How To Honour Stepmums - 3 Tips - Hope 103.2

How To Honour Stepmums – 3 Tips

As mothers and their children prepare for family gatherings this Sunday, we’re calling on Aussies to remember the stepmums in their world.



By Clare BruceThursday 7 May 2015ParentingReading Time: 3 minutes

Listen: Kim Wilkinson gives her perspective on Mother’s Day as a stepmum.

As mothers and their children prepare for family gatherings this Sunday, we’re calling on Aussies to remember one very special group of women: Stepmums.

While every stepmother’s experience is different, it’s an inescapable fact that some feel overlooked when Mother’s Day rolls around. In a bid to change this, we interviewed Hope Media’s marketing manager Kim Wilkinson, a seasoned stepmum, and asked her how we can all look after the stepmothers in our community a little better.

Tip 1: Think Sound Of Music, Not Cinderella

The first step, Kim said, is to realise that very few women resemble Cate Blanchett’s character in Cinderella.

“The majority of stepmothers are not evil,” she said. “The fairy tales that we’ve all been told over the ages makes us automatically think ‘evil’ when we hear the word ‘stepmother’. Even I do that!

“But the fact is that we are very aware of the father-child relationship from the outset, and we value that highly. Most of us step mums do love the children that are entrusted to us and want the very best for their health and well-being.”

In a nutshell, Kim said, don’t stereotype!

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“Think less along the lines of the wicked stepmother from Cinderella, and more Maria from The Sound of Music!”

Tip 2: Appreciate Stepmums – But Don’t Force The Kids To!

Kim said that for most stepmothers, their aim was not to try and take the place of the childrens’ birth mother.

“We are very aware that our step children have a mother, and that nothing can replace that relationship – and nor should it,” she said. “However we are given the responsibility of caring for them with ‘mother type’ roles when they’re in our care. So we’re an additional adult care-giver.”

It’s a half-way parenting role that is sometimes painful, Kim explained.

“It isn’t always easy,” she said. “A lot of the time we give love and get constant rejection. We’ve also had to let go of the ideals we would have for our own children. If they are being cared for primarily by their mother and things are done differently to how you would do it, you have to let it go.

“We face hurts that are pretty unique, and have to work on the pain of rejection and being jealous of the relationships that the parents can have with these kids, that we can’t. So it really helps us when we are appreciated for our ‘mother-type’ role in the childrens’ lives. We love being acknowledged for what we do and the unique challenges we face.”

But Kim stressed the importance of not trying to force this kind of appreciation artificially from the children.

“It’s important that adults are sensitive to what is said around the children, and that they don’t force the children to try and acknowledge us on this day if they aren’t naturally inclined to. Their birth mother does take priority.

“I never expect anything from the children, although it is lovely when they do something of their own volition. What I do appreciate is recognition from my husband, and our extended family.”

Tip 3: Uphold Stepmothers As A Valued Family Member

Kim Wilkinson And Family

Unique Role: Sydney stepmum Kim Wilkinson, with her husband and stepdaughters.

Remembering that stepmothers are a part of the family and not just an ‘optional extra’ is vital, Kim said. Not only for both the stepmother’s sense of worth, but also for family cohesion.

“Stepmothers enter into well-established families of grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins, who are connected to the children by blood and have had time to form a strong and trusted relationship with the children. This can often make you an automatic outsider – initially to your husband and his kids, but also to his greater family.

“It can take just as much time to establish the trust of the extended family as it does the children.”

The lesson to be learnt?

“If you have a stepmother in your family, be their champion,” Kim said. “It means the world to us to have your support, and be included and acknowledged as a valued member of the family.”