Single Stepmom Carol Fronduto

By Allison O'Connor

SMW: How did you deal with Kristina when she would rebel or a conflict would arise, knowing that you only had so much authority as a stepmom?

The teenage years were especially hard. Kristina tested my devotion and authority often. And as much as she listened to me, I wasn’t her biological parent and she could choose to take my advice or not. Often times our relationship suffered. There was one time when after a fight she decided she wanted to move back in with her father. We did not speak for nearly six months. It broke my heart. During that time she made a number of bad decisions but she also learned there are consequences for your actions.

SMW: What steps did you take to ensure Kristina would have a normal routine once she moved in with you?

Life was business as usual; school, homework, her job at Dunkin Donuts on the weekend and CCD and church every Sunday. Consistency, structure and discipline are so important to children.  Her bioparents live’s were spiraling out of control and my mission was to keep Kristina on track and moving forward.

SMW: How did you feel the first time Kristina called you mom?

Euphoric. It’s the same feeling any parent would feel hearing those words from a child. Mine was just a thirteen year old, so it was all the more special. I had worked hard to earn the honor.

SWM: What emotional needs did Kristina fill for you?

Kristina is the child I never had, and she validates me as a ‘mom’. It’s an awesome feeling.

SMW: Parenting is filled with highs and lows. What were a few of your high and low moments as a single stepmom?

High moments include watching Kristina graduate from High School, getting accepted into the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), asking me if she could call me ‘mom’ and the best was when she said ‘thank you’ for all I do in her life!

Low moments include our big fight when she was sixteen, and hearing via a letter in the mail that she was no longer enrolled in classes at FIDM.

SMW: How has Kristina changed your life?

Kristina is my daughter, in every sense of the word (except I don’t have the stretch marks). And I would do anything for her.

SMW:What impact do you think you have made on Kristina’s life?

I helped instill a belief that she can be anything she wants to be, regardless of the challenges. I also introduced Kristina to her faith, which I hope will bring her peace and hope for the rest of her life.

SMW: What advice would you give other newly single, divorced stepmoms?

I’ve learned a lot being a stepmom, and I suppose that will continue. Some of the important lessons I learned so far include:

• Be flexible.

• Help guide – but don’t overstep.

• Be available when needed.

• Understand only a bioparent has real authority after they reach a certain age.

• Choose a comfortable level of responsibility for yourself, but know this may also change over time as the child gets older.

• Never overstep being a ‘step’.

Carol Fronduto hosts a blog for divorced step parents. Visit her at

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