Does having stepchildren make you a mother?

I’m sharing an excerpt from my book today. In many cases, people who are childless by marriage find themselves becoming stepparents to their spouses’ children from previous marriages. Sometimes it can really ease the pain of not having your own children, but at other times, it just makes the pain of childlessness worse.

A waiter in a restaurant I frequented during my Saratoga News days asked me one day if I was a mother. I gave my standard answer: “I don’t have any children of my own, but I have three stepchildren.”

He rolled his eyes. “Oh, then you got kids.”

Well, yes and no. A stepmother is a lot like a substitute teacher. The kids know she’s not the real teacher, so they don’t have to listen to her or do what she says. She has all the responsibility without the love and respect. If she sticks around long enough, they might get to like each other, but when the real teacher pokes her head in the door, they’ll all abandon their desks, screaming, “Mrs. Smith, you’re back!”

It also feels like being the babysitter or the nanny. When the folks come home, the dad gets out his wallet, hands you some money and says, “Thank you very much. We’ll take over now.”

Have you experienced this? It’s a big issue for a lot of us. Let’s talk about it for the next few posts. Do you have stepchildren? Do you feel like a real mother or father to them?

You can read a lot more about stepparenting in my book Childless by Marriage. If you have a Kindle and haven’t paid the crazy low price for the e-book yet, the e-book will be available for free Oct. 28-31. Just click here for the page to download it. You can buy the paperback or ebook from

4 thoughts on “Does having stepchildren make you a mother?

  1. My sister told me [who is a step-mom to 3 kids] “A step mom has all the responsibilities and none of the rights.” Boy, do I agree. I don't feel being a step-mom makes me feel like a mom. It just reminds me of what I'm missing.


  2. I totally agree. I have no say in what he does for extra curricular activities, no real say in what he should eat, when he should sleep and when he should not play his wii or toys. These are only things a real biological parent can do. And discipline…forget about it. My boyfriend gets upset at me, so I just don't say anything anymore. I can tell that it's not going to be healthy in the future.. The problem is that my boyfriend doesn't want to be the bad guy so his son doesn't choose his mother over him. So he spoils him.


  3. I see lots of heads nodding on this one. Having stepchildren is fraught with conflicts because they're his but not yours and they come with the baggage of their parents' divorce. Lots of fun for everyone. Hang in there.


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