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Stepmothers

  • By: Theresa Nowlan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

A stepmother is a woman whose partner has a child or children from a previous relationship. Traditionally, this definition was limited to a woman whose husband had a child or children from a previous marriage that ended either in the death of the children's mother or in a divorce.

The definition has been expanded to include women whose current partner (either through marriage or cohabitation) has a child or children from any previous relationship, formal or informal, in which that partner acknowledges the child and has some role in the child's life. A woman in a same-sex relationship whose partner has children from a prior relationship is a stepmother to those children. (This is distinct from women in a lesbian relationship who have a child together ...

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