The Step Monster lives…….


Today I’m linking up with  They Call Me Mummy and her momfessionals. Here’s a story about a not so great step parent, Me.- Before I had any idea what I was doing, I was in charge of someone else’s child. It was tough and I messed it up, pretty badly at times. Do you think I damaged her much? You’ll have to read to find out 🙂 Hope you enjoy.

At a young age I became a step mother. I was a step mother before I had children. It’s different. Inheriting someone else’s child comes with a different set of rules. It’s not clearly defined. It’s not all you. Whether we realise it or not, before we have children, we have preconceived and often unrealistic ideas, on how they should be raised. I was very guilty of that. When you have your own children you grow into the roll from birth. It’s a totally different thing to start at aged 8. I felt I needed to prove something to The King, that I was a good mother, that I knew how to do things properly. I knew nothing! I was also trying to settle in a new relationship, in a new place. All of a sudden being a “mother” to an 8 year old was hard to navigate, even if it was only for short periods of time. To be honest, loving someone else’s child doesn’t come naturally. It’s much harder to find that unconditional love. It has to grow and evolve.

I did my best with the very limited knowledge I had, the only real experience I could draw on was my own upbringing. Totally irrelevant 20 years later. It was tough when the Princess would come for vacations. The King was busy trying to get us going in the business, things were uncertain and there wasn’t the opportunity to take time off. So it was really left to me to do things with her. I approached things all wrong, I was so insecure and trying so hard to prove myself in my relationship and my roll as partner and “mother” that I didn’t take the time to just hang out and be fun. I didn’t think about how all the changes were affecting her either. It must have been awful coming to visit, with dad too busy and being stuck with the step-monster all the time.  It wasn’t an enjoyable time looking back, we did our best but we could have handled it so differently. Luckily kids are resilient.

It went on this way, a couple of vacations a year for 4-5 years. The relationship grew but it wasn’t natural for me. I was still trying so hard to prove myself. Looking back now, I was so wrong. I was the poster child for how NOT to step-parent.

Despite all this, at 14 the Princess decided she wanted to come and live with Dad for a year. To get to know him a bit better. By then, Grand Master D was 3 and Miss Gremlin was on her way. Again I was thrown in the deep end but this time it was permanent. I had to navigate high school for the first time when I hadn’t done anything beyond play-group and daycare. We had an instant teenager, who by that time was a little more free range than either of us liked and we set about reining that in. We were so naive. It was a huge adjustment all around. I can only imagine how hard it was for the Princess. I was only looking at it from my side. 7 months pregnant, a 3 year old and a new teenager. We made it work, we adjusted because we had to. There were problems at first but she managed to fit in at school and youth group at church. I’m not sure she got to know her dad the way she’d hoped as he was just as busy as ever, now travelling to the US every 3 months but she did get to go on a trip. I suppose that’s something most 14 year olds don’t get to do. He actually left for a 3 week trip, 2 weeks after she first arrived to live with us.

In spite of the difficulties, I think we managed to live through the year well enough and actually grew close. The Princess got to spend time with her brother and sister and in the process achieved some great things, including singing on the beach in Surfers Paradise at an International Surf Carnival and losing 52 pounds. She also became very good at looking after little people.  After the Princess moved back with her mother, we moved countries and she came to live with us again when she finished high school in December 2007. It was very different second time around.

A couple of years ago I had an opportunity to talk to the Princess about those times and I asked for her forgiveness for not being as loving and fun as I could have been. She was gracious enough to say there was nothing to forgive but we talked a lot about all the years past. We got to a great place, she said she never hated me and didn’t even think it was all so bad. I was relieved to find I hadn’t totally scarred her for life.

I still feel bad and although I can’t change it, I’ve righted it the best I can by talking about it with her. We have a great relationship now as it’s on an adult level and I no longer have the same insecurities but deep down I wish I had handled it differently.

I did learn some valuable things along this journey though. The best way to be a step mother, in my opinion, is to just love the child the best way you can. Don’t try to change everything they are just because you might have issues with their other parent. Ultimately it doesn’t matter. The reason you’re even in their lives could be painful enough for them, a divorce or death of a parent. Be kind to them and be kind to yourself. It will work out. Life has a way of doing that.

I wish someone could have told me not to try so hard and just to go with the flow. It could have been a much more pleasant time. As adults it’s really up to us to set the tone of the relationship with our stepchildren.  If we love their parent then we owe it to all involved to just do our best to live and love together as a family.


Do you have a secret, some dirty laundry, a skeleton or two in your closet?

We do and it’s time to speak out.

Welcome to the MOMfessional – a space where other parenting bloggers can let it all hang out. 

bloggers post a piece on their blogs under the title of MOMfessional, it might be dark and heavy, it may be uproariously funny. It just needs to be something that people don’t talk about or easily ‘fess up to. We’ll link up to it , so you’ll be able to find each month’s piece right here. Easy peasy.

Are you a blogger who wants to take part? Email Michelle at with your post. All you need to do when you post your own MOMfessional is grab the banner above and link it to and we will make sure your post is listed.

Comments 20

  1. Wholly agree that step-parenting is different and in so many ways harder than parenting your own born children. I was a completely unprepared and un-natural step-parent, and woefully out of my comfort zone in a way that I still feel guilty about. Luckily kids are incredibly resilient and do not remember our flaws in the same way that we do. All step-parents (and parent) should be kind to one another and try to gently help each other through. There are unfortunately so many stereotypes which, combined with the emotional issues about the relationship you are in and the existence of a an earlier child (or children), can really seem quite overwhelming at the time. It’s great to see it written about so honestly. Thanks for giving pause for reflection. 🙂

  2. It must be very therapeutic doing the blog, I loved this one it brought a tear to my eye ,like you our family is spread far apart now and getting together is expensive & time consuming. Thanks to Facebook we are closer together. Cheers signed The Sister in Law.

  3. What an honest and insightful piece. I can only imagine you doing your absolute best in incredibly challenging circumstances. Thank god our children are both resilient and forgiving because Lordy I have been a very harsh “mumma” indeed but am dedicated to setting and enforcing boundaries.

  4. I love this blog & after reading it I feel I know you more (and love you more) I caught glimpes of the vunerable MMjnr but you did a good job playing the toughy 🙂 One of my favorite times with you was sleeping in the ‘big beds’ talking most of the night. You’re a special girl. xx

  5. It was a tough time for everyone, I came in with pre-conceived ideas of what I was coming into, and coming from a very different style of living was a big shock to the system but a little tough love never hurt anyone! Not that you guys were extremely hard on me, but just compared to what I was used to 🙂
    By the end of the year I think we had bonded more than we had expected and instead of just being able to get along, we truly became friends.
    We all did the best we could in the situation we were in and I think that you handled it very well despite how you think you did, especially considering you had a new born and a 3 year old.

    For the record, Cinderella had the “poster child” step monster

  6. Very insightful post and helpful. I’m not a stepmom but rather girlfriend mom (we’re not married) but I struggle with some of the same exact issues. It’s horrible to hear that loving someone else’s child is not natural, but truer words never spoken. And even though I never wanted children of my own, I have come to see that I do have my own ideas about raising a child and when I’m not able to do that, it’s frustrating and downright annoying. And your point about not having the opportunity to grow into the kids from birth but rather when they’re 9 and 13 is a whole other ballgame. I came down to breakfast one morning and bam! Insta-family. I look forward to reading more and hope that you’ll check out

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  7. This is a very true story, i also am with some one who has a child and i have two of my own. And how you feel towards them and how you feel towards your own is very different, i def do no treat them ant different than i treat m own kids. but this was a great blog

  8. I think it’s great that you even cared how you treated her. That you even cared enough to talk to her years later. It shows her that you loved her; it just took some time to figure out how to relate to it. It was all new to you too. Sounds to me like you’re a pretty awesome stepmom 🙂

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      Thankyou! It was difficult to write. It’s hard being brutally honest but it needed to be put out there for myself and for others to get a different perspective. I wish your sister luck

  9. I love this.

    Two of my five kids are actually my step-sons. There mother passed away some years ago and I have raised them, like my own, since they were both young. Being a step-parent is hard, rewarding, stressful, and one of the best things I have ever done in my life. I love my two step-sons as my own but at the same time, even after years have gone by, I find myself trying maybe a little extra with them. I think it is natural because we want them to love us. Even when we know they all ready do. You did a wonderful job. We all are winging this whole parenting thing day by day, minute by minute.

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  10. That was beautifully honest. As tiring as those first months of life are, it is so much easier learning to parent and be a family when you’re starting from day one rather than year six, nine, or twelve.

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  11. After reading this I realize that I wrote my GRANDMomfessional today.

    I congratulate you so much for talking with your step-daughter and acknowledging that things might have been done better, that you regret anyway she was hurt, and that you love her now and are glad she is in your life. It is a big deal to admit weakness and accept responsibility. It is much easier to give forgiveness to someone who asks for it that to someone who obstinately denies that there ever was anything to forgive.

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      Thank you. I try to do what’s right. It had been eating at me for a long time and I needed to tell her I was sorry. Life happens and when we get things wrong we have to fix it. At least that’s what I learned 🙂

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