Three Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Stepmom


I was newly 23, working my first full-time job after graduating from college, when one of my coworkers caught my eye. He was handsome and sported the best salt-and-pepper hair I had ever seen, so I quickly dubbed him the Silver Fox. “Stay away,” my friend warned, “he has a kid.”

She better understood the complexities of blended families and tried to protect her naive friend, but it wasn’t enough to deter me. My childhood fantasies about how life would look as an adult never included stepchildren, but I loved kids and I thought that fact alone was enough to overcome any challenges I might face. Seven years later, that silver fox is my husband, and his kid is my stepson.

I don’t regret choosing this, but five years into this gig, there are a few things I wish I had been aware of before diving in headfirst.

Man with Children

Out of Control

If you are marrying a man who has children, chances are you are marrying the kids’ mom too. You will not only be making compromises with your new spouse, you will also have to navigate a relationship (or total lack thereof) with his ex-wife.

Much of the control parents have within a nuclear family completely disappears when you have a child splitting time between two households. If your husband and his children’s mother don’t see eye-to-eye, decisions as basic as family vacation plans, sports participation, and family photo sessions can become battlegrounds. Depending on your involvement as a stepmom, you may get caught in the battle or sit on the sidelines. Even in a harmonious situation, you can expect to do more compromising than you otherwise might in a nuclear family.

We Are the Villains

Okay, plenty of people don’t view stepmoms as evil, but movie portrayals haven’t done us any favors, and there is a stigma attached. Given that I didn’t meet my husband until years after his divorce, I didn’t have much expectation of negative responses to my presence.

I was prepared for my stepson to struggle to build a relationship with me because of loyalty to his mom. However, I was surprised and disappointed that several parents at sporting events and school functions had no interest in befriending “the stepmom.” Time goes a long way in helping break down walls, but expectations more in line with reality might have helped me better stomach the earlier days of stepmotherhood. 

Only the Lonely

There is nothing quite like being a stepmom. My advice? If you don’t already have one, find a friend or two who can understand the unique challenges that come with the territory.

Women Hugging

Initially, I didn’t have any stepmom friends, and I began to feel isolated. My poor husband could only relate to an extent. I realized eventually that I needed to seek out these friendships. I asked trusted friends who knew my specific struggles if they could connect me with anyone walking the same road, and I ended up with a wonderful mentor! Don’t underestimate the value of good community.

I am fortunate to be the stepmom to a really cool kid, but the last five years have been challenging for reasons I did not anticipate. Had I known what to expect, I probably would have changed my strategy.

Resources for stepmoms are somewhat limited, and many of those I have looked to for help failed to get to the heart of my experiences. For those in search of a great book, I highly recommend The Smart Stepmom: Practical Steps to Help You Thrive. It is truly filled with practical advice and freeing truths, addressing multiple scenarios and approaches to stepparenting. I only wish I had it sooner!

Fellow stepmoms, what aspect of stepparenting most surprised you? Share your stories and favorite resources below!

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Nikki is a native Texan, originally from Cypress. After marrying her husband, Randall, and being convinced to move to the arctic (just kidding -- Michigan) for a few years, she is excited to be back in Texas thawing out and learning her way around Fort Worth! In 2015, Nikki and Randall decided to become foster parents, and she is now a stay-at-home mom to foster children, as well as long-distance stepmom to a teenage boy. She has been 'Mom' to six kids and counting, always wondering what (or who) the future will bring!


  1. Thank you. Being a stepmom is hard and you are right, there are very little resources out there to help navigate it. There are so many things no one warns you about.


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