releasing responsibility to its rightful owner. When the kids come this week, instead of using the entire week to play “happy family” leave him with the kids and go get your nails done, go to a movie or spend a couple of hours with your girls. These are things that biological moms do and it’s okay and healthy for stepmothers to indulge themselves as well, even when it’s your husband’s weekend or week to have the kids. Finally, don’t give in to societal expectations of who a stepmother should be. You don’t have to be the fixer of all things. It’s enough for you to love your husband and support him in his dealings with his kids and his ex-wife, but you don’t have to take on all of their problems in order to be seen as a successful stepmother.

    The best of luck to you and your family,

    *Kela*

  6. *pisces* says:

    Thank you for this article. I got married 2 years ago to a full-time dad and we have a 10 year old little girl. She lives with us full time and goes to her mom every 2nd weekend. Her mother does not contribute anything financially and does not even call during the 2 week gap to speak to her. he is a very loving father and always has been which I have always found very attractive. His first priority is his little girl and we have set that out right from the start of our relationship. The challenge is that I am expected to be the parent but not treated or repected like one. He often says that I am quite strict with her but I can assure you that if she were my own child I would be even stricter. I have my own business and cover more than half of the monthly household expenses for the 3 of us. I drop her at school every day on my way to work and fetch her 2/3 afternoons at 4pm after work. On the days I fetch her I handle the homework, things needed for school etc. I make dinner every single night, handle the organising of her social and our social calendars, book her playdates and holiday camps etc etc. I know it is appreciated but very often I feel depressed (which I have never felt before) and taken for granted. I will never measure up to her biological mom even though I do more for her. In fact she has been living eith me longer than she lived with her mom. I cannot talk with him about the things that really upset me about the little one who is very indugled and disrepectful. All she has to do is flutter her eyelids and turn on the waterpipes (which she can do at wil) and she gets all the attention and sympathy she wants. He becomes very defensive if I ask him to speak to her about something or address an issue I have with her. Are there any statistics about what percentage of full time stepmothers are depressed? Are there any statistics about what percentage of full time stepmothers also have children of their own?

  7. Thanks for stopping by Pisces. There are tons of stepmoms in your position; ones who feel taken for granted and under appreciated. Most continue with the behavior because they feel obligated to do so, and yes, there are too many who wind up on antidepressants because of it. However, most need to realize that they put themselves in that position and can remedy the problem by setting boundaries, establishing realistic expectations and more importantly, learning to say NO! I’ve heard many stepmothers say that they weren’t even sure that it was what their husbands expected them to do because they had never had an actual conversation about it. He never said “I expect you to make dinner every night, solely take care of my kids’ social calendar…So many stepmothers just assume that it is what they need to and should be doing in order to be a good stepmom. I encourage stepmoms not to fall into the super stepmom syndrome trap and instead, set boundaries and expectations for both your husband and his kids, early on. There is nothing wrong with telling your husband that you expect him to do certain things for his own kids. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly okay for the stepmom to contribute to the family, but it should be a healthy contribution – not one where she bears all or most of the responsibility for kids who aren’t her own. More importantly, when you need a time out, take one and do it without guilt!

    Check out this article on Protecting the Stepmother’s Mental Health for more helpful tips: http://www.todaysmodernfamily.com/index.php/3016.

    Warmly,

    *Kela*

  8. StepMoms with agendas says:

    I am both a mother and a step-mother. I have a 14 yr old son, his dad and I divorced 10 years ago. He left me for his current wife. She has never observed ANY boundaries – encouraged my son (at 3) to call her parents grandma and grandpa while my husband and I were still married and happy as far as I knew. For 10 years I have put up wtih her showing up uninvited at parent teachers conferences, calling my son’s doctor and school- without my express consent (He lives with me – dad has joint custody, but I only has visitation. She pumps my son about me and tells him personal things about my life when my son’s dad is not around. My ex does nothing about her behavior, though she hides some of the stuff she pulls. She has full access to my ex-’s email and I can tell by how the emails are written, that she is the author. I am sure he is aware and “ok” with it, but I resent having to co-parent with her. My ex refuses to talk to directly to me (she’s jealous and insecure) so it all happens through email. She has two grown sons who live with them, as well as a daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren. It’s like she has to control everyone….I have tried to be friendly, tried to make communication inroads but they both treat me like I am a non-entity. “They” write snippy emails everytime they communicate. It’s like an open wound they will not let heal. I feel bad for my son and for myself. 10 years and this continues. Step moms like myself let the parents of the kids work together to co-parent. I never ever interfere in my husband’s communication or parenting of his son. I am there as a friend and an adult guide. I respect my husband and his ex and their right to parent their child. If I am asked – I am always ready to help. I have even invited my husband’s ex-wife to Christmas when we have the whole family together. I am at a loss as to how to work things out with such a petty, insecure, control freak like my son’s step-mom. Take a lesson step-moms….you really show your true colors when you undermine a child’s parent…either of them. Signed-given up on trying!

  9. Hi StepMoms with agendas,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment as we enjoy heairng all perspectives. After all, that’s how we learn, right? As a mother and stepmother, I completely understand how you feel as I know many pushy stepmoms. Some operate due to insecurity but most operate with the best intentions. The latter half are just trying to do their best to be what they think is a good stepmom and create this perfect little family. Sadly, as I’ve explained to most, it just doesn’t work that way. It takes years, close to 10, for a family to truly gel and no amount of force is going to bring you closer to that goal. As a matter of fact, it’s annoying and a turn off to everyone.

    The stepmoms who operate due to their own insecurity issues are just as toxic to their stepchildren and stepfamilies as intrusive ex-wives. You’re right, there is no need for stepmom to show up at parent teacher conferences, call the school and/or the doctor, etc. These tasks should be left up to the biological parents…period. And stepmoms will discover that their self-imposed stress will be relieved. Furthermore, they should realize that ex-wife is not a threat to her marriage as she is an EX for a reason. Therefore, there is no need for her to control the situation by inserting herself into every aspect of her husband and stepchildren’s lives. What parents, including step-parents, need to do is to never allow their own intense emotions to dictate their decision making regarding their children. That being said, there are times when stepmoms do stepback and then are seen (by the ex-wife/mother) as being cold and insensitive. Just make sure that you never put your son’s stepmother in that position should she decide to not give in to her insecurities and step back.

    Lastly, be sure to assign blame to its rightful owner. You mentioned that she encouraged your son to call her parents grandma and grandpa, at age 3 and when you were still married. Why did your husband (at the time) allow this? As a matter of fact, why was he even bringing your son around his mistress? And how do you really know that she hasn’t been invited to your son’s school conferences by her husband? If he allowed her, as his mistress, to dictate what your son should call her parents, then it’s not hard to believe that he has asked her to come to the school conferences. Instead of assigning all the blame to your son’s stepmother, try getting your point across (if you already haven’t) to your ex-husband.

    Overall, just do your best to emotionally support your son and be there to listen to him. No matter what they do, try not to allow your emotions to influence his opinions about his father and stepmother. Just let him arrive at that conclusion on his own. Don’t give up on trying; just change your focus.

    Good luck,

    Kela

  10. I love this article! I am dealing with a pushy stepmom. She writes my exes emails worst of all she comes to all my daughter’s parent teacher conferences along with ex. He just sits back and lets her do the talking. She is a teacher, and loves to remind us all again and again of her education. The meeting ends up being about her and her education and her class, and what she would do differently if she was my daughter’s teacher, etc. Every time I try to talk she overtalks me. This is only preschool by the way. My daughter is more than ready for kindergarten, and her dad agrees in private face to face talks, however stepmom wants her held back. I think it is so her daughter can go to kindergarten with my daughter. Anyways, I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t think she has a place at the conference, however dad keeps saying she is an expert and he values her opinion. As far as I am concerned, the expert is my daughter’s actual teacher. It would be nice if actual teacher could get a word in. If stepmom wasn’t so annoying and self centered perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. I have been polite and have bit my tongue so far, but there is another meeting coming up and I can’t bite my tongue anymore. Also other things have changed. I used to do all the scheduling of appointments for doctor, dentist, etc. Well now that stepmom has arrived, they want to make all the appointments. She called me and said “Dad has insurance now, so yours is no longer necessary. ” Oh that is nice, after 4 yrs of me providing insurance, I can drop it now because stepmom says its ok. No I don’t think so. I am just tired of her trying to take over as mom. In the beginning my daughter was calling me by my first name and saying that stepmom was mom. They have tried to convince my daughter that her last name is the same as theirs, which it is not. Whew…vented a bit there. Anyways, I don’t know what to do to get her to back off. I have sent her books about how to successfully step parent, emails on what behavior she does that I believe is crossing the line, etc. What do I do?

  11. Hi Andy!

    Thanks so much for your comments. As an ex/mother, I can see how what you’ve described would be annoying. I’m not sure what type of person your ex-husband or his wife is, so I can give you two suggestions regarding ways to approach this. My first suggestion would be to go through your ex-husband to ask him if it would be possible for just you two to attend the conferences and discuss pertinent information regarding your daughter together. Let him know that you’re happy that his wife would like to be involved and you don’t mind if they discuss things together, but ultimately, you had a child with him and think it’s best, in order to minimize confusion, if you two communicated better as co-parents. That’s one way to approach it. I, however, went directly to my son’s stepmother when she was trying to discuss child support and other issues I should have been discussing with my ex about our son. In her defense, she had the best intentions and I appreciate her, but it just wasn’t appropriate, so I told her so. I don’t know whether or not she agreed, but she did respect my opinion and backed off. One last solution would be to just simply, but politely refuse to discuss certain things with her. If you know she’s writing your ex’s emails, don’t respond. If she calls to discuss doctor’s appointments or insurance, politely let her know that you will only discuss those issues with your daughter’s father and hang up the phone. You don’t have to get mad or even frustrated and you can still let them know that you would like to co-parent together, in an amicable way, but with some boundaries.

    I hope that helped! Good luck!

    *Kela*

  12. I have tried speaking to both my ex and his wife, seperately, together, in emails, etc. They did respect my wishes at my daughter’s first IEP meeting. However now they simply say that if I don’t like stepmom being there, then I can do a seperate meeting. However then we have “The teacher didn’t say that in my meeting” scenario. I bite my tongue at the meetings now, and I think this is causing stepmom to become more and more pushy. I think she sees misinterprets my politeness for rudeness. If she comes to this next meeting I am going to speak my mind. I will keep my cool, but I will stop her when she gets into a rant about herself, and when she is discussing any decisions that should be between ex and I. So we will see how that goes. Thank you for your advice!

  13. I’m sorry meant to say interprets my politness as weakness, lol.

  14. Hi Andy!

    I can relate. When I told you that I told my son’s stepmom that certain conversation that she initiated with me in the beginning of our co-parenting relationship were inappropriate, I should’ve told you that it didn’t happen that easily. It wasn’t like the first time I said something she backed off. I first tried to reason with my ex, then my husband and I sat down with them both, then I just politely told her I wouldn’t discuss certain issues with her and I stuck to that. Eventually, they respected my point of view. What I’m saying is that working out all these stepfamily/co-parenting issues is a process. Hardly any of us get it right the first, second, third, fourth or fifth time, but keep trying, all while attempting to understand the other person’s point of view. More importantly, don’t get mad or throw a fit; again, just draw your boundary line, stick to it, and remain cordial. Doing so, lets them know that you are interested in co-parenting effectively, BUT you have certain expectations as well. That said, speak up at your daughter’s parent/teacher conferences. As a matter of fact, (although it shouldn’t be necessary), perhaps it would be best to have separate parent/teacher conferences and request that the teacher make a copy of her notes at both conferences and send it you both in your daughter’s backpack mail. This would avoid “the teacher didn’t say that at my meeting” and avoid what you have to experience at the parent/teacher conferences AND perhaps make them more productive.

    Good Luck! I’m rooting for you all! The fact that you all can be in the same room at a parent teacher conference tells me that you definitely aren’t experience high conflict divorce aftermath. Those who experience high conflict can’t be in the same room together. As such, I know you guys can work this out.

    *Kela*

  15. Wow! I could really relate with the article and all of the comments. My husband and I have 5 children, (2 from my 1st marriage, 2 from his 1st marriage, and we have 1 together). 11 yrs ago, my step sons’ mother dropped them off on our doorstep, and they’ve lived with us since, aside from about 9 months, when one of them could not live by the rules and I felt my other children were in danger. I could relate especially to the control and wanting to be super mom/step-mom. The hard part was/is that their real mother did not want to be a part of the parenting. For years, I was the ONLY one who attend parent-teacher conferences. One of his children suffers from personality disorder. From the time he moved in, I knew something was wrong and that he needed help, yet no one would get it for him. Being the step mom, I could not seek it for him. He asked me for help and I relayed that to his dad (my husband), but he wouldn’t get it. Finally a year ago, he came to me again & asked for help. I told my huband if he didn’t get him help, our marriage was over. My step son has got help & is on medication & is a totally different person. My husband and his ex have let me raise their children, and have usually seemed indifferent my decisions. They have called me emotional, and over-reactive (which at times is true). I began having panic attacks, which the counselor said was directly related to the issues w/ my step children and that their dad needed to start helping. I told him this, but nothing changed. This last year, he has been more help, but our marriage is in shambles. One of his kids is out of the house & the other is 17 and will be in college next year. Finally, after his children are raised, he is stepping in. Let me tell you, he has no problem disciplining my children & our son. Their mother is now involved in their life, which I prayed for, until I found out she was providing them with alcohol and marijuana. I’ve tried to remove myself from the discipline, however the few times I do say something, it’s because it directly affects my other kids. When I do this my 17 year old step son now calls his mother and “tattles” on me and/or says horrible things. And this is the child who I was extremely close with. After all these years, it confuses me why there are these issues now. While I understand I took control & made the choice to do the things I’ve done, I feel incredibly resentful and am having a hard time forgiving my husband for his lack of involvement and support. Any ideas?

  16. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Maria. It helps others feel less alone and I can certainly reassure you that you aren’t alone either. A countless number of stepmoms are on antidepressants due to the difficulty they experience while trying to “get it right.” Most, including myself, feel or have felt exactly as you do now. In many stepfamilies, the biological parents don’t seem to have a problem at all with stepmom doing darn near everything for their children, but as soon as she asserts herself, the problems begin. As of late, it seems that society has placed this unfair expectation on us that we are just supposed to be everyone’s punching bag because they are hurting as a result of the divorce. Dad operates solely on “guilt parenting”, ex-wife or mom is operating and making decisions because she’s hurting and poor kids need some help sifting through all of this but biological parents are too much in denial to get them the help they need. As a result, you get a family that is completely out of whack, and “super stepmom” jumps in to try to fix everything. I’m sure you realize by now that this is nearly an impossible feat because in the end, you are still unappreciated and in turn, become very resentful. I know because it happened to me! What helped my husband and I was constant communication and counseling. However, realize that it will take quite some time for you two to become a solid union again. Your husband will have to support you consistently in order for you to trust him again, and you will have to learn to put the past behind you and learn to trust him again. It will be difficult because you will have flashbacks (I STILL get them from time to time) and the resentment will start to brew all over again. It helped me to realize that although it’s hard not to take it personally, my husband did not do certain things to hurt me. He did them to try to be what he thought his son needed. It also helps to talk to other women in your position. Trust me, you are definitely not alone. Join a support group, even if it’s a virtual one to get feedback and encouragement from other women who are experiencing or have experienced a similar situation. Last but not least, TAKE CARE OF YOU!!! Don’t hang on to something (past hurt and actions) that everybody else has let go of. Although it’s difficult to move past it sometimes, remember that moving on is for you. Learn from your past, but don’t live in it and turn that negative energy into positive energy by taking some much needed and well deserved “Maria” time!

    I’m rooting for you and your family.

    Good luck!

    Kela

  17. Hi Christina!

    Thanks for response; it is greatly appreciated.

    Let’s clear some things up because honestly, we really do basically feel the same way. I agree with you; just because it is not your responsibility to make sure child support is paid, make decisions regarding school activities and religion, etc. doesn’t mean that you can’t be there to support (support being the operative word) your stepdaughter in these very instances. As such, this post was not directed toward stepmothers like you. The post was for stepmothers who feel it’s their duty to make sure child support is paid. Although I also agree that my husband’s child support is a priority, it is not more important to me than it is to him (this is the case with some stepmothers). One of the reasons I married him is because HE feels it is a major priority to pay child support and does not require my help to make sure it gets done. It’s important to him so he was making sure it was done before I came along. Other stepmothers will fight (against one of their stepchild’s parents) tooth and nail, to make sure she is included in the parent/teacher conference and not for the child, but due to a sense of control and/or entitlement or because they feel it is what they should be doing to be a good stepmother. There are those who feel like since they are the ones who help to take care of the child, it is their right to be at the conference. All I was saying is that the fact of the matter is that it’s not your right as a stepmother and if ex-wife/mother doesn’t want you there, that is not a battle you should fight. Choose your battles, respect her wishes (even if you don’t agree) and step back. Personally, as an ex/mother, I welcome my son’s stepmother’s participation; in fact, I support and encourage it. We all co-parent very well and are supportive of each other. She is welcome to be as involved as she wants to be and I am blessed that she has chosen to do so! The more people who are there to love my son, the better, is how I view it. And you’re right, it is one of the reasons he is so successful. HOWEVER, all ex-wives/mothers don’t feel that way, for whatever reason and what I’ve learned is that fighting over every little thing is toxic to the kids. It is important to choose your battles for their sake and your own as well. So, that post was directed toward stepmothers who have an adverse reaction to these types of situations.

    Secondly, there are those stepmothers who feel as if they HAVE to do all and be all in order to be a good stepmother and/or gain the approval of their husbands, ex-wives and stepchildren and I disagree with this notion as well. Some stepmothers, including myself at one point, are with their stepchildren more than the parents and feel it is what they have to do in order to keep the peace. These aren’t stay at home moms either. They work and rearrange schedules to pick up from summer camp everyday, drive to and from activities and/or doctor’s appointments. But it’s okay to say no sometimes and it doesn’t make you a bad stepmother.

    Super stepmom syndrome is not about attacking stepmothers or ex-wives. Nor is it about telling stepmothers that they can’t be involved as they want and are allowed to be with their stepchildren. If you are involved and it is encouraged and welcomed, I think it goes without saying that it is great and good for the kids. However, the stepmother is there in a supportive role because as you stated, she is not the parent. Therefore, support means you support the parents; not take over and not assume full responsibility, even if allowed. Overall, there are many types of stepfamilies and fortunately, this post wasn’t directed at yours. I was speaking to the stepmothers who do have these types of issues.

    Oh and your comment about me advising a reader to talk to her husband was totally a typo. At first, I had no idea what you were talking about until I read through the comments. I totally meant ex-husband! Thanks for pointing that out; wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. :)

    Thanks for your comments and happy holidays,

    ~kela

  18. Ex Suoer Step mother says:

    I was merely in tears when coming across this artical. Iam going through a very tough time and thinking of separating from my husband and all the issues thats comes with my step child’s mother. I totally am guilty of wanting to pick up the pieces and making peace between both famlies. Lets just say it blew up in my face leaving me with anger. The anger is because of the hurt and disappoinment that my step son has towards his mother,which causes him issues in school,etc. This poor child breaks my heart with saddness. My husband and I have him attending couseling and entered him into sports,but it seems like nothing helps. We have physical custody and each weekend he is due to spend it with his mother,which each week a bs reason not to show up is created,or just fail to call at all. And in fact if he is picked up when he returns on Sunday he has more anger and rage than before. Im just about to walk away from it all…..

  19. Ex Super Step mother says:

    Maria,
    I read your story,and now Im in tears. GOD BLESS YOU!! You are amazing.<<<<>>>>

  20. Ex Super Stepmother: Thank you so much for stopping by the site and sharing your story. Your story is not unlike others I have seen in my coaching experience. Children don’t ask for divorce. Unfortunately, when two people divorce, sometimes one, the other or sometimes both parents (in your case the bio mom) can’t wrap their heads completely around the idea that it is better for the children to try to co-parent effectively instead of causing drama and heartache. As for your contemplating leaving your husband, that really saddens me. I would love to help you with that before you decide to make that choice. Although I know it feels like there is no other alternative, there are ways to get you through this tough time. Feel free to email me anytime. You can find my contact information under the “About Us” section. Id love to help.

    Peace and blessings,
    Diane

  21. Ex Super Step mother says:

    Diane,

    Thank you sooo much. I will be sending you an email now.

  22. Virginia Superstepmom/Mom says:

    I have been with my husband for 2 1/2 years, I have 2 daughters, ages 5 and 3, and my husband has a daughter age 5. The super step mom article described me very well. I am a full time student, work part time, and for the last year or so, have been going out of my way to make sure his daughter is delivered to me or picked up by me the afternoon of the day that we are supposed to have her so that he won’t have to drive out to her grandpa’s house after he gets off work at 7pm to pick her up since her mom works an evening job. My thing with the parent/teacher conferences is that my stepdaughter’s first year in preschool, one day I started going with him to drop her off and the teachers were surprised when we stated that I was his girlfriend and he jokingly said “don’t tell my wife”. I didn’t find that funny at all. They had been divorced well over a year when we even met. Since then I have always felt that the teachers and others in authority over my stepdaughter should not be associating my husband with his ex-wife as a couple, and that they should be aware that there is another (step)parent involved in the child’s life. The last preschool she attended, the teachers knew that I or my husband were the ones to deliver messages to b/c the mom never returned phone calls and frequently kept my stepdaughter home from school without calling. These issues, and the fact that we frequently kept my stepdaughter an extra night to make sure she was taken to school the next morning since her mom was working that night, led us to feel strongly that she should attend school with my daughter, which is about midway between us and her mom’s house, where we will be able to take her and pick her up daily if needed, instead of attending school in her mom’s school district which is about 30 min away from our house. Her mom agreed, and I set up the pre kindergarden physical and screening and got the girls both registered for kindergarten. I guess mom started feeling threatened, b/c she began calling me names, blaming me for an argument that they had about her school situation etc. Another issue we have had is my stepdaughter’s health. Her mom takes her to the doctor CONSTANTLY and RARELY finishes a cycle of antibiotics, if she gets them. I, as a nursing student, get frustrated with this, knowing that half of the time she takes her to the doctor, it is something that could have been taken care of at home, and that she is never going to get better if her medication is not completed. Her mom leaves her at her dad’s house at least 2 nights a week when she works, so my stepdaughter sleeps between our house, her mom’s house, and her grandpa’s house throughout the week, and I just think that is FAR too unstable an environment for any child to grow up in!! Her grandpa does not read, and is not educated, so that is NOT the place my stepdaughter needs to be staying while her mom is working, b/c he will not be able to help her with her homework. Mom also has another baby with a man who she never married and has been in domestic violence charges with frequently in the last couple of years. We are currently trying to get custody of my stepdaughter, using the lack of educational support, mom’s battery charges, and the multiple housing situation. My stepdaughter has some behavioral problems, I’m sure b/c of the instability of her lifestyle and my husband and I are frequently butting heads about his discipline of her. He accuses me of picking on her or treating her differently than I do my own, but I know that others see her need for discipline also and I about told him to sleep on the couch when he refused to discipline her for continuing to call for him 2 hours after they were put to bed. He talked to her and said she had a bad dream, which I can believe, but my point was that she continues to call for a couple of hours almost every night she is here with a different excuse every time and she will continue to disobey as long as she’s not afraid to do so. I understand he feels guilty that he’s not with her all the time like we are mine, but I don’t think that should be an excuse for her to get away with these things. I told him that she doesn’t backtalk me when i’m by myself with the girls as much as she does when he’s around and he doesn’t believe me and just says my girls do the same thing in reverse. She LOVES her dad and i think he’s the only one that has any chance of straightening out her behavior if he would just put his foot down! I know i’m not her mother, but he wouldn’t butt heads with her mom over this issue, if her mom even tried to do anything about it. She just continues to argue with the child as if she were an adult and my stepdaughter has little respect for her, crying when she has to go back to her mom’s house. Clearly, from my rant, you can see that I am constantly acting as superstepmom and it is causing me as much stress (or more) than my full time school and work schedule, PLUS everything I have to do with my own two!! I just need a chill pill I think…..

  23. Virginia Superstepmom/Mom says:

    PS. I noticed a couple of comments from people who said they were shocked that the man would put his new wife before his child. Well…not just as a new wife, but just as a reader, many marriage articles, especially ones on REmarriage emphasize the importance of prioritizing your marriage because having a strong marriage will allow you to be strong parents. Plus, you will hopefully spend the rest of your life with this new person, while the kids will grow up and leave home in a few years, leading their own happy lives (if you managed your priorities well). Just wanted to make that comment, not because I think I’m more important than any of our kids, but because of the judgmental comments I read earlier. The days that we have my stepdaughter, we always make it a point to spend at home together with the family or to take them somewhere fun. But on some nights, we do take off to spend time alone. I love my husband and my stepdaughter as much as my own girls and everyone’s happiness is very important to me. The only reason I stress over behavior problems so much is because I know that if everyone is well behaved, we will all enjoy our time together so much more!

  24. I am so happy I found this website. My fiance and I just had a baby who is now 6 months old. He has a 10 year old daughter who lived with us half of the time, but recently we moved because we could not find jobs. Now we are happy, but as he has always expected me to do everything, he expects me to use the car I just bought to drive back and forth three and a half hours (each way) every other weekend to pick up his daughter. I have been having panic attacks and recently just started to take anti-depressants. It has been a nice break since we moved because I haven’t had to do EVERYTHING. But just thinking about him and his ex expecting me to drive back and forth 1200 miles each month to pick her up enrages me. When we moved we discussed every other weekend, but I think that it is unfair of him to put this solely on me and the car I just bought (which is already 10 years old, but the first working car I have had in five years). What should I do????

  25. Nelly,

    I just sent you an email with some detailed feedback on your dilemma. I hope you find it helpful. Feel free to email me directly with any additional questions.

    ~Kela

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marâtre Joyeuse, Stepfamily Life. Stepfamily Life said: Super Stepmom Syndrome – http://www.blendedfamilysoapopera.com/wordpress/index.php/2649 [...]

  2. [...] being said, as I stated in my Super Stepmom Syndrome article, what we don’t see a lot of is the same support for stepmothers. Historically, [...]

  3. [...] Super Stepmom Syndrome : Today’s Modern FamilyJan 16, 2010 … As a mother and stepmother, I completely understand how you feel as I know many pushy stepmoms. Some operate due to insecurity but most … [...]

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