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Confessions of an Evil Stepmom
They're all grown up, what can be so hard?

Welcome to Whether you’re just joining the family as the kids are on their way out the door, or whether you’ve been at this since the kids were little, is where you’ll find support and encouragement for healthy stepfamily living with 15- to 35-year-old stepchildren.

Most stepfamily advice ends abruptly with a child graduating from high school. But anyone living in a stepfamily with young adults will tell you that, if anything, bigger kids present bigger challenges to the family unit, and to the parental remarriage. Even after a young person turns 18, when child support payments are done and court-ordered custody agreements no longer dictate where a child will live, young adults still need leadership, advice, and support—from both of their parents, and from their stepparents.

Right where the stepparenting literature leaves off, my stepparenting questions began. Once my stepchildren had diplomas, car keys, and credit cards of their own, how was I going to sustain relationships with these busy young people? How could I promote their ability to handle the challenges the real world would present while they were out there trying to conquer it? What kinds of “help” might hobble their learning and skill building, and what kinds of support would promote their burgeoning independence?

At, you’ll learn what “young adulthood” means in the 21st century, what your young adult stepkids are up against, and how you can be a positive influence at this important time:

Avoiding landmines: How do you avoid missteps with your adult stepkids—criticism, judgment, testiness—that can end up taking years to repair?

Sharing resources: How do you and your mate decide on the “right” level of support for kids who still need food, shelter, and wheels while trying to stand on their own?

Spending time together: How do you celebrate with kids who have divorced parents, living grandparents, new in-laws, and only two weeks of vacation a year?

Lowering expectations: How do you manage your frustration with young people who are still learning adult skills and making mistakes along the way (e.g., poor performance in college, drug and alcohol abuse, credit card debt, or untimely pregnancy)?

Overcoming burn-out: How do you keep up your stamina—and your patience—while you encourage your stepchildren’s best thinking and best choices, and your spouse’s best parenting?

Becoming an intimate outsider: How do you forge a true partnership with your mate and his kids—even though you’re not biologically tied to this pack—during these two difficult decades?

There’s a whole new wave of challenges that come with grown-ups on training wheels; the teens, 20s, and early thirties are an important period in which young adult children are trying to break free, but often do things that land them back in our laps, again and again. And parents don’t always help—they bribe, lure, cajole and control to keep their “babies” safe and on track.

At, family systems therapist Kimberly A. McKenna, M.S., brings to readers her first-hand experience as an “evil stepmom” (so dubbed by her stepdaughter) of three young adult stepchildren, and as a two-time stepchild. She is joined by Amy Pfeiffer, a writer, student, and 20-something young adult stepchild.

Through articles, interviews, and research updates, helps you cut through the predictable complexity and confusion of situations that arise for people living in stepfamilies with young adult children. Whether you’re a remarried parent of young adults, a stepparent of young adults, or a young adult stepchild yourself, you will find resources here to encourage your best thinking and support your constructive action in your stepfamily. is here to help you think about how to build a stronger, more flexible stepfamily. Please write to us at with your stepfamily stories, questions, or suggestions for topics you'd like to see covered here in the future.

Stay strong ~ Evil Stepmom