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Stepmom 101: How do you handle Mother's Day?

Lisa Steinke, with Liz Fenton, is the co-author of the debut chick lit novel l'll Have Who She's Having and the popular Chick Lit blog chicklitisnotdead.com.

Mother's Day for stepmoms?

As a stepmom, you can often be caught in sticky situations as you're trying to find your place in the family and avoid stepping on the biological mom's toes. So when it comes to Mother's Day, how should you handle it?

Should you celebrate it in any way? Or is it simply not your day at all? And are there other ways a stepmom can celebrate her role in her stepchildren's lives?


Is there a step in Mother's Day?

Even though you no doubt play a very important role in your stepchildren's lives, Mother's Day is a day for their biological mom to celebrate with them. And you should help facilitate and support that in any way that you feel comfortable. For example, you could give them gift suggestions or even take them shopping to buy her a present. But taking a backseat on this day is the right thing to do.

Follow the kids' lead

Keeping an open dialogue with the children about your role in their lives is important and something you should do early and often once you're in their lives permanently (and even before you marry their dad). Many important issues like Mother's Day will come up. By letting them know that you're supportive of whatever they choose to do will alleviate any pressure they might be feeling and make occasions like this easier on them and on you. Bottom line: Mother's Day is about the kids, so follow their lead. However they want to handle it is up to them.

Lower your expectations

But what if they don't make you a card or acknowledge you in any way? It's OK to be disappointed and have hurt feelings. But lowering your expectations and knowing that you may not be the one they are thinking about on Mother's Day will only help you manage the disappointment you might be feeling. Remember that they do care about you even if they don't show you in the form of a card or a bouquet of flowers. Instead of getting caught up in how they act toward you on this one day, focus on all the positive things about your relationship with them on every other day.

What you need to know about raising stepchildren >>

Talk to your husband

Talk to your husband about your feelings about Mother's Day and about his as well. He can help you work through some of the mixed emotions you might be having. And remember that he's your biggest fan and appreciates your role in the children's lives and the value you bring to the family.

So how can you celebrate your relationship with the kids?

Create your own tradition with the children like taking them somewhere on the anniversary you first met them. The most important thing is that you are creating your own memories, not borrowing from a tradition they already have established with their mom.

More about stepparenting

Stepmom 911: 5 common issues and solutions
Checklist for stepparents
What you need to know about raising stepchildren

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