I’m 12 years younger than my husband, 11 years older than my stepdaughter, and 15 years older than my stepson. As a new stepmom, I didn’t think much about the age difference – until I started getting strange reactions from other people. I would take my stepson to the grocery store, and get pity stares from other customers. I realized later (after a pointed question from someone in the check-out line) that they thought I was a teenage mom! At Meet-the-Teacher nights, other kids’ moms would give me hateful looks or avoid me altogether. I’ve even had everyone from store clerks and dental assistants to Pastor’s wives and extended family go from being super nice to standoffish the second they find out I’m the stepmom. Sound familiar?
I’m not sure who said it first, but it’s true: hurt people hurt people. I have to remind myself that when people treat me differently because I’m a young stepmom or second wife, it’s not about me. More than likely, the other person has been wounded in the past: maybe they’re a child of divorce, or have gone through a divorce themselves. Others haven’t personally experienced the effects of a broken home, but they are fearful for their own marriage and family based on the media stereotypes of stepmoms as “home wreckers.” No matter the reason, their perception isn’t your problem…but how you handle it is.
As a child, I remember my mom saying, “Don’t let them get your goat.” Now, I’ve never found that goat – but as an adult, I know what she was trying to say: don’t let them steal your peace and make you say or do something you’ll regret. Case in point: after one too many unkind comments at a school event, I showed up at the next one dressed, well, let’s just say with less clothing per square inch than I should have. Instead of feeling confident, I felt embarrassed – and as immature as the other moms were suggesting I was. I believe that’s because my confidence was placed in the wrong person.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. – Jeremiah 17:7
Stand tall, stepmomma, and place your confidence in God! He created you, and He called you. You don’t need to get your confidence from anyone else – or let them take it away. When you are treated poorly because you are stepmom, bring the lies back to God and ask Him to replace it with the truth:
- Making fun of your age? All wisdom comes from God (no matter your age) – Proverbs 2:6
- Pointing out that you’re not the mom? God made you a mother – Psalm 113:9
- Reminding you that you’re second? God doesn’t show favor: we are all His children (Romans 2:11)
- Telling you that you don’t belong there? You belong to God, and He has overcome the world (1 John 4:4)
- Comparing you to your husband’s ex? Their opinion isn’t God’s opinion, and that’s the opinion that matters – (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Lastly, repay unkindness with graciousness. I know that’s hard, but you can do it. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t respond – but if you can, respond kindly. Remember, wounds go deep, and a kind word from you could be the first step toward healing.