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Stepmom vs. Stepdad: The Double Standard

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Stepbomb: As a fairly new stepmom, I can't wrap my brain around the double standard that seems to exist when comparing a stepmom to a stepdad.

man and woman arm wrestling
My husband's ex-wife has been living with her now-husband, the girls' stepfather, since less than a year after the divorce. But why did all hell break loose only after I became the girls' stepmother? Why did my husband's ex-wife sue for custody, claiming she didn't want the girls' environment disrupted with a new person in the house, when she'd already had a stepparent in her daughters' lives for years? And why did she get upset when I wanted to volunteer at the school, when long before I entered the picture, her own husband had been volunteering and coaching the girls' soccer teams? 

Never has my husband accused his daughters' stepfather of trying to be the girls' father. Not when he discovered him coaching the team at a soccer practice; not when the girls told him that their stepfather had attended a field trip; not even when the stepfather and my husband's ex-wife had the affair that ultimately ended the marriage. 

Since day one, my husband has put his own ego aside and has accepted the arrangement, because the girls love their stepfather. He has never thought it wrong for another person to love his children. And he has never felt threatened, because he knows how strong his bond is with his daughters. 

Why is it that when I want to be involved in the girls' academic or social lives, I'm "undermining" their mother's role -- yet when their stepdad volunteers, he's just being "helpful"? Why is there a double standard? Are stepdads considered nonthreatening because the word "dad" appears in their descriptive, not "mom"? Or is this simply the difference between how men and women get along with one another? 

Are men more accepting and understanding of other men than women are of other women?


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41 comments so far | Post a comment now
Taran April 9, 2011, 12:13 PM

Isn’t the stereotype that the mothers are ones who tend to be around the kids more. And, thus the mothers are the ones who are into dealing with the daily life of the kids more often.

Whereas, traditionally fathers are often away from the house for long hours. I know nowadays that more and more women have full time careers as well. So, that obviously isn’t always the case.

But, generally speaking I think that the kids probably don’t have as much problem with step-fathers. Maybe, it is because the step-father is around for “fun” time. Like watching movies with the kids, going to a sports game, playing sports with them, or even going on a vacation to a theme park, etc…

Whereas the step-mother is more seen as the disciplinarian? And, the one who tells the kids to shut the tv off and go to sleep and eat your vegetables?

I hope no one is getting angry about these types of generalizations.

But, could it be that it is simply easier to be a step-dad to get along with the kids.

Because, they don’t have to spend as much time with them? Thus, the kids are more accepting of them? Maybe, more step-fathers don’t feel the need for their step-chidren to call them father? And, just hope for respect and friendship?

Conversely, I wonder if it easier for a child to actually fall in love with their step-mother. Since, a tender hearted and sweet step-mother that is around a lot more could have that effect as well? Therefore, the stereotype that exists is also that the birth mother is much more jealous of the step-mother…

Whereas, the birth father is more jealous of the step-father for being with his ex rather than about the kids???

Maybe, this is all horrible stereotypes and generalizations. Ok, I’ll shut up now. XD

Oh, one last thing. I always wonder what step-mothers think about Disney films? They are always portrayed very negatively. It would be very nice and cool to see one where the step-mother is actually a heroine for once. :)


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