The Stepmom Toolbox

The Stepmom's Toolbox provides tips, tools, and advice to stepmoms and stepfamilies.

Peggy is a winner of Top 25 Moms with Blended Families - 2012

What aspect of being in a blended family has surprised you?

I've been part of a blended family for nearly 40 years. I grew up in a stepfamily and was raised by my stepmom (who legally became my mom when she adopted me and my brothers back in 1975) and I am a stepmom. I think the biggest surprise for me was that being a stepkid did NOT prepare me to be a stepmom. Although, being a stepkid did help me keep me two steps ahead of my youngest stepson.

What's a good tip for preventing sibling rivalry?

I don't think one can actually prevent sibling rivalry. As a parent, I realized that my daughters were two unique personalities and sometimes they clash. I don't think they ever competed against each other, but when they were younger, they sure did have their differences. My daughters are 24 and almost 28 now and they are as close as ever.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to moms who are about to become part of a blended family?

The advice I give to a new stepmom is the same piece of advice my husband gave me when he gifted me with his four children. I asked him how he wanted me to play the stepmom "gig" and he said, "Just be yourself."

"Whew," I thought. "I can do that!"

Our society has a very warped view of stepmothers and it's next to impossible to live up to those expectations. It's important for soon-to-be stepmoms to have a series of conversations with their future husband about his expectations and what reality is in stepfamilies.