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to think the word 'stepmother' is at odds with the reality?

(13 Posts)
SnotandBothered Sun 04-Jan-15 22:47:34

But perhaps it's just me?

In the past I have always found it ridiculous when words were phased out in the interest of being PC - blackboard to chalkboard, Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays etc. But I have thought this for a while and having just got back from the Panto (Snow White) it has crystallised in my head a little. The word/phrase 'stepmother' seems to have a negativity attached to it.

I don't know if the route of this is Hans Christian Andersen et al with their archetypal 'wicked stepmothers', American Films with the endless parade of goldigging/step child hating cows, or whether it's something else entirely? But I definitely feel the phrase has negative associations.

Which is ironic as by and large most step parents are amazing. They take on someone else's children investing love, time and care in them and often raise them as their own. I think it's maybe even fair to say that on balance, there are more 'good' step parents than real parents as the natural parent of children are probably more stringent(?) in forming a new blended family than some of us are when first produce our children.

My best friend and her DP have been together for several years and his DC from first marriage are with them three days a week. She does their homework with them, advises them, disciplines them and cares for them. she loves them. She is their step mother but she hates the expression so much that she bats it away if I use it.

Is it just us though? Do most people have warm thoughts when they hear the word? Genuinely curious.

Theboodythatrocked Sun 04-Jan-15 22:51:28

It's just a word.

Some parents are incredibly fantastic while others are appalling. Most of us fall in the middle.

Step or otherwise

NewYearsHangoversHurtAlot Sun 04-Jan-15 22:52:52

My husband is step father to my dc and it's a badge he wears with pride. The fact dc just refer to him as dad is an added bonus

Ex's girlfriend however is an interfering old crone who can't even be considered mother to her own kids so shes just the step in our house.

Weathergames Sun 04-Jan-15 22:57:06

I refer to myself as "step monster" which we all prefer smile

SnotandBothered Sun 04-Jan-15 23:00:18

NewYear And so he should. I don't mean that the concept or anything about step-parenting is in any way 'less than' parenting - on the contrary, I think in many cases it is 'more than'. It's just the word. I wish there were a softer word for the role.

LemonySmithit Sun 04-Jan-15 23:04:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mintyy Sun 04-Jan-15 23:06:57

"I think it's maybe even fair to say that on balance, there are more 'good' step parents than real parents as the natural parent of children are probably more stringent(?) in forming a new blended family than some of us are when first produce our children."

Whatever you mean by that sentence, I disagree.

I strongly suspect you are talking utter bollocks.

FlipFlippingFlippers Sun 04-Jan-15 23:07:33

I often chase my dsd around shouting 'I am the wicked stepmother!' Gets a good giggle grin

aermingers Sun 04-Jan-15 23:11:38

I think it's very old fashioned and a better word could be found for both that and step father in the modern world.

It's a throwback to a time when it was rare to divorce and people died younger. So most of the time if your parents remarried it was because one of your parents was dead. Because people died so much younger it was often the case that young children were involved. And given the family structure back then a stepmother or stepfather would usually be taking on the traditional role of a mother or father. A widower's new wife would take on looking after any young children and a widow's new husband would take on financial responsibilty for her children. So describing them as a 'stepmother' or 'stepfather' was appropriate.

Nowadays when it's much more likely to be the result of a divorce it doesn't quite sit too right with me. Partly because of the negative connotations but also because there is often still a mother on the scene and so the 'stepmother' isn't really taking on a mothering role at all, someone else does that.

It would be nicer to have something more appropriate these days that didn't have the negative connotations and also didn't set people up as parents of some type when the other parents are still on the scene. What it would be I don't know though? My father's wife or my mother's husband sounds loaded with malice and rejection.

SnotandBothered Sun 04-Jan-15 23:14:02

Mintyy - what I mean is this. When I had my DC I was youngish and had no idea of the reality of parenting. My DH turned out to be a lovely boyfriend, a good husband and an 'ok' parent. Were I to become a single mother, with the hidsight and knowledge that I have now - I would be far 'fussier'?? about inviting anyone into my family to co-parent with me. Therefore it stands to reason that only someone who could really prove themselves as a parent (as well as lover/DH/friend/whatever) would make the grade. My DH was not tested in this way.

Does that make sense?

SnotandBothered Sun 04-Jan-15 23:16:22

And yes aermingus you are right that there is an inference of 'replacement mother' which it isn't. It's 'additional mother' or 'additional something'. I don't know what the word should be, but it just feels wrong.

Mintyy Sun 04-Jan-15 23:17:50

No, but I'm not terribly interested and really should go to bed. I only clicked on the thread title because I have a step mother tbh.

Good luck with your discussion.

Sn00p4d Mon 05-Jan-15 00:53:10

What would you rather they're called?!
I've got a stepmum, stepdad and stepbrother. One of them is an arsehole, the other two are awesome, I won't specify grin

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