Monday, December 12, 2011

Are Non-Married Stepmothers Really Stepmothers?

As tough as it can be to be a stepmother at all, it can be even tougher to be an unmarried one. The role is even more ambiguous and many people don’t extent non-married stepmothers the same level of respect and acknowledgment as married stepmoms.

My now-husband and I lived together for several years before getting engaged and married (both in the same year). I struggled with feeling like people in my life didn't respect that fact that I was, indeed, a stepmom--someone who changed diapers and kissed boo-boos and gave time-outs.

Then when I got married people said things to me like, "how do you feel about becoming a stepmother on Friday?" One person even said, "gosh, on Thursday you'll be a single girl and then on Friday you'll be a stepmom." These comments all came from people who had known me and my family for years.It seems like a lot of the step-parenting material out there is aimed at married stepmoms.

That’s why I’m so excited by a new book I just started reading: Teach Yourself Successful Step-Parenting by Suzie Hayman. In the first chapter Hayman writes,

“What is a stepfamily? A stepfamily is any household that includes children who are related to one parent but not the other. You may feel that partners have to be married for one of them to be a step-parent, or that the children need to live with you full time for them to be stepchildren. The truth is that all the emotional needs and problems that go with stepfamilies kick into play whether the adults concerned are actually married or not.”

I think Haymen hit the nail exactly on the head--whether you’re married or not, you still have to face the same issues.

How about you--do you agree or disagree? While I feel very strongly about this, I've also women who feel very strongly that you're not a stepmother until after you've both said your vows. I’d love to hear what you think.


  1. Love your blogs on here! It's so hard to find good stuff on step parenting besides disciplining! It looks like you stopped blogging, if you'd like I could help you contribute sometimes! I've been with my husband 4 years and have 3 step kids who live with us full time :-) thanks, Beth

  2. I consider myself a stepmom, though my boyfriend and I have no intentions of getting married. We are legally commonlaw, but if we marry, the game changes and she can come after us for more child support etc. Even if we were the kind of people who believe in marriage (which we aren't) My BF sees it as unfair that I could be seriously financially penalized for decisions he made before he knew me.

    I do think that you should at least be living together in a stable monogamous realtionship though. The Biomom is on her fourth "stepdad" in two years, and though she seems to believe that as soon as she starts dating someone they are the children's stepfather, I personally believe that it takes more involvement than that.