The are approximately 500 thousand stepfamilies with dependant children in the UK, yet the experience of the Stepparent can often be largely unspoken about. As such I thrilled that Cilla aka @thestepmumsclub came forward with this list to give her take on her relationship with her husband’s children . Cilla ‘tells it how it is’ beyond the usual stereotype:

  • It’s been almost five years since I’ve been with my husband, who has two children by two different women.

  • Initially I know to most of my friends, heck to most people, that sounds off putting but to me it wasn’t. Why was because my husband was an active Father and even though that should be the standard, what I saw in the black Fathers around me growing up (including my Father) it wasn’t so I found that super attractive. May I just say though, my generation of men are smashing it on the fatherhood scene. Never have I seen so many black men make being a good father normal, but I digress.

  • Being a black young female, when you enter relationships with men that have kids before you, you as the woman are already branded as the next victim to be impregnated then left for another woman.

  • My favourite is when you are told that men always go back to bed their ‘baby mama’ from time to time. Before I became a Stepmum my own mother used to tell me that I shouldn’t get with a guy who has kids because of the same reason, even though my mother and father never slept together again when he got into a new relationship (well at least I don’t think they did).

  • You would think in all this the man would feel the heat, but they don’t because the heat is directed at the woman who simply fell in love. Not sure what it’s like for other races in relationships like mine but this attitude is common within my community.

  • See my husband is also a Stepparent – to my eldest daughter. He on the other hand was praised for “taking on another man’s seed” as the man dem (group of guys) in the area would say. Being with a woman that had children was a noble thing, as if he was saving me from a life of being single with a child, vulnerable and alone.

  • Even in this people took opportunity to say that I chose my now husband because I had a child myself so in turn, I shouldn’t expect to be with a man that hadn’t any kids. That notion was a piss take because I was a catch

  • AND my child upped my valued as she now made me less tolerant to foolishness and more of a ‘cards on the table’ kind of woman. My daughter made me this savvy woman with unleashed super powers. I knew I was going to be a single mother way before I gave birth so fortunately for my husband he didn’t and still doesn’t have to contend with another man.

  • My daughter knows my husband as Dad and only at around the age of five did I really explain the dynamics of our family. I told her that her Bio father just wasn’t ready to be a father, so God gave her a new one and so she doesn’t hate the man that left her but understands life is not a linear experience. She’s eight by the way and she is as amazing as she sounds in case you wondered.

  • When I became a Stepmum, I received no such praise, I received nothing but a stereotype on my forehead. I find it hard being a step mum, feels lonely, I get anxious and I often feel redundant as one.

  • . There are no real social standards to help you work out what is ok and not. I feel like I’m on guard because of the Evil Stepmum stereotype that has created a stigma and above it all I don’t feel like I can truly talk to friends or family because you just know they are thinking something negative or are getting ready to brush off what you are saying. I want to take a moment though to quickly list things that you really shouldn’t say to a Step-mum:

  • You knew what you were getting into (umm no, no I didn’t)

  • I couldn’t take on somebody else’s kids! (this annoys me so much because it’s made to sound like a burden when you mother children you didn’t birth plus, I haven’t taken on anything).

  • That’s all drama! (I mean yes there is drama but its rude and untrue to summarise one’s lifestyle as such).

  • Any assumption you hate your step child(ren). (This is what makes it soooo hard to express when you are having bad days or feeling down)

  • I remember there was a period where I cried almost everyday because of the difficulties of “blending”. I felt like no one understood to the point there was no point of trying to explain and that made me cry even more. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and that there was so much out of my control. The idea of thinking this was now my life forever was making my head spin.

  • When becoming a Stepmum, I always banked that my success of being a good one would depend on my relationship with the children’s Mother. I was never able to understand how I could freely open my heart to a child whose mother didn’t know me, and I not know them. It never needed to be deep but enough that we could acknowledge each other or run questions by each other. So obviously looked to my husband to make those initial intros one of which happened with one but not with the other. 5 years on, I have zero relationship with the Birth mums.

    I found a way to form relationships with my Step-sons without knowing their mums, but I’d be a liar if I said it still didn’t trouble me.

  • When I did meet the boys, I was with my husband for about three months, sounds quick but at the stage of life that we were in we knew we were a sure thing. We all met at the park so that majorly took off the pressure and meant if all else failed we could play.

  • When my daughter previously met my husband, we introduced him as Uncle King as a joke. She was three at the time, so she didn’t question it. I introduced myself as Aunty Storm (from the X-Men), my stepsons were five and six at the time, so they were not as easily led. I did this so we could banter and banter we did.

  • Can I just say that the reason why the kids called me aunty is because as Africans it is a show of respect to call your elders Aunty and Uncle. My daughter naturally started calling my husband Daddy one day and I guess that was because there was that vacancy to fill. I on the other hand am called Aunty Cilla. That day was one of few that was uncomplicated and lovely to me.

  • I know women Mother in all different ways and its unfair to put my mothering expectations on anyone else.

  • I know for me I’d find it very hard to accept or feel comfortable with anyone that was around my child of whom I didn’t know. See my logic is this – when your child starts school or nursery you introduce yourself as the mother to the teacher and have a little chat about what you hope and expect for your child when in the care of the school. You give any warning to any upset, allergies etc the child may have then you check in every now and then via parents’ evenings. But its just not that cut and dry I found not only for myself but for other stepmothers too. What I have learned in my situation though that I am guilty by association. For any bad blood between my husband and his ex’s I am in that batch of blood, I get no fresh blood and that is unfair and another emotional load I must bear on my mental state.

  • There was a very significant time when I was snubbed in front of friends and family by one of the birth mums, it still annoys me to this day because I don’t believe I had deserved to be treated so rudely. This was the very first time I reacted and tried to pour out my frustrations on my friends and family. I was met with ‘oh don’t mind her’ or ‘she’s jealous of you’ – this was not helpful to me.

  • I decided to go on to Facebook to look for a support group because Facebook has a group for everything! I found the most active support groups are online and private, when people engaged it offered no real resolution or encouragement. It was mainly negativity matched with greater or similar negativity and women were finding comfort in that.

  • The problem is being in private groups that only share bad points and offer worse points in exchange makes the step mum community angrier and isolated. It allows wounds to dive deeper, it validates pride, one side of the story, it promotes division, creates no avenues or ideas for peace and acceptance in order to make the best of things.

  • This didn’t sit well with me nor did it help me.

  • My eyes were open to a world of women going through the same stuff. So I decided to create a open space on Instagram to allow the true and unfiltered feelings of stepmothers to be shown to the world to help people understand that the stereotype isn’t fact, to highlight blended families that have worked out how to co-mother and co-parent effectively but most importantly to bridge the gap between Birth mother and Stepmother. I started The Stepmums Club, I have literally created the change I want to see because It is near enough impossible to ignite change without amplifying the problem for all to see and then coming against it.

  • How can we do this? By talking about it! It may feel uncomfortable, we may get triggered because the shoe fits, we may feel this has nothing to do with us or everything to do with us. Change cannot occur without change and a level of confrontation, within one’s self and toward the issue. .

  • There is a UNIVERSAL GAP BETWEEN BIRTH-MUM AND STEPMUM. It is worrying that Step-mums from all over the world can relate. It is crazy that birth mums all over the world can relate.

  • We are not meant to be miserable, isolated, ganged up on or feel not listened to within our families and peers. I champion Peace, unity, forgiveness, patience, positive confrontation, change, love and restoration.

  • I champion The Family.

  • I provoke to get women to address the elephants (yes plural) in the room. I’m not going to talk to the wall, I won’t act like I don’t go through and I won’t stop speaking my truth, so I needed this outlet too.

  • As my Stepkids get older, I care more about how I am doing and want the children to be able to say one day when they are adults – My Stepmum is cool, and I like her a lot if not love her.

  • But for now, all I can say is that its hard, the pressure is a lot, no I didn’t bank on this when I chose my husband, but had I known what I know now, I would still choose him and all my children.

  • Life in general isn’t easy, blending was never going to be a walk in the park, but I know I care and where there is a will to become a confident non redundant stepmother, there is a way!

  • I hope in time I will feel like I’ve got this role of parenting in the bag, there will be less judgement from those outside blended families if not none and that co-mothering won’t be such a challenge.

  • I will continue to take up parenting spaces to speak up for stepmothers who have birth children like me, childless Stepmothers, unmarried Stepmothers, young Stepmothers and black Stepmothers. Stepmothers are mothers that struggle too.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Fiona June 16, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    It was so wonderful to read this.

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