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Stepmothers tend to have a bad, BAD rep in fiction. Either they're cold and indifferent to their step kids, or are downright abusive to them (often favoring her own kids over them)...

And then there's this lady.

She's a stepmom, yeah, but she's not like the Fairy Tales said she'd be. She's a rather cool lady. She at least attempts to bond with her future stepkids, whether it succeeds or not. She may be a bit clumsy at that, but means very well. And even when the kids are reluctant to accept her, they'll probably end up warming up to her with a bit of time.

While the trope is still somewhat rare in fiction, it's been on the rise as a way to be less predictable regarding Parent Tropes. After all, Wicked Stepmother is a DAMN Undead Horse Trope and it has become boring to many.

See Wicked Stepmother, logically, but also Parental Substitute, Parent with New Paramour and Happily Adopted.


Examples of Good Stepmother include:


Anime

  • Digimon Tamers: Juri Katou's mother died when she was young, and her father married another lady who fits in here. Juri thinks she's a good person but is unable to properly bond with her, and her train of thoughts reveals that this troubles her quite a bit alongside all the shit that she's kept bottled up.
  • Digimon Frontier: Similarly, Kouji Minamoto has troubles to bond with his kind stepmother, and when he was spirited into the Digiworld he was angsting heavily over it. At the very end, this is played straight: he gives her flowers and she's ecstatic. 
  • In Hana no Ko Lunlun, Bianca's stepdad is a Rare Male Example. She cannot accept him, however, and runs away from home.

Fan Works

Film

  • In Enchanted, Giselle discusses this with Morgan and tells her that while there are bad stepmoms, there are also many good ones. Unsurprisingly, she becomes this to Morgan later.
  • Stepmom is about the protagonist, Isabel, trying to become this to her boyfriend Luke's children, the Spoiled Brat Anna and the Kiddie Kid Ben. Even "better", Jackie aka the guy's ex wife/mother of the kids is breathing down her neck...
  • In Nanny McPhee, Lily says that she does not want a stepmother because of all the wicked stepmothers she has read about in books. While Selma is a potential bad stepmom, Evangeline has potential to be this - and plays it straight.
  • The Sound of Music has Maria becoming this to be Von Trapp children after being their Cool Big Sis-like governess.
  • Frank in Milk Money tries to invoke this trope by getting his father to marry V, the Hooker with a Heart of Gold; due to her kindness to him, he seems to reason that she'll be a good match for his widowed father and a good mother. It's implied at the end of the movie that it will eventually happen.

Literature

  • In the children's book My Wicked Stepmother; having grown up on these stories, the young protagonist is determined to consider his new stepmother a wicked stepmother, but she's actually a genuinely nice person who tries her hardest to win him over.
  • In The Orphans Tales by Catherynne M Valente: one character becomes her stepmother's favourite and adores her in return.

 "...my father married again...I see you smile, Witch. You think you know how these stories go. ... I quickly became my stepmother's favorite, quick and clever as I was."

  • In Sense and Sensibility; Mrs. Dashwood was in fact a very kind stepmother to her husband's son from his first wife. It's John Dashwood who's a Jerkass.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valley, the minister's motherless children are told by another child that all stepmothers are wicked, it comes with the role. Nevertheless the youngest goes to persuade a woman to marry her father because her father is so miserable since she rejected him. And in Rilla of Ingliside it is clear that she is a perfectly lovely stepmother.
  • Toyed with regarding Annabeth Chase and her family in Percy Jackson and The Olympians, it seems like mostly a case of fear on her step-mom's part (which she eventually tried to get over), utter lack of parenting ability on her father's part, and a little kid's perspective plus several years of built-up bitterness on Annabeth's part. Once all parties were actually willing to work at being a stable family, they started getting along.
  • In Bonjou tristesse, Anne is a good person if quite severe sometimes, and tries to put some order in the very hedonistic lives of Cécile and Raymond. Cécile likes her at first, but soon is so scared about the changes that she'll bring into her life (especially when Anne attempts playing Team Mom), that she fears she'll be a Wicked Stepmother instead. So she manipulates the people around her (Raymond, his old mistress Elsa, and her own Dogged Nice Guy Cyril) into making Anne's life so hard so she'll leave. Little does Cécile know that Anne will end up so broken that she'll be Spurned Into Suicide instead.
  • In CS Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the nurse Batta tells the princesses that their new stepmother will be evil, just like in the stories she's told them. It turns out to be this: she's a frail, gentle young woman who is relatively kind to the girls until she dies in childbirth.
  • In Dirge for Prester John, when Anglitora comes to meet John, Hagia practically adopts the girl as her own.
  • In Doris Gates' Blue Willow, the stepmother is a good woman with an excellent relationship with the protagonist, Janey.
  • Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks on Gardam Street has Iantha.
  • Elizabeth is this to Karen and Andrew Brewer in The Baby Sitters Club and its spinoff series Babysitter's Little Sister. The only time Karen ever came into major conflict with Elizabeth was in book #49 of the latter series; Karen and Andrew were starting a new custody arrangement of living with each of their families one month at a time, and Karen wasn't used to being around Elizabeth for more than two weeks at the most. Luckily, they worked it out by the end of the book.
    • Sharon Schaeffer, Dawn's mother, is this to Mary Anne when she marries Mary Anne's father Richard (at one point even siding with Mary Anne over her own daughter during an argument). Dawn later accepts her father's new girlfriend Carol as this, despite her initial objections to their relationship.

Live-Action  TV

  • The Brady Bunch: Both Mike and Carol are good stepparents, to the point where the boys call Carol "Mom" and the girls call Mike "Dad."
    • In the first season episode "Every Boy Does it Once," Bobby's insecurity over his relationship with Carol is explored after he watches a children's TV presentation of Cinderella and somehow comes to the conclusion that all stepmothers and stepsisters are wicked and evil. This is reinforced when Marcia and Jan make fun of Bobby getting his older brother's hand-me-downs, then Carol – unaware that something was bothering Bobby – asks if he'd like to help sweep out the chimney flue. (Of course, Carol makes the girls apologize, and Carol eventually gets Bobby to admit he is apprehensive about his place in the family.)
  • Step by Step is a Parents as People version - there are no major issues between the stepparents and their stepkids, but the transition is not as smooth as The Brady Bunch. The major points of contention that are dealt with are the following:
    • Alicia aka Al's relationship with stepmother Carol, when Al objects to Carol's obsessive orderliness ... to the point where (in an early episode) she threatens to move in with her grandmother or find her biological mother; Al relents by episode's end, and realizes Carol will do fine filling the void left behind when her biological mother chose to leave.
      • The pilot episode hints towards this when Carol is the one to believe Al when she says her stomach hurts, while Frank just assumed she didn't want to go to school that day. Carol gets Al to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy just in time, and Al thanks her for it while she's recovering.
    • Dana, with both stepbrother, J.T., and stepfather, Frank. Dana and J.T. rarely got along, especially in the early years, and freely traded insults ... but later gained a grudging respect and would help each other out when one truly ran into trouble. As for Frank, Dana thought he was an oaf, but grew to appreciate his help when it was needed.


Mythology

  • In the Mirror of Matsuyama Japanese folk-tale, the protagonist's stepmom is believed to be the wicked type, but it turns out she was afraid that the girl was a witch due to her spending lots of time looking into the titular mirror, which is supposed to be magical. Once the truth about it is revealed (the very sheltered girl thought her own reflection was the image of her Missing Mom), she's shown to be this instead.

Video Games

  • Persona 4 has Eri Minami, the person holding the Temperance Social Link, who wants to be this to her stepson Yuuta (a boy that the Protagonist can tutor) but doesn't know how. The Link in itself is about the Protagonist helping her reach this stage and bond with the kid properly.
  • Fire Emblem
    • In Fire Emblem Fates, Queen Mikoto was this to the Hoshidan siblings after marrying King Sumeragi. (Especially to Takumi, who was particularly attached to her) Coversely, since Mikoto was a single mother, Sumeragi became this to the Avatar - to the point of sacrificing his own life to save them.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Prince Dimitri has very fond memories of his late stepmother Queen Patricia, who died alongside her husband/Dimitri's dad in the Tragedy of Duscur. What he doesn't know is that Patricia was among the ones behind the Tragedy in the first place, since she agreed to collaborate in it in a bid to see again the biological daughter that had been taken away from her - and said daughter is none other than Princess Edelgard.
      • Similarly, a marriage-able man in the cast is a widow with a child - so any woman he marries will be this to said kid. The man is actually Seteth aka the hero Cichol, and his child is Flayn aka the heroine Cethleann; they pose as a big brother raising his little sister to protect their identities.
  • Triangle Heart 3 ~sweet songs forever~ has this - no one would guess that only Nanoha is Momoko Takamachi's biological child, since she loves her three kids (Kyoya, Miyuki and Nanoha herself) with all of her heart and does her best to raise them.

Western Animation

  • Donna Tubbs did her best to be this to Cleveland Jr. on The Cleveland Show.
  • Miss Crystal on the Disney installment of Doug was determined to be this to Patti Mayonnaise, though the series ended with her and Mr. Mayonnaise's wedding so we didn't get to see the new family interact much.
  • Kira becomes this to Chuckie when she marries Chaz in Rugrats in Paris.

Real Life

  • While Joseph Stalin was infamously abusive to his eldest son Yakov, his stepmother Nadezhda was this to him instead and even saved him when he attempted suicide.
  • Three of Henry VIII's wives did their best to do this to his children: Jane Seymour convinced Henry to bring back Mary and Elizabeth to the Royal Family, Anne of Cleves got along reasonably well with the princesses and their brother Edward, and while Catherine Parr was distant from Mary doe to their religions she was pretty close to her remaining two siblings.
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