Why Stepmoms Get A Bad Rap

The most evil stepmother in all the world is the stepmother from Cinderella. She’s the original, and she’s wicked.

GREEN BAY WI - FEBRUARY 10: Cinderella's mean stepmother at the Disney Princesses show at the Resch Center on February 10 2012 in Green Bay Wisconsin.

I don’t know why she was so mean. It seemed like she got a pretty good deal:

Cinderella’s mom was dead so she didn’t have to deal with her. She didn’t like the dad, but he was dead too. All she wanted was the house and she got it—and it was probably all paid off! Plus, it’s not like she was saddled with some useless, anchor stepkid. Cinderella was sweet and had a good singing voice and, on top of that, she did the cooking, the cleaning and the mending!

But the stepmother was still angry.

I wonder: If Cinderella’s stepmother was kind instead of mean, would stepmoms still have to work to break the evil myth? Is the negative stereotype surrounding stepmothers something we have grown to accept all because of a Walt Disney character?

When it comes to stepmothers, I’m probably guilty of leading with the negative myself. I know that many stepmothers are caring, warm people, but when a kid tells me that he has a stepmother, my first question is “Is she nice?”

If I were a stepmother, I would have been a mean one. I can see it: The first time the stepkid said “Well, my MOM said I could!” I’d probably go nuts. “Do you see your mom? Cuz I don’t and this is MY house so, yeah. YOU BETTER RECOGNIZE.”

That would be bad. When you’re the Mom, you can do that kind of stuff. Because you’re the MOM. Your word is the end. Period. They can go to daddy all they want, but mommy already said “No” so that’s that.

But when you’re the stepmom, “Because I said so!” is harder to enforce. You could get lucky and land a great stepkid who does what you say (your house, your rules) but you could also get a kid who is kind of a pain—the kind that goes to daddy for everything: “Daddy…SHE said I couldn’t sleep at Soenso’s house tonight! Mommy always lets me! Why’d you have to marry her?” (Blah blah blah and lots of tears.)

The dad is now stuck with two choices (both of which are sucky): He can side with his kid (to keep the peace between them) or he can side with his wife because Hello? You’re a team! (And also, it increases his chances of sexytime later.)

I had a stepmom. I was older though. I was in high school so I didn’t care. I was busy. As long as she didn’t get in the way of my fun (she didn’t) I didn’t care. But when we did disagree on something, my dad always sided with her. It used to make me SO mad but looking back, he was probably right to do so.

It’s not always like that though, especially for younger kids. Younger kids (and older kids too) can have a real rough time with the loss of their original family, and who better to blame than the stepmom?

Sometimes there’s pressure and under-the-breath comments from the actual mom so the kid feels guilty about giving the stepmom a chance. And sometimes the stepmom just sucks. She may have been the right fit for the man, but not his family.

There are some people who believe that parents shouldn’t get remarried until the child turns 18. I know this because sometimes I listen to Dr Laura and she–and much of her audience–are vehemently against it. They believe a stepparent would only be a negative disruption to a child’s life.

I disagree.

I know of at least 4 stepmoms off the top of my head that have brilliantly enhanced their new family unit. The families that have been touched by these stepmoms are BETTER for having them. They have provided a different and necessary kind of love that was lacking before they entered the situation. They have helped raise their stepkids in such a way that they aren’t separated by an invisible step, but held together by love and respect.

Walt Disney would probably say that those kinds of stepmoms don’t make for interesting stories, and maybe they don’t.

But they sure make for happy endings.

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10 Comments

  1. Libby on March 1, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Dr Laura! I’d be happy if you were my stepmom! We’d have fun! In fact, will you be my stepmom? I’m not mending tho!



    • Robyn on March 1, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Even I laughed when I wrote “mending!!!” HAHAHAHAH! Mending!!!! 🙂



  2. Hazel Wheeler on March 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    This is interesting. My own mother is nuts, mean, and I haven’t seen or heard from her in 15 years. Which has brought us peace. My stepmom has been there for me, not so much as a teen, but definitely as an adult and as a grandmother. She enjoys Kiddo so much and it makes me glad that he has her. Years ago I noticed that it is pretty hard to find a good Mother’s Day card for stepmoms, which is just stupid with the divorce rate being what it is.

    Stepmoms aren’t evil. Sometimes they are essential. 🙂 Good to read you, Robyn!



    • Robyn on March 1, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Hazel!!! The last line of your comment is so good-it should be a greeting card!!!! You’re so right. The cards they have for stepmoms are either lame or non existent. Yours would be the best and I would definitely get one for my stepmom.

      So good to hear from you. You made my day!
      Xoxoxox!
      R



  3. Syd on March 1, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    LOVE Dr. Laura. Mom and I listen all the time 🙂 love you!



    • Robyn on March 1, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Love it, Syd! 🙂 🙂 Xoxoxox!



  4. Ashby on March 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I’m not a stepmom, nor did I have one but I tend to agree with Dr. Laura. However, I agree that the “right” stepparent can make a world of difference – for good or evil. A family friend of ours is a stepmom and what a tender parent she is. In fact, she is the one who gave the child the best example of what a good mom is because his mom was in to so many bad things. How good of you to give a shout out to the step parents who are doing it right! Once again, you are awesome! (For a buckeye…) <3



    • Robyn on March 1, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      I’m going to let the last line slide because I love your comment. In addition to that, I respect your wit, your intelligence and your wisdom— as both a person and as a parent.

      That being said #BUCKSFOREVER #ANDEVER
      OXOXOXOXO!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂



  5. Monica on March 2, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Great post. I do think that there is a built in stigma to being a stepmom, and very rarely can a person escape from it. It’s a challenging position and I do agree that the father needs to support his partner but not always because the child does need to feel heard, loved and validated. There’s a fine line though between validating a child and empowering them so that they know that they have all the power and the stepmom has none. I do know people who wouldn’t remarry until their kid was 18.. Interesting thought.. Thanks for the great read.



    • Robyn on March 2, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      Thank YOU for the great comment. I agree about the fine line. Each case is going to be circumstantial which has to be SO MUCH WORK. I commend and admire step parents. It’s parenting plus a lot more. It’s not easy but, I’m sure, at times very rewarding! 🙂