Flowers, Chocolates, and Coffee in Bed: On Mother’s Day, mothers love to be pampered by their families. At least once a year, some women might think. But what should the stepmother say? They get little or no recognition for their accomplishments in a mixed family. The stepmother also cooks, takes care of, and cuddles her partner’s children. The Federal Ministry of Family Affairs estimates that about ten percent of all families are mixed families.
Step mom, surrogate mom, or extra mom
Marion Ochold is the stepmother of two children. The 36-year-old fell in love with her father. They’ve been a couple for six years. At that time the children were three and six years old. Marion has no children. She does not like the term stepmother. This has such a negative connotation that you associate it with something bad, like something out of a fairy tale, says the Munich native. Prefer the “bonus mother”. This sounds more positive, she says. “I’m also an extra bonus that the kids get and it’s also a bonus for me.” Bonus kids are with them every weekend and on holidays. Because their mother lives around the corner, Marion often sees the kids on the playground in front of her house.
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What at first seems like a happy blended family is sometimes a struggle. Especially for a bonus mom like Marion. A struggle with one’s feelings, with its role in the family system “patchwork”. You grow up to be this family and all of a sudden you realize that things are coming that you weren’t expecting at all. Like jealousy, says Marion Ochold. “There were also problems with the ex-wife, with the ex-partner, and then the tension was transferred to the partnership.” Marion had to learn to deal with it. After the butterflies in her stomach followed the shock of reality.
The blended family is advanced, so it is a challenge
Bonus moms have these problems and fears, says Camilla Engelsmann of the Pro Familia Foundation in Munich. The psychologist advises mothers who often struggle with conflicting feelings that play a difficult role between the ex-wife and her partner and must find it individually. They often take on caring responsibilities themselves and usually have developed a close relationship with their rewarding children. At the same time, they cannot and do not want to replace the biological mother.
Moms are mostly forgotten about the rewards on Mother’s Day
It appears on Mother’s Day. “It is often bitter for mothers that rewards, because there is kindergarten reform for the biological mother and usually nothing for the reward mother. Then there is often disappointment or humiliation,” says Camilla Engelsman. Then the stepmother feels like a fifth wheel in the wagon. According to the tagline: “Well, I’m not that important after all.”
Tip: Sometimes cuddle, sometimes hold back
Bonus mom Marion Ochold had that feeling sometimes early in the mixed family life. Her advice: Don’t get caught up in the vortex of negative thoughts, sometimes lie on the couch to cuddle, but also take charge on other days. W: Talk to each other, about your feelings and disappointments. “The important thing is for every extra mom to say, for every extra parent, that you have time to yourself. You don’t have to spend the whole weekend with the blended family.”
Bonus Mom Marion is now getting something for Mother’s Day
Many stepmothers do not take credit for their care. Marion knows that, too. “Women put a lot of energy into it, and take on motherhood when the kids are with them. A lot of times they don’t get anything in return on Mother’s Day. I know a lot of them are very disappointed.” Marion herself has no expectations for Mother’s Day. But two years ago, she got something from her partner’s kids for Mother’s Day for the first time. “They went into the bedroom and said, ‘Today is Mother’s Day. And in a way you’re also a kind of mom to us. I thought that was really cool.” Then there was the Mother’s Day breakfast. Last year, the children stood at the door with a gift and a bracelet and wished Marion a happy Mother’s Day. “This is the greatest compliment you can get as a mom’s reward.” Because it came from children – from the heart.
How does a stepmother get recognition?
Until rewarding mothers are recognized by their partners’ children, father’s behavior matters, says Simone Steiner, clinical educator and head of the Educational, Youth and Family Counseling Center in Erlangen-Hochstadt County. Above all, they should show and express their appreciation for their work in the field of care in the family. This also applies to having children. “There are often situations where the child goes against the stepmother. If the father takes sides on the side of the stepmother or partner, it helps her,” says Simone Steiner. In their counseling center, patch families are about 14 percent.
Podcast about blended families by Mother Marion Ochold
Being an extra mom isn’t easy. It’s a big challenge. Marion was very lucky that the kids accepted her from the start. She does not want to replace my mother. “It’s something we’ve been incredibly successful with. Kids also see me as a friend of my dad. Sometimes they say you’re like a friend of mine or a big sister to me. And sometimes they say, a little bit you’re ‘return my mom to me too.'” Umm Quarter.
“Quarter mom, whole dad” — that’s also the name of Marion Ochold’s podcast, where she talks to dads, other experts, and bounties about the ups and downs of patchy family life. For Marion and her patchwork family, life together has become more beautiful and intimate from year to year. “Yes, we were able to live this patchwork building really well.”