Any classic Disney movie will tell you that stepmothers are the worst. They’re evil, wicked, and might even lock you in a cellar so you can’t go to the ball. We’re talking some devious stuff here. But, is that even true? This tale as old as time symbol of what a stepmother is probably shouldn’t be boiled down to a cartoon in 2022, right?
Gwyneth Paltrow seems to agree.
The Goop founder admitted that her biggest (and only) regret when beginning a new relationship with her husband, Brad Falchuk, and his two children from a previous marriage was her hesitation and nervousness about becoming a stepmother.
Paltrow, 50, and Falchuk, 51, talked together on The Goop Podcast, discussing life, relationships, and parenting. Paltrow admitted that she entered the role as a stepmom with “tenterhooks” when it came to her relationship Falchuk's teenage daughter Isabella and son Brody.
“It's funny because there’s just no playbook for how to do it and nobody says, ‘Hey, you're going to be a stepmother,’” Paltrow said. “I don't know, I think there’s like this archetypal evil stepmother and this inference that it’s going to be this fraught thing, so I think I came into it on tenterhooks, like, ‘Oh my Gosh.’”
She also confessed that the transition was even more nerve wracking because Falchuk’s children were “resistant” to the change in family dynamic. Falchuk confirmed that his kids were on the hesitant side, admitted that his kids didn’t want their "great little pack" to change. He added that Paltrow’s obvious "hesitancy" about being a stepmom in the beginning of their marriage "probably freaked them out, too."
Though she fully regrets her insecurities in the beginning taking a hold of her actions, she turned a new leaf. She decided she was going to be a mom and set boundaries and build relationships with Falcuk’s kids like they were her own flesh and blood.
“...whenever it was, however many years ago, when I was just like, ‘F— it, these are my kids, I love them. I’m not going to be scared to discipline them or draw the boundary.’ That's really what shifted everything, I feel like.”
Paltrow also has some solid advice for any stepparent feeling anxious about navigating a relationship with your new spouse’s kid.
“From day one, just like really treat them as your kid,” she said. “Don't have trepidation because they’re not [yours] and you don’t have jurisdiction and God forbid — be your full self as a parent with all the love and all the acceptance and all the boundaries,” she continued. “I just wish I had done that earlier.”
Falchuk sweetly assured Paltrow that she was a “a spectacular stepmom”, noting that his children have a relationship with the Shakespeare In Love actress completely separate from their dad.
“You're a spectacular stepmom, like thank goodness for you,” he said. “You know you are. My kids absolutely — I mean, you have a relationship with them outside of me. They talk to you all the time, they come to you for advice all the time, they rely on you,” Falchuk added.
It’s important to note that Paltrow acknowledges the gray areas when it comes to being a stepparent and the times when it’s appropriate to be involved in parenting and when maybe to step to the side. Clearly this depends on each individual family dynamic, however, Paltrow feels she finally has it nailed down. Though in the beginning, she admitted in a 2021 Goop! podcast episode that during those first few months of stepmom life, she was flailing.
“I have two beautiful stepchildren, who are the same age as mine,” Paltrow — who shares daughter Apple, 18, and son Moses, 16, with ex Chris Martin — explained. “It's funny because when I became a stepmother ... I was like, “S—, I have no idea how to do this. There’s nothing to read. What do I do? Where do I step in? Where do I not? Like, how do I do this?’”
"It's been a really interesting challenge for me and I love them," she added. "I've learned so much about myself through the process."
It’s probably time to finally change that “wicked” step mother trope into something a little more accurate like bonus mom!