Stepmoms: Looking for Respect in All the Wrong Places

stepfamily advice, stepfamily help, stepmother, stepfamily
Stepmoms Looking for Respect in All the Wrong Places per Anne Taintor

One of the hardest parts about being a stepmom is that you work your ass off and get, what appears to be, nothing in return.  This show is not going to be about what we really get in return, it is strictly about how it often feels.  Lack of acknowledgement.  Disrespect.  Small requests not granted.  No thank yous.  No appreciation.  Feeling awkward in your own home.  Sound familiar?

To make matters worse, we often find that by talking to the stepkids or Mom or even our partners, no one understands or is too caught up in their own situations to even start to understand what we are saying.  Does that resonate with anyone?

Now, we can also have a long conversation about how we should be doing this work and expect nothing in return.  We should love and give unconditionally.  Our ego is the one that is causing this discontent.  But, again, this show is not about that.  I want to offer some concrete suggestions as to how to feel better and get your self-respect back.

Instead of fighting the needs of our ego, what if we fed the ego?  What if we got our feelings of attention, respect and acknowledgement elsewhere?  Let’s face it.  We have been looking for acknowledgement/respect in all the wrong places.  Stepfamily members will not give us what we are looking for many years to come.  In the meanwhile, stepmoms should try one of these:

  1. Work
  2. Charity/volunteering
  3. Teach Something
  4. Become a Student
  5. Form a support group/Bunko group/Book club where you just drink wine

When you do some of these things, it helps you to detach a bit from the family drama.  And, as we know, that certain detachment is the spiritual key.  When you can see things from a third party perspective, you can see things more clearly and you are not as emotionally involved.  Let’s be real here.  Why would the opinion of a teenage child or a woman that you barely know knock you off your stride?  Make you depressed?  Make you feel worthless or awkward in your own home?  When you look at it objectively, that is truly ridiculous.  When you find fulfilling aspects of your life, you become less needy from the family members who are not quite ready to offer what you need.

Run your life as if you have other things to do because you do have other things to do. You will be surprised at how the kids are watching you.  When they see you doing interesting things for ‘just you’, they’ll consider doing the same for themselves.  Believe it or not, the adults around you will have the same reaction. And, funny enough, that respect you have been craving starts to happen.  Look at the irony, if you do less, you gain more.  Think about it.

9 Responses to Stepmoms: Looking for Respect in All the Wrong Places

  1. I absolutely LOVE this!! Especialy where you just drink wine. ;) I don’t even drink but the kids are scared to death I will because I keep a bottle in the fridge for just the moment I need it most.

  2. Thank you! I needed to read this… “Why would the opinion of a teenage child or a woman that you barely know knock you off your stride?” WHY do I let the opinion of my husband’s ex affect me? I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself that. And now that I have- its ridiculous. I’m sure I won’t be able to change this overnight but now I recognize the problem with it.

  3. I used to be the same way – looking for the validation from children and anywhere else I could find it like I were in school myself. After all, is it wrong that we just want these children to like us? I’ve had times where I’ve felt like handing my stepson a note that said, “Do you like me? Check the box: □yes □no.”

    But in the end, we can panic, stress, break our backs, and drive ourselves insane. The one thing we can’t do is control how someone else feels. We do the best we can, and then get some space, perspective, and joy from the other areas of our lives that are no less important than these relationships.

    Another strategy that we can’t forget is to have a night out with friends. Even banning stressful topics as part of the conversation have been helpful for me. But girls nights out have been wonderful in remembering that I am not only a wife, mother, and stepmom, but that I have other important roles in my life as well. It keeps me balanced.

  4. This is definitely a great thought and I would love to be able to do it! However, bio mom absolutely despises me to say the least. She even goes so far as to invade my privacy by searching public records, criminal records, property records etc etc. After 3 years of this I am losing patience! We have done a great job blending our 3 kids together,but she is impossible, and it is so discouraging. I wish she would just see that I love the kids, and treat them VERY well! That should be enough! In the meantime, what do I do???

    • Remember that you can only control yourself, not her. While it may sound a bit harsh, if it is public record, is it truly invading your privacy? It may be tacky, but you can’t really stop her from doing that.

      When I mention a girls’ night out, I used this with my own friends and sisters – not my husband’s ex. While we’ve made great strides in these past 5 years, we are still worlds away from hitting the town for a night of dancing and jokes.

      In the end, let the kids know how you feel and keep the door open to the bio mom as long as you feel comfortable. You can’t make people like you, but you can be open for a positive relationship if and when she is ready to get over her own anger.

  5. Interesting perspective if partners grew out of love or were widowed but women who are mistresses and cheat on another woman getting married to make them the honesty woman and man. My children well 15 and 20 whenwe found out then the sucking up to the kids then twisting the truth with ex she has pushed my too away until now only on birthdays and special occassions. So this ex wife is not the problem its the new wife dad makes promises then doesnt keep them but hey she has a new daddy for her sons that live with them . We exs arnt all bitches who take everything from their exs . What happens between adults shouldnt be played with kids in the relationship I just want my kids to be able to see there dad when they like without calendaring it in to the minute sleep there etc . I dont like what they did and wont communicate but a father should follow through with promises mmmm kids come first

  6. Ps he divorced me not his mother or brothers and sisters and they are disgusted by what is being done to my two kids
    He is loosing them and has from the start due to forcing her on them one meeting then moving into the house together giving his daughters nickname to her and ignoring or orfering them around. So much for putting all exs wives in one basket and step mothers in another she more like cinderella step mum

  7. I love this. I have a daughter of my own and step son that is six. I just had my first experience of him coming home from his mom’s house and he treats me with total disrespect. I was floored. My husbands ex gets upset when he doesn’t run to her beck and call and starts calling me names and how horrible I am. Why do I care what she thinks of me? She has never even met me. Why do I let it bother me so much? WHO CARES. I know I am not perfect. Lol my husband doesn’t have to go through this because my daughter doesn’t see or know her bio dad.

  8. I really don’t care what the BM thinks of me. She has lousy morals and parenting skills to say the least. But what does bother me is that she is so jealous of us that she has turned her kids against us. And IT’S WORKING! The 17 SD has all but alienated us unless she can get money from us. This BM lies to her kids and says that their father is behind on child support and doesn’t pay her. We’ve gone to court twice and he hasn’t been behind. We even had to show the 14 and 17 SD’s the cancelled checks because she tells them she doesn’t get them. She’s even told the 14 SD that her father and I met in college and have been cheating on her while they were married. I showed the 14 SD the email were her father and I first communicated way after their divorce to show her the truth. This BM is sick and ignoring her isn’t working. I hate having to prove myself to these teenagers. It’s not fair to them.

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