Step-monster…oh how I loathe that word. When you hear of, or think about step-moms, the first thoughts are often mean, wicked, evil, unfair, uncompassionate… or just plain cold-hearted.
Some of you may not know, but I am in fact a step-mom as well. My oldest child is my bonus child from my husband’s first marriage. I met her when she was 5 years old and she is now 14.5.
Once Upon a Time…Many Years Ago…
I met my husband and his daughter from his first marriage. Our first years together were not easy. It was uncharted territory for me, and for my husband. It was new territory for my step-daughter and her biological mom as well. There were a lot of emotions from all parties, as we struggled to find the best way for all of us to co-parent and love this wonderful little girl. During those rough first years I reflected on all that I knew about step-parenting…which was nothing!
The only things I knew about being a step-mom, were the images the fairy tales portrayed.
Children Are Walking, Talking Sponges
Remember those adjectives I listed in the first paragraph? Yeah, those words are the very foundation of every single children’s story and movie I have come across with a step-mother figure. I’m sure any of us can name half a dozen examples of “evil” stepmothers.
Take Cinderella for example, Lady Tremain was her step mom. She was a vile and insensitive excuse for a woman. Treating Cinderella like a slave in her own home and going as far as to lie about her existence when the duke was trying the glass slipper on “every young maiden in the kingdom.”
How about Snow White? Her step-mom was so jealous of her beauty and the fact that she was the “fairest in the land” that she contracted the huntsman to actually MURDER her step-daughter. Whoa!
It’s a “Tangled” Web We Weave
Okay, so those are some of the originals, but it seems that despite the increase in blended families, the film makers and story writers continue to portray step-moms in a horrible way. Let’s take a look at the Disney movie “Tangled”. This modern, animated version of the story of Rapunzel and her ‘adoptive’ mother feeds the negative step-mom stigma. Her adoptive mother wishes to keep Rapunzel’s magical hair to herself and therefore locks her away in a tower convincing her that the world is out to kill her.
Evil Step-mom: A Product of The Time
Most of the traditional stories portray step-mothers in an evil light. Why is this exactly? Perhaps because during their time, remarriage was a taboo practice and was discouraged. Perhaps because they surround royalty? OR, is it because that is the story that is more easily told? How many GOOD step-mothers do you hear about?
Its easy to do an internet search and find all sorts of “Evil Step-mom” stories as told by those with sad and extreme experiences. Some of these listed in a thread on Reddit seem like something from a horror movie. As a step-mom myself this is hard to swallow. I am not evil. I am not conniving or deceptive. The true stories of mean and malicious step-moms are heartbreaking and should not be ignored or forgotten.
It’s Time for a Change
So, I write all of this to encourage and plead to the story writers of today’s children’s movies, please create something where the step-mother/step-parent is a good person. The biological parent should not be replaced, but surely a positive experience can be created and shared in some way.
This story about a woman saying vows to her step-son and his mother melts my heart. There are good stories. There are good people.
Not all of us are evil, murderous slave-drivers.
My relationship with my step-daughter is unique. It is loving and caring. I am her shoulder and safe place at times. However, that little girl (because she will always be that little girl I met all those years ago, even if she is taller than me), she taught me something. Actually, a lot of things. I learned that family isn’t restricted to the scientific and biological components found in our blood. Also, I learned that there is a love far deeper than I had ever felt before. Hand-in hand with that is pain greater than I had ever experienced.
I have been blessed in many ways by gaining this beautiful soul as a part of my life. My role as a step-parent is absolutely a rewarding and simultaneously challenging part of my life.
It is a part of my life that I would NEVER, EVER change. It has helped to shape me into the person, and frankly, the mom that I am today.
We as step-, NO, I will not use that phrase anymore. We, as BONUS parents need to make our voices heard. Let it be known that we are sick and tired of the negative stigma surrounding our challenging and self-less roles.
And, biological parents, you need to step up and appreciate the good bonus parents in your children’s lives. Help your child know that it is okay to love their bonus parent. Help end the evil step-monster labeling!
We are simply blessed with the opportunity to be a bonus parent to the very future of our world. With the direction that our society is heading, the more positive role models in a child’s life, the better!
It is the 21st Century. NOW is the time for the filmmakers and story writers catch up with modern society and blended families!