StepmonsterIn her insightful book, Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do, author Wednesday Martin, Ph.D. explains why stepmothering is the “perfect storm” for depression. Here are eight risk factors …

14 Comments to
Stepmonster: 8 Reasons Why Stepmothers Are Prone to Depression

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  1. “Whiter than white”? Really?

    I guess bad stepmothers are black.

    Think as you write, please.

  2. So true and double standards don’t go away once they’re adults. My stepson is 24 and his father allows him to yell at me, curse, call me names, and usually believes his son’s version over mine. I am not perfect but I have 4 sons who are responsible, caring adults…and I each middle school. I do have lots of expereince but not with this kind of anger. This stepson is out of control and sick. He has escalated from underaged drinking, drugs, lies to several DUI’s, drug arrests, dropped out of college 3 times, lies, addicted to porn for yeaars and now has been arrested for child porn. I no longer will allow him in my home. I am disgusted and saw this coming but my husband would not hear my concerns…I think I have to leave him…it’s getting worse, not better with age.

  3. Tabitha..White…as in pure and unblemished.

  4. I worked my way out of depression– that really hit hard after I became a stepmom. Ruminating was the worst part for me. There is also the feeling of being constantly compared– even favorably. I felt like a discount parent. My husband can have the same feelings about the kids, but when I have a negative one– it is viewed as wrong. I thought it would get better when the kids grew up– but it really does not change. My attitude has changed, and that makes a difference. It does help that we love each other– they are the closest thing that I will ever have to children of my own. It does hurt my feelings when they refer to me on the phone to their friends as the stepmonster.

    • It’s sooooo good to know that I am not alone. I don’t even know where to begin. I feel so alone as a stepmom, it has only been a year for me but I’m starting to think i will have this loneliness all my life. I have a 5 yr old stepdaughter and today, after taking her to a candy bar and the beach, she said ‘ I wish I was with my mom’ and cried. This is every weekend to me, I pull my hair out to make everything work but I get the same thing. ‘ I don’t feel the same with you, I miss my mom…’

      My husband does not understand, and so I have no one to talk to.

      I’m so miserable.

  5. My 22 y/o stepdaughter has been the primary reason for tension in my 2 y/o marriage. She lives 2 hours from us, and has visited us twice (once for our wedding), and my husband has driven to see her numerous times. I used to go with him until she requested he come alone. She is clearly angry about my existence. She and my husband had a barely working relationship before I came along, and it is now nearly non-existent. Long story short, I am resisting bearing the brunt of a nasty divorce and its toxic fallout, and my husband acknowledges his split loyalties to me and his daughter. Thank heavens she was older when we met, so I feel in no way responsible for parenting her, as my own 2 kids are well-adjusted and accepting of my 2nd marriage. We are in therapy now to figure out how to handle the situation.

  6. Oh — I meant to say that my name here was how stepdaughter dubbed me, in her refusal to have a mature relationship with me!

  7. Oh my, I wish I’d had this to reassure me long ago– I went through it all years ago – when as a 30 yr old live-in “girlfriend” I assumed chief mothering responsibilities for 11 and 13 yr old boys – one of whom was absolutely furious at his natural mother(a psychiatrist who had seen him told me, rather haltingly, “You should know, ah, that he has no respect for women.”)
    My “Sig other” -their dad, had an a impossible time making the transition from vacation Dad to full time parent, in that he never would apply or support any sort of regular discipline(not punishment, just rules). And his work at the time kep him away for days at a time – turning me into an unprepared, scared, single parent!

    The good – basically the boys never did the “you’re not my mother” routine, but would challenge and testconstantly. My “common-law” MIL was a tremendous support – but I would never vent my feeling about lack of support to her (but bless her heart, she did give me some insight into her son which at least allowed me to see that i wasn’t somehow responsible for his reactions, too).

    But there were some awful times – mostly due to feeling unsupported by my SO. And among my own friends group – there were either women with little of their own, or single women w/o kids — our experiences just were wildly different. And I had a demanding job to boot.

    One of the “little” things I identified as a unique step-problem had to do with the holidays. When the boys lived with their mother, their dad would pick them up and take them to visit with his sister in a different state(. When they live full-time with us, they spent big holidays with their mom – eg. flying off before Christmas, returning afterwards). Aside from being another source of stress for all, it meant that we never really pulled together strong family traditions which, I believe, help a new family to create itself as a new unit.

    Writing about it brings back a lot of feelings— it took me years to give myself a pat on the back for what I did manage to do, and to stop stabbing myself in the heart for not being the perfect (step)mom. I can tell stories that are tragic or comic or, most often, both.

    Bottom line for me – I am glad to have had my relationships with my sons, but would tell any woman considering this commitment to have a very serious values and childrearing discussion with her potential husband or partner. You can let values slide a bit in an adult relationship – but when it come to how you raise children, it becomes terribly important. And most of all you must have faith in his (her) support and respect for you; and willingness to confront the problems that will arise. Easier said …

    Oh, and one hint that you may be doing well in your relationship with stepkids even if they won’t let on. If their friends are nice to you – you aren’t being seen as the wicked stepmom! [Wicked, not black]

  8. I have been with my 16 yo stepdaughter since she was 4. This past year has been, well, trying. I have gone from being “more like a mom than my own my” to “stepmonster”. I have had no contact in 6 months. Her & dad are in counseling. I have 2 grown kids who also haven’t talked to her in 7 months. Now I find out that her mother took her to my daughters house to visit because stepdaughter misses her.

    I feel like I have been pushed in, pulled under & held down to drown. Hubby has contact, his family has contact & now she is in contact with my family. But no contact with me. Talk about feeling lower than dirt.

  9. All very good points in this article, but I am astonished that “pressure from conflict with a husband’s ex with a high conflict personality” isn’t cited here as a major reason for depression in stepmothers. I personally have had very few problems with my stepchild himself, but his mother? Now that’s a different story! If you look for advice on how to cope as a SM you are inundated with advice on how to deal with the kids, but very little on how to deal with a high-conflict ex. Odd, as I know that this is a very common problem.

    • Clea, very good point. Which is my situation now! The ex-wife is a piece of work and never, ever makes things easy. And constantly uses the kid as leverage or a weapon towards my husband (father) and/or any situation she doesn’t want to deal with. It’s so sad that we do everything, I mean everything (doctor, dentist, etc), and no matter what, she turns it around always that we’re the bad ones and are ungrateful for the 1% of what she does do. Really? So frustrating cause she doesn’t see it’s hurting her son. And she cannot even see that she never puts her kid first, or his needs never come before hers, ever. But in her mind she’s mother of the year all the time. Sad for sure.

  10. So glad to read this today and know I’m not alone. I love my step kids dearly and have been dedicated to help care for them for almost 8 years now. it is so disappointing how I an get caught up with doing things for them and supporting them and then get a harsh reminder that I wil never really be nothing but a step monster. My own son struggles with acceptance as well. I doubt the kidsy will have any relationship when they are adults which is a shamebecauses otherwise he is an only child while my husbands children enjoy a close relationship with each other. My husband is not supportive and I believe just consumed with the guilt of the divorce. There is no question that my son and I are blamed alot and he doesn’t help the situation. Everyday I wonder whether its even worth it anymore. I feel as if there is no room in the family for us.

  11. I met my husband when I was 28, in 2005. He divorced in 1998 and has 3 kids (girl 23, boy 21, girl 19 now). I remember myself in the beginning. Regular, mostly happy. Cooked for them, helped them with homework. Borrowed them clothes and makeup, DID THEIR HAIR SEVERAL TIMES. Even played xbox war games with the boy just to be a “good stepmom” (girlfriend for 1.5 years). Remember the mother bossing us around on the phone, yelling at me, just getting into the house and if I dared say anything she would “take them away”. Which she did. Once she called to tell my h that she wanted something from starbucks (he was meeting with her before dropping them off at school to pick up a book or something). The kids would make fun of things like this saying “you are mom’s bitch”. My husband and I had several conversations about her “blackmailing” us and on top of childsupport issues and nasty behaviour from her part, (she would enter the house through the back door and snoop around, eve steal) the kids would say things like: “dad, when you die we will have all your money” or “she (me) is a goldigger”. They would make fun of me being “brown” a “negro” a “refuge” (because I am south american and my father was murdered when I was a child… I know, too sick to even write what they called me). Ah, there was the “monkey” comment or the making fun of my accent (which is nearly perfect btw) in public. Have threatened to physically hurt me… So, my husband made a mistake: he proposed and postponed, because his kids would be hurt if we married (so they threatened several times). Then, we got married after ordeals and more. He had promised having children with me and he changed his mind. Because “he didn’t want to be a father forever” and “he has 3 kids already”. So, after 8 years, I am almost 37 and can’t have children. I sit and cry about it, but for a while I created in my mind these fears of labor, child birth, etc. I realise now that I was denying myself the option because I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I am starting my 2nd round of preparing for IVF, so, maybe this time my ovaries respond! Fingers crossed… Regarding my stepkids, have the world and yet, clothes, car, money, education, trips, you name it but there is no “thank you, Dad”. They have mentioned all these years how great the mother (who is fond of Vodka and marihuana and has brought men to live with her nonstop) how much she has to make an effort and all the praise for her. So they are incredibly unfair, selfish, entitled, spoiled, messy, back stabbing. I have had huge problems because 3.5 years ago the girls decided to go around family members saying I call them fat and I told them that if they had an abortion I would help them. That I told them to get themselves an old man with money . Obviously, the family is not very smart nor loyal because one of them started crying, it was craziness. My mother in law is 80 years old this year but she has been on my back to “clean and cook for the kids” “teach them how to do things because they have nobody to teach them”. I have tried since the beginning mostly because it would look good to be the stepmom who teaches her husband’s kids. I did help and allowed a lot of abuse to be ok. The cinderella part is so me… But after 8 years, I am starting to enjoy more go and visit my nephew in the US instead of being here, when they are here. I feel abused when they wake up at 12 hungry wandering around the kitchen like baby vultures. So, I started going away… but since I came back I feel different. My h and I had a deal, that since he would be with them and have a family contract. The 2 girls have apartments of their own and my h pays for everything plus their studies and monthly money. So, the contract stated that for each attack (betrayal, insult, tantrum, etc) he would take a “fine” out of the monthly money. It should be done immediately and as continuously as necessary. The contract stated also that when living in his house they should clean after themselves and help with some vacuuming, or unloading dishes, etc. The purpose was to stop the abuse from their part and gain some respect. My idea was that eventually they would understand that it is not profitable to attack dad, on the opposite, he should be respected. As soon as I left I asked about the contract. For the first week I asked about it and the rules. My h answered that later, he would do it later later… I wrote a contract and emailed it to him in case he was too busy and to give him a little push. We had agreed that this was enough, that we deserve respect and it is easier now that they have their own places and lives and nothing can be blamed on the mother. Now they are adults with bad habits and no respect. Let’s deal with them like adults, right? So I come back and see nothing was done. He made them sign the contract but the house was filthy. I came jet lagged to unload dishes, organise the fridge. My h was very sweet and brought me breakfast and coffee as he usually does. He was lovely, but we had an agreement. So, what do I do??? I feel something is broken but I can’t fix it alone. After 8 years I expected us starting to have a life of our own, privacy, freedom, respect. What I would give for his kids to hug him or to ask what he needs instead of just calling for more. I don’t see him loved and he hasn’t been for years. But the one who cares is me. How do I disconnect from this and still love him??? I feel so tired today and he has been repeating that it will be ok… making plans… but , do I want to have a baby related to this people? Well, it was cathartic to write.

  12. If you are about to become a step mother I say run away as fast as you can. You think it will change when they become adults, not happening. I know first hand experience trust me. Go to step talk and read some of the story’s please.

  13. Ladies in here “venting” , it might be worth considering some (not all) of you might genuinely do things that provoke the dislike or even hate of your step children. Its easy to be the victim, but it isn’t so easy to admit guilt.

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