May 17, 2012

The Evil Stepmother was Misunderstood

Clearly, we need to deconstruct this
misunderstood woman to reveal
her true motives.  Without support
and understanding, anyone can turn
into the evil step mother.
 So, potentially, within one year, I could find myself married, in a new house and cohabitating with three "step-children" between the ages of 14 - 16.  Now, first off, I have never felt the urge to procreate myself and always thought I would land into a relationship that came with kids.   Second off, I have never wanted to become a "step-mother" considering they have a mother already and definitely do not need another one. I have always maintained my role as driver, wallet, fun-creator, and emotional supporter when talking to a parent just won't do. (Plus, I can give great fashion tips and know the dating scene like the back of my hand).

But as I move into the reality of living with teenagers, I start to think that all those cartoons and children's stories that depicted the stepmother as evil really may all be a huge misunderstanding. She could be battling  hormones and attitudes of a teenage girl all by herself (assuming the man in the tale is out shooting deer or rescuing damsels). I can certainly understand her thoughts of sending them off to a boarding school (as did the potential step mother in "Sound of Music").

Think about it, a woman (or a man) who steps into the role as "step-parent" to children in their teens doesn't have the benefit of knowing said children when they were cuddly, cute, and thoughtful. Instead, she is supposed to love and care for offspring who grunt at her when greeted (not that I would know anything about that). I would certainly understand if her thoughts moved towards throwing them on a bus and sending them across the country. 

Novercaphobia - A fear of one's step-
mother.  With over 30 million children
in the US living with a step parent, it's
a shame that this family role has been
tainted by the fairy tales....
With all the blended families around now a days, it blows my mind there isn't much research on the role of the step parent (and how it can turn you into a crazy person and leaving you wondering what the hell did you do to deserve this). As a step parent, you will never really be "in the club", you may never have influence on child rearing or discipline. In fact, you may meet them after they are fully cooked without manners or the ability to sit at the dinner table or pick up after themselves. Instead, you do the driving, the cooking, the cleaning, and the rest without the thank yous or step parent days (unlike Mother's Day and Father's Day)...there is no step parent day (even birthdays have the potential to go unnoticed). Honestly, I do believe this might be one of the hardest roles to play......and I wonder if I have what it takes to play it.

Does loving the man (dearly) enough to love his kids as much? If not, how does one navigate through the guilt of not embracing the role of step parent or even fighting the urge to run the other way as fast as one can? Does it get easier over time? Why aren't there more books on this stuff? Too many questions?

Why just yesterday, after greeting one of them kindly and with as much energy and verve I could muster, I was met with a grunt and a snarl. Having had an education in assertive communication, I stepped up and let her know her response hurt my feelings. Her response to this? Another grunt combined with the dirty look/head turn combo. Note to self....assertive communication is wasted on the teenager.

So my case for empathizing with the evil stepmother is this; without the support of the parent, without the understanding that this role is challenging, without the coaching and assistance that this parent can offer...I fully understand the motives behind some of the behaviours of these fabled step monsters. I know I can't do this alone. I need support and to know that he is on my side. I need the acknowledgement from someone that this is a thankless job but one that's going to reap positive benefits in the end.  In exchange, I will do the best I can with the skills I have to support and care for him and his spawn.  I will remind myself constantly that the brain of a teenager is still under construction, that they are truly insane, and that grunting may be the only communication skill they know.

She started out nice enough. Worked
hard at creating a relationship with
them, but in the end after the grunting
groaning, and lack of appreciation
got the best of her.  Poor woman...
All I know is there are going to be times when I can't even be in the same room with these teens. I will doubt my choices and wish I had moved to the big city without the additional stresses of raging hormones wrapped in bad attitudes. BUT...isn't it the trying times in life that teach us the biggest lessons? Isn't that what real love is all about? God I hope so.



  1. I took on the role of stepparent and wonder of wonders, they grow up. In spite of us. And they turn out amazing parents and friends. And if you cast the spell on them thusly "I hope you grow up to have children just like you" you will find this works every time. You have to wait to see the results and it is messy on the way but worth the wait. It is wonderful to say "I TOLD YOU SO"!

  2. Well...I guess I got that going for me. It won't be too long before they are out on their own. Meanwhile, I'll be drinking heavily (kidding...sort of).

    Thanks for the post, 666.

  3. TerrieBNL;
    Thanks for your question. I'm sorry it took me almost two years to answer. Just in case you are still wondering...
    I did marry him, I did buy a house with him, and I am living with his kids. I can't say it turned out all happy. The one teenage girl hates me and there is nothing I can do to change this (so I have resorted to doing nothing and pretending she isn't there). This has helped me very much and, although I'm a proponent for healthy communication, I do believe it is wasted on people without the desire to make the change. She hates herself and hates others...what can I do?
    The son is now in college and probably the most self centered person I have met. Again, you can do a thing about it as a step mom, except accept. I have decided to not let his lack of thought, appreciation, and cleanliness get to me and just be.
    Sometimes there is no happy ending and the step parent and child do not learn to love each other...and that's okay. I'm in it for the husband and it will only be a few more years and we can move out of the country (he he ).