Parenting: How to Handle Tough Kid Questions As the Not So Evil Stepmother



I published this post awhile back back, but after talking to a fellow stepmom this week who is having a few struggles, it inspired me to dust it off and share it again.  My stepdaughter is now 9, and we have had some ups and downs along the way. Being the “other” parent is never easy, but it also doesn’t mean you love them any less. Here are some answers if you also get some tough step parent questions.


As a step mom to an extremely precocious 7 year old, I’ve had to answer a lot of tough questions over the years. The first questions of “Why?” were pretty easy to answer, but as she’s gotten older, they’ve gotten much tougher. The toughest question she’s asked though was a biggie and tough to explain to the then 5 year old. 

“Why are you married to daddy instead of my mommy and why doesn’t my mommy like you?” 

Hmmm… How do you tackle that one, especially when Dad isn’t around to help? Here’s how we’ve explained things… 

Sometimes when mommy’s and daddy’s have kids they stay together. Sometimes they don’t. This isn’t because of anything the kids have done. It’s grown up stuff and just how things happen. Mommy’s and Daddy’s still love their kids very much, and sometimes they get married and kids get new step-mommies or daddies in their life. These new parents don’t replace your Mommy and Daddy. They’re just extra people who are there to love you and take care of you. This makes you extra special. Some kids don’t have a mommy at all — and now you have 2 that love you very much. 

Sometimes if your mommy says things about me that don’t sound nice, it’s not because she doesn’t like me (OK, maybe a little bit of a white lie here!), but it’s because she loves you so much she doesn’t want to share you, just like sometimes you don’t want to share the things you love. Mommy will always be your mommy, I’m just an extra mommy to love and take care of you when she’s not here.  

Having a blended family is tough, and if you’re a step-parent, you can totally relate how this question devastated me. It’s hard to be a parent to someone else’s kid(s), balancing your role with that of their birth parents, and dealing with different rules and parenting styles at different houses. There’s time it can drive you to anger and tears, but just remember that these little ones in your life need you, and that just loving them as best as you can will make up for a lot of the other stuff — including the toughest questions. 

If your children have a step parent, regardless of how you feel — for the sake of your kids, try to keep your opinions about your kid’s other parent and step parent to yourself. Even if you might have justification for your feelings, sharing negativity doesn’t do any good, and whether you like it or not, this new step parent is part of your children’s life. When you’re not around, this step-parent is playing with your child, feeding them, bathing them, bandaging their boo-boo’s and drying their tears. They are not attempting to take your place, but are merely reinforcements there to help you out and make your child’s life better. 

And remember, despite what they show in the movies… Not all step-mothers are evil!
Image courtesy of Disney.


  1. Oy….a lot easier said than done. After they get older those simple explainations don’t work so well and the white lie about mommy is seen right through and as long as Disney and the like makes a profit we will forever be trying to to overcome the wicked stepmother stereotypes. It’s been too far engrained in our heads. It’s a tough role, no matter how hard you try or how much you love your stepchild. Time helps and learning what works in your individual situation. Your example would not have worked for me, because the level of alienation was too high but time has shown to be a friend.

  2. Yeah. I admit it’s tough Carmen. I’m lucky I got an early start, however I know there will be other ugly battles ahead come the tween and teen years I’m sure.

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