Mother’s Day: More appreciation of stepmothers

Flowers, chocolates, coffee in bed: On Mother’s Day, mothers like to be pampered by their families. At least once a year, some women might think. But what should stepmothers say? They receive little or no recognition for their achievements in a mixed family. The stepmother also cooks, cares for and cuddles with her partner’s children. The Federal Ministry of Family Affairs estimates that about ten percent of all families are patchwork families.

Stepmother, surrogate mother or bonus mother

Marion Uschold is the stepmother of two children. The 36-year-old fell in love with his father. They have been a couple for six years. At that time, the children were three and six years old. Marion has no children of her own. She does not like the term stepmother. It has such a negative connotation that one associates it with something bad, like something out of a fairy tale, says the native of Munich. She prefers “bonus mom”. That sounds more positive, she says. “I’m also an added bonus that the kids get, and they’re a bonus for me, too.” Their bonus kids are with them every other weekend and on holidays. Because their mother lives just around the corner, Marion often sees the children on the playground in front of her house.

Love, affection, jealousy: bonus mothers experience emotional chaos

What at first sounds like a happily mixed family is sometimes a struggle. Especially for bonus mom like Marion. A struggle with their own emotions, with their role in the family system “patchwork”. You grow into this family and suddenly you realize that things are coming that you did not expect at all. Like jealousy, “says Marion Uschold.” There were also problems with the ex-wife, with the ex-partner, the stress was then taken into the partnership. “Marion had to learn to deal with it. After the butterflies in her stomach, the shock of reality followed.

Blended Family is advanced, so a challenge

Bonus mothers have these problems and worries, says Camilla Engelsmann from pro familia in Munich. The psychologist advises bonus mothers, who often struggle with conflicting emotions, who have a difficult role to play between the ex-wife and her partner and have to find individually. They often take on care tasks themselves and have usually developed a close relationship with their bonus children. At the same time, they can and will not replace the biological mother.

Bonus moms are mostly forgotten on Mother’s Day

It shows on Mother’s Day. “It is often quite bitter for the bonus mothers, because then there is a pill in the kindergarten for the biological mother, and there is usually nothing for the bonus mother. Then there is often disappointment or insult,” says Camilla Engelsmann. The stepmother then feels like a fifth wheel on the carriage. According to the motto: “Well, I’m not that important after all.”

Tip: sometimes hug, sometimes withdraw

Bonus mother Marion Uschold sometimes had this feeling at the beginning of the mixed family life. Her tip: Do not get caught in the negative spiral of thoughts, sometimes lie down on the couch to cuddle, but also take responsibility other days. And: talk to each other, about your feelings, about the disappointments. “The important thing is for every bonus mom, for every bonus dad, that you also say you have time for yourself. You don’t have to spend the whole weekend with the mixed family.”

Bonus mother Marion now gets something for Mother’s Day

Many stepmothers do not get credit for their care. Marion knows that too. “Women put so much energy into what they take on as mothers when their children are with them. And very often they do not get anything back on Mother’s Day. I know many are incredibly disappointed with it.” Marion herself has no expectations for Mother’s Day. But two years ago, she got some of her partner’s children for Mother’s Day for the first time. “They came into the bedroom and said, ‘hey, today’s Mother’s Day. And somehow you’re kind of a mother to us, too. I thought that was super nice.” Then there was Mother’s Day breakfast. Last year, the kids stood in the doorway with a gift, a bracelet and wished Marion a happy Mother’s Day. “That’s the biggest compliment you can get as a bonus mom.” Because it came from the children – from the heart.

How does the stepmother get recognition?

In order for the bonus mothers to be recognized by their partner’s children, the father’s behavior is important, says Simone Steiner, curative teacher and head of the education, youth and family counseling center for the Erlangen-Höchstadt district. Above all, they should show and express appreciation for their caring work in the family. This also applies to the presence of the children. “There are often situations where the child has conflicts with the stepmother. If the father takes sides with the stepmother, for his partner, then it helps her,” says Simone Steiner. In their counseling center, the proportion of patchwork families is about 14 percent.

Podcast on mixed families by bonus mom Marion Uschold

Being a bonus mom is not easy. That’s a big challenge. Marion was very lucky that the kids accepted her from the start. She does not want to replace mother. “It’s something that has worked incredibly well for us. The kids also see me as Dad’s friend. Sometimes they say you’re like a friend to me or like a big sister to me. And sometimes they just say, a little bit You “is also mother to me.” A quarter mother.

A “quarter mom, a whole dad” – that’s also the name of Marion Uschold’s podcast, where she talks to other bonus and patchwork parents and experts about the ups and downs of patchwork family life. For Marion and her patchwork family, life together has become more beautiful and more intimate from year to year. “Yes, we managed to live this patchwork construction really nicely.”

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