The trouble with being a stepmother

The Trouble With Being a Stepmother

I was a single mum; he was a co-parent to two boys birthed from two different women. Pretty early on we met each other’s kids. I was uncomfortable telling people I was seeing someone with kids and I’d say he only had one child, and if I did tell others he had two I’d make it seem they were from one mother.

There are a lot of preconceptions about men with kids in the black community that I wasn’t ready to deal with or defend. Just in case you are curious, the top two would have been that he sleeps around, getting women pregnant and then leaving; the next would be that he is still sleeping with his “Baby Mutha”. I just wasn’t ready to deal.

However, I want to share what was my absolute naivety when venturing into this form of motherhood. I really did think I’d meet these woman at some point, and that even if we weren’t friends we would be mature enough to at least talk logistics. What an absolute myth! The deeper I got the sooner it occurred to me that I wasn’t a welcome addition to what was already a broken family. My husband didn’t have the best relationship with the biological mums so only God knows why I thought it would be different.

Let me say on the kids’ front it was all piece of cake, really: the children met and played and apart from the normal falling out that kids have it was all good in the hood. My relationship with the kids was pretty smooth too; they were nice to me and didn’t give me any grief at all. I thank God for that because some women have it hard.

I can’t support my husband when he needs help with the boys because it will become a big issue.

Anyway, I pressed on and got married when I was 27 and became an official Stepmum. I decided that I would ignore the fact I was ignored and treated like a non-factor in the boys’ lives. It doesn’t much matter that I mothered them on weekends and holidays; no wait, it does, and the sheer disrespect is what is hard to take. My biggest struggle, really, is that I’m not allowed to do certain things; like pick my stepsons up from school or drop them off to their mother’s house. I can’t support my husband when he needs help with the boys because it will become a big issue. For the sake of peace, we have let many disrespectful things slide.

Even more upsetting is that the biological mums both treat me the same – neither have taken the time to get to know me – yet don’t even speak to each other.  

I set up a support community called ‘The Stepmums Club’, which aims to challenge the “wicked stepmother” narrative and rally against the stigma that comes with the role. I have discovered so many other women across the globe struggling in different ways but all for the same reason – because we are “the Stepmothers”.

Priscilla Appeaning is the founder of The Stepmums Club. You can find them on Twitter here and Instagram here. You can flick them an email at

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  1. Charlotte Braithwaite

    Well done on creating such a positive imagine around stepmothers.
    I am not a stepmom myself but I have had that mentally of the ‘evil stepmother’ in my head.
    The only nice stepmun that comes to mind for me is the mum from Sophia The First which is actually pretty sad. There should be more on the TV & in reality.
    You should be very proud of yourself & the support community x

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