The Childless Stepmom Syndrome

Recently this “ailment” was brought to my attention and it prompted me to present my opinion on the topic.

As a society we are pretty obsessed with labeling. Everything is a THING. This is valuable if it brings about some real wisdom but mindless categorizing of individuals and their “issues” hardly leads to wisdom. “Childless Stepmother Syndrome” is apparently a thing now, even if only because some women decided it was so. Who knew? {Who cares?}

I would relate this to the “Golden Uterus Syndrome”. I’ve heard Golden Uterus referred to many times over my years blogging and it’s basically about how it is believed that the biological mother thinks she can do anything because she created the child. I suppose it can be valid on some level, but in general a lot of stepmothers use this as an explanation for poor (usually controlling) behavior on the part of “biomom”. Similarly the “Childless Stepmother Syndrome” comes from the same idea, in my opinion. “Biomoms” sometimes attack childless stepmoms because they say we “are trying to steal their children because we can’t / don’t have any of our own.” I believe the issues are far deeper than either “syndrome”.

I don’t believe any of us were fully equipped with the tools to navigate blended family life with ease, because it wasn’t meant to be this way. Marriage was supposed to be a lifelong commitment and the issues that face the parties involved in an emotional capacity are often cloudy, to put it lightly. The circumstances that end a marriage are painful and it’s rare that anyone walks away unscathed. The best we can do and hope for is to continue to grow throughout the process and not remain stuck.

I think these “syndromes” are valuable to look at only to learn more about ourselves, and others. I once also believed that mom thought she had the “golden uterus”. She certainly behaved as though the tiny human I loved so dearly was her sole property and God forbid another try to love and guide him. But over the years I grew out of that. I was able to find some grace and empathy about what she must be feeling. When I say this, I always get push back – “But you don’t understand, she is a MONSTER.” Oh I understand, I just chose not to stay in that place. I just found peace within myself, such that I didn’t need to be concerned as much with her. I went through hell with her too, the concept is not lost upon me.

And when she would fire off at me how I didn’t have children of my own and she was his REAL mother, it hurt. But instead of using that hurt to fuel more hate for her, I used it to learn about myself and her. I have chosen not to have “my own” child at this time for reasons that are my own. I let that deep pain simply point me to areas that I needed to strengthen within myself. But it takes a strong woman to stop with the “syndromes” and casting out a net of judgment laced with bitterness. The best thing I ever did for myself was learn everything I could about who I really was and about other personalities and other upbringings as well. To learn why someone behaved the way they did. And why I behaved the way I did. This helped me to find peace and establish necessary boundaries. It helped me understand and interact far better not only with the characters in my story, but with the rest of the world. 

In case you haven’t noticed, women can be petty. We are emotionally charged beings and we get tangled up with one another quickly. I am not suggesting you can’t hate the behavior of another person. Or that you must ignore the pain inflicted upon you. Or even that you should be the walking epitome of grace. We are only human after all and the best we can do is follow Jesus; we will never be Him. But that should never be an excuse for mediocrity. And labeling each other is mediocre, childish and lazy. It’s EASY to label and blame. It’s hard to empathize. It’s harder to forgive. And it’s hardest to look at our weak points and replace them with solid truth. I really prefer to shoot for having the “Grown Woman Syndrome”. The prescription is personal growth and the prognosis is good.