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Managing Father's Day as a Stepmum

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

It's nearly upon us! Another annual 'celebration' which should be joyous (this one's about celebrating our partners, right?), but as with all things in Stepmumland, it's never quite as simple as we'd like it to be and what should be a simple day of enjoying spoiling our partners for being a fab Dad, there are (as always) lots of complicated feelings and situations which can come up...

Here are some of the most common situations which women have shared with me, along with some top tips...

#1 - The logistics of it!

If the Stepkids are with you full time, this one should be fairly simple... but if it's not 'your' weekend then you might be in for dramas before the day is even upon you!

Top tips:

  • Arrange well in advance for your Stepkids to be with their Dad on Father's Day if it's something that's important to your partner and stepchild. Ask Bio Mum clearly for exactly the change in schedule you want and offer to make up the time at a convenient time for her.

  • If (for whatever reason) your partner can't be with his kids you can still choose to celebrate him! Whether there are other children in your life or not, plan something which you know he will enjoy. If Father's Day is triggering for him then chat in advance about what he might like to do. I hear from a lot of women who have partners who find Father's Day hard. Encourage your partner to open up about how he feels, either to your or a professional. If he simply doesn't want to, or can't then it is ok for you to spend part of the day away from him. Sometimes people have to help themselves before you can help them!

  • Some Dad's don't feel the need to spend Father's Day with their kids and some kids don't feel the need to spend the day with their Dad. As long as everyone's on the same page don't let it bother you!

  • It's not on you to arrange everything. Ask your partner what he'd like to do but remember it may be more appropriate for him to arrange it, that doesn't mean you've failed! Likewise if you have grown up stepkids but the relationship is tense then it may be easier to tell your partner you'd like him to sort the details of the plan out but you'd love to celebrate with them.

"Bio Mum ALWAYS has plans on Fathers Day meaning my Stepson is never with us. My partner ends up in a sullen mood all day and it just becomes another day I resent being a Stepmum, and feel like BioMum controls the tone of our home - and his son isn't even with us!" – Lisa, 38

#2 - Who buys the card and gift?

Most Stepmums don't want to step on Biomum's toes but equally want to make sure their stepchild has a gift.

In the early days I assumed my Stepkids' Mum would get them something for their Dad as I always made sure my son had something for his Dad but it was hit and miss for the first couple of years... So then I went through a couple of years of getting them something, and then their Mum did as well! From then I took the approach of asking BioMum "Would you like me to get a Father's Day gift from the girls or would you rather do it?" - every year she said she would get something with the girls which was great as it meant they got to choose something (and it was one less thing for me to think about!). Now my Stepdaughters are older I can message them directly and just ask if they're sorted or if they need help, and it varies year to year.

As for my own Bio son. His Dad was single for a few years before meeting his partner so I had always got him something with my son for Father's day and we still do. I definitely wouldn't feel offended if his new partner got him something (and maybe she does!) but I want my son to know I support him choosing a gift for his Dad and I am happy to pay for it.

Top tips

  • It's very unique depending on your relationship with BioMum and the age of the kids but if they're old enough I would suggest asking the kids if their Mum is getting something or if they need some help.

  • If you have a communicative relationship with BioMum then ask her gently if she's covering it or if she wants you to.

  • Don't get hung up on what the actual gift is or what it costs. Don't overthink what BioMum sends into your home!

"My husband would get a fancy personalised gift from his SD and I'd always know that biomum had chosen it. I didn't want ANYTHING she'd chosen in my home" – Sally, 36

#3 - "My husband is a Father to HER child, not mine"

Lots of 'stepcouples' don't have Bio children together and this can present challenges for Stepmums. I speak to many women who find it incredibly difficult to wrap their heads around the fact that their partner has a child with another women and does not, or will not have a child with them. If this is you and you feel jealous, hurt or resentful... rest assured it's normal to have those feelings. It's easy to assume that because two people have a child together they feel an emotional bond for life but I can promise you that isn't the case!

Even still, it can be hard. Especially for those women who would love to be able to have bio kids with their partner. Seeing them celebrate being a Father to someone else's child when you're desperate for them to be a Father to yours can be really painful.

Top tips

  • Remember your partner is with YOU! Not his Ex. They may have had a child together but his family is with you! I can almost 100% guarantee that he isn't wishing he was celebrating this day with her! He's more likely to be wishing that he'd met you first.

  • If you're in the middle of trying to conceive or have struggled with infertility and find Father's day particularly triggering it's ok to take a time out from it, or to share with your partner how tough you're finding it.

  • Remember you are STILL a family even if you don't have a biological child together.

"Just seeing the words 'Happy Fathers Day' each year on my Stepchildren's card is a painful reminder of what I'll never be able to give my husband" – Mel, 46

#4 - I'm missing my own Dad

This is a painful one. Sending you so much love if you are missing your own Dad, or if Father's Day brings up complicated feelings for you. If you no longer have your Dad, or don't have the relationship you want with your Father, then seeing all the celebrations of Fatherhood can be especially challenging. These days can bring sadness as well as celebrations and if you're going through this today then I send you so much love.

Top tips

  • Talk to someone you trust about how you're feeling. If you feel you'd like to acknowledge your Dad in some way even if you're not seeing him in person then do it!

  • Don't push your feelings to one side, acknowledge them, whatever they are and just spend a moment giving yourself the space to feel the feelings, and to process whatever they are.

So whatever you're feeling in the run up to Father's day remember to cut yourself some slack, give your feelings space to breathe and acknowledge your role in your family.

Most importantly as always, communicate with your partner, open up and share your whole self and through your vulnerability your relationship will strengthen.

If you'd like to explore any of your feelings in a safe, supportive environment, or have a partner who could benefit then do check out my coaching packages. I work with men, women and couples.

What comes up for you on Father's Day? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Love Katie xx

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