Stepmother's Day exists, although it is probably not widely celebrated.
Most people are probably not aware that there is a Stepmother’s Day, which falls this year on 16 May 2021. It is marked one week after International Mother’s Day, which differs from our British version.
Many families are unlikely to celebrate Stepmother’s Day and there may be good reason for that. Depending on the situation, it could make the stepchild feel awkward or that they are somehow betraying their own mother. If matters are dealt with positively though, it is possible for a stepchild to feel comfortable in giving thanks to their stepmother for their love and support.
Being a stepmother is a thankless job! Whilst many mothers will say the same thing, the biggest difference is the lack of decision-making ability that a stepmother has in their stepchild’s life. They help bring up their stepchild, will often financially contribute and be a significant role model in their life. However, when it comes to the important decisions, generally stepmothers (and stepfathers) have very little say.
There may be genuine reasons for a stepmother obtaining parental responsibility to enable her to contribute to the important decisions. Parental responsibility is something that a mother acquires automatically, and the father can acquire in several ways. Being registered on their child’s birth certificate is the most common way. Parental responsibility encompasses all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that, by law, a parent has in relation to their child or property. So, in other words, are part of the important decision-making process regarding the child’s upbringing.
Having another person with parental responsibility (the stepmother), may cause more issues than it solves, as parental responsibility can be exercised independently, except if they wish to take the child out of the UK if under 16 or provide consent to adoption. However, there are circumstances where it would be appropriate – for example, if the child lives with their father and stepmother, and their stepmother undertakes most of their day to day care. The easiest way for the stepmother to acquire parental responsibility is by entering into a step-parent parental responsibility agreement with all those that already have parental responsibility. If that cannot be agreed, she can apply to the court.
Being part of a blended family can throw up trials and tribulations, so getting legal advice at an early stage can help avoid problems later. A family solicitor can assist any members of the family to help ensure that the best decisions can be made for the child concerned.
Ultimately, if all the adults involved are positive and respectful of one another, a stepmother can be a fantastic influence, support and important role model in their stepchild’s life.