Parent Shaming: Stepparent Shaming Is Real, Too (Sorry, Cinderella!) by Bri Montoya

Parent Shaming: Stepparent Shaming Is Real, Too (Sorry, Cinderella!)

Parent shaming is real and stepparent shaming is just as real. When I began dating my spouse, I went into it fully aware that pursuing the relationship also meant pursing the role of a stepparent. I was excited to jump head first into being the best stepparent I could be. I quickly found that nine out of 10 articles online are what not do to do as a stepparent. The titles are things like “Boundaries Stepparents Shouldn’t Cross,” “Why Your Step Kids Will Hate Everything You Do” and “You Are Not a Real Parent.”

  • If you cheer too loud at sports game you’re overstepping your boundaries and if you don’t cheer loud enough you’re obviously not invested.
  • If you implement a consequence for breaking a rule you’re overbearing, but if don’t then you’re too hands off.
  • If you spend one-on-one time with them you’re trying to replace their biological parent, but if you don’t you’re not invested.

There’s no guidebook for step parenting – you have to do what’s right for your family. It’s not a one size fits all role. Each family is unique. So, I’ll cheer really loud, I’ll go on kid-parent dates, I’ll correct them when necessary, I’ll help make decisions and I'll be sure to ignore the shaming.

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Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Great tip, Bri Montoya . As a step-parent myself, I really appreciate this, thank you! xo
Bri Montoya
So glad you appreciate it. I really hope to reach a few stepparents that just need that extra boost or confidence... it can be a hard role but such an amazingly rewarding one!
Katie Sloan
I thought I would be an amazing stepmom. I read all the articles and books. Six years later we are still figuring things out. The thing is that i love these kids and want to be part of their lives. Prayer and patience keep me hopeful that one day we truly will be a blended family.
Bri Montoya
Katie Sloan , it sounds like you have some of the most important parts figured out. Every time I think we've got it, there's a bump... it's most definitely about the journey. I've learned (as a child of a stepparent, also) that kids as they get older understand intentions and good intentions go a long way.
Mercedes Samudio
This is awesome! I'm all about this mission #endparentshaming and I think it's so important to families who don't fit the traditional family ideal. Thanks for this article.
Bri Montoya
Mercedes Samudio , I love your mission and it's a great one. Here's to one more step to #endparentshaming...
Stacey Roberts
I have 2 stepchildren who were 9 & 11 when we married 20 yrs ago (can’t believe it’s been that long) and I was ecstatic about having instant kids. However their mother wasn’t ecstatic about her kids having a stepmother and she put us all through hell. She was very resentful of my husband’s decision to get the divorce that she constantly told the kids terrible things about us. Making derogatory and petty comments in an effort to discredit us in hopes the kids wouldn’t want anything to do with us. Mostly me though, I was criticized for the way I washed their clothes or wouldn’t allow them to have pop-tarts and lucky charms (together) for breakfast. You name it, she said it and if my husband said anything to her it only made it worse. In the long run the kids didn’t want to told bad things about their dad and wished he’d made her stop, but they couldn’t express that at the time, so they took their anger and frustration out on me. I was the proxy, they could say the things to me that they really wanted to say to their parents. However, knowing we planned to have children of our own I required they behave at our house because I didn’t want my child hearing things like that. They weren’t allowed to say what their mom had told them about us for starters. My husband felt guilty, as do many parents who divorce and thought we should just let them act however they wanted, so the good cop/bad cop thing happened. We brought our daughter home on our 2nd anniversary, his kids were 11 & 13 and when our daughter was 2 weeks old their mom took them on vacation. When they came back it was chaos, the fighting and discord between the kids was so dramatic given what they were like before the trip that I knew their mom had told them something that upset them. So I asked if she had, she told them since their dad had another family now he didn’t love or want them anymore. We tried therapy, but the damage was done and as of today they have a relationship with their dad, but not me or our children. At one point our daughter had a relationship with them, but severed ties a couple years ago, which I stay out of because that’s their deal. I did ask her if she minded telling me why and she said it was just too complicated to try to have a relationship with them! As for our son, they were 15 & 17 when he was born. Both kids had moved away, so he doesn’t have a relationship with them for that reason. Bottom line, I’m the wicked stepmom, so it’s my fault. I’ve had things said to me by mutual friends of my husband and his ex that are really hurtful, but unless you are a stepparent you don’t understand that no matter what you get the blame.
Bri Montoya
What an experience. My heart goes out to you. You've also hit on a very important aspect of step parenting, which is co-parenting with an ex. It is definitely not a simple relationship and each family dynamic is so unique. Thank you for sharing your experience with the community!
Mike Prochaska
Just be yourself! If they don’t like u whatever
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
OMG Stacey Roberts I am so sorry. What a lifelong ordeal to go through. My heart goes out to you. It’s very difficult to navigate blending a family. At some point, Mike Prochaska is right. You have to focus on what you can control, not what keeps coming at you that you can’t. Hopefully they will accept over time and realize you are not the bad guy and neither are your kids. Sending lots of good energy your way. 💗 Bagwell
Stacey Roberts
Than you for your “condolences”! Mike is exactly right (and I love his real life contributions), I realized it wasn’t about me, it would’ve happened to whoever had my role. How they would’ve reacted is unknown, but for me as I’ve declared many times, am vehemently protective of my cubs and I wasn’t going to allow them to wreck havoc in their life. Disclosing the dynamics of my situation may make some uncomfortable, but I hope for others it helps them to not feel they’re not alone in situations such as this. I’ve come to the conclusion after 20 yrs of dealing with this that the better it looks on the outside the more screwed up it is on the inside! And again, I have to thank you for what it must’ve required to create 30Seconds. The magnitude of its platform that gives way to the level of exchanging information which it does is unprecedented. I’ve learned so much and been so inspired by all the contributions. As my 14 yr old son would say, “now that’s the stuff a Ninja Jedi is made of”!
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Thank you so much, Stacey Roberts . That means more to me than you’ll ever know. I so appreciate your kindness and support. You are one amazing lady and I’m grateful you’re part of our tribe. 💕
Kimberly Johnson
Yes! Stepparenting is so hard, and as the only stepparent for a long time (between me, my husband and his ex) in our personal situation, my husband and his ex just don’t understand AT ALL how hard it is.

You’re spot-on, and I’m all too often the bad guy, no matter what I do in any given situation. I still feel like I have no clue how to do the “right” thing almost 11 years into it, so I just do what I do...it’s the best I can do.
Sarah Darrow
Really well said! My husband is a "step parent" no one knew he wasn't my daughter's father however because he is amazing with her! He came into our lives when she was 13 months old.. we got married a yr later and he's right there with you! Cheering loud, having dates, having tea parties and also taking care of her when we were both sick, does homework and much more... favorite quote.. "I am not the step dad i am the dad that stepped up" he has a shirt that says that and it is sooo true!
Sheri B Doyle
This is so true! I struggled so much to find guides on how to transition into being a step-parent, how to be a great step-parent etc. but nothing existed so I followed my instinct, which like you was to cheer loudly, enforce our house rules and stand by them just like a biological mother would. It was not easy and I am sure I didn't do a lot right, but I listened to myself and to my family and somehow we made it all work.
Thank you for talking about this, and for giving us stepparents who want to thrive, a voice!

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