What is your best advice for a new wife and stepmom?

Emilie compressed

My friend Emilie, her new husband Job and his (their) 5-year-old son Jesse. It was a beautiful wedding, but now she has a lot of new responsibility.

My 30-something girlfriend got married for the first time Labor Day weekend in a spectacular wedding on her family’s farm in the Berkshires. We were blessed that we were able to get away for 36 hours and go to her fabulous wedding. (Best wedding we’ve ever been to! More on the get-away later.)

But now the wedding is over, and it doesn’t matter that her dress was drop-dead beautiful or that her menu was amazing. Now she is a married woman with a 5-year-old stepson. (Her new little guy is a fantastic kid. I really enjoyed meeting him and chatting with him! He gave me a very detailed explanation of how the reception tent was hammered into the ground.)

So I thought it would be interesting to offer her our best marriage advice and advice on being a new stepmom. I think learning to be a great stepmom and walking that fine line with the child’s mom may actually be harder than learning to be a great wife.

The good news is she is great with children. Whenever she comes to visit us she is so interested in our children. She talks to them with respect. She plays with them, reads to them and loves to cuddle them. I think she will be a great stepmom to her new little guy. But I’m also sure there are tricks to the trade of becoming a stepmom and pitfalls she should avoid.

I’m also interested in your advice on getting married in your late 30s. I was married in my early 20s and went straight from roommates to a husband. I never lived alone. I think it would be a pretty different experience being used to having your own house and everything exactly the way you want it and then having to start compromising. I know it can be done, but I’m sure there are ways to make this transition easier!

What do you think? What advice would you give my very good friend about being a new wife and a new stepmother? Does she get to discipline the little guy? How much say does she get in decisions about his life?

82 comments Add your comment

WOW - what was she thinking?

September 16th, 2009
7:13 am

Marriage in and of itself is a BIG change, but to take on “instant mommyhood”? And to think she waited this long (over 30) – methinks she panicked big time – and this will NOT last more than 2 years – if that long!!!!


September 16th, 2009
7:14 am

Morning all…I have never been a stepmom and was married at 23, so I will got to work and then later lurk and learn from those who know what they are talking about.


September 16th, 2009
7:16 am

@ WOW…I know it is raining here in Gwinnett but did you have to dump a thunderstorm on the topic? Give it a chance….the topic and the marriage.


September 16th, 2009
7:20 am

We did not get married until we were both 30 – first time for each of us. Kids came along at 32 & 35, so we were OLD when dealing with their elementary school friend’s parents! But, fortunately, we were more financially stable than some, and in the past 15 months have found out that we were much more financially stable than a lot!

Being old with young kids DOES keep you young, at least mentally! Would not have changed anything, but I cannot fathom being over thirty and becoming a mom, too, on the day I got married – that is way too much to think about, so I really cannot offer anything on that!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 16th, 2009
7:47 am

Wow – that was negative — she was thinking she loves this man and his child. let’s try to keep it productive and positive.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 16th, 2009
7:48 am

I’ve got younger children than she has and lots of people are having kids late — I think the issue is more coming into it at a running pace — not getting to gear up with a baby.


September 16th, 2009
8:01 am

I think it’s to her benefit that she’s over 30 and a bit more mature than the average starry-eyed 22 year old. I know a lot of people who have been and are great step-parents. Not sure what the situation is with the boy’s mother, but as long as she doesn’t try to replace the mom and respects the decisions the actual parents make for the child, she should be fine. I think coming into the situation when the kid is 5 is far better than when the kid is 12 or 15. She has the opportunity to become a lifelong mother figure and trusted soul in the boy’s life.

Geez, Theresa...

September 16th, 2009
8:14 am

“I’ve got younger children than she has and lots of people are having kids late” – that is not the point (also, you failed to say whether the kid will live with them fulltime – if the mom has custody then her “jump” is not nearly as scary as I am making it out to be).

She jumped into marriage AND mommyhood on the same day it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that one by itself is a lot, but to tackle both, no matter how much she may love the dad/husband, is not exactly a great move. But, she does look to be dishwater blonde, so that may explain a lot! Let me guess – the guy has lots of money, with alot of it going (possibly) to alimony and child support!!!!! Get back to us on this marriage and how it is working in about 18 months.


September 16th, 2009
8:16 am


Move away from the relatives – far away. You will prosper!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 16th, 2009
8:26 am

the mom does have custody much of the time so that will mean less stress for them. — — She is an actual blonde but also went to Ivy League schools. She is far from stupid or needing any money from anyone else. She runs a large company in New York. She speaks multiple languages and has traveled extensively! She owns her own home and has an apartment in another town for work.


September 16th, 2009
8:29 am

Wow, there is a lot of negative on this board this morning.

On topic, I became a step mom and partner on the same day. If the son lives with them all the time I would recommend the following – have a quiet space or room. It’s amazing how much more noise and activity you will have to deal with a daily basis. This saved me. I lived alone from 22 to 34. I was not used to that much constant talking and noise.

Also, they need to figure out how discipline will be handled. I am lucky because I am a step parent to a child who was adpoted in single parent adpotion. I don’t have to deal with different rules with different houses. This will become more critical as the child grows into teen years. Even if she runs all the discipline through the father, the child needs to respect her as another adult authority.

Lastly, she shouldn’t let problems with the child or the childs mother create problems between her and her husband. She has to address any issues (with child/ex-wife) as soon as they come up so they don’t fester. It won’t always be easy but what in life is easy.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 16th, 2009
8:32 am

good advice jct!! i don’t know why there’s so much negativity — I really, really hoped to get her some good advice and she was very, very open to hearing what our community had to say. Now I’m embarrassed to send her the link because I don’t want her to feel this much negativity about her new marriage —- JCT I will send her your advice — let’s hope we get some other good insight –


September 16th, 2009
8:50 am

Tell her to never pretend to be a journalist/columnist because she thought the lady in sex in the city was, like, totally cool.


September 16th, 2009
8:54 am

@WOW, so you think anyone that has children, should never (re)marry? When I got married, my now ex had a son that was only 7 years younger than me..We had a great realtionship and even after we divorced 15 years ago, the son still tells people that I am his stepmom..

Theresa, I think I’m in agreement with jct on everything that she posted..I wish your friend, her husband and stepson the best of luck..

How is your brother doing?

Let's see...

September 16th, 2009
9:03 am

…”She is far from stupid or needing any money from anyone else. She runs a large company in New York. She speaks multiple languages and has traveled extensively! She owns her own home and has an apartment in another town for work”.

Yet she CHOSE to tackle this situation? Not having the stepson around fulltime will help the transition. And, sorry, I was just being “catty” about the blond hair thing – Good luck to her – this is still a huge step for one who is quite settled in HER ways – good luck to the new hubby, too.

Becky, how did you...

September 16th, 2009
9:07 am

… interpret anything I wrote as “so you think anyone that has children, should never (re)marry?” That is quite a stretch, especially since the topic deals with a never married female going head first into both marriage and mommyhood.


September 16th, 2009
9:12 am

Well I did not marry a man with children…I was 29 and he was 30 though and we had our first child when I was 33. So I guess I will be the “old” parent at school as well, but at least I won’t be the only one!! Lots of my friends are having children later…it’s becoming pretty common and not a big deal anymore, people live longer anyway. I could have never handled marriage/children in my early 20’s, I would not have been the mother I am today. That’s just me though.
Your friend will be fine. She will have some adjusting to do…but since the son doesn’t live with them full time hopefully she can ease into it. I’m sure she is ready for her husband and everything that comes with him….that’s what marriage is! Plenty of people marry into families that already include children. I don ‘t know why people on here are being so stupid and nasty. I wish her the best!


September 16th, 2009
9:25 am

Well, I was 28 when I got married and he had a 4 year old daughter. 16 years later, my step daughter is in college and we have another daughter. My best advice…just be patient and understanding. Dont try to be anything other than your step childs friend. Anything to do with my stepdaughter, I left between her dad and mom. Of course, my husband gave me a say in finances involving her as it did affect me as well. Just be understanding and dont get frustrated when you write that support check each month!! LOL We were lucky as everyone stayed friendly and when the times came where we did have to all be together (graduations, etc.) we made it work. And now we will have wedding and (eventually) grand babies ahead, so I try to stay out of decisions unless I am asked. My husbands ex stayed close to my in-laws, so that was difficult at times, but it worked. If everyone stays mature and keep in mind the best interests of the child, all will go well! I have a step mother and my daughter loves her just as much as her other grandmother!

Second best piece of advice: Do not ever make him feel like he has to choose between you and his son!! You knew he was there before you married him and there will be times he has to be there for him, whether it is a situation you like or not! Best wishes and good luck!


September 16th, 2009
9:26 am

I’m 36 and not married, nor do I have children. When I get married there is a strong possibility that he will have children. Seeing as I’m old, my eggs might be scrambled by the time I get married, being a stepmom might be all the experience I get. I’m not claiming that though!

I have 2 friends who are stepmoms with completely different experiences.

#1 – Husband had custody of the child so he brought her into the home full time. Not to go into the details of their family, but I will say that her stepmom experience has been total hell at times. The father did not back her up – sided with the daughter, never realizing that his daughter was actually WRONG – and the child’s mother doesn’t respect the rules of their home and let’s the child run amuck. Having 2 sets of rules is confusing for children. Having a husband that does not back you up/respect your authority/underminds your every decision makes everything more difficult.

#2 – Husband had a kid from a previous marriage. Father is very strict and she knows how to fall in line when she is at her dad’s house. She is there literally 1/2 the time. She has a wardrobe there that has “approved” clothing. She knows better than to pull some low-rise jeans on at her daddy’s house. My friend doesn’t have to discipline the child too much because the father comes in and handles it immediately. No undermining of my friend’s authority ever happens at that house. The mother is a nut but it doesn’t affect my friend’s relationship with her husband or her stepdaughter. My friend treats her like her own daughter and the child respects her as a permanent part of her life and as a stepmother.

I hope your friend has the kind of situation as my friend in #2. She will be a blessing to that child and he will be a blessing to her. Tell her to get it straight with her husband, making sure they have a stated guideline on what her role/authority is in the step situation.

New Stepmom

September 16th, 2009
9:27 am

Being a new stepmom myself who is 34 and never married before with no children of my own, my two biggest pieces of advice are find some other step moms in the same situation (ask for advice and vent when you need to-your husband is not going to want to hear that you are frustrated with his child and him) and get the book “The Single Girl’s Guide To Marrying A Man, His Kids And His Ex-wife: Becoming a Stepmother with Humor and Grace.”

It is very hard to marry someone with kids who you are co-parenting, but you do not have final say in all decisions. If you are like us, you struggle with different core values being taught on the other side. You struggle with guilt over wanting your spouse to yourself at times when he wants to be with his child. BUT, you also have a smiling child who loves you very much, who probably thinks you are a bit cooler than their mom, and who makes your home complete.

I also recommend letting your step child and your spouse have some alone time, that does 2 things: it gives you a minute or two on your own and helps to make your step child feel like they still get their dad like they want and you are not trying to interfere.

No matter how bitter the breakup of the first marriage try to communicate with the mom and have your stepchild see you communicating with her. It presents a united front and it cuts down on some of the playing both sides that we experienced early on with a very bright 9yo girl.

Finally, your weekends with no children: ACT LIKE NEWLYWEDS!!!!! Have fun together and develop some of your own traditions that do not include the stepchild so that you look back and remember those fun times in your new marriage.


September 16th, 2009
9:28 am

jct you said alot of what i was giong to say…i became a stepmom to a 6 year old girl…we had a rocky road…mostly due to her father showing massive favoritism between her and my kids…she and i eventually sorted it all out and now she is a lovely young 26 yo woman with her own family and we couldnt be closer than if she were my own. she and my ‘birth’ kids are also very close. she now barely speaks to her father…my younger daughter is her half sister–altho no one in my family ever refers to any sibs as half or step..they just all consider themselves sisters and brothers…so sweet…

anyway-as long as the couple have great communication going on they should be fine. and great communication between the step mom and the natural mom is vital also. you didnt say how that relationship is. im assuming, from her age and the things that you said about her, that she has thought about potential problems and has at least acknowledged the possibility of them. as for the child having different rules for different homes…just start things out the way they are going to be. for instance if certain chores are expected at her house..she needs to start that immediately..the way a child is expected to talk to adults…tv rules.computer rules…all these need to be decided between her and her husband right away and then implemented now….there are always going to be issues that come up that one doesnt foresee…but if you can get as many ‘rules’ in place asap that will help…the child just needs to be told this is the way we are going to have things here…at your moms house she makes the rules..here we make them. case closed. it looks from the picture like he was part of the wedding which was a great move…so im assuming she already has a good relationship with the child. that doesnt mean she will never ehar…youre not my mom or the boss of me…all kids say that…she just needs to be ready for these things and not take them personally. it wouldnt hurt to have a few family counseling sessions for ’step’ families…or there are many books on the subject.

it is my opinion that the fact that she has had an independant life will make things easier for her.she sounds intelligent so im sure she has thought and discussed the issue with her new husband…

i wish her all the luck in the world…imo the child thing can be easier than the marriage thing lol…i never speak to my ex…neither does my daughter or step daughter…but i am so thankful to have my step daughter in my life..i just love her to pieces!!…

i think people who cant have something positive to say should refrain from posting today…how embarrassing for theresa to have to send her friend these negative comments…


September 16th, 2009
9:29 am

“Even if she runs all the discipline through the father, the child needs to respect her as another adult authority.”

I think this is key. Mom and Dad need to make the vast majority of rules–hopefully, they have a good relationship as partners raising a child despite divorcing (although, obviously that’s not always the case). Stepmom should have authority to enforce those rules in a way that Mom and Dad have decided is appropriate. When she’s alone with the child, she should have authority as any teacher or sitter would but shouldn’t do anything with the child the parents wouldn’t do (example — if they say no afternoon ice cream, she shouldn’t give it to him either). If she doesn’t try to overstep her bounds to show who’s boss or become a pushover to try to buy the kid’s love, she should be fine.


September 16th, 2009
9:37 am

and yes…the husband has to back up the step mom….a house divided will not stand….im assuming that the couple has talked about these things and are on the same page..that is vital!!

New Stepmom

September 16th, 2009
9:48 am

You are right Deidre_NC. If dad does not back you up, you are in for big problems. I have full authority to issue punishment as I see fit. We alos recently went through a bout of I will ask StepMom if I can do something and if I do not like her answer, I will go ask dad. Nip that in the bud. THe other thing we went through was about 2months of major disrespect towards me when Dad was not around. Once I started making my step child tell her dad what she had done instead of me communicating it-guess what she stopped.

Your step child will play some games just trying to find her place in the new family and it stinks, but it is part of it.

The other thing that I have learned is you will likely have slightly different rules for your stepchildren and your bio kids. I was VEHEMENTLY opposed to that and wanted everything set up so that when we had children we worked from one rule book. Every step mom I have spoken to has said to give up on that-there will be things that you work through differently with your step child than your bio kids.


September 16th, 2009
10:00 am

Also, it is important that you develop your own relationship with the child. My stepson and I LOVE zombie movies. We watch those together. That’s our thing.


September 16th, 2009
10:05 am

lol..its hard enough to have one rule book between husband and wife much less add 2 moms…you just have to make sure there is one rule book in your own personal home…and the rules need to be the same for the whole family…this is so stupid..but one major issue my ex and i had…he insisted that my son clean his plate..but his daughter could dump her whole plate if she didnt want to eat it and nothing was said…how ridiculous…i have never had the you have to clean your plate rule…and even with kids that all both of the couples the rules will differ according to each child at times…you just have to make sure things are fair and there are no buried resentments towards the child…


September 16th, 2009
10:12 am

My girls were 5 & 8 when I married my husband 9 years ago. He has no children of his own & he recognizes my children as his. Often the girls will even go to him for advice or support and it makes him feel the father role even more. There has been no negative impact on his or their part with being/having a step parent which I am very thankful for. Off topic: I took both girls to the DR yesterday and both had different symptoms. One had sore throat, swollen glands etc. and the other had stomach problems. DR said there is one new airborne virus out there and the symptoms are hitting everyone differently but it’s the same bug. Has anyone else had this among their household?


September 16th, 2009
10:15 am

Speaking from experience, (i.e. what *not* to do) definitely make sure that you’re backed up on discipline. Also make sure you’re not the one adminstering it all the time. You may want to have the boy’s father be the one doing that, with your input behind the scenes.


September 16th, 2009
10:19 am

The story about the Army Reservist Mom being beat for no reason in front of her child by an irate old man would have made a better topic this morning.


September 16th, 2009
10:54 am

OK, maybe I did interpret it wrong..Sorry about that..I just think that if they had dated for more than a week before the marriage, she knew that he had a son, so when she accepted his proposal, she knew what she was getting into..

Sometimes though, it doesn’t always have to be an “evil” stepmom..My ex also had a daughter that her mother always talked bad about her father to her..She always told her that her Dad never paid child support, which he did..Not only did he pay child support, he paid for all other expenses involving the child..i.e. band, insurance, braces, clothes..It back fired on the mother though, two days after the daughter was out of high school, she mariied and within 4 years had 2 children..As far as I know, to this day, the mother still hasn’t seen the children nor spoken to the daughter..

Sorry for the long post and that some of it was slightly off topic..


September 16th, 2009
11:08 am

What about the 2 year old who was called a “little f*cker” on the receipt at Cactus Joes? I figured that would get all the parents stirred up for a good debate!!!


September 16th, 2009
11:19 am

OK…I have been both the step child AND the step parent! They both have their pitfalls.

1. Love the child as if he is your own, but be sure to reinforce that she is NOT the mother nor is she trying to take over that spot. This will help keep the lines of communication open with the real mom.

2. NEVER badmouth the mother in front of the child no matter how angry or upset your are!! They will never forget feeling like they are in the middle and had to try to defend one parent or the other.

3. Make sure she and her husband agree on conflict, punishment, etc. now. Once things happen, it is much more difficult to give the punishment when you don’t agree. He should allow her to treat the child as she would treat her own. If not, that is going to be a MAJOR problem.

4. As the child gets older and smarter, do not allow him to manipulate parent vs. parent. Be sure to keep in close communication with the other family!

5. When your own children come along, do not treat them any differently than the step child. Give the same kinds of punishments and rewards that you did the other one!

There are SO many things that are unique from family to family. I just hope that her husband has a decent relationship with his ex and will defend/support his new bride. Being a step parent can be VERY hard but rewarding.

Pick your battles. If it is something you have strong moral feelings about, I would fight, if it is something that is really not “that” big of a deal, let it roll! Yes, that is MUCH easier said than done!

Good luck!


September 16th, 2009
11:29 am

Wilbets, I didn’t hear anything about that, where did this happen?


September 16th, 2009
12:10 pm


September 16th, 2009
12:34 pm

Theresa, I think one person posted under several names to flame up the board. Said person obviously either has some bone to pick with you or had a terrible experience in this situation and has decided that no one can have a positive experience in the situation. Ignore them and tell your friend to do so because some great posts have come in now from people who have been in the situation and are actually offering good advice. Remember, when it comes to blogs there are always trolls lurking about!


September 16th, 2009
12:39 pm


September 16th, 2009
12:40 pm

@Theresa…when you wrote “Now I’m embarrassed to send her the link because I don’t want her to feel this much negativity about her new marriage”….PLEASE tell us you informed her that she was going to be the topic of your blog today.


September 16th, 2009
12:42 pm

ditto what jatl said…only people who have lived this can offer realistic advice….so go with that…there always has to be people here who like to stir things up….i pray these ones get a life soon…


September 16th, 2009
12:45 pm

I grew up with a stepdad that I refer to as my dad. My parents met when I was 9 and got married when I was 11. I think that it is extremely important for the children to meet the step-parent and bond with each other before the marriage. Before my parents got married they would get us all together for the weekend and we (stepbrother,stepsister and myself) would each get to do something that we liked (rollerskating, movies, bowling). You can’t just thrust a child or the new parent into a situation like that and expect it to just workout it takes time. My stepdad and I have a great relationship my mother and my stepsister and stepbrother not so much mostly because of interference from other family members.
Both parents need to be on one accord because children will sense a rift and use it to their advantage. I think it is important for the child and the step parent to get along well. I wouldn’t marry someone who doesn’t get along with my child, in the long run it just wouldn’t be worth it to me.


September 16th, 2009
12:56 pm

A JATL, I am so with you.

I am so over those who simply cannot make a decent comment but have to stir things up. As I have said before, it takes more intelligence to make a valid point ( even if no one agrees with you) than to just hop on and stir things up.

Remember, if posters who may actually have a contribution to make succumb to those who are simply mean, there will be no blog as they will all be ranting at each other with , finally, nothing to rant about.

I am sorry Theresa that some folks simply cannot be civil.

My Dad married my step mom when her son was out of the house and about 23. She is still very close to her son. My Dad is not close to myself nor my sisters. He once fussed that she spends too much time with her son when he comes in town for a visit.
I reminded him that blood is (usually ) thicker than water and that she is lucky her son is close to her. I feel that that my Dad will never take the ultimate position over her son, no matter how much they love each each other as a couple ( being my Dad and Step Mom). My step mom reared her son alone or many years and made a lot of sacrifices for him. He is now a wonderful adult who is married with a great job.


September 16th, 2009
12:59 pm

“these ones”??? But I do agree that “only people who have lived this can offer realistic advice…”

@JATL – “Said person obviously either has some bone to pick with you or had a terrible experience in this situation and has decided that no one can have a positive experience in the situation”. Au contraire – nothing I said was negative to the topic, only negative to the issue of whether the bride really thought this through, and now that it is reality she is seeking some guidance as to how to handle it. THAT is what was the center of my comments.

And, I love Theresa, and as Paul McCartney once sang, “what does it matter to ya, if you’ve got a job to do you got do it well, you got to give the other fella hellllll” – and she does it well!!!!


September 16th, 2009
1:10 pm

As someone in there late 30’s who married 2 years ago, I can say with some confidence that most of us are not looking for a sugar daddy and did not hunt down a man just to procreate. And despite the fact that I a blonde, I managed to get an education, and live on my own quite well for years. I’m also the stepmom to an 8 year old. I am her “bonus parent,” and I discipline her just as I would a child of my own. If I think that there are issues coming up that I’m not sure how my husband would handle, I talk to him privately. If you let the biological parent do all the parenting, you will have problems on your hands when you are with the stepchild alone. But, don’t overstep the biological parents’ boundaries – for example, you should not be the one to decide to let a child pierce their ears, try a radical new haircut, etc. We have her about 1/2 the time, which I think makes things easier, she is familiar with our home and our routines. She also knows that her mom handles discipline differently than we do, not drastically but a different approach. We taught her that both approaches are acceptable and is no different than consequneces being different at home and school. The biggest thing that will help is her husbands relationship to his ex, they don’t have to be friends, but they have to be civil and working towards the good of the child. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen.


September 16th, 2009
1:14 pm

Everyone will handle it differently. I turned down a proposal because I didn’t want to raise someone else’s kids. Yes, I was selfish and I am glad that I was.


September 16th, 2009
1:14 pm

Is this a new trend… we are supposed to be posting under names that correlate with our gripe or who we are griping at? Am I the only one who is confused and finds it hard to follow posters who change their name each time they post? Guess I’d better go back to Kindergarten as I had fun there today!

New Stepmom

September 16th, 2009
1:18 pm

b237-great points. I agree that you cannot be the mom, but you cannot just be a friend. You summed it up PERFECTLY!

I have also found that there is a fine line you walk trying to be involved at school. We pay half the tuition and try to be present at most events, but I do not go to “mom’s” events because I feel like that is stepping on toes. I would never sign up to be homeroom mom, but I will volunteer to help at events.

I told my husband recently that if we get my step child raised and she thinks of me like I think of my favorite aunt, I will have succeeded. I will not have taken on her mom’s role, but I will have helped to raise and guide her into the young woman she becomes.

Deelite 31

September 16th, 2009
1:27 pm

On being a stepmom — Treat the child(ren) better than you expect to be treated. Never make differences between them and the child(ren) you and hubby have.

On marriage — I backed out of an engagement in my 20s. However, I took the time to get to know the real me and am glad I did. I married the love of my life when we were both 33. It was and will be the first and last marriages for us both (our pledge to each other). I love my hubby because we can openly talk about any and every thing, and we support each other in our endeavors. One last thing about marriage, keep certain people out of your business. Remember, gossip is not a disguise for concern.


September 16th, 2009
1:30 pm

Waaaaaay back when I was a step mom, I was delighted when my stepdaughter’s mom referred to me as the child’s “other mom”, when introducing me to her friends.

Sad Stepmom

September 16th, 2009
1:34 pm

I think there are some very good previous comments. The bottom line is to remember her husband’s son isn’t her son, and she isn’t the mom. And never talk about the ex, trust me, there will be times she will want to!

I got married at 33 for the 1st time, we’ve been married 9 years. My daughter was 3 when we were married, his kids were 6, 8 & 10. The 6yr old is a girl, the others boys. I thought I was a great step-mom. I planned vacations with my step kids, planned events when they were at our house, did vacations with my family with them, the whole nine yards….well, that all changed a summer ago, when while my daughter was at her grandparents, I came across her locked diary, with things she wrote in it I prayed weren’t true…..it turned out they were, and my stepson confessed to molesting several times, at our house, after everyone went to bed. I guess what I’m trying to say is when you have blended families, be very careful, especially when there are boys and girls…

I do still love my stepkids although they no longer talked to me(I think that’s the mom doing that), and for my stepson, I agreed to not have him locked up as long as I had a court order keeping him away from my daughter….

Best of luck to her!


September 16th, 2009
1:42 pm

I got married at 38. I was a single, career woman who had lived alone since college.

I am always amazed that early marrieds or parents have strange ideas about the lives of single people. They assume that I must have been lonely or that I had all this free time. Neither was the truth. I wasn’t longing for Mr. Right either to make me “complete.”

I was happy, productive and merely stumbled across a much older man with adult children. Being single was GREAT and being married is GREAT, too.


September 16th, 2009
1:44 pm

New Stepmom, you really have a great attitude about your role in your stepchild’s life. My mom approached things much the same way with my stepbrother, although she perhaps had more of a mom role as he rarely saw his own mom. Good example, he had VERY few tickets for high school graduation. While of course she wanted to go, she went to him and let him know that she understood it was going to be tough for him to decide who to invite as he wanted his mom and her mother, as well as his other grandmother and an aunt who played large roles in raising him before my mom married his dad. She told him if he came up one short that it really was ok if she didn’t get to go. He did find an extra ticket but was trememdously grateful that she was willing to bow out to make his special night less stressful. So yes, she was like a favorite aunt to him.

His father was the opposite — largely aloof as a parent to his own children and a bully to me in a weird attempt to assert his authority. He would constantly try to overule my mom on what I could and couldn’t do, yell at me daily for any little thing he could think of (including how I arranged things on my bookshelf in my room!), give me instructions on how I should be organizing and completing my schoolwork (I was at the top of my class throughout high school and didn’t need help from a man who ignored his own children’s Cs and Ds, thank you very much), etc. That is how NOT to be a good stepparent.

New Stepmom

September 16th, 2009
1:57 pm

Thanks HB. I am lucky to have a supportive husband and several close step mom friends. Although I do not like the way the ex treats my husband and although the ex has very different ideas than I do on an array of subjects-she is a good mom. If presented with a similar situation to the graduation one you outlined above, I would do the same thing.

One thing I will warn of in addition to other thought I have posted, that I have only begun experiencing. I am 10 years younger than my husband and the ex. I met my husband 3.5 years post divorce. Because of our age difference there are women at my stepdaughter’s school who do not give me the time of day. They assume my husband traded for a newer model and I am some sort of homewrecker. These women look at me with great distaste. It stings at times, but I know, my stepdaughter knows and God knows the truth and I have plenty of friends and I am not there to make more friends but to be a part of her education. Theresa, that may not be an issue with your friend, but I am friendly and tend to make friends easily and that was a bit of shock.


September 16th, 2009
1:59 pm

I was a step mom immediately upon marriage to my first husband to a beautiful 2 year old boy.. My ex and I had two children and they are very close to their brother. While we divorced over 15 years ago my step son and I have a great relationship. It makes me very proud to hear his wife talk about how much he loves me. I am now a step daughter as my dad remarried after my mother’s death. I think maybe my step mom could have used some advice on how to treat my dad’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My dad and his wife help her children and grandchildren on a daily basis. Things such as help with books for college, clothes, etc. They have not once even bought my dad’s grandchildren or great grandchildren a pencil knowing that there have been lay offs in the family. It’s ridiculous. I say treat the step children as you do you own (to include grandchildren and in this case even great grandchildren. I agree with the let the blood parent do most of the discipline and never bad mouth the natural parent, EVER.


September 16th, 2009
2:19 pm

I was a stepchild for about 2 years (2nd and 3rd grade) when my parents divorced the first time. I liked my stepfather enough but I was (am) a daddy’s girl. I had my father in my life so I didn’t “need” another father. And in my little 8 year old eyes, he couldn’t measure up to my father. (I still feel that way at 36!) My mother didn’t tolerate us talking to him any kind of way; his children, my brother, and I were always treated the same. My mother and their father could discipline us with no issues from the other. Actually we would get in trouble for complaining about him to my mama. She wasn’t having it. Also, a key thing, was that my father didn’t downgrade the step. The only issue Daddy had was him trying to get me to call him daddy. NEGATIVE! I told him “you are not my daddy so find something else for me to call you”. LOL! We settled on just his name.


September 16th, 2009
2:20 pm

@sad stepmom

Your situation is heartbreaking and unfortunate. I hope you and your daughter are getting the support that you both need.

Back to topic…do any of you have a preference how your called? I am called by my first name. As a term of endearment I am called ‘not the mama’ whenever I do something that it is not very maternal. That started when he was 13 and sick. I stayed home with him. I wore gloves and a mask whenever I entered his room. I left his soup on the desk instead of giving it to him. I still have yet to live that one down.

Make sure that you also tell your friend to relax. You will do silly stuff like my story above. You live and learn.


September 16th, 2009
2:24 pm

Theresa, Good luck to your friend Emilie. She’s beautiful, intelligent and has financial resources. How fabulous for her!

Being a stepmom is one of the most difficult jobs there is. My advice is much the same as others have said: don’t try to replace the young boy’s mother, don’t badmouth his mother, have the father do the discipline as much as humanly possible, and give the boy lots of love. Children can benefit greatly from the love and wisdom a stepparent can offer, but unfortunately most of society equates the prefix “step” with evil and assume that stepmothers are out for Dad’s money, or have an axe to grind against the child.

Emilie has established a relationship with the boy at an early age which will definitely help her out. Unfortunately, there will come a time when even the best-behaved child will test the relationship and try to manipulate the parents against the stepparent. I hope and pray that Jesse’s mother and father will not only be smart enough to see through it, but also want to avoid it for Jesse’s sake.

All the best to your beautiful and blessed friend on her new adventure!

New Stepmom

September 16th, 2009
2:37 pm

JCT, my stepchild calls me by my first name. When we were dating she called me “Miss First Name,” but I thought that was too formal once we got engaged. She still calls her step dad “Mr. First Name.”

I have to give a big shout out to my parents. Their first bio grandchild was born a week prior to my engagement. They do for my stepdaughter exactly as they do for my nephew-same money spent on gifts, same amount of visiting etc. They are Mimi and Papa to both my step daughter and my nephew. My mom took them both to get pictures made together last winter before our wedding. That made my step daughter feel very loved and special and like part of my family. My mom will come up for grandparents day at school this fall since my husband’s parents are elderly and cannot travel. I think the step parent’s extended family embracing the child is just as important as the step parent accepting the child.


September 16th, 2009
2:50 pm

When I got married at 23, I became a stepmom to a 3 year old boy. He’s now off to college. Being a step-parent can be tough, but it’s do-able. Over the years I learned to love my stepchild as my own when he was with us (mom was primary custodian). I kissed boo-boo’s, made favorite foods, cheered at ball games. But, I also kept in mind, I WASN’T his mother, he already had one and didn’t need two. It’s given us a more friendship-type relationship. Any disciplinary issues, I left to the parents. Never, ever talk bad about the other parent in front of the child, no matter how horrible they might be. Save it for your alone time with your husband when the child is back at mom’s house. Do not let aggravations with the ex come between you and your husband. Allow it to grow and strenghthen your bond with each other. I would also definitely set up similar rules while the stepchild is at your house. Continuity of care regardless of whether the child is sleeping at mom’s or dad’s is VERY important.


September 16th, 2009
3:56 pm

Sorry to hijack the blog with my idea, maybe this can be an upcoming post? This is a link about the 2 year old at Cactus Joes.



September 16th, 2009
3:58 pm

Ah, Deirdre_NC -my comment wasn’t directed to you at all.


September 16th, 2009
4:55 pm

Wilbets, I googled that earlier..No matter how bad the child may or may not have been, there was no call for this to be written on the reciept..

Zachs Mom

September 16th, 2009
5:12 pm

After a rough start when I was 12, we call our step-mom BONUS MOM. It took a long time for her to go from being the “step monster”. While the kids still have some issues, she treats all of the grandchildren the same.


September 16th, 2009
6:40 pm

RE: Cactus Joes….while I abhor children who ruin everyone else’s dinner in restaurants ( and I do not want to hear the excuses) what was written on the receipt was totally uncalled for and the waitress should have been canned.

Our family was at Three Dollar Cafe on Saturday night. They have several TVs and were airing various games. The TVs were the focus of the eveing as it si a sports bar.

A family came in with two couples, 2 babies under the age of one and the grandparents. They were all wearing purple with LSU logo on it, soone would assume they were aware of what was going on at 8:00 p..m My husband yelled loudly at a play and it frightened the baby who was at the next table. The baby cried. My husband felt bad and tried to be silly with the baby and this only made things worse. The mother was pleasant and said, “He is already tired…”
HELLO…do babies belong in a LOUD sports bar at 8:00 p.m.? I ran this by a teacher ( I know) who has a baby and she told me NO…what were they thinking…not of the baby.

I know many will not agree with me but WHY would parents bring a small baby in a LOUD place when they are already tired and ready for bed? I am way too old fashioned and think that if babies are tired then they need to go to bed at 8:00 p.m….some need to go even if they are not tired because the parents are~ Sometimes parents have to relinquish their own fun or GET A SITTER so that the baby can be comfortable. IMHO.


September 16th, 2009
8:25 pm

A lot depends on the class of the father and biological mother, as well as the patience and forebearance of the new bride.

My children’s stepmother did fine. Of course, I raised them to respect her as their dad’s wife, and they did. As they grew older, I did not try to hide her (or his) faults, and by the time they were in their teens they had a pretty clear perspective of some of the stuff–but NEVER from me. In fact, at one point my younger daughter suggested that Dad and Suzy come live with us so I could take care of them, too.

Although we are not all that close, I am one of 4 people who have permission to pick up my former husband’s second family child at school if they cannot find his mother. (Which is funny since I have a professional job and she sleeps late and drinks all day). But although he is not my stepchild (but the half brother of my children) he is welcome at my house–polite and respectful of me as well.

Stepmom has always said that her stepchildren (my kids) have been very easy to deal with. I am sure that part of it is her patience and forebearance as well.

Lucky Stepmom

September 16th, 2009
8:48 pm

I am really shocked at how negative some of the folks on this blog are. When my husband and I got married he had a 6 year old daughter and 7 year old son from his first marriage. It was a second marriage for me as well, but I had no children. I loved him and I wanted to spend my life with him and be part of his family. Both children spent all summer with us and Easter and Christmas since they lived quite far away. My stepson came to live with us full time 2 years later. Both children have now graduated from college and I’m close to both, but especially to my stepson. So I think I can give some advice.

The first rule is obvious, never speak ill of his Mom or criticize the way she does things. Don’t put him in the middle of any issues. The main thing is to pay make him feel like he’s part of the family, not a visitor. Since he doesn’t live with them full time, make sure his visits are special for him. Take time to do things with him, don’t get a sitter when he’s visiting – let him have time to bond with his stepmom. Let him have his own room, that’s his – not a guest room. Our kids always had rooms of their own and when they came over, the rooms were just as they left them.

Her husband will need to help by supporting her enforcing rules of your house etc. In the beginning I wouldn’t suggest being the disciplinarian – certainly enforcing rules is OK, but work into being the “parent” slowly. If they have been dating for quite awhile, these issues may be addressed already.

He and his Dad will need time to themselves – he may be jealous of your relationship, so let them have time together.

The main thing is to love him, get to know him and enjoy him for the person he his. This is a wonderful opportunity and I wish them all the best of luck.


September 16th, 2009
9:13 pm

“I know many will not agree with me but WHY would parents bring a small baby in a LOUD place when they are already tired and ready for bed?”

They may not have realized just how loud it would be (I mean, there are loud sports bars, and then there are LOUD ones). Or they may have a baby who dozes off easily even in loud places. Or they may live nearby and figure if things go downhill quickly, they’ll take the baby home. Or they may have made the plans ahead of time based on baby’s usual later bedtime but then the baby didn’t nap well that afternoon. Or they may have just made a bad call — even great parents do that sometimes, but the kids manage to grow up fine anyway. It’s highly unlikely that they do that every night, so it just doesn’t strike me as that big of a deal.


September 16th, 2009
10:34 pm

i agree mjg—i always wonder why people dont post on their own names..

and yes whoever you were…’these ones’ ..geeze get over yourself


September 16th, 2009
10:41 pm

jtal….that wasnt me..it was from @deidre_NC (whoever that is) directed to me…not you lol


September 16th, 2009
10:50 pm

about the restaurant….mjg i agree….any kind of bar is not the place for a young child…when people drink you never know what could happen….some people get mean when they drink and to take a child around strangers drinking is ridiculous….

what that server wrote on the ticket was awful….no matter how the kid was behaving….i do not liek to go to any place and have to listen to a kid being bratty….i understand that..but what was written was way outta line!!


September 17th, 2009
12:07 am

Hmmmm ok I have not remarried but since i have had a total of FOUR count ‘em FOUR stepparents (3 stepmoms & 1 stepdad) & my boys have a stepmom i feel somewhat qualified to address the issue. LOTS of good advice posted here. Dad needs to be a Dad consistently and not ignore his 1st family for the 2nd family he creates with wife #2. And you know what, the stepmom who is 10 years younger than her hubby & upset by people thinking she is a homewrecker…I would feel sorry for her except that women like me who are in your husband’s age range won’t give us a 2nd look, all they want is 10 year plus younger women like YOU. No fool like an old fool. And I’m flabbergasted that you have to TELL the stepmom to “give dad some alone time with his child’…OMG i am sad that you even have to TELL women not be jealous of their stepchild. How sad. And MJG, i am WITH you about that 2 year old kid in the UK restaurant. Whew..i am done for tonite all :)


September 17th, 2009
12:52 am

My advice to your friend would be to follow her husband’s lead, and know your place. For example, if your husband tells you not to befriend the mother of the child (even if you are trying to make the situation as amicable and healthy as possible) DON’T DO IT! He has known her and this situation a lot longer that you have, so trust that there is a reason he is telling you this. I made the mistake of trying to do this, and all I ended up with is a lot of heartache and hurt feelings (because after she showed her true colors, she turned out to be the EXACT person my husband said she was). Also be assured that it is ok for the two of you NOT to be friends. Amicable, and respectful, yes; BFF’S- not necessary.

Another piece of advice is to never treat the child like a stepchild. When you married your husband, the two of them were a package deal. Accepting the proposal signifies that you agree and are willing to accept this responsibility. Treat him as your own; your relationship with him will be the better for it. Also, never speak ill of the child’s parent (no matter how trifling she may be). Taking the high road will ensure your sanity, and keep you from getting involved in silly bouts. And never feel bad about taking a step back and removing yourself from the situation, ESPECIALLY if the two of you have kids of your own. Sometimes this may be necessary to protect you and yours. NEVER feel remorseful for putting the emotional health and well-being of you and household over any negativity that may arise in regards to this situation.

Lastly, and most importantly, NEVER, NEVER, EVER allow the negativity (if any) associated with his previous spouse and her child cause a rift between the two of you. Being a step-parent is trying at times, and if the both of you do not have a solid foundation within your marriage, it WILL break you. She can do this Theresa. It is definitely do-able, but it is hard work. As long as she is up for the task and loves her husband unconditionally, I have no doubt that being a step-parent and a wife will be a great experience for her. Congratulations and best wishes!

StepMom Magazine

September 17th, 2009
5:58 am

Over 20 million women in the US are stepmoms and new stepfamilies are said to be forming at a rate of 1300 each day. Your friend has lots of company. The best thing she can do for herself is to educate herself about the dynamics that stepmoms and stepfamilies experience. There are many common experiences, emotions and techniques for dealing with a variety of situations that she will face both in her marriage and as a stepmom. Like anything, the more you know – the better prepared you are to handle whatever comes your way! There is no one better equipped to provide support and advice than someone who has been there – so her sister-stepmoms can be a tremendous help. Aside from StepMom Magazine, there are also many new books, blogs and websites out there for her. We’ve got them all listed on our website. She can visit us at: http://www.StepMomMag.com


September 17th, 2009
8:26 am

Read the article about the little girl and Cactus Joes and had a good laugh. I think the comment on the bill was totally inappropriate however, the father’s description of the girl being ‘mildly’ bothersome was so funny. Some parents think their cuties can do no wrong. My bet is that she was screaming.


September 17th, 2009
8:52 am

After my ex and I divorced, I went to my stepsons Moms second wedding..Her and I never had any problems with her being the ex and me being the new wife..At one time, her, I and another friend wallpapered my living room..That might not sound strange, except..The other friend was living with my ex husbands ex boyfriend..


September 17th, 2009
3:04 pm

Your post sure stirred a lot of debate for at least one person (who likes to post under a different name every time). I have to wonder, is she (or he) personally connected somehow to the couple? Jealous ex-wife, maybe? Spurned ex-boyfriend? Ex-mother-in-law? You get my point.

My advice for your friend (some of this may be a repeat from above posts, but bears repeating):
1. Don’t try to replace mom, but don’t try to be a friend either. Your stepson should respect you as he would an aunt or other respected family member.
2. Don’t expect to “love him as your own”. It’s unrealistic and you will only beat yourself up with guilt once you realize that you don’t. That’s not to say that you won’t, but it doesn’t happen over night. Give yourself time.
3. Set the rules and expectations with your husband as the “house rules”, and then enforce them. That way, you are not imposing your own rules, nor are you simply adopting expectations that you don’t necessarily agree with. And as another posted said above, don’t be the one that always enforces the rules, in fact, try not to be the one for a while.
4. The ex may very well be your greatest ally. Let her know that you fully support and respect her role as the mother and that you have no intention of infringing on that. Ask her to help you get to know her son better (if you enlist her help, she’ll likely be flattered). Don’t act as the mediator between your husband and her. If they have issues, let them work it out and be supportive of your husband.
5. Nurture your relationship with you husband. Make it your greatest priority. He must have 100% total faith that whatever you do, you always have his sons best interest at heart. Even if he doesn’t like something you’ve said or done, if he trusts you, he will know you had no ill-will.
6. Never argue with your husband about the boy or the ex in front of him. Discuss your differences in private. If there is a pressing issue, ask to have a moment alone to discuss it before either one of you renders a decision. Your stepson needs to see you as a united front.

that’s my two cents worth. There’s a goldmine of information, including resources, on my website at http://www.blackwellfamilyresources.com

Best of luck to your friend.
Angie Blackwell, CPC, CFLE


September 17th, 2009
5:57 pm

Let me begin by agreeing on the beautiful dress! Fabulous! I think you fall in love with the guy and his children. She has a protective hand on his little tousled head, and it’s sweet. I’m not a stepmom (just a mom), but I would think that agreement on the basics with the “non-custodial” parent would be important. She will definitely have to think of the “kid” first, but it sounds like she’s naturally well-suited to the job. I think if she is as smart as she sounds, then she will ignore the negative comments that come her way via this blog.


September 17th, 2009
5:58 pm

Also, I didn’t read as to how long she has been dating her now-husband, but if the child has had time to form a relationship with this child, it will all go better. Not like that idiot “girl toy” that Jon Gosselin has been hanging with – potentially 8 stepkids one day? No thanks!


September 19th, 2009
10:46 am

Whew am I glad that I don’t believe in divorce….


September 28th, 2009
10:21 pm

Enter your comments here My life mirrors your friend Emily’s. I got married last October at 38 years old to a slightly younger man and his 6 year old son. I’ll keep up reading the comments for advice on step mothering. I’m particularly interested in how others manage discipline, especially since we have shared custody with mom.


September 30th, 2009
1:33 pm

Although not a stepparent (or a parent for that matter, unless you count cats as kids lol), I do have this advice to offer: Be patient. Let the kid come to you, not you to them. While they may have been willing to have you into their lives while you and their father were dating, they may not be as accepting to you living under the same roof with them, especially if their birth mother still has a part in their lives.


October 4th, 2009
8:25 pm

Enter your comments here
At age 36, I married my sweeheart,He came with a 10 yr old , who is very sweet, and his jealous ex-wife who is the type that will feed you a brownie to your face and stab you in the back at the same time. We had custody, which made his ex very angry and hard to deal with.We have been married for almost 4 years now. The best advice I can give is to realize your husband can deal with his ex for most things. If you are indifferent to the ex. She will realize in time that she cannot make you frustrated. Just always be respectful towards her that way the children learn to always respect all of their parents. With the stepson I have learned that I should be aware of his talents, praise him, teach him chores,be aware of his interest school life, friends, take him to his sports, feed him good meals, be there for him, be a reasource, but also realize that you will never be his mom but will always be there for him. That brings peace in the family as a whole. I do not have to be her friend but I do have to deal with ther for the rest of our son’s life. So with that in mind. I do my best to be a good wife and mom.


October 14th, 2009
1:38 am

Really great post. This is an angle that doesn’t get covered as often – nicely done.
Reading this made me think of Kathleen who sent us her story about becoming a stepmom. She talks about her initial uncertainty, and then with her husband’s help learning to follow her heart and now absolutely LOVING being a stepmom.
Below is a link to her video. I hope you like it as much as I do. Take care.


November 13th, 2009
4:22 pm

I was married once before and have a 4 year old son of my own and my fiance’ has 3 children of his own from his previous marriage…I am 25 and he is 30…we make it work because we both love ALL of our children and bailing out is the easy way…anything worth while takes work!!!