Seeking Step Moms

Updated on July 19, 2010
S.B. asks from Bonney Lake, WA
21 answers

Are there any step mom's out there who are having a hard time with their step children or feel their husband is not blending well with your children? Or know how to blend a combined family period? I'm basically looking for info or resources on the subject. Some say yes, you can descipline your step child some say no, you are not to and so on. Help.

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answers from Seattle on

The Step-parenting group at has been very helpful to me. There are Stepmoms there from all walks of life there. Ones that are vetran stepmoms and new ones as well. It's a place to vent and to get support and advise.



answers from Portland on


I would consider contacting Kinship House in the Lloyd Center area of Portland. They specialize in therapy to bond families (blended, step,foster, adopted). They are great.

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answers from Portland on

I am the a member of our Healthworks committee and my work. Our committee holds monthly "Lunch N Learn" sessions. In March we are having a professional come in and speak with us about Blended Families. Unfortunatley this isn't until March. I'd love to keep in touch and pass on any information I find out.

My boyfriend of 4 years and I live together and have been living together for 4 years. He has a 16-year-old, I have a 7-year-old, and together we have a 2 1/2 year old. I completely understand about blended families.

Because I entered his daughters life when she was 12 I feel it is different for me than him entering my daughters life when she was 3. For me when his daughter has more serious issues I let him do the major discipline, i.e. grounding, or whatever the consequence is. But she understands that her dad and I talk about the issue and make the decisions together. Him including me in the process helps her to understand that him and I are in it together. When it comes to smaller things I do discipline and stay on top of her when she's not doing what she is suppose to be doing. His daughter lives with us full time. Sometimes I feel like he is too hard on my daughter, and I suppose I take more offense to it because she is mine and not his biologically. Maybe not, I guess we'll see when our younger one gets older. See if I feel the same way. I guess my "mama bear" instinct feels like I need to stand up for her. And she's super sensitive. Although, I am way harder on her than anyone else. I guess because I know I have her unconditional love b/c she is my daughter. But, when he disciplines her I stand behind him. Bottom line, if you're not in it together the kids will know and they will learn how to work you. You and your husband need to be on the same team and work together to discipline and raise your kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Hi S.!

I'm a stepmomster too....a nickname that DH's oldest coined for me. When we married in 2001, he had four boys (16, 12, and twins 10) and I had a girl (11) and a boy (9). We then had a boy together.

First: let me recommend a book called "Living In A Stepfamily Without Getting Stepped On", by Dr. Leman. It is really funny, and yet soooooo true! Read it every few months, both you and your hubby.

Second: Step-life is a challenge!! And I don't say that lightly. My DH and I handled things the wrong way so many times and in so many ways over the first five years of our eventually lead to a one-year separation. During that time, all of our teens moved on with their lives:

Oldest SSon is 22, married and has two boys of his own.
19 yr old SSon still lives at our old place (long story!)
18 yr old BDau moved to her dad's out of state two years ago.
16 yr old twin Ssson moved with their mom out of state this summer.
and because our separation was pretty hard on him, 15 yr old BSon left to live with his dad out of state too. (broke my heart!)

So we still have our 5 year old at home, and DH and I have reconciled...though it is tough and rocky. Oh...and we are about to add a little girl to the mix.

Things seem a little easier as far as children go, because there isn't the territorial conflicts anymore. But at the same time, now DH and I have to really focus on each other...which we realize we DIDN'T do the first five years.

Step-life is hard work!



answers from Portland on

S., a great resource is She's a wonderful woman, has a great book, and is creating additional resources on her site.

Good luck!



answers from Iowa City on

Hi S.,

I HIGHLY recommend becoming a member of - its a community of step moms and future step moms that give each other advice and support when needed. It is an AMAZING resource and honestly I think its what has gotten me through the last 2 years with my boyfriend and his kids age 1.5, 4 and 6. And read as many books as you can find... I recommend reading reviews first.

I wish you well!



answers from Portland on

My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years, and he has two boys from a previous relationship, I have one son from a previous marriage. We each discipline all our children the same, noone is treated any different, and we communicate very well with his children's mother (my ex is not involved and has not been so it's not an issue). You have to communicate with everyone, and yes you should discipline your step children because they have to know their boundaries with you and that you are to be respected as well. Your husband should support you in this. If your children don't like him or his don't like you, and you're having problems with discipline, you all need to sit down for a family "pow-wow" and get some feelings out in the open. We've had to do this SEVERAL times over the years as our boys are all teenagers now and seem to have this attitude that they can treat anyone however they want, and we've had to be pretty strict with them to get them to realize that this is not acceptable. My son doesn't disrespect my husband because he's dad as far as my son is concerned. His children, especially the oldest, have had to be reminded of who I am to their father and that they need to show me the same respect they think they deserve. It's hard, but communication is definitely THE most important to make sure everyone's on the same page.



answers from Portland on

Hi, I have been married for 3 1/2 years. I have 4 Adult children and he has 1 Adult child, we have a 4 yr old. I am slowly working my way through the relationship with my step daughter. Her mother was killed in an auto accident when she was 10 yrs old. She has had Grandmothers, Aunts and other women trying to jump in and be her "mommy". I let her know from the beginning that I am not her mom but I care about her and will not treat her any differently then I do my Adult children.
She has been dating a man for 5 yrs and he has shared custody of his 13 yr old daughter. Now that they are getting married "this weekend" the step child's mother has taken him to court for full custody. The judge has told my step daughter that she has not legal rights to parent her. This child is displaying horrible behavior, the kind of behavior that if some on does not intervene she will be on drugs and with child with in months.
I sat down with the both of them and told them that my step daughter is not her mom and will never take her place, but she cares for her very much and wants her to be the best person ever. This child behavior has started changing, but I am having problems with the dad...His mom told him that his daughter always comes first, so he is starting to treat his daughter as an equal to his so to be wife.
So what I am saying is. Legally you can not be a parent to this child, but you can be a caring person and give them support and advise. I know it is very hard when you live with very young children. (State of Oregon will take the child out of the house).



answers from Portland on

I am a 27 year old mother of three and one on the way. I have a 10 year old stepson and 2 two daughters of my own. I am due again in the end of march. I wish I could have some wonderful words of wisdom for you but I have been in my stepsons life since he was 5 his father and I got together after he was seperated from his ex wife but before the divorce was final it took over a year. but my stepson still calls me by my name. that is just what works for us. I tried hard in the begining to not take his mothers place (we share 50/50 custody) and it just never meshed into my being a real mother. I do set some of the rules but I see some favoritism from my husband. he has always gone over board with gifts and things where my stepson is concerned and it was not a big deal when he was the only child but after we had our daughters and my stepson still get prferential treatment at christmas and birthdays i am still haveing to battle for my girls. I am not sure all families can truly become a happy blended family. in our case with the type of person my husbands ex wife is there will always be mistrust and hurt feelings between the two households one parnet will always try to outdo the other and it will always affect our son. I have a great book that was recommended to me a few weeks ago that I have not gotten to read yet but it is called MOMS HOUSE DADS HOUSE by Isolina Ricci PH. D it may be helpful I am excited to reaqd it. good luck and hopefully some wise families out there will be able to help more then I I just wanted to say that your not alone in your blended family struggle.



answers from Corvallis on

I know there are books out there to help with this type of situation. After being a family for six years I am sure what to suggest, aside from books and possibly family counceling. Your husband needs to be aware that he is treating your children differently than the others, and it pretty much is an issue he needs to work on. I feel for your children!
I grew up in a large blended family. In my situation my step mother took to us wonderfully, it was more us taking to her that was a problem. After counceling and patients we became a big happy family. There is hope!!



answers from Seattle on

I too am a step mom to a 7 year old boy. He is with his mother (across the state) most of the time. Even though I have been around him and with his dad since he was 2 it still is hard. He has always called me by my first name. That's just something that won't change. Sometimes he calles me mommy-R.. I can imagine that it's hard for them to accept this new person as their dad. Maybe sugest them doing like my step son does, saying daddy-(husbands name).
I think it is ok to disapline your step children. When my step son is at our house, it's our rules. And he has to obay me too. I am not in anyway trying to replace his mother , but I am a mother figure to him and he needs to respect and obay me too.
Hope this helps. It just takes time and work and lots of love. Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

Really, it's a decision that should be made between you and your husband,. How does he feel about it? In my family we figured if he adopted my daughter then he had equal responsibilities as a parent, we also decided ahead of time what and how we as the parent would deal with disciplining the children. And remember to not undermine your husband in front of the children and vise-versa, if you don't like their decision. Simply say so behind close doors, then you both can decide whether or not the punishment should be changed. I hope this helps.



answers from Seattle on

Hi S. B

You've got my empathy - I've been there. We had "his" and "hers" but no "ours" and it wasn't easy. Mine resented him and his resented me. My sons didn't like his daugher and visa versa. It was not fun at times (lol)! I think it's only natural that kids really wish their parents were together and don't like having a step-parent or step siblings, especially at first.

Our kids are all in their late 20s and early 30s now so we got through it and although the kids may never be best buddies everyone can get together and enjoy dinner or a holiday together. The best advice I can give is to remember to respect your spouse and try to understand that he is having a hard time with the situation, too. The kids will probably try their darndest to divide you.

Let the parent of the child involved be the disciplinarian as much as possible but gradually include the step parent more and more into the "discipline" discussions to present a united front. It's best if the step-parent lets the parent do most of the talking. We had a lot of "family meetings" to discuss issues and give everyone a chance to respectfully express themselves.

If anyone got disrespectful the parent of that child would remind them that everyone will be treated with respect. We also told the kids that they didn't have to like the step parent or step siblings but that everyone will at least treat each other with respect.

Try to always show love and understanding to the children even when they don't give any back. You will need to give, give, give. Some days you may want to wring their necks but try to remember that they didn't get to pick you or have any choice in their living situation. Don't expect it, but being a role model by treating them with patience, love and respect may pay off years down the road.

Good luck!




answers from Portland on

S. -

I think you absolutely have to discipline a step-child. Kids want and NEED discipline, they crave rules and schedules. They may not think so, but its true. There are many ways to 'discipline' we're both using it loosely here. I think being firm, setting boundaries, using eye-contact are great ways to begin building a relationship with a step-child. Kids test boundaries all the time. Positives are a really great way to build too. I try to also teach my kids and step-child humility. When they are mean or misbehaving, turn it around with something like "wow those words hurt my feeling" don't instill guilt or shame, but humility. Restate that you're not going anywhere, and you don't talk to her/him that way, and you'd really like them to treat you the same.

We also do what we call TIME-In time. We all know what time-out is, but time-in has worked SO MUCH better. In time-in the kid has to hang out with me. Not fun stuff...just whatever I'm doing. If I'm doing dishes they stand in the kitchen. If I'm working on a clients file (I'm an accountant) they sit in my office quietly. I tell them that no matter what they say, they are stuck with me!!

As for your hubby...this is hard. We are a family like yours "his, mine, ours!" Blended families are SO HARD sometimes, but the rewards from getting it right are AWESOME! My husband and I had to sit down one day and go over scenarios and establish an agreement based on what we both brought. Kids don't need two mom's or two dad's the beauty of a family is BOTH parents. We're different, give different advise, tips, and dreams to each of them. More than once I have had to BITE my tongue when he wasn't doing it (anything) my way...but in the end it always works out, and when I get over 'i wish you'd have done it' I start to see that is may have just worked out better his way. Hard to swallow someone else doing it as good for MY kids! Designate team rules and try to live by them.

You gotta love them all the same. Which is painful sometimes, especially when the 'momma bear syndrome' kicks. I've wanted to swoop in and rescue my little ones from their big bad step sister a million times, but YOU CAN'T!! You have to build them up as a team and that stuff will stop - well not stop, but it won't be painful for YOU...they really never stop the bickering, but YOU will feel better.

Team building for the whole family - family game night - great fun, good interaction, and participation.

Pick a place on the globe to learn about as a family. Plan a trip there for 10-years from now - who cares if you can't do it for whatever reason - its totally fun to learn and explore a family. Look up cool things online, get more maps have the kids draw a picture of what they think its like there. It works. Its all work...but it will be good!



answers from Portland on

I was living in the same situation three years ago when my husband was granted custody of his two teenagers. I had two teenagers that were adopted by him when they were small children, his two, and "our two". Discipline was an issue for us and we each handled it differently.
I would give the same disciplinary speech to all the kids as a whole, so that no one felt singled out. Even if the other kids weren't doing anything, it would be considered an overview or reminder to them.



answers from Bellingham on

Hi S....

I am a Step Mom too, so I do understand how challenging it can be at times. It sounds as if you have a couple of issues going here, tho.....

If your husband legally adopted "your" three children, then isn't he legally now their Dad? Shouldn't they be calling him Dad? Aren't those three now part of the "ours"???? Have you accepted him as being their Dad?

I do not have any biological children. I have one step daughter and one adopted daughter. My step daughter calls me by my name, as she has her other "mom" in her life. My adopted daughter calls me "mom", and I'd be very hurt if she did not do so.

As for the step children, here's what worked for us. My husband and I sat down and talked about what our comfort level was, what our expectations were, and how we wanted to see things progress. Then we worked towards those goals. I'm not saying it was always easy....but it can work. Communication is the key! First between you and your husband, then between the two of you and the kids. You will need to provide a united front to the kids.

Hope that helps!




answers from Portland on

I know your situation all too well. I have 5 kids... 1 is mine, 4 are his. I am in the process of adopting 3 of his (the other is 23!).
I can tell you a thousand stories about the discipline vs. not disciplining thing, etc. etc. but it all comes down to this (in my life at least)... things didn't start improving until we started disciplining together. We did counseling at one point, and the counselor told us that the problem in our house was that I disciplined my step kids and that should never happen. The problem with that was that I was the one home with them from 2:30-5:30 every day, on weekends, etc. I was a full time, stay at home mom, who wasn't allowed to discipline at all. I was only to nurture. However... she wanted my husband to come home and handle all discipline the minute he walked in the door. This did nothing but create resentment between us... I was always frustrated with the kids and he hated having to discipline them the minute he walked in, rather than be glad to see them. So... we got a new counselor! The first thing he did was tell my husband that I need to be in charge of the house for 1 week and he needed to back me up even if he didn't agree. That got the ball rolling. That was 3 years ago... we discipline together now. If it's a major discipline, we talk about it before handing it out... if it's a small one, we take care of it ourselves and the other parent doesn't get involved. The kids need to see both parents on the same team or they are going to play each other against the other one.... even the sweetest of innocent children learn how quick you can get away with things by doing this, trust me!
In my house, I can also tell you that once a parent... the words "mom" and "dad" are mandatory out of respect in my house. 2 of my "bonus" kids started calling me mom as soon as my husband and I got married. The other however, doesn't yet. However, we have discussed the fact that I am adopting them, and that I have proven the same as her dad has (whom she would never call by his name) that I am going to be here forever and I am her only mom, therefore, she is to call me mom once the adoption is final. She is ok with this (until she gets mad, I'm sure!).
I would love to share stories and advice with you any time!



answers from Portland on


I am a step mom with a blended family of five. Our children were older when we married, but nevertheless, blending a family regardless of age is never easy.

Here is what I offer. First you must blend yourselves before you can blend with the children. Once united then the process becomes seemless because you are a team.

I am an author who has written a book U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within that may give you some insight. I present the message of growing a Leadership Garden to thrive from my professional background of training and empowering leadership and even use examples of my personal life and the issues my husband and I faced to blend our family.

I personally believe all of life is about about leadership, since lead means simply to guide and direct. How you guide and direct your life is a choice, regardless of your age. And you are the only one truly responsible to lead your life.

I was invited to this list by a new mother who was a participant in one of my leadership programs and have been intrigued with the conversation, especially since my daughter is due this April with my first biological grandchild.

Every new event that comes up in a blended family, even such as this, brings a new dimension to blending that you may not expected. So the process of growing your blended family will never end and the key is to powerfully weed anything that impedes your process.

The principles and practices I present for growing a thriving Leadership Garden are applicable to all areas of life and your post especially caught my attention, since the subject of growing a thriving blended family as a step mom is near and dear to my heart.



A little about me:

I am 55, an author and publisher and am married to a wonderful man. We have blended five amazing grown children, three grandchildren, and have two more on the way. My husband and I live in Albany, Oregon. You can visit my web site at and my blog at



answers from Seattle on

When my husband moved in with us, and then his two boys (8 and 4), I already had a boy of my own (about 7 years old). I decided right then to treat them as my own children. They were loved and disciplined the same way my own son was. I told them they could call me Mom or C., whatever was more comfortable for them. I assured their mother that I wasn't trying to take her place. And I made sure that my husband and I were on good terms with her for the kids sakes. I also alowwed my husband to treat my son like his own.

We all got used to each other. It took a little while, though. Not as long as you would think, though. And there wasn't really a problem. We have been together (with the kids) for over 15 years. The boys are grown, and still call me to talk. My son still calls my husband by his first name, but says my husband is the only Dad he will ever have.

You are put into the parent role for his kids. Therefore, you must act like the parent. Believe me, the kids need a parent more than a friend, they WILL appreciate it in time, and no child can claim that you have a favorite. Just make sure that you are on the same page as your husband, and present a united front. Even if your children call your husband by his first name forever, they still love him. They are just more comfortable (for whatever reason) calling him by his name. As long as they aren't calling him something worse, I think you're OK. haha.

Sorry this is so darn long.



answers from Portland on

I am not a step parent, but I come from a "step" home. I lived with my mom and step-dad and visited my dad and step-mom. I know everyone says that a step should not discipline if they came into the child's life after 4 years old, but you don't want them to walk all over you either. Based on my experience (from the kids' perspective), here is my advice.

The kids already have a mom, and they don't need or want another one. What they do desperately need is an adult they can confide in and trust. With step-dads though, I think it is different. I felt like I couldn't have enough dads.
With discipline, I think that you should set up the house rules that everyone has to follow, and enforce them. For major punishments like spanking, grounding, or serious long talks, I would tell them you are going to talk to their father (or he to you) and then after you two decide on a punishment (in private), your husband should deliver it to his own kids (or you to yours). The kids need to know that there are boundaries and that you both will not allow them to run the house. They need to know that you both agree and present a united front (even if you don't). If the kids see you guys disagree, they will pick sides and form resentments.

What worked best in my relationship with my step-mom is that I knew I could talk to her about ANYTHING. She did not run and tell my parents, and did not discipline me for the things I told her... just gave me advice and support. It meant the world to me in my teen years when I was a "typical teen girl". She did not allow me to break the house rules though and was strict about them.



answers from Anchorage on

My step-son and I had some definate issues when he was about 6. One thing I learned with step and foster kids, if they don't respect you discipline won't do any good. That doesn't mean not to discipline. You must retain order in your home. My husband sat down with him and told him that DH loves me and respects me, I am not a replacement for his mom but, DH allowes me to be in charge when he is not home so I am to get the same respect and obedience as a baby-sitter.
He felt alot better to know that he doesn't have to love me and hubby did have to come home and discipline a couple of times the same as you would do for a baby sitter. Basicaly until you have full respect and blending step-parents need to be hands off, time out, go to your room type things.
Ensure you have house rules so they don't feel like your making stuff up. And most of all, have a united front at all times!

My step-son now 15, calls me mom when talking to any one but me and at 6'2 allows me to pull him around by the ear when he get out of line. He also hangs up the phone with "I love you" although I don't think he relizes it. ;)

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