5 Ways to Be Inclusive With LGBTQ Stepmoms
I get asked all the time about how I feel being a queer stepmom in this growing online community space that exists for stepmoms to support one another. The truth is, I am both inspired and isolated on a daily basis. I’m inspired because I see so many families dealing with the same rollercoaster I do. But, I also feel isolated because I’m constantly reminded that I’m “different”. The best part about a community of stepmoms is that they always want to build one another up! Following suit, I’m sharing a few tips on how my straight stepmoms sisters can work to include their LGBTQ stepmom friends.
1. Avoid only using the word “husband”.
When I first became a stepmom, I struggled so much trying to find stepfamily resources that didn’t exclusively revolve around having a husband. You might think one little word doesn’t make much of a difference, but I don’t have a husband. Therefore nothing else that comes after that word relates to me. I recently purchased a 30-day stepmom self-help style book to work through and hopefully share with my online community, but I couldn’t get beyond the first question, which asked me to write down how I met my husband.
Sure, I can cross out the word, write “wife”, and carry on, but the tone has been set, and from then on I feel as if I don’t belong on those pages.
Even if you aren’t writing books or creating workbooks for stepmoms, you wouldn’t believe how much of a difference it makes when you ask a stepmom related question or do a call for suggestions and ideas if you use the word “partner” or “spouse” instead of defaulting a husband. You might be closing a door you didn’t even realize existed, and some of us who might stay silent otherwise are likely to chime in if the door to that conversation is opened us too.
2. Don’t make assumptions.
I’ve had a ton of people meet me or hear my story and assume that my wife must have had a baby with a man prior to meeting me.
That’s actually not the case. She adopted her daughter with her ex (female) partner.
My point is that families come in so many shapes and sizes and are created in infinitely different ways. When we assume the next family was formed like ours, or like most of the ones we read about in books or see online or on TV, we’re defining the word “family” in a way that invalidates other families. If we all simply just ask instead of making assumptions, every family will feel like a “real” family.
3. Ask them about their unique challenges.
There are some things that stepmoms in a same-sex marriage deal with that are totally foreign to other stepmoms, and even other moms in two-mom households. For example, my biggest hurdle to overtime when I first moved in with my wife and her daughter was figuring out where I fit since already had a “Mom” figure in the house. I wasn’t filling a role that was vacant, so I had to figure out what my strengths were as Beth, and not as the mom in the home.
Sometimes, we don’t know who we can talk to about these challenges, because we assume straight couples don’t face them. Even if you haven’t had a similar issue in your blended family though, it means the world when you ask and listen.
4. Seek their advice on raising accepting kids.
As we move toward a society where being queer is more accepted, more and more kids will feel comfortable enough to come out of the closet. Lots of parents want to provide a safe space at home for their children to feel like they can be their authentic selves and share who they are with their family, but it’s sometimes difficult to make that message clear.
If you’re curious about how to encourage your little ones to not only come out if they do realize they’re queer, or just want to know how to encourage your children to be accepting of LGBTQ people around them, just ask a queer person in your life.
It’s not taboo, and we don’t get frustrated or think you’re ignorant. We’re grateful to be respected and approached with a topic so sincere and encouraged by your enthusiasm and acceptance.
5. Approach them with your struggles and successes.
Sometimes it feels difficult to relate to queer stepmoms. I totally get it. I have a wife. You have a husband. What do we really have in common? The truth is, just about everything. I know I mentioned some unique challenges LGBTQ stepmoms face, but the reality is that most of our daily ups and downs are the same as yours.
We have co-parenting issues, boundary challenges, discipline struggles, date nights, bonding time with our stepkids, you name it. So really, the best thing you can do to include us is to share your stories and let us share ours too!
About Beth Ann
Beth is one of three moms raising one fun, feisty little redhead. Over at the Babbling Blonde, she provides support and inspiration to women in nontraditional families, from stepmoms to LGBTQ parents.
Download her free Essential Co-Parenting Custody Journal here.