Do stepmoms get shafted on Mother’s Day?

Are stepmothers forgotten or ignored on Mother’s Day?

Family therapist and stepmother Judy Osborne says Mother’s Day is “the hardest day of the year.”

From The Huffington Post:

“Osborne, a Brookline, Mass.-based marriage and family therapist, started her practice, Stepfamily Associates, in 1980, specializing in stepfamilies. While she said she has a strong relationship with her own stepdaughter — a bond she cultivated slowly over many years — her stepmother clients have shown her time and again how the holiday sparks complicated feelings. “They really dread it,” Osborne said. “Mother’s Day tends to be a lot more charged” than Father’s Day because most women invest in mothering a new partner’s children. “I think it’s hardest on women who don’t have children themselves….”

“What Osborne said she observes affects a growing number of Americans as “nontraditional” family structures become more commonplace. As of 2009, 5.6 million children lived with at least one stepparent, according to the census. And, according to the Pew Research Center’s estimates in 2010, 42 percent of adults have at least one step-relative. While it’s difficult to determine how many stepmoms exist in the U.S., the Pew Research Center estimates 14 million.”

“Many stepmothers fill clear maternal roles, at least part-time, when divorced parents split time with their children, doing everything from taking kids back-to-school shopping to driving in the carpool. Often, they consider themselves co-parents with their partners, and strive to create close bonds with their partners’ kids. So if stepmothers aren’t shown appreciation on Mother’s Day, of all days, then when will they be acknowledged?”

Osborne says some reasons why stepmoms may get shafted on the holiday:

  1. No readily available cards at the store for stepmoms.
  2. The kids may be worried their “real” mom will feel betrayed by recognizing the stepmother.

What’s her advice?

The stepmothers shouldn’t expect too much. The spouse should step in and celebrate her, and the kids should know they could do nice things for their stepmothers any day of the year.

Will you be celebrating your stepmother this Sunday? If so, how? Will it differ from what you are doing for your birth mother? Will you let your mom know that you are doing something for your stepmom?

If you’re a stepmother, will you be expected a gift, card or special thought from your stepchildren?

64 comments Add your comment


May 8th, 2012
5:53 am

My step mom is a great person! She married my Dad when I was 40 ish. I am not sure she knew what she was getting in to :). I do tell her how much appreciate her. I always send her a card and used to send her gifts, as she did us, until we got it that my Dad told her to take care of her son and he would take care of his daughters. I am pretty sure we got the sort end of that stick as we do not get gifts and she is quite generous with her son. We typically do not get gifts. Nothing for birthdays and maybe a check for Christmas. My stepmom used to send things for my kids and they loved it…no more. I really do not need anything but it was so nice being remembered by her and I liked to send things her way too! To me, the thing about a card or gifts, is that someone took time to remember YOU. It is not so much about what they sent. I just got a card from a friend who sends Mother’s Day cards to all the woman she appreciates. Such a nice surprise and I am sure she knows a LOT of woman! Put a smile on my face!

Off topic…we attended our son’s Pharmacy pinning yesterday. That was a wonderful gift, as a Mother. He has passed all of his classes and is heading to clinical rotations. YES, I am proud!
To me, the best present a Mother can have is children who are successful, happy and well liked by their peers. Also, they are not too big to give you a hug in public or endure endless family pictures at ceremonies and family events. My two both grumble and laugh as they know what is coming!

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers! A question…

I have seen several advertisements for STEAK restaurants to take Mom to lunch. This makes me chuckle. I LOVE a good steak but it is not on my list for where to dine on Mother’s Day. Perhaps they are thinking Dads would be more up to it than a FROO FROO place for Mom? Around here, whomever we are celebrating gets to pick the restaurant. That included my son, who chose a restaurant smack DOWNTOWN in ATL at 5:00 p.m. We laughed as we almost got lost and have lived here almost 23 years. Good thing we have GPS. It was HIS day and we went where he wanted to go!


May 8th, 2012
5:59 am

@ FCM, I gave some serious thought to your comment on May 4 at 2:03. After numerous attempts to get in touch, I was told that the venue was not for family…just church friends and neighbors….huh?


May 8th, 2012
6:56 am

Sadly, the whole thing is becoming as commercialized as Valentine’s Day.

As a father and a boyfriend of a woman with two girls, I understand that I am NOT their father, not here to replace him, not jealous of any attention he gets because of his place in their life. I try to act like a grown up about the situation and not some 7th grade per-teen.

I help them in any way I can and in any way their mother asks me to. But there is a line where no matter what I do or say, I will never be there father. And I don’t need some card, visit, present from them on a day that is designed for him. It’s called boundaries and maturity.

Maybe these “offended” step moms could use some of that advice.


May 8th, 2012
6:58 am

I realize that sounds a bit harsh, but everyone seems so offended, hurt and wants so much recognition and attention that sometimes enough is enough.


May 8th, 2012
7:55 am

My stepmom is a real BEOTCH!

Voice of Reason

May 8th, 2012
7:56 am

Being a mother is not something you just marry into. That kind of respect has to be earned.


May 8th, 2012
7:59 am


Well, all the step moms can be jealous of me IF they thing having their stepkids disingenuously suggest a gift for them that the kid really wants for their own. (e-toys) While he generously offered to bake me a cake, he also dictated the breakfast that I am supposed to make on Sunday. For him.

(We do NOT go out on Mother’s Day. It’s possibly the worst time to eat out or take out. Or travel.)


May 8th, 2012
8:00 am

I guess it depends on how one defines “shafted” – does this mean no recognition at all, i.e. no phone call, no card, and/or not even a simply text? Or does it mean that the stepmom doesn’t receive the exact same recongnition as the real mom?
I know that my family and I are different than most but my two grown daughters do call their stepmom (my wife) on Mother’s Day. I don’t, however, have any clue what they do for their real mom as they don’t tell and I don’t ask nor care.
As far as lunch or dinner, we always allow the “person of the day” to choose. We are doing brunch this Sunday at Aspen’s because that’s what my wife wants to do. She wanted, and received, dinner at Canoe on her birthday. I wanted, and received, dinner at Woodfire Grill because I was a fan of Kevin and Top Chef at the time. So, the driving to downtown at 5:00 pm I well understand.
@MJG – Congrats to your son and you have reason to be proud!!
@Jeff — I even agree with you to some extent as it relates to the “enough is enough”.


May 8th, 2012
8:07 am

We don’t do Hallmark Holidays. Mother’s day is just another Sunday. I don’t need a special day to let my mom know how much I appreciate her. I don’t need a special day for my kids to let me know they love me and appreciate me.

I tell my parents I love them every time I talk to them, see them, etc. We don’t need pressure to spend gobs of money for presents they don’t need, to eat in a restaurant that is packed with a 2 hour wait. The grill in the back yard is just fine, and if our Moms wants to come over and grill out, then they will. We usually grill out with the entire family on Sundays anyway.

So, sorry, no need……at least not in my home.


May 8th, 2012
8:13 am

RE: Mother’s Day the worst possible day to eat out…Um NO…the worst is when they are offering FREE Kid’s meals IMHO. We have eaten some very nice Mother’s Day brunches at upscale restaurants and hotels and have typically had a nice time. We have even stopped to compliment young families on their delightful children!

Last summer, we took my husband to a Brave’s Game and then dinner, as a surprise. It was a Sunday afternoon game, LOTS of people and our seats were in FULL SUN…the temp was mid 90’s. I told the kids I would not be doing that again. I was SO hot, my shirt was soaked. They both laughed and told me they knew ( after we got there) I would not make it long in that heat and agreed that we would need to perhaps do an evening game. I have never been so hot, except at the San Antonio Zoo when it was 102!


May 8th, 2012
8:16 am

I am a stepmom of two grown children. They were teenagers when I married their dad, so I had very little involvement in raising them. I do not have any biological children. When I was a new stepmom, it used to really hurt my feelings when they ignored me on Mother’s Day. Now 12 years into it, I totally understand that I am not their mom, and that they see me as “dad’s wife” and nothing more. It took me awhile, but I’m OK with it now. My husband takes me out to eat and tells me Happy Mother’s Day, and that’s enough.


May 8th, 2012
8:27 am

It isn’t “Step-mother’s Day.” Ooops…wish I had not made that suggestion. Someone will probably start one.

Thank you BHS86...

May 8th, 2012
8:37 am

…for being a grown up about it now and spelling out that there IS a difference between being “mom” and being “dad’s wife”


May 8th, 2012
8:55 am

For this mothers day I hope my step-mom receieves some divorce papers.


May 8th, 2012
8:56 am

My Dad’s wife is not my Mom but she is a wonderful person, nonetheless. I appreciate her as a person and as someone who lives with my Dad every day! When he was getting ready to marry her, he sat with me and we had a big talk. I was FINE with it, as it is his life and I did not want him to be alone, after my Mom died. They are almost the same age and since we were all adults, we encouraged him to get married…if that is what he wanted to do. I do not understand why some grown children get upset when a parent wants to remarry after the death of a parent. I was happy my Dad found someone to share his life with. I many ways, I like her more than my own mother. THAT story is way too long to tell and I have to scoot to school. Have a great day all! ( some of you are probably relieved at my last comment and I get it!)

Yolanda Weiner

May 8th, 2012
8:58 am

The step moms should be getting the step children a gift on mothers day.


May 8th, 2012
9:02 am

As an actual mother I couldn’t care less about Mother’s Day. If I’m ever someone’s stepmother, I will still not care about it. If stepkids want to get a nice card or some flowers or something for a stepmother who is close to them or really nice to them -great! If not, stepmommy should be a grown up about it. Chances are the kids are spending the day with their actual mother and maybe a grandmother too. And there are plenty of nice blank cards to be had as well as stepmother cards that I’ve seen in both Kroger and Target.


May 8th, 2012
9:07 am

Everybody’s a victim.
Suck it up.


May 8th, 2012
9:15 am

Well, a step mom is not a real mom, like a PHD. is not a real Doctor, Like a Para legal is not a real lawyer, a coroner is not a medical examiner.
Having said all that, the one who raises the children instills values is the mom.

Roberta Higginbotham

May 8th, 2012
9:49 am

If the kids expect, and gladly accept, presents from step-mom on their birthdays and at Christmas, then I don’t see where a little recognition on Mother’s Day is a bad thing.

Rockdale Resident

May 8th, 2012
10:06 am

I can see both sides of the argument here– my step daughter is 11 and I have been a part of her life since she was 5, so I would hope that if not now, one day, she would value our relationship. At the same time, I have never desired to “replace” her mother, and thus I do not expect the same gifts or sentiments. But here is where it IS an unplesant day– at church or in social gatherings where mother’s day is made into a big deal and you are unable to have children of your own. However, as an adult, you learn to not enter into situations that you know are going to be emotionally trying for you when at all possible.


May 8th, 2012
10:15 am

OK, I’m amazed at the angry attitudes regarding stepmoms from most of you. It is true that a stepmother or stepfather was not involved in the creation of the child. Since when did giving birth make someone a good parent? There are many adopted children out there. Should their mothers and fathers have any less respect? I have two children by birth and two by marriage. I did chose (as did my husband) to take each other’s kids into our hearts when we married. We are quite aware that the step parent is not their birth parent, and we make sure that the kids know that they should love and respect their birth parent.

Now, do I expect an elaborate gift from my step kids? NO. BUT – I really do appreciate it when I get that phone call on my birthday and Mother’s Day that shows me that they care about me and appreciate that I love them too.

My husband and I have worked hard to make sure our step kids know that we love them as much as we love our birth kids. When my adult stepdaughter had her baby, her mother, her father, myself, and her 3 brothers were all there to welcome him (after the birth) and to support her. When I tried to step back, she insisted that I be as much a part of it as her birth parents. That did make me really feel like we have accomplished what we set out to do – love all of our children and they know it. I know we are probably the exception, but you would be amazed at how much less drama we have because we genuinely love all 4 of our kids. We do not have the perfect family any more than anyone else, but we sure do try…


May 8th, 2012
10:17 am

Oh, and in no way do my husband and I expect to or want to replace the birth parents. Instead, we are there to give them the love of an additional parent.


May 8th, 2012
10:37 am

My girls do the same for their step-dad as they do their father. He’s helped me raise them for 12 years now and they are both aware of the qualities he has brought into their lives. He loves them as his own and they love him just the same. That’s one of the reasons I love him so much.

Just Me

May 8th, 2012
10:37 am

Completly agree with PhotoMomof4. I too have 2 kids, and my husband has 2. We have full custody of all of them and they are all raised with the same love and respect and are treated equally. His kids know that I’m not trying to replace their mother and my kids know that my husband isn’t trying to replace their father. I just try to be a positive, female role model in his kids life. They’re still relatively young but I think they appreciate who I am and the role I play in their lives. My husband and all 4 of the kids will make sure they do something special for me on Mother’s Day.


May 8th, 2012
10:50 am

I was grown with my parents remarried others so neither of the steps raised me. But I respect them and I honor them on “their” day. Sometimes I send a gift or sometimes just a card. I send to my grandmother, sister and sister-in-law-to-be, too. This year ALL of them will be late so Sunday will be full of calls. LOL!


May 8th, 2012
10:55 am

@ MJG ugh! That bites! I totally get why you wanted to be included.

@ Jeff– your post is exactly why I love ya!

Now, my children have a step mom. I like the step mom. In fact we saw one of those win 4 tix to Disney things and my kids said, well we want you to go but so Dad doesn’t feel bad we should invite him, so I guess “step mom” will need to purchase a tix. I said or you could just take me and “Step Mom” and they laughed then said well we would have a better time we like her better than we like Dad!! (which is it’s own sad)

But I point it out to say that it is really up to the child and the step mom. I am not going to send flowers/card to the step mom (for Mom’s Day) and say they are from the kids. When they have jobs/$$$ to spend and want to do something they will…if not they won’t. Mine are very clear “YOU are our mom. YOU cannot be replaced no matter how much Dad says “step mom” is our Mom too.”

That came from the kids not me.


May 8th, 2012
11:13 am

BTW being a single mom (of young people) on mother’s day has it’s own shaft. Yes I get home made cards and presents that I ADORE and TREASURE. However, nobody takes me out to dinner but me. I don’t get told to sleep in, I have to be up with the kids. I don’t get sent to the spa or any of those other things.

In fact last year my two decided to be hellions and fight all day. It was MISERABLE. I will remember it forever, and I smile today because, if it weren’t for those 2 I would not be a Mom.


May 8th, 2012
11:35 am

I insisted that my kids mind and be polite to their stepmom when they were younger. I figured that it would be good for all of us to get along.

As they have gotten older (they are all adults now) I have let them find their own way with her. They are polite to her, but they have watched as she has descended into alcoholism, and the neglect of their half-brother and her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. Part of the fault of that is certainly my former husband’s, and they are now old enough to see that and handle it as they wish. But when they were younger, they bought cards and small gifts (with my money) and treated her well. She is basically non-functional now but she is welcome at our family events. I am one of those with “permission” to pick their son up at school if he becomes ill!

Any actions toward her or their father now is a result of their adult observations, not what I have said or acted.

Stepmom to 2

May 8th, 2012
12:36 pm

I am a step-mom to two, now grown, children. I married their Dad when they were 5 and 6 years old. Two years after that our son came to live with us full time and our daughter stayed with her Mom. Both of them have been wonderful about remembering me with a card and gifts. My husband remembered me also – from both kids when they were younger and now from him. With both children grown I still get cards, flowers etc. And it’s very special to know they appreciate what I did for them. I would get cards to “Mom” since that’s what was available. I know I’m not their biological Mother, but I love them both and acted in the role of Mom for our son, especially. The way children remember step-parents has a lot to do with how their parents teach them to behave.


May 8th, 2012
12:47 pm

I think it depends on the relationship. My husband was an adult when his parents married their current spouses. His step-father and his step-mother were not involved in his raising. So he does not consider them to be his parents. However, his step-mother and step-father are very involved with our children in grandparent roles. We celebrate them on Mother’s Day and Father’s day for their grandparent involvement.


May 8th, 2012
1:09 pm

MJG: A whole bouquet of congratulations! Seems like a only a year since you were announcing that he had been accepted!


May 8th, 2012
1:34 pm

Thanks catlady…I hope to see you this summer!

FCM…when I spoke with her, she said, ” I do not want you to be mad.” Well, I am and both of us two sisters here are hurt that no one thought enough of us to invite us. We are more outspoken than our middle sister and her husband is not too keen on it. She generally concedes to what he wants her to do. We all live our lives differently but we are related by blood and thus hope that should count for something…guess not. Do you want me to take you out to lunch? You know I will. Just ask TWG to forward your e-mail. I am home now for a while and THRILLED!


May 8th, 2012
1:41 pm

FYI…Scott’s on the Square, In Gainesville, is having a Mother’s Day Brunch. We ate there for Easter and it was delicious. The variety and quality was great. You will need reservations as it is smallish.
They are only open on Sunday for Easter and Mother’s Day. We hope to try it another time!


May 8th, 2012
2:03 pm

@ MJG you are kind. We can go to lunch one day but it will be as blog friends meeting. OK?

I only mentioned the single mother’s side as there is a flip side to the step mom. The Christmas presents under the tree (bought ones) are paid for by me, the Mother’s Day present will be too. My children don’t know this, I just hand my parents cash and let them shop. When my parents first asked I said “Why am I paying for my own present?” They pointed out if I was married it would come from the “Household” budget more than likely so what was the difference. Never thought twice about it again. Since neither my parents, nor my children seem to know what to buy me, I have been known to purchase something online and send it to my parents house letting my Mom in on it. I then drops hints at home as to what would be nice and my Mom says oh, well look what I saw and think it just matches! To my children. Now that mine are older (10 & 12) I am thinking that one is going to bite me in the butt here soon.


May 8th, 2012
2:35 pm

My stepson by my ex husband always gave me something for Mothers Day..He was 16 when I started dating his father and even though he still had his bio Mom, he never considered my anything but his Mom.. I don’t expect anything from my stepsone now, as he was grown with children of his own when I married his Dad..So to me, it’s just another day..I will get flowers from the two grandchildren at church, so that’s good for me..

@MJG..Congrats..That is something to be very proud of..:~)


May 8th, 2012
3:09 pm

I too am a single mom. No one buys me presents, no one takes me out to dinner, but I don’t care. That’s not what it’s about. And I personally think it’s selfish to expect a present/dinner. I would rather have a hand made card, and some serious snuggle on Mother’s Day. That’s all.

It’s the little things in life…….

Now if I choose for us to go out on Mother’s Day, I will hand my baby some money, and he will put it in his pocket. It makes him feel so grown up to pay for our dinner…..and it makes him feel special.

Fresh Spring

May 8th, 2012
7:20 pm

Yet again, WHY is this a topic or question ?? My gods….. she is YOUR STEPMOTHER. You flower and card and celebrate her. End of discussion. Move on.

Back to the communion action for the blogger’s boy……. please make a better note that you have a son. Readers are not aware. Picture indicates all females and the slanted blog name of Momania does not invite that males can participate in this blog.

Stepmothers Day

May 8th, 2012
8:37 pm

To Anan who snarkily said that Mother’s Day is not Stepmother’s Day, and then said maybe he/she shouldn’t have suggested it because someone will create it….. There already IS a Stepmother’s Day. It’s not offically recognized as a holiday, but it is celebrated the Sunday after Mother’s Day.


May 8th, 2012
10:36 pm

I struggle with this Hallmark Holiday. Not because of a step-mom issue. I’m a daughter of a NPD mother (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) who had to go no contact two years ago. Not an easy decision, to say the least, but one that was necessary for my own sanity. It sucks….no Mothers Day celebrations here.

Fresh Spring

May 8th, 2012
11:07 pm

@motherjanegoose ……… really ? hogging the blog ? Mucho time for volunteer work is what I see here. Stop the casual baby stroller trips up to Starbucks and nail salon visits (to which you refer as an exhausting day) and get your butt to work or volunteering at a homeless shelter or health facility. OMG. Such an entitlement attitude. Your hoodwinked male live- in is not going to support you forever. Contribute !!!


May 9th, 2012
12:18 am

Any woman that is in the home and does motherly things to help raise a child deserves some gratitude on Mother’s Day. And even if your step became your step after you were grown, but does nice things for you on holidays and your birthday, don’t be a jerkface and at least send a card or give a call.


May 9th, 2012
9:58 am

From the people who work in the restaurant biz:

Mother’s Day is set up to get as many tables in and out as possible. There is a “special” menu with “select” dishes. Translation: They remove selections from the menu so that the kitchen can get orders out quickly. Most people won’t notice because the menu items left on are popular ones.

This is not a good time to ask your waiter or the kitchen for special orders or anything not on the menu. This is not a good time to plan to linger over your meal – even though your wait times and food service might be longer than usual.

I suggest if you do go out:
Make reservations
Pick the first seating. Not the first seating available, but the FIRST seating. The staff will be fresh. Even with increased staffing, the nonstop demands of Mother’s Day will wear out all of the restaurant staff.
Don’t expect all of the usual menu selections to be available. If you love an entree, check ahead of time to see if will be on the Special Menu.
If you really want a good time, select a chef owned restaurant that will limit seatings to what the restaurant can handle while maintaining quality.

Most restaurants look at Mother’s Day as profit maximizing experience. T


May 9th, 2012
11:06 am

My boys are gonna love their step mom. I haven’t met her yet, but you can be sure I’m on the lookout for her.


May 9th, 2012
12:45 pm

If the step-mom has a genuine relationship with the kids then by all means its appropriate. My youngest of four girls has the opportunity to have such a relationship with my wife to be and she plans to honor her this weekend. You dont have to give birth to be a mother; you can still love, be there thru and thru, tell how awesome and beautiful you are, approve of you lovingly and with great admiration and acceptance. Theres no expectations from my other daughters and would understand if they didnt reach out and thats ok.


May 9th, 2012
4:36 pm

Stepparents have to come to the realization that they’re not the real deal and never will be. Get over it and act like an adult. Kids don’t want multiple parents. It’s too confusing for their underdeveloped brains.


May 9th, 2012
4:40 pm

I have been married to my husband since my now-stepdaughter was 4. She is 10, and asks why she can’t ever spend Mother’s Day with me. Whenever she makes a craft for Mother’s Day at school, she always keeps it in her bookbag until the next time she is with me and gives it to me instead of her mother. That actually makes me very sad.


May 9th, 2012
4:46 pm

As a Mom and a Step-Mom, I do not expect my husband’s children to call me Mom nor do I attempt to replace their mom, she’s alive… and well alive…. I have been in their lives for 9 years, and my relationship grows with them. A call is nice, a gift is a total and pleasant surprise. I am loved by my family and know that a gift cannot replace that. I cannot expect more than that! Happy Mother’s Day to all !


May 9th, 2012
5:56 pm

I thought all moms got “shafted”. Isn’t that how they became mothers in the first place?


May 9th, 2012
7:33 pm

I have a great stepmother. I still call her by her first name and that’s our long running joke. What to call her? I was not very accepting when she married my father. My real mother was not very involved or interested in our lives. So that made it almost impossible to believe that my stepmother had any honorable intentions. For a few years we didn’t speak, and I didn’t acknowledge her unless I had to. Then one day it clicked. She continued being nice and caring and motherly, and I realized wow this is what real moms do. Why am I giving her such a hard time? So now I bombard her with texts and emails and calls and etc because now I have what so many of my friends had growing up; someone completely concerned about their lives and their adventures and their well being.

I still send my real mother flowers or a card for mothers day. I haven’t seen her in person since 2009 and she lives less than 4 hours away, but she is my mother, and I don’t trivialize that, but I also know where we stand.

To all the step mothers out there. Sometimes it’s very hard for us to understand that you just want to love us to, and worry about us, and tell us to get second and third opinions, and remind us to set the alarm as if we don’t do it on the nights when we don’t talk to you, but I’m so glad her tenacity broke through the hard shell of doubt and now I have a great mom, ready and asking everyday to be an awesome grandmother.