The role of being a step mother is sometimes associated with the sensitivities of developing a loving and supportive relationship with your partners children. These relationships can present challenges but equally can provide a wonderful, nurturing connection.
One such step mum is Katrina Parsons, 31, who lives with her husband Glynne, 48, in London with Katrina’s stepsons who are 16 and 19 and their daughter Maeve, 3.
‘My step sons were 8 and 11 when I met my husband. I met Glynne at work in a London casino. I ran the events and he was the General Manager. I was 22 and he was 39, Because of the age difference, neither of us thought it was forever so it didn’t bother us at all. After a year being together, I broke things up and moved back to Australia as I felt too far away from my friends and family. I was in Australia for a year before I realised that I actually really loved him. I was ready to accept the age difference as well as the fact he was divorced with 2 sons.
It was was 2 years in total from when we met to when I made the move back to London. Since we married, we have had a beautiful baby girl. I am currently expecting our second child together in June this year.
My step sons and I have always got on really well. I met them when they were older so I never had to fill the conventional role of mother. We have more of a friendship based relationship than a maternal one. I think the fact I am a bit younger as well helps and I am very easy going.
Glynne and I would take the boys to theme parks, exciting restaurants in London and for holidays where we would hire boats and jet skis. Rather than having a relationship where I take them to school and tell them off for not tidying their rooms – we have fun! I really try to show them things through my eyes and experience of the world.
At first they didn’t really know what to do with Maeve when she was born. They are young boys so they really dote over her. When she turned one, their relationship started blossoming and all 3 are really close now. They visit once a week and really are interested in spending time with her. I don’t think of myself as a step mum as have their biological mother who they live with. I support them wherever I can. I don’t do a lot of the jobs a normal step mum would do as they don’t live with me full time, but I have my strengths and they know they can rely on me when they need to.
During summer last year I booked Sushi Samba for one of the boys’ birthday. They are getting to the age that they are starting to take interest in places and experiences. Maeve is of the age she can eat at the table with everyone. It was so nice to see all 3 of them out together and how they instinctively are protective of her and also have fun with her. Even when we walked in to the restaurant they were walking hand in hand while my husband and I took a step back and watched their relationship from afar. If she was getting bored at the table they would take her for a walk around or read her books. Because of lockdown we hadn’t really done much out of the house, but it was just such a lovely day as a family – one we will always remember.
I started my business, Me & Maeve Grace, after I found a gap in the market for stylish matching clothes for mums and daughters. I found there wasn’t anyone in the UK that was really designing for new mums – whether it be breastfeeding or bump friendly features or just a flattering fit that was conscious of them having a new baby. I really felt I could create something that would look and feel great, as well as having an ethical & sustainable supply chain.
Maeve does all the fittings for the girls size and models for the shoots as well as social media for the content around parenthood we produce.
I hope that one day the company will have grown to be successful and she would take an interest in it and one day take over’.
Louisa Whitney is an Accredited Family Mediator. She states that ‘when a couple have separated the relationship between them can be difficult and this can hamper the relationship between a child and one of their parents. Dad having a new partner can be a help in this regard and especially so where the commitment makes that partner a step mum. A good relationship (or even a civil, polite and respectful one) between a mum and a step mum can reassure mum that children will be safe and happy when visiting dad in a way she may not have previously been reassured. This in turn can help children to feel safer and less worried when seeing dad. A step mum can be a treasured and safe person to talk to who is not their biological parent. Age appropriate honest and open conversations with children can be helpful for a step mum provided she doesn’t stray from what biological parents are comfortable with. Children respond to openness and authenticity in adults around them and so it’s important to approach it from this standpoint.
Fun can also be significant in any relationship and having a step mum with whom children can do fun things that they enjoy doing, can help to cement that relationship. A step mum isn’t there to replace mum, or as a substitute for dad, but a supportive step mum with a listening ear can provide an important stability for children of separated parents’.
Louisa Whitney website;