Skip to main content

Today’s Wicked Step Mother

With two of her own, Denise remarried and brought two children from her husband together to explore what it means to be a blended family.


Inevitable According to Statistics

Statics say that more than half of marriages end in divorce in this country (US). With that said, the possibilities of second chance marriages is on the rise and that means Step Parents. Lots of stepparents. If you aren't one, you probably know one personally or even have one in your family. All over the country, unsuspecting moms are being presented with problems and issues they never anticipated from their children and stepchildren. Why is step parenting so hard?



My Experience

It was going pretty well. His two delightful children were acclimating with mine into a new home and new family situation. The absent parents weren’t really interested at first to be involved in their lives, so we were mostly left alone. I set up chore lists and it seemed all was going along swimmingly. We had moved into a home with a wood-burning stove for heat in the living room. We loved how rustic and authentic it was. When the winter set in I added cleaning out the ashes to the chore list. Innocent, right? I thought so. All were to take a turn so when it came time for the youngest girl’s turn, I handed her the little shovel and broom, to which she responded with a horrified look. Her eyes got big and she looked at me like I had just grown fangs and big black wings. She couldn’t believe I was making her clean out the ashes. She had just moved in with two stepsisters and her stepmother was asking her to shovel the ashes. Sound like anyone you know? Damn that Cinderella anyway. Her and Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. What is a good woman to do in the face of Disney perpetuating a stereotype like that?

Kim and me on her graduation from college.

Kim and me on her graduation from college.

Hardly Wicked

I really am a nice person, hardly wicked. And today my stepdaughter and I have a very close relationship, but those first few months were a trial. I just didn’t see that coming. I didn’t see a lot of things coming.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of good stepmothers out there. I think the problem is that they are quietly doing the job of a loving mother and don’t even recognize that they are only the step really. It’s the mean, heartless, wicked ones that get all the press. Here are a few good stepmothers for your consideration:

Other Famous Step Mothers Who Were Not So Wicked

1512-1548: Catherine Parr was the last wife of King Henry VIII and was a good stepmother to Edward and Elizabeth. She was determined to bring the family to a stable close-knit household, after all the turmoil they had undergone before she arrived.

1788-1806: Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln. After his mother died, Abraham Lincoln was raised by a stepmother, who encouraged his reading and study of law and to whom he praised as the reason he turned out as he did. She stood up for him when his father thought he was wasting his time with all that reading and studying.

1905-1987: The real Maria von Trapp was the inspiration for the musical character played by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. After her husband lost all his money, Maria formed the singing group with her adopted stepfamily and toured, calling themselves the Trapp Family Singers. She was a faithful stepmom.

1912-2001: Dale Evans, longtime screen partner, and wife of singing cowboy Roy Rogers was his second wife. She was the step-mom to his three children (two of them his biological children, Roy Jr., Linda, and Cheryl) when they married December 1947. She gave birth to her only biological child, a girl named Robin in 1950. Unfortunately, she died in 1952 of complications from Down syndrome. She and Roy adopted or fostered four other children. She was considered an excellent stepmother and adoptive mother, running a ranch with her husband until his death in 1998.


Disney and the Wicked Stepmother

There Must Be Hundreds

I know there must be hundreds of good stepmothers out there but they are hard to think of because our perception is so colored by the wicked myth. Why is that? Well, partly because it has some basis in fact. When we marry into a ready-made family, we stepmoms didn’t get to do the cuddling and nurturing in the early years as the birth mother did. We don’t have the same bond with the child therefore and the child hasn’t bonded with us (as a stepmom).

Step Mom Trailer

The Step Mom

One movie that handled Stepmothers rather well, I thought, was Step Mom starring Julia Roberts (I love her) and Susan Sarandon. It really depicted the parts of a stepmom’s woes trying to love kids that are not hers admirably.

Born From Loss

The next factor to be taken into consideration is that there was a loss and the child is sometimes still dealing with it. Either through divorce or death, there had to be a loss for a stepmom to even come into the picture. This means that there are grieving children who are angry and have few healthy ways to express that grief. Add a virtual stranger (stepmom) and it is a formula for disaster or at least a Mount Vesuvius eruption. When the children act out, it is very hard for the poor stepmom to do anything but take it or power down on the kids. Powering down adds to the evil stepmom persona. No matter what we do we stepmoms are in the doghouse, or witches candy house, depending on how you look at it.

This is such a sad state to be in because it just isn’t the stepmom’s fault most of the time.

Scroll to Continue
Our ducks.

Our ducks.

Possible Solutions

When dealing with an angry child, it is first helpful to separate the child from the anger caused. He or she is, after all, a child and doesn’t know what to do with these feelings. Acting out is all they can think of. If you can talk to them and get them to voice their concerns and their anger triggers, it can help. However, on the younger children, they sometimes can’t put into words what the real root cause is. They just know how they feel.

Anger Mat

In my house, we had an Anger Mat. I took a doormat and drew footprints on it with a permanent marker. The instructions are: When angry, place feet here, jump up and down until anger subsides. So instead of throwing things or hurtling mean words around, my angry child jumped up and down until she felt better and was able to put into constructive words what was bothering her.



When the Anger Mat was in use or not available, we had a running course around the house. If weather permitted the angry child would run as fast as she could around the house until she felt better. Actually, I think any exercise would have done but running seems to be the best therapy for my family.

Step Mom’s Support Groups



We were (and are still) a very creative family and usually had clay available for creating pottery. The best part of creating pots is that the clay needs to be pounded before you can begin. I would make this available when needed. A hunk of clay was given, aprons secured and the pounding and kneading began. Sometimes the clay was pounded so long it became dry but adding some water or starting over was a small price to pay for the therapy that the pounding did. They always felt better after the pounding and were actually able to create some awesome pots with it.

Kneading bread is very therapeutic and also makes great Swedish Tea Rings.

Kneading bread is very therapeutic and also makes great Swedish Tea Rings.


Not everyone needs to pound or run or jump up and down. Sometimes a batch of cookies worked just as well. My girls were often cooking for therapy to get away from the others and just think. Plus the added calming effect of eating is added.


Whenever they could, the girls (and occasionally the one boy) would go out to the barn to pet the rabbits, chickens, ducks or dogs. I know not everyone can have animals in their backyard, but I can’t stress the value and calming influence on a child of petting an animal. Cats and dogs are extremely understanding and nurturing as well as calming influences. I owe a debt to all our pets for helping my children through some rough patches.



There is help out there for the poor good stepmothers to deal with those anger issues that all blended families have to face sooner or later. I hope there have been some suggestions here that could be of help to you and your family.


Comments Welcomed

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 13, 2015:


Thank you so much. It has been quite a journey for me. I appreciate your comment and visiting.



Victor W. Kwok from Hawaii on April 13, 2015:

This is an amazing hub, Denise! Thanks for sharing!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 31, 2015:

Aww, that is so nice to say. The kids are all grown and leading lives of their own now and they have told me the same. As a matter of fact my poor husband gets annoyed when my stepson will call and say "hi dad, can I talk to mom?" So he carries on a conversation with me more than his dad... funny how things change.

I'm glad for you that you had a good step mom too.



Mara Alexander from Los Angeles, California on March 30, 2015:

I meant to say "When she knew we wanted to be a part of the wedding, she made my sister, and me bridesmaids"

I can understand the kids point of view in a divorce. If he marries it means the parents will never reunite. Since I didn't have that hope, it was easier. Thanks for rsponding.

I know, because I feel it, you're a good step-mom

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 30, 2015:

MonkeyShine75, that is awesome. You were definitely more mature about it that most step kids. Also I guess there was the non-issue of hoping to get your real mom back. Most step kids feel like dad remarrying means that the divorce is permanent and they just don't want to accept that.

Thanks for visiting,


Mara Alexander from Los Angeles, California on March 30, 2015:

My mom passed away 12 years ago, and my dad stayed all alone for 8 years. Then he met a wonderful woman, and married her 2 years ago. She's great, and she's made my dad very happy. As a family we decided not to be selfish, and give her a chance, and we're all glad we did. With us we were older than most step-kids though, because I was 19 when dad met her. When she knew we wanted to be a part of the wedding, she made my sister, and I bridesmaids (she had a wedding with just the family, and closest friends)

Great hub Voted up

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 13, 2015:


You are so welcome.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on March 13, 2015:

Thank you Denise for the encouraging words.


Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 12, 2015:


I'm so sorry that your cousin's marriage couldn't weather the storm. It is a pretty tough road to have a second marriage with children. You really have to be dedicated to the marriage to make it thorough.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 12, 2015:


Thank you for visiting. I wish the step mom stigma wasn't so prevalent but it is.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 12, 2015:


My heart goes out to you and your daughter. This is a very hard situation. The good news is that God sees and know. The saying is true that what goes around comes around. As the years go by, the step-daughter will see who really cares about her well-fare: the family that required her curfew.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 12, 2015:

Say Yes,

You make a lot of sense. Speaking from experience. I'm sorry to hear it.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 12, 2015:

Ann, you are so right. If anything step-fathers have it harder. They always seem to be accused of abuse... even the good ones. That's tough.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on March 12, 2015:

My cousin married a guy who had a son from his previous marriage. The little boy made my cousin's life hell. Now his dad and my cousin are divorced but her and the son have a real loving relationship and he still comes over to spend time with her and his two brothers she had out of that marriage.

travmaj from australia on March 12, 2015:

This is great, you offer much to step mums who might be finding difficulties. The old adage wicked step mother almost serves as a prophecy -it's been around so long and introduced to us as children.

Good to read your positive views.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on March 12, 2015:

My second daughter is a step mom. She has a little girl of her own and her husband had 4 children. His youngest is a girl and at her own house she is free to come and go as she pleases, which started at 12. When she had to stay with my daughter and the girl's father there were rules and she didn't like it. It turned out she ended up hating my daughter and granddaughter (her step mom and half sister). Even though my daughter bought her clothes and took her shopping it all came down to the fact that she wasn't allowed to go out on school nights and had a curfew even when she did. So who was the wicked step-mother? My daughter of course. I'm sure not all the stories are like that, but a lot of them probably are. Great hub, I enjoyed it.

Blessings to you.

Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on March 12, 2015:

Having grown up in a fractured family that is dysfunctional beyond belief, I can attest to the fact that there is a major difference between death and divorce. We all must deal with a parent's death sometime; some people are unfortunate to experience it while they're still children. Divorce, on the other hand, is nearly always caused by poor quality of character of at least one party. Oftentimes, the stepparent is just as guilty, and resents having to take on the product from the failed marriage. That's what makes step parenting so hard.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 12, 2015:

What a great hub, Denise. You have lots of wise advice and great practical suggestions for coping. I think step-fathers come under the same category; they get lots of flack too!

Like your humour and style.


Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 12, 2015:


Good for you. It was hard on you, I'm sure. And that says a lot for your dedication. Especially when so many throw in the towel when things get dicey.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 12, 2015:


I agree. Also when I went looking for more good stepmothers in history, I was hard pressed to find any. I'm sure there are more but I couldn't find them listed as such. Now that's a sad commentary.



John Hansen from Gondwana Land on March 11, 2015:

This is a wonderful hub Paintdrips, you offer wound tips and advice. I am a step-father to one son. He rebelled a little as a child and teenager up but now praises me for how I brought him it all worked out in the end.

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on March 11, 2015:

That's a unique spin to your hub, to list good stepmothers in history.

Also, I'm surprised step parenting doesn't get more attention in the popular press given today's demographics that lead to more of these situations than in the past.

Related Articles