Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Should stepmothers get Mothers' Day cards?

The Council on Contemporary Families thinks so. It's impossible to know how many stepmothers there are in America, because the census bureau doesn't count them. But there must be quite a few, because 46 percent of marriages include at least one partner who's been married before.

The legal system has, however, failed to take note of this group.

Stepmothers, the Council on Contemporary Families says, "often feel ignored, both by society at large and by their stepchildren."

More from the council's release today:

In many states, stepmothers have custody responsibilities for their stepchildren but no legal rights regarding them. Even if they drive kids to games, play Monopoly endlessly, and help with brushing teeth every night, they are considered "legal strangers." If there is an injury at one of those games, a stepmother cannot sign
her stepchild into the emergency room without written permission from her partner or the other legal parent. Oregon is one of only a few states that protects the rights of a stepparent who has formed a relationship with a minor child...

I agree with the council that we ought to send 'em a card. No harm done, and it's a good thing to recognize what they do for their stepchildren--even if society at large doesn't recognize it.

I look forward to a release from the council in June, extending the same consideration to stepfathers.


  1. In California, stepmoms can get legal and physical custody rights if the biological mom loses hers or signs it away...

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  5. Love this article. I am not a step mom, but know a few of them (one of them a close friend of mine). She behaves every bit as a mom does. She is a step mom to the children, yet wakes them up to early morning devotions and a nice warm breakfast. She has them dressed early for school, drops them off, then comes home tidy's up after their rooms. She does their laundry, helps them with their homework and behaves like a good friend to them. She fixes the children a nice dinner, yet she knows she can never be called "Mom" and expects nothing in return. All she wants is for the children to grow up healthy, happy and that they lead fulfilling lives. She deserves more than a card, but since her role is what it is, she knows that she is after all still considered just their stepmother and is aware that the children are too young to register, just how much of an effort she is making, to keep their lives filled with contentment and peace. She should receive a Mother's Day card and her husband sees to it that the children always present her with one. After all, it is not her fault that she inherited the role of playing a mother to her stepchildren when she married her husband, yet she is a gentle helper to her stepchildren and she does it with delight. I enjoyed your article! Carmen Amoros Goldberg (AP Alumni)

  6. I received a card from my stepson and a phone call from both him and my stepdaughter. They are 34 and 31 now. I married their father when they were 7 and 10. Ten years later, he died and the kids and I shared a new chapter in our lives, grieving together, working through the complicated issues that arose concerning inheritances, and learning how a live-in girlfriend (my stepson's) and a new husband (mine, eventually) would affect the balance in our little family. The girlfriend is long gone. My stepson is now married and expecting his first child, and my stepdaughter still lives with her mom. But they're more than ever an important part of my life. I never expect a card for mother's day, but it always makes me happy that they remember me.

  7. I like your post.. consideration should be given to stepmothers and stepfathers