Stepmom: Just a Third Parent

you are more

Some recently said to me that as a stepmom, to the biomom and the stepchild you might be an unwanted third parent. I’m not sure it was meant negatively or not but I have been thinking about this for the past couple of days. Am I an unwanted third  parent? Am I doing more than I should? Is my involvement over-complicating things rather than helping?

On, Peggy Nolan, executive director of The Stepmom’s Toolbox says, “New stepparents try to discipline without establishing trust. That leads to mistrust and disrespect, which ultimately leads to dislike.”

In the same article, Connie Brooks, a stepmom from Venice, CA, says: Try being invested in your stepkids’ lives without overstepping bounds. “Be a caring, responsible adult figure, much like a loving aunt, uncle or grandparent,” she recommends. “You can act like a parent when your stepchildren are about to do something irrevocably stupid and you’re the only one around to stop it. But you have to not be the parent pretty much every other time.”

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Part of me gets it… the kid already has two parents parenting him. Why is a third needed? A few thoughts on that…

1. As a wife and stepmom, I am my husband’s partner and that includes parenting. I shouldn’t override any decisions he makes whether our child is naturally mine or not. I am here to support him and work as a team for the child’s best interest.

2. As a stepmom I have a unique position. I choose to love this child and be a part of his life. I have an “outsider” perspective on things that can help especially when the natural parents or m hubby and stepson aren’t seeing eye to eye.

3. I have to disagree with: ” But you have to not be the parent pretty much every other time.” There are times when my husband is around and I do need to be the parent. If he has had a long day at work, I may need to help with homework and make sure afternoon chores are done. I might even have to discipline. There have even been times when both my hubby and his ex have been around and T has turned to me for something that he needed. To me that says he sees me as a parent. And yes, I do agree that I shouldn’t constantly be disciplining him or that will turn to resentment but isn’t that true for any child?

Am I an unwanted third  parent? No, stepmom, you are more.

So, what do you think? Are you a parent to your stepchild or just a loving adult in their life?



  1. Grace Martinez says:

    This topic has been on my heart for several months, and I know there is just not one way to parent in blended families. I am a new stepmother, with no biological children of my own.
    One of the reasons I chose to marry my amazing husband was to become an amazing step mother to his children. I cannot do that if I just sit on the sidelines, watching him parent. My friend is licensed counselor, and has advised me not to get to involved with parenting to soon, but my heart disagrees. I invested my time, my life and future for this family. I feel like I should be involved in discipline as well. I am 9 months in, and have tried doing it both ways. I can truly say that although he does most of the parenting with our 6 & 8 year old, I step in as much as needed. We have set our new house rules, and we make sure the kids also undertand them and why they are in place. I am the mother 100% of the time they are here, so I am plugging for mommy rights!!

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your heart! I agree with you. It is hard not to be a parent when you know you will always be a part of their lives. I thank it is awesome that you are a mother like that to your stepkids! They are blessed to have you!
      Do you and your husband have the kiddos all the time or do you share custody with their natural mother?
      Thanks again Grace. I hope to chat with you more! xoxo

  2. I am a mother and a step-mother. I can’t answer for everyone, but I can tell you that I never made the kids call me mom (I really resented that when my ex played that one on me). I did discipline them as needed, mostly because we had so many kids around and I am not going to treat them differently just because I am not bio mom. We have been married 21 years and have three more children of our own. It was hard, yet rewarding to have my step-kids. It is actually hard to refer to them that way because in my heart, they are part mine. I have learned that it doesn’t matter if they are yours by birth or by marriage. Every single child deserves to be loved and respected. They need all the safe adults they can find. Life is hard, and the more people who care about them, the better off they are. I did not always get along with their mother, but I never talked bad about her and never let them know that we disagreed. The way we presented it was, “there are rules in your mom’s house that aren’t the same as the rules in our house, and that is ok. When you are here, these are the rules.
    When all the kids have the same rules, things do go a little smoother. and yes, I have been called the wicked step-mother. It hurt my feelings for awhile, now it is a badge of honor. Even my bio kids think I am mean sometimes!!! That is how I know I am doing my job. I figure that I am not supposed to be their friend until after they grow up. I am supposed to be their parent, their mentor, and their conscience. They have needed me. That is enough.

    • This is such great advice. I agree that now is not the time to be their friend – that comes later – now is the time to raise them up and give them the tools to succeed. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Xoxo

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