Home Lifestyle At 20, I’m only five years older than my stepdaughter

At 20, I’m only five years older than my stepdaughter

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Left: Ellie with her partner Mark and right: Ellie, Mark and his two children Izzy and Marcus (Picture: @elli3liptrot/TIKTOK)

At 20 years old, TikToker Ellie Liptrot is a stepmother to 15-year-old Izzy and 12-year-old Marcus.

Her partner Mark is 44, and they have a 23-year age gap between them – although they met when she was 18 and he was 41.

The couple met on December 19, 2021 through a mutual friend who was 25, before moving in together soon after in April 2022. They now live in Wales.

Mark’s kids joined them and began living with them full-time in June that same year.

‘Me and Mark’s two children all live together, every single day of the week – we have the best relationship ever,’ she says on TikTok.

Izzy was 14 when they first met, and things didn’t get off to a flying start.

‘The first time I met the kids, it was quite awkward, I’m not going to lie – especially meeting Izzy,’ Ellie explains.

‘[She] took it well… it was just a little awkward at the start… but now we’re literally besties. Like any kind of relationship it took time. I always forget about the age difference, we have such a good relationship.’

Since meeting Mark’s children the family have been on holiday to the Phi Phi islands, where they spent time bonding as a family – Ellie even jokingly calls the kids ‘brats’.

‘The kids call me “Ellie”, but if they’re referring to me [to someone else], they say I’m their “stepmum”. If the children call me their stepmum, I’m their stepmum aren’t I?

‘A lot of people are telling me I’m not a stepmum because me and Mark aren’t married but, at the end of the day, if you provide for the children, if you care for them, if you look after them, if you cook tea for them every night, if you go out and buy them things – how does that make you not a stepmum?’ She questions.

‘In this day and age a lot of people don’t get married.’

Ellie and the two children can be seen posting get-ready-with-mes on the social media app, where she lets Izzy do her makeup.

In one particular video, Izzy jokes: ‘There are a lot of comments calling Ellie a “wicked stepmum” and saying I won’t get fed… she’s really wicked.’

Despite making fun of the comments, it’s apparent from the videos that Ellie and the two children are very close.

Ellie was previously a dental nurse before the pandemic, then she switched to an office job. She then quit after meeting Mark and now she makes money off of TikTok.

Her age gap relationship with him has caused a rift in her own family though.

‘My family doesn’t agree with it and they never really liked Mark… I’ve had a lot of people concerned for me saying it’s not healthy but all my friends really like him,’ she says.

‘[The kids are] definitely not young enough to be my children but at the end of the day, I always say family is who is around you.’

Ellie is very happy with Mark and says he acts 20 because he’s immature for his age – but her TikTok has been heavily trolled by people disagreeing with the age gaps between both her and her partner, and her and her stepkids.

Parenting expert Kirsty Ketley tells Metro.co.uk that she wouldn’t recommend being ‘best friends’ with your stepkids.

‘You can have a close relationship, for sure, but you should take on more of a mentoring role and when you step over into being besties,’ she explains.

‘Authority loses some significance and children need strong role models and mentors in their lives – their peers can offer the best mate elements.’

Kirsty also believes that Ellie’s age could create a more difficult parenting dynamic.

‘Being younger and so close in age, can mean that it’s difficult for the step mum to fully grasp her role, as she’s pretty much going through the same stage of life as her step kids,’ she says.

‘I would worry how her relationship with the child’s father is, with them having such a close bond – does it make it harder for him to parent? Does he get left out of important conversations and have things kept a secret from him?’

What Ellie seems to have done is to not force the relationship and give it time to evolve, which Kirsty thinks is the right way to go about it.

‘Ultimately step parents should leave the parenting to the actual parents and instead adopt a role of supporting their partner and being a mentor to their children,’ she says.

‘This means following the rules and boundaries set out by the child’s biological parents, and not undermining them, and not taking sides, on one side or the other.’ 

Dr Marianne Trent, child and clinical psychologist, takes a different opinion and believes age doesn’t make much of a difference when parenting children.

‘Sometimes people seem to have wise heads on relatively young shoulders, I think it doesn’t matter what age someone is, it’s about the space they have for you and the respect they give you,’ she explains.

Ellie (left) with Mark’s daughter Izzy (right) as they get ready in Thailand (Picture: @elli3liptrot/TIKTOK)

‘Hopefully they have all of that and their relationship can thrive.’

When it comes to authority, Marianne says that age again isn’t the main contributing factor for whether children will listen to them.

‘It’s not necessarily that you won’t listen to someone because they’re 20, it’s about what issues are cropping up where parenting and boundaries are needed,’ she adds.

‘If there’s anger, rage or defiance the kids are showing, that can make it tricky, so it’s not about the age, it’s about the rules and sanctions already in place in the home.’

Marianne also believes that the amount of trolling and hate Ellie and her blended family have received on TikTok is unnecessary.

‘It’s just a relationship where the dad has a new partner, it’s no different than anyone else,’ she says.

‘It’s hopefully clear the father is not seeing his girlfriend as a daughter, he sees her as a partner, and it’s hopefully very clear that the father doesn’t see his children the way he sees his partner.’

Just because the dynamics may seem unconventional doesn’t mean they function poorly compared to more traditional family setups.

‘All families look different, if people seem happy and healthy and aren’t asking for help, they make look different to your family but it’s not your place to throw shade on what they’re doing or to criticise them,’ Marianne tells Metro.

Marianne thinks it’s important for the partner of someone with kids to not be a competitive role to the mother but rather an additional relationship. It’s also up to Ellie to lead that relationship, which it looks like she’s doing just fine at.

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