Mother’s Day is just one day of 365 days to recognise and acknowledge the role of all women and all female carers; mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, guardians, carers in their often unsung and unpaid roles as carers of Australian children. Biology is not the only determinant of family relationships, with contemporary Australian families coming in many different forms, histories and origins and they give their all, do their best as many Australians parents strive to deal with the changes and transitions that are normal as part of contemporary family life.
There are an estimated 300,000 children who live with a stepparent in Australia. Most stepparents start off as strangers however with care, patience, persistence, love and time they can build strong, supportive relationships. How can we acknowledge the tens of thousands of Australians who care for children, despite not having the biological and legal recognitions that parents have?
The work we do through Stepfamilies Australia (www.stepfamily.org.au) brings us in contact with many stepparents, including stepmothers, every year, as Mother’s Day approaches, they ask for advice on how they should behave or the expectations they should have on Mother’s Day. How their family and the broader community recognise their contributions in their care for children on this day and every day?
On Mother’s Day or any other day, a child should not be coerced to thank their stepparent. However, encouragement from their biological or primary parents to offer some thanks and acknowledgement of their mothers, and their stepmothers, as well as the role of women in their caring roles on this designated Mother’s Day.
When getting your kids to write up a Mother’s Day card whether at home or school – it is important that we acknowledge ‘other’ families as well.
Mother’s Day cards could include;
“We have our own special step relationship and for that you deserve a special card today”;
“Many women can be mothers, but it is just as special to be a stepmother”;
“Dear Stepmum, it hasn’t always been easy, but I thank you for being there for us even when things were hard”.
“I know you’re not ‘technically’ my mother but without you I wouldn’t be who I am today and for that I thank you. Happy Stepmother’s Day!”
If children and young people cannot thank their Stepmothers on Mother’s Day in person, there are other ways that parents can encourage their children so that the day does not go without being acknowledged. You could call them, text them, use social media, send a card etc. Taking on the care of somebody’s children is always something that deserves our acknowledgement, respect, appreciation and celebration.
At the Stepfamilies Australia website www.stepfamily.org.au you can find further information for tips, resources and links to advice and support that promote the best outcomes for children, young people, parents and stepparents.
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