About the Author

Bianca Olthoff is an (in)courage alumni who spends most of her time working as Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign, a global anti-human trafficking organization. By day she's a freedom writer who advocates for justice, but at night she's a step-mom who loves to have dance parties with Parker, Ryen, and Ricci [a.k.a. The...

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Something I learned after 5 years in the step parent game. It is hard. It goes back to the first point you made. I know i am selfish. I love my husband soooooo much that at times I find it hard to share. Not to have “just us” firsts, that there is a built in family first. That it is hard managing “real mom” vs “step mom” Real moms can be jealous, real moms feel hurt about sharing too, real moms will always be around.

    But over all, as you said so beautiful, the good FAR outweighs the challenging and helps you grow in ways you never thought you could or would.

  2. Oh, Bianca, you are absolutely breathtaking in that photo! And your family looks so adorable together. I love that way you approached this–with laughter, truth, grace, and guts. You are a beautiful woman who loves so much like Jesus and tries to do so even more every day. I’m not a stepmama but your words about loving well encouraged and challenged my heart just the same–I think they apply to all of us no matter where we are in life right now.

  3. I saw you post title and had to come over from Twitter. I have been a stepmom for over 18 years. It can be so hard. My stepkids were 4& 1 when we got together. Us together is all they remember, but there was always their mom, dictating what could or could not happen. Be careful, always prayerful, and be available for them as well as your husband

  4. Beautiful photo and a wonderful post!
    I think this world could use a whole lot more dancing in the grocery store and jumping through the puddles. And yes, that adoption metaphor…wow!

  5. i think this whole thing is beautiful thing…you can see your heart when you write about being a step mom….i think those pointers apply to real moms as well….

  6. I’ve been a stepmom for 8 years…my ‘bonus kids’ were a little older when we got married (10 & 12), but we also had 50% visitation. We’ve had some rough times, though mostly good times, and I have learned some valuable lessons; the most important one is to love and support my husband as a partner and a parent and to remember that no matter how parental I feel or am called to be in their lives, they have a mom and I need to step back sometimes.

    I was a little stubborn about taking my cues from Rod & God 🙂 (Rod=husband)

    It sounds like you have a great perspective. It’s important to have a safe place – a friend or 2 that you can really say ANYTHING to, because in a blended family, sometimes you have feelings that even your husband won’t understand or that feel are just too selfish to express (whether it’s what’s on TV or who gets to sit by The Daddy at dinner). Keep talking with other stepmoms…it helps! I muse about it a lot on my blog…come on over some time 😉 Thanks for sharing this. It’s always a treat to meet other Christian stepmoms!

  7. God has given you the ability to understand His heart to love children that aren’t your own and adopt them into your family and your heart. Now you know how a part of the heart of God feels like when we call Him ‘Abba’ 🙂

    Here’s a couple of tips (growing up as a step-child as well as being a single parent):

    1. When you have your own kids, make sure that you don’t make them feel like you ‘love’ or ‘take side’ with your own kids more than you do them. When they do something crazy when they get older, try your hardest to refrain from saying ‘they’re YOUR kids’ to matt in front of their faces.

    2. Enjoy every minute of the lil ponies and crazy grocery dances. They grow up too fast.

  8. My husband and I have been married for almost 14 yrs, “together” for nearly 16…my two oldest were 6 and 3 when I met them….we too had joint custody, however I quit my job to be a stay at home mom, without kiddos of my own!! We have also been blessed with two more children…it is not easy, but oh so worth it!! Some advice that worked for me is to always remind them and yourself that GOD chose their parents, but has also allowed you to be apart of their lives and that they are a blessing..always a blessing! Second thing is the relationships between parents (all 3 of you) is so important…be adults!!! It is doable! And pray for the ex-wife, not to go away, but to experience the same blessings that you are…radical I know, I thought so at first too, but it works!! And lastly, if there is a set night every week that you don’t have the kids, make this your date night and keep at it even if more children are added to the bunch…very very important!! Oh, I almost forgot…lose the word “better” and only use the word “different”, it will save so much hurt on so many levels!!
    God Bless, Jean

    • Wow Jean…thank you…What a different and wonderful way to think about things. GOD chose my step daughters parents….humbling.

  9. Ive been a step parent for 16 years! The best thing I have learned is-
    1. You are not their mom or dad, so stop trying to be!
    2. Support them when it comes to communication with each of their parents!
    3 You CAN NOT talk about the other parent in anyway that would hurt them!
    Ive learned these and can tell you its been hard, but I can honestly say that after all these years Im happy with the relationship I have with my step boys!

  10. Well, all I can say is pray you get along with the ex! When that is tough it makes EVERYTHING tough no matter how wonderful the kids are and how great things are in your home. Keep her in your prayers constantly.

    Realizing that you can tremendous impact to be a parent and friend is great, a step-parent is still a parent, but the role is just a little bit different. I have fun with it!

  11. Sounds like you already have a lot of wisdom, wisdom that all parents, not just step-parents, can use. I never had step-kids, but I have 3 adopted and 2 permanent foster kids. One of my foster kids had ongoing contact with her birth family, so that created some step-parent type situations. Not very easy since they were the reason she was in foster care in the first place. I learned a lot about biting my tongue. And I learnedd a lot about what I can control (not much) and what I can’t (most everything). I think of children as God’s 12 step program for control addicts! She is grown now and we have a wonderful relationship. Congratulations on your new family! You’ll do great.

  12. I’m not a stepmom but I am a daughter who grew up with the best stepmom on the planet. Here are a few of the decisions that she made on my behalf that made the biggest difference in my life and in my relationship with her. I was somewhere around 5 when she and my dad got together. Even so, she let me lead how things would go in building the relationship. She got to know me and reached out to me and never ever gave up. She never EVER said a bad word toward my birthmom. Not so much as a flinch. She went further even. She insisted that I was respectful and tried to help me see my mom’s point of veiw. She handled this better than either my parents or even me. That is the biggest bit of advice I can offer. She and my father were married until my adulthood and of my three parents she was the ONLY one who didn’t bad mouth the others and she is the only one I trusted beyond reproach. She made lots of mistakes big and small but her decision to be kind before all else weathered those storms. She taught me about forgiveness as a kid and I taught her about a relationship with Christ as an adult. It was all because she was an exmple of Agape love for me before she even knew it. She died of breast cancer last year and I will never stop missing her. She changed my life and gave me the tools to change the lives of my kids. Just know that you are gonna be fine as long as you always go back to : honest, kind and forgiving. Those kids will thank you for loving them….eventually 🙂

  13. As an adoptive step-parent and a step-daughter twice (both parents remarried), I would advise you to never take a disciplinary role. Always leave it to the parents. Disciplining step-kids nearly always causes resentment, which leads to dis-respect.

    The hardest thing is that you are taking on all the responsibilities, heart-ache, and risk without any expectation of reward (affection, love, trust, etc.). Not that there won’t be rewards, but you can’t expect them.

  14. I think Kandice gave such great advice! Kindness always wins over anything else.

    The only things I can add would be: never disagree about the kids in front of the kids, always show a united front with your Husband, and be kind and respectful towards each other.

    Advice for your Husband: even though your wife has never been a mother, she does have good ideas and deserves your respect and consideration. Never say ‘you’re not their parent.’ At least consider her ideas and advice on parenting.

    On presenting a united front and not disagreeing about the kids in front of the kids: always have your discussions about parenting in private, not around the kids. If you must, agree to disagree but present a united front and back each other up once a decision is made. Don’t let the kids go from one to the other getting whichever answer they desire.

    And never put the absent parent down to the children. If there is nothing nice to say, than just stay silent on the subject. You never know what the kids absorb and how it can affect them.

    I only say this as a former step-parent, from experience. I did get a wonderful ‘child of my heart’ out of the relationship. She is such a joy to me and I love her so very much.

  15. Bianca!! This is so great and even though I’m not a mother (and won’t be one any time soon) I think this list can be used in life. Especially not being too/too serious. So many people forget to have fun and a little clean fun can be like a refreshing drink of water on a hot day. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Bianca, being a step parent is a tough, stressful, job but oh so rewarding.

    I have been a step-mom for 17+ years. My step-son was six and my step-daughter was 4 and my husband had full custody of both. When we married I was 23 and did not have any children of my own. What a change it is to go from only caring for yourself to caring for a husband and two children. There have been MANY, MANY ups and downs through the years with the ex, the children, the in-laws, etc, but I assure you, the good DOES outweigh the bad.

    My husband and I have a 15 year old son together.

    My step-daughter left our home five years ago when she was 16 to go live with her mom (didn’t like the rules of our home). When she was 19 she had a baby. We are now in the process of adopting our grand-daughter who we have had custody of for 2+ years.

    Kandice posted really good advise. However, I don’t agree with Leah’s advise to not discipline the children. (In my case that was definitely not an option because they were with me more than their mom or dad) You can not let them ever think they can treat you any way they want. (As sweet and loving as they may be when they are young, the teenage years are very trying) My husband and I discussed and agreed on the appropriate discipline for them.

    It sounds like you are off to a great start. The best thing I can tell you is to not let anything or anyone come between you and your husband. Many may try.

    The part of your article I like the most is # 5-You’re capable of more. There have been times that I knew I could not do any more, but I did and still am.

    Just when I thought we would finally get to go on a honeymoon, we have started over with a baby!! We are so blessed to have her, it is well worth the wait!!

    Rely on God, He will give you the strength and and wisdom to see you through.

    God Bless you and your new family!

  17. Wonderful perspective and I’m sure will speak to many; the biggest thread I see in this is a willingness to change as a result of circumstance! You aren’t trying to conform the children to you and your whims, you’re flexible and adaptable to who THEY are. Lovely model of putting others first :).

    The coolest thing, too, is God gives us our kids to accomplish his work in us! Because we’re transforming through the relationships, he can use that to transform us to his image. That makes my heart smile!

    🙂 Beautiful.

  18. You go girl! Stink! I got married and moved to another country…but I have to tell you getting married AND becoming a mom- wow! You are amazing! I bet you are learning too much right now between new husband and kids 😉

  19. It’s so amazing that you have become a parent and wife all at once. After a few years in our marriage and the boys being ready, my husband adopted the boys (who are now men). I will always hold people like you and my hubby in a special heart place.

    I just love the dancing in the store part. I think I just might do that anyway!

  20. Great post! I’ve learned that being a step-mom is a different than any other role. It’s not a mom, not a sister, not an aunt, not a friend—it’s a special relationship that doesn’t fit any other category. My youngest step-daughter just started college, and we still are very much in touch. She calls me Evil (short for evil step-mother), which makes me smile every time. I love that kid!