Step Parenting = Boundaries

Now that this world is full of step, half, kin, foster, adoptive and whatever other labels are being stuck in families these days. I’ll throw in my two cents with a dash of experience.

I’ve run full force into a few of these and let’s be honest, you can look at it from whatever perspective you want.

It gets messy.

No matter how hard you try to make it not messy, it’s bound to become that way at some point.

That’s okay though! Anticipate and prepare

It’s in these moments that relationships are born. It’s how you handle a messy situation that pushes you forward.

There is one thing I’ve learned in my experience as a “stepmother”,

It’s boundaries. 

Learn your place, and if you’re welcomed in, then be present but don’t force your presence.

Trust me, they already know you are there.


Seriously, would you look at you husband and say “Hey bio-dad can you help pack bio-son and stepson’s lunch?”


“Our children” that’s what I refer to our kids as. I don’t want them feeling any different than the other.

He calls me Jess. I don’t tell him I’m his bonus mom, or any other absurd term the internet has drummed up this week.

AND Yeah…

Sometimes you aren’t going to like what the other parent is doing.

Look at it like this, if you went to the grocery store and saw a kid back talking, slapping their parent or throwing themselves on the ground, what would 90% of the population do?

Walk around them and sympathize with the fact that we’ve all been there.

Why is it being rationalized that it’s ok for us to have compassion for a complete stranger, in a store, but no compassion for the mother that gave birth to the child that lives part-time in your own home?


I make mistakes on the daily with my kids, I am by no means the perfect parent. I try to do my best, just as every other good willed parent is doing.

Heck, sometimes I don’t agree with how some of my family raises their kids but that doesn’t mean I can just jump in and tell them to do it my way.

Because they are THEIR kids.

Like I said, BOUNDARIES!

Same goes for being a step parent.

I am a huge advocate for 50/50 parenting, but I also understand there is extenuating circumstances in each individual case. That’s why I LOATHE when children are pushed through the court system.

There is no judge that can hand pick a schedule for your child better than their own parents.

With that being said, as a step parent, you have to sacrifice. You’re not number one. You won’t be, stop forcing a competition that shouldn’t even remotely exist. Can anyone take your mom or dad’s place in your life?


The other day, I had a terrible day. It was the worst event of my parenting life thus far. The episode that took place petrified me and was very traumatic for our kids. As soon as we got home my stepson asked to call his mom.

You know why?

He was scared. When things weigh heavy on you, who do you want to talk too?

Your Mom.

As soon as I got home, guess who I called.

My Mom.

I knew he was going to tell her what happened that day.

There is always that part of you that doesn’t want to share your personal failures with others but this wasn’t about my feelings, it was about his.

And frankly, you signed up for this, sharing your life stuff when you took on being a step parent.

He told her how scared I was and that I was crying and how it scared him. She sympathizes with me. She didn’t judge me, she told him a similar story about something happening to him in the same aspect.

I’m not saying that this relationship happened overnight, because it didn’t. We have all worked hard to get to this point.

I think what a lot of step-parents are failing to do, is exercise compassion for the fact, that you are helping to raise THEIR child.

As mothers, we hand-pick their babysitter, their preschool, any big decision in the life of our babies. Sharing that with another woman that you hardly know is scary.

All I’m saying is exercise patience! Put yourself in their shoes and most of all quit being so competitive.

No matter what, you will never fill their mama’s shoes.

Teach yourselves to be okay with that.



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4 thoughts on “Step Parenting = Boundaries”

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  3. Terrie Hendricks

    Great Story Jess! I wish I would have had your wisdom and knowledge back when I was in your shoes. It is tough helping to raise someone else’s children but somehow we do make it work.

  4. Lisa Bracone-Barnes

    I absolutely love article, finally someone sees my perspective on my kids and a step mom who doesn’t know boundaries. I am a Mother and a Step Mother..

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