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.”
“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:
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?