Entries tagged with “remarriage”.
Did you find what you wanted?
Sun 16 Sep 2012
In honor of National Stepfamily Day (September 16th), I wanted to share this Prayer For A Blended Family with you. My husband gave me this framed prayer on our fifth wedding anniversary. It hangs proudly in our kitchen and I smile every time I read it. It is my hope that this prayer will be a blessing to you. Being the stepmother in a blended family brings both joys and challenges. It is my sincere hope that you will celebrate the blessings of your family today!
Prayer for a Blended Family
Lord, in Your providence,
You have provided the family
as a place where people can
experience love, learn important
life lessons, and find unequaled
May Your design be reflected
in this new family.
I pray that You would unite and
bind this family together;
even in togetherness, may there
be space to be individuals.
Help each person to love, respect,
and encourage others
within the family.
May the care and hospitality
within the family be extended
to those outside; that others
might see Your presence.
Artist: Kathy Seek; Writer: Chelle, Letters from the Heart: Prayer For A Blended Family
National Stepfamily Day is celebrated annually on September 16th and was founded by Christy Borgeld in 1997.
Mon 27 Aug 2012
This is the last article in the three part series on jealousy and the stepmom and stepdaughter. This last segment focuses on the impact that the jealousy between a stepmom and stepdaughter has on the stepmom’s relationship with her partner and offers tips to help your relationship weather storms of jealousy. Read on and share your thoughts…..
(Part 3 of 3) Jealousy and Your Relationship
“Jealousy is that pain which a man feels from the apprehension that he is not equally beloved by the person whom he entirely loves.” Joseph Addison
Jealousy lives and breathes in the hearts of all of us. At its core, jealousy is the fear of losing something that one possesses to another person and that something is typically the affections of a third party. Given the multiple complexities and people in a stepfamily, there are boundless reasons and opportunities for members to feel jealous towards one another.
Often stepmoms are jealous of the relationship their stepdaughter has with their dad and stepdaughters are jealous of the love their father has for their stepmom. This stepmother – stepdaughter jealousy is a triangle with the third person being the man they both love. While the jealous feelings may not be aimed directly at our partner, they often feel the impact of the jealousy.
Feelings of jealousy may be hard to avoid and it is what we do with the jealous feelings when they surface that matter and define our relationships. When jealous feelings affect our partner and our relationship, it’s time to take action to protect both.
Last month we learned that much of the jealousy stepdaughters feel towards their stepmother is based on perception not reality. Perhaps some of the jealousy that stepmothers feel towards their stepdaughter may also be based on unfounded truths.
Jealousy in a stepmother’s heart may stem from the advantage she believes her stepdaughter has over her in her partner’s life given that the stepdaughter was in his life first. The stepdaughter’s jealousy often grows from feelings of resentment of her perception of being replaced by her stepmother in the heart of her father.
Regardless of who is jealous of who, if there is tension in the home everyone feels it and every relationship can suffer from it.
As the third and final installment of this series on jealousy within the stepfamily, this piece deals with the impact that jealousy between stepmom and stepdaughter has on the stepmom’s relationship with her partner. We will look at how perceptions impact jealous feelings in a stepfamily and then provide tips for stepmoms on how to address and deal with the jealousy to preserve their relationship with their partner and bring peace to their heart and home.
Looking Through the Lens of Your Stepdaughter’s Life
The jealousy in the home is often permeated on the perception of either the stepmother and/or the stepdaughter trying to control the man in the home. A stepdaughter perceives her stepmother’s kindness and/or actions to change things for the better in the home as a threat. The stepmother perceives her stepdaughter’s constant control of her father’s time as a clear message to “stay away.”
Looking at potential insecurity in our stepdaughter and a desire for things not to change may help explain a stepdaughter’s negative treatment of her stepmom and/or clinging closer to their father. Feelings of “losing dad” may be motivation for a stepdaughter to push back on her stepmother regardless of how kind and goodhearted the stepmother is to her stepdaughter.
As one stepdaughter put it “before Amanda entered the picture, dad used to ask me where I wanted to go out for dinner and what color he should paint the living room now she gets to make those choices. I just don’t feel important to my dad anymore. I wish things could go back to the way they were before HER!”
While it is important to view stepfamily life through our stepdaughter’s eyes, it often helps for us, as stepmoms, to be proactive in showing our stepdaughter that we value them and the relationship they have with their father.
The following proactive tips can serve to communicate we are neither here to replace mom nor to take dad away:
Make The First Move. If we get upset because we feel like our stepdaughter is always trying to keep us away from our partner and sit next to him at the kitchen table, on the couch, at the movie theatre, etc…. we may want to consider offering up the space instead of having it taken from us.
Offering the seat next to our mate to our stepdaughter serves two purposes. First, offering the spot lessens the pain we may feel in not sitting next to our love. If not sitting next to our mate is our idea, it doesn’t hurt so much. Also, if our stepdaughter is desiring to be close to their father because she truly wants to be close to dad than the unselfish offering will be seen as a kind gesture and can go miles in building our relationship. If our stepdaughter is seeking closeness to dad to spite us and she sees that we are offering the spot and don’t seem upset, than the motivation will wane when she doesn’t get the desired result in upsetting us. When motivation lessens so may her moves to be close to dad and purposely push us aside if that is in fact her goal.
Plan Daughter and Dad Day Out. Set up a time once a month for your partner and his daughter to go out and spend time alone. Whether it is out for a meal, to see a movie, do an activity like bowling or ice skating, or just going to the library…. when we set it up and offer the time alone it communicates that we place a value on their time together.
There is a difference in creating the time for our stepdaughter and her dad versus being made to feel that we aren’t welcome during their time together. Creating this time is a gift we give to our stepdaughter and her father and to ourselves. Be the driving force for their time alone and see the benefits for everyone unfold.
Control the Jealousy so it Doesn’t Control You and Your Relationship
Jealousy based on perception is a total misrepresentation of reality yet feelings of jealously can be so strong and powerful they can cause us to act out. Regardless of why a stepmother may feel jealous, dealing with jealousy is essential to nurturing and preserving the relationship with our partner.
When jealousy isn’t acknowledged and dealt with it can plant seeds of bitterness and resentment deep in our relationship and lead to emotional behavior atypical of our personality. Here are some basic steps we can take when we are feeling jealousy towards our stepdaughter:
Accept Your Part. Understand and accept the feelings of jealousy and acknowledge that we have a choice in how we will allow this emotion to affect us, our stepdaughter, our partner and our relationship. Decide if whatever is making us jealous is worth having an impact on our own emotional state and the state of our relationship with our partner.
Because jealousy is an emotion inside of us, it can also be tied to other emotions. Take the time to understand if our jealousy is fueled by fear, past hurts, insecurities deep within and/or any other emotion from our past that we may struggle with.
Acknowledge The No-Win Situation For Your Partner. From our partner’s perspective, jealousy between their child and us puts them in a no-win situation. It really hurts our partner when their own child is the source of our pain and it also causes them pangs of distress when their daughter(s) is upset at our hands.
One dad told me “I’m often in a no-win situation. If I side with my wife, my daughter thinks I’ve deserted her. And if I side with my daughter, than my wife feels unloved and unwanted. I love both of them but I often feel like any choice I make is doomed from the start,” – Steve, married for 5 years; father of two and stepdad of one.
Understand that your partner loves you. They have chosen to spend their life with you. Your partner loves both you and your stepdaughter in different ways. If we are concerned about any feelings our mate has for us it is best to ask them rather than assume something that could be wrong.
Communicate With Your Partner. If something is truly bothering you, talk with your partner but not at them. There is a difference. Understand that there is no right or wrong way to feel towards the relationship between you and your stepdaughter. If something is troubling you and it has the potential to pull you and your partner apart, than you owe it to yourself and your romantic relationship to address the issue.
Before talking with your partner, keep these things in mind:
First, check with your partner to make sure it is a good time to talk. Right before bed is never a good time to bring up a potentially heated topic. Also, make sure both you and your partner are in a good frame of mind to have the conversation.
Second, start off by verbally affirming your mate as both a parent and a partner. Also, counter any negative comments you share with two positive comments.
Finally, focus the conversation on how you feel not on what your stepdaughter or your partner is doing. When we focus on how something is making us feel, it takes the pressure off of our mate to fix another person and lessens the probability of them becoming defensive.
Jealousy is often self-serving and can lead to feelings of confusion, frustration and self-doubt. The important thing to remember is to not allow jealousy to consume our relationship but rather allow it to be a springboard to uncover any hidden emotions deep within us moreover to have positive discussions with our partner.
Seek Professional Help. If you find that jealousy is causing issues in your relationship that you cannot resolve together then please seek the professional help of a counselor and/or stepfamily coach. A professional can help you and your partner with tips and tools to identify jealousy and how you can work together. The reality is that it is often challenging to talk about some topics with our partner especially if they regard our stepchildren. A qualified third party can bring up the topics and provide a neutral environment in which to discuss feelings and provide tangible solutions.
Avoid Disengagement From Your Partner: Intentionally Nurture Your Relationship
No person wants to be hurt by someone they love. In our stepmom role, we can slowly disengage from the relationships that are causing us pain. We can find ourselves disengaging from our stepdaughter and our partner. While disengaging from our stepchild is not a good thing, disengaging from our partner can have long lasting negative effects on our relationship and on our stepfamily.
At those moments when we least want to be close to our partner, are the moments when we need to be the closest. Disconnecting with the father of our stepdaughter does not happen overnight but rather is a slow fade. Passion, respect, love can slowly fade over time when we don’t nurture our relationship and when we allow emotions like jealousy to pull us away.
“It is difficult for some people to accept that love is a choice. This seems to run counter to the generally accepted theory of romantic love which expounds that love is inborn and as such requires no more than to accept it.” – Leo F. Buscaglia
Make it a point to intentionally show your partner love and respect. This can be challenging at times especially if you aren’t feeling much love or respect for your partner. Feelings follow actions and the more you intentionally show love to your partner the less affect the jealousy may have on you and the more connected you may feel to your partner.
It is my hope that this three part series opens up discussion about jealousy that may prevail in your home. It is a very normal and typical emotion in stepfamilies and its important to continue to have honest conversations about those things that impact us most. Jealousy can become a vicious cycle in a stepfamily if we allow it. Recognize that combatting jealousy is often an ongoing challenge for everyone in our stepfamily where dynamics are many and stresses can be high.
Sun 29 Jul 2012
Part 2 (of 3) – The Stepdaughter’s View of StepMom
“Once upon a time I had a devoted dad
Then he got remarried and I got really sad
He started spending less and less time with me
I blame it on my stepmom
But dad says that is jealousy
He told me not to worry and never to doubt
That he will always love me and to wipe those wrong thoughts out”. – Julia, age 13
Many agree that while jealousy does permeate the heads and hearts of some stepmoms and stepdaughters, it isn’t something that is readily addressed. While it may not be talked about, it is having an impact on many young girls who are aching for their father’s attention and blaming what they perceive as a lack of it onto their stepmom.
This is the second installment of this three part series on jealousy between stepmoms and stepdaughters. Last month, we heard from the stepmoms and how they view the jealousy tango with their stepdaughters. This month, the stepdaughters take a step into the spotlight and share their hearts regarding the jealousy that many feel towards their stepmother. Interestingly enough these young women are jealous of their stepmoms for one of the same reasons stepmoms are jealous of them. Next month, the focus will be on the impact jealousy has on the stepmother’s relationship with her partner and offer practical solutions for a peaceful heart and home.
Jealousy is all the fun you think they had. - Erica Jong
Feeling Pushed A side
I surveyed stepmoms and stepdaughters across the country to delve deeper into the potential jealousy they have for one another. In part one of this three part series, we heard how some stepmoms feel like an outsider and are jealous of the close relationship that their partner has with his daughter(s). On the flip side, some stepdaughters reported that they felt “set aside” once the stepmom was in the picture. Most admitted pushing harder to be physically in their dad’s life the more they felt threatened by their stepmom’s presence.
Here are some of the responses I received:
“I feel like my dad cares more about my stepmom than he does about me. My dad only turns the air conditioning on when she says its hot in the house but never when I beg him. He only takes us out to eat when she can go. I feel like whatever she wants, she gets and that I’m chop liver. I hate it. Plus he wants me to bond with her and I don’t want to spend time alone with her. I don’t get why I should have to have a shopping day with her but never alone time with my dad. He is who I want to spend alone time with.” - Monica, age 12.
“My dad and I were just fine until she moved in. I like things the way they were. Now the house looks like her and not like me and my dad. My dad used to let me decorate the house. She has totally redecorated it. Sometimes I put stuff back the way it should be.” - Annie, 15
As stepmoms, we can often get caught in the cycle of focusing on the trials and tribulations that we go through in our role. Heaven knows, we have our share of struggles. Sometimes, looking at the same situation through the eyes and life of our stepdaughter in the same situation can offer both insight and compassion.
Concerning Annie’s situation above, her stepmom probably was decorating the house with a pure heart to make the place homey and to add her own touch. Her stepdaughter, however, viewed her acts of kindness in a negative way perceiving that she had not only taken over her job as “woman of the house” but redone all the things Annie had done with her dad. This can cause the stepmom to feel unappreciated and the stepdaughter to feel like parts of her are being replaced in her father’s eyes.
Two stepdaughters shared this from their hearst;
“I only get to see my dad two weekends a month. That’s six days. I don’t want to have to share him with someone else. I don’t want to have to check schedules with someone else. I just want my dad.” - Erica, age 14
“I text my dad every weekend I’m not with him to ask him to take me places even if I don’t really want to go just to make sure he still will. I know my stepmom doesn’t like it but I really don’t care. He’s my dad.” – Kate, age 16
The Influence of a Stepmother
Some of the situations and sources of frustration that stepdaughters shared with me signify they are jealous of the power and influence their father has given their stepmom in the home. This is a perception that was shared by a few of the respondents:
“Every Friday on the way to pick up me and my brother, my dad would pick up a pizza for dinner. We would go back to his place, eat pizza, watch a movie and camp out in the living room. Now Judy says pizza isn’t healthy every weekend and that dad and her have to sleep in their bedroom. In my mind, she is changing the best parts of seeing my dad and he just goes along with it. I feel like he is letting her make all the rules I hate it.” – Cindy, age 9
“I like my stepmom but my dad lets her choose everything. Why does she get to pick the restaurant, the movie, and where we go on vacation? Before my dad got remarried, he let my sisters and I decide what to do. Now we don’t get that anymore. I want to feel important again.” - Michelle, age 15
This last quote is very telling. The father trusts his wife to make choices and obviously values her opinion which is a very healthy component of a positive relationship. However, those choices used to belong to his three girls. Because their decision making power has been shifted to their stepmother, they are jealous of her “power” over dad and grieving their perceived loss of influence in his life.
Another area that was a hot topic was how some stepdaughters were bitter towards their stepmom for changing the family menu. One stepdaughter said this:
“My mom makes us eat healthy and I liked visiting dad and eating pizza and junk food. When dad got remarried, Julie started cooking dinner and insisted on no pizza and no junk food. My dad makes us eat healthy now. I liked eating at dad’s before he married Julie. Whatever she wants, we get. Not fair.” - Amber, 12
Some girls shared that they are uncomfortable with how much their dad and their stepmom show physical affection. One stepdaughter wishes it was her mom that her father was so in love with while another misses sitting with her dad during movies.
“She’s always hugging and kissing my dad. Yuck! I don’t like seeing someone kissing my dad unless its my mom. Its embarrassing. Before her, my dad would take me fishing, to Wendy’s, or out for ice cream. We did just fine without her. Now I have to share my dad and I hate it. Sometimes, if I get her mad, she stays in her room all day while I’m over. I kinda like it cause I get my dad all to myself.” - Angela, age 14
“I ask my stepmom to make me popcorn or get me a drink when we watch a family movie so I can get her away from my dad. When she gets up from the couch I take her place. I think it makes her mad because sometimes she doesn’t finish the movie but then I get my dad all to me.” - Alyssa, age 11
One stepdaughter shared with me that she has no memories of her mother and father spending family time with her. She is jealous of what her stepfamily does and wishes her dad could have done those things with she and her mom.
What Mom Says Means A Lot
Our culture does enough to pit ex-wife against stepmother but the reality is that what moms say to their children about their father’s new partner greatly influences both their perception of their stepmom and their ability to have a positive relationship with her.
One stepdaughter confided in me that her mom told her that the reason she doesn’t see her dad much is because he would rather spend time with his new family. This girl is blaming her stepmom for the limited time she gets with her dad and stepfamily based on what her mother has told her. Her mother’s words may or may not be the truth but her stepmom has become a target of blame based on them.
Non Jealous Stepdaughters
Just as there were some stepmoms who reported feeling no jealousy towards their stepdaughters, there were some girls who reported a healthy, positive and non-jealous relationship with their stepmom. Two things these girls had in common were that they felt they got to spend quality time with their father and that their mother was accepting of their stepmom.
“I like my stepmom. She’s cool. When I come over, she is really nice but I usually don’t see her the whole time because my dad and I usually do something. I’m on swim team and my dad takes me to practice and then we go out to lunch and run errands just me and him. I love that time.” – Ella, age 12
“My dad is happy since he married my stepmom. She takes care of my dad and I like that.” - Anne, age 8
Overall, these stepdaughters care about their father and their stepfamily. Any jealously they feel towards their stepmom seems to be related to how much time their stepmom spends with their father, how much time they get to spend alone with their dad, their mother’s relationship with their stepmom and whether they feel they have lost influence in their father’s life to their stepmom.
What’s important to note is the role that perception plays in all of this. As if you didn’t know that being a stepmom was a complicated endeavor, the complexities of jealousy some stepdaughters feel towards their stepmom is often based on how they perceive their stepmom and her actions.
Often times the stepdaughter’s perceptions of their stepmother’s actions may not be in line with the true motivations and heart of the stepmom. This disconnect can be a breeding ground for jealousy.
Dealing With Stepdaughter Jealousy
Don’t take it personally – I know it’s the common mantra that all stepmoms hear and it’s because it is so true. You can’t take the jealousy personally. Stepdaughters tend to be jealous of the role you play in their father’s life rather than you personally. They are jealous of the time their father spends with you and how close you are with their father. For girls who are older, it may be hard to accept that you are intimate with their dad. Girls don’t like thinking of their father doing that “sort of thing.”
Look at your role through your stepdaughter’s eyes – You’ve heard the old adage “is that glass half empty or half full?” It’s purpose is to demonstrate that any situation may be seen in different ways depending on each person’s point of view. Nearly every stepfamily situation can be viewed differently depending on whose eyes and life experience you look at it through. When it comes to jealousy between stepmoms and stepdaughters, depending on whose lens you choose to view the relationship with dad, a different picture can be painted.
Understand that hurting people hurt others – while we know that all stepfamilies are formed out of loss, we also sometimes forget that it takes children much longer to grieve the loss of their parents relationship. While adults can heal and move forward, children often harbor the fantasy that their parents will one day get back together. When stepdaughters are angry towards and/or jealous of their stepmother they may purposely act out towards them.
A stepchild acting out towards their stepmother is not acceptable but often the behavior can be an indicator of a much deeper pain within the child. Pay attention to patterns and approach the situation gently with their father.
Next month, we’ll address how stepmoms can use their stepdaughter’s perceptions to understand and lessen the jealousy they feel. Practical tools and tips will be shared to bring peace to the stepmom’s relationship with her partner including how to approach him if you feel your stepdaughter has a deeper than “normal” hurt and jealousy towards you.
Names of the girls who have participated in this survey and the names of their stepmothers have been changed to protect the innocent.
My article originally appeared in the October, 2011 issue of StepMom Magazine
Your thoughts? Did any of the quotes from the stepdaughters resonate with you? Do your stepdaughters struggle with jealously?
Tue 24 Jul 2012
A 3-part Series exploring jealousy between Stepdaughters And Stepmoms
Rock stars sing about it. The Bible warns against it. Crimes are committed because of it. Many stepmoms and stepdaughters are frustrated because of it. I’m talking about jealousy.
While it may be a large elephant in the stepfamily living room, jealousy between stepmoms and stepdaughters regarding dad is REAL and is having a REAL affect on both the stepmom and the stepdaughter and the man they all love.
Many stepmoms and stepdaughters struggle with feelings of jealousy towards each other. Some stepmoms are jealous of the close knit relationship that their stepdaughter(s) has with their father and many stepdaughters are jealous of the new woman in their home and the impact she has on their dad’s time.
Often the jealousy turns to bitterness and resentment towards each other. This root of bitterness is planted deep in the stepfamily and can cause emotional distress for everyone.
Jealousy is a toxic cocktail and one that is difficult to digest regardless of why, how and by whom it is concocted.
In this three part series, we will first look at jealousy through the stepmoms’ eyes. The second part will focus on the stepdaughters’ point of view and the third will speak to the impact jealousy has on the stepmom’s relationship with her partner and offer viable solutions to making peace so the stepmom doesn’t fall to pieces.
In surveying some stepmom and stepdaughter duos across the country, I delved deeper into this stress filled mystery. Part 1 reveals what fuels a stepmother’s jealousy towards her stepdaughter(s).
Feeling Like an Outsider
An overriding theme that presented itself was how many stepmoms feel jealous of how close their partner is with his daughter(s). These stepmoms feel like an outsider in comparison to their stepdaughter(s) and they don’t like it. Here’s what a few stepmoms had to say:
“I often find myself jealous of the relationship between my husband and his daughter. I feel like we (my husband and I) are so close when she is at her mom’s but when she texts, calls, or walks in the door – I become second fiddle. I hate feeling this way. It seems wrong to be jealous of a 15 year old but I can’t seem to help it. I don’t like feeling second best” – Meghan, stepmom to a 15 yr old stepdaughter
“My husband and his two daughters are so close. He was a single dad for three years before we met. I feel like the girls view me as an outsider and they do everything in their power to make me feel that way. He seems to always make time to listen to their sorrows but when my heart is heavy, he brushes me away. It’s hard to see him one way with his girls and another way with me. I wish I had what they have with their father” – Tonya, custodial stepmom to 17 yr old and 13 yr old stepdaughters
Stepmoms love their partner and they desire to be one with them. Issues of stepfamily living can place stress on a stepmom and her partner’s relationship. It can be very hard on a stepmom when she seeks validation and compassion for what she is going through and gets little from her partner yet witnesses a very strong, loving bond between her partner and his daughter(s).
The stepmoms I talked to said that they know their partner is capable of being attentive, loving and compassionate. They see these characteristics exhibited towards their stepdaughter yet they often don’t feel it present in their own relationship with their partner.
I’ve spent most of my life walking under that hovering cloud, jealousy, whose acid raindrops blurred my vision and burned holes in my heart. ~ Astrid Alauda
One stepmom told me “I never spoke this out loud until you asked but yes, I am jealous of the relationship my husband has with his three daughters. I often don’t feel as important to him as they are and that’s very hard on me. I can feel like an outsider when they are at our house. I hate it. I feel guilty saying this but I want to run and hide when they are at our home.” – Liza, stepmom to 8 yr old twins and 14 yr old stepdaughters
The Blind Eye
Another area of jealousy for many stepmoms is the area of their partner’s “blind eye.” Stepmoms struggle when they witness their partner bend over backwards for their daughter(s) and yet be taken advantage of by them. It is extremely painful for these stepmothers to see their partner’s love and generosity taken for granted by their own daughter(s). This is especially true for the stepmom who wishes to receive the same type of love and generosity from their partner.
“I don’t know if jealous is the word I would use to describe how I feel concerning my husband’s relationship with his two daughters. It’s more of frustration in how they walk all over him and how he allows it to happen. It’s so obvious to me that they use their father, especially his wallet, but he never seems to see it. That hurts because I love him and it makes me not like his girls. It’s a real problem for me. I don’t care that he spoils them, I just would like to see them be appreciative.” Sylvia, stepmom to 8 yr old and 14 yr old stepdaughters
“He never seems to see what she is really doing or like. She is perfect in his eyes and it drives me crazy. He gives her whatever she wants and when she’s upset he validates her. I wish I would get validation for my concerns but I don’t. Somedays, I can’t stand to be in the same room as her when I know she is using her dad.” Susan, stepmom to an 11 yr old stepdaughter
Another stepmom shared her struggle with the lack of boundaries her partner has with his daughters:
“I put much effort into my family and it’s hard for me to watch his daughter walk in the door from soccer practice, ask what I’m making for dinner and then announce she doesn’t feel like eating what I’m making. Only to watch her dad jump up and start preparing her a different (special) dinner that she’ll eat. I feel like she plays her dad and it literally makes me ill to watch it unfold. He sees nothing wrong with what he is doing. I feel like he needs to set boundaries.” Stacey, stepmom to 21 yr old and 16 yr old stepdaughters
Stepmoms whose jealousy stems from the “ungrateful attitude” of their stepdaughter(s) and/or the “blindness” of their partner reported more feelings of bitterness. A challenge for these stepmoms is not allowing jealousy to evolve into resentment towards their stepdaughter and more importantly towards their partner.
There were a few stepmoms who noted that they did not feel jealous of their stepdaughter(s). These stepmoms also noted a stronger bond to their partner’s daughter(s).
“I don’t feel jealous of my stepdaughters. Both my husband and I made a promise that our marriage would come first. While he and his girls are very close, he also makes me feel top priority. I can’t be jealous of their relationship when he makes me feel so good” – Bonnie, stepmom of 10 yr old and 6 yr old stepdaughters
“My husband and his daughter are extremely close. That’s one thing I loved about him when we were dating. My father and I have a very close relationship so I completely get it. I don’t feel threatened or jealous at all.” – Mae, stepmom to 11 yr old stepdaughter
This stepmom brings up an interesting point. Can our relationship with our own father have an impact on how we view the relationship between our partner and his girl(s)? If we didn’t receive attention, love, validation from our dad is it harder to see our stepdaughters receive what we were never given?
Is it even harder to witness our partner give so much to his daughter(s) when we don’t see gratitude returned, especially if they are receiving the time and attention we would have treasured receiving from our own dad? Are we more secure with a strong father/daughter relationship if we have one ourselves? These are great questions to ask if you are jealous of the relationship between your partner and his daughter(s).
It’s important for stepmoms to recognize that it’s not their stepdaughter personally but rather the relationship she has with her father and/or the blind eye he seems to have when it comes to her that fuels most jealousy.
You are not a bad person if you have feelings of jealousy towards your stepdaughter(s). Thinking something and doing something about it are two completely different things. You may have some hard feelings about how close they are but it doesn’t mean you are going to mistreat your partner and/or his daughter because of it.
Time as a stepmom and the age of the stepdaughter when the stepmom came into her life seems to contribute to the level of jealousy a stepmother feels. The longer a woman is a stepmom, the less jealousy she seems to have for her stepdaughter. In addition, those women who partnered with a man when his daughter was in her tween/teen years reported feeling the most jealousy.
What can a stepmom do when she feels jealous?
Own the feeling. Allow yourself to recognize the jealous feelings. Know that feeling some jealousy regarding the relationship is typical and normal. The truth is that it is hard to see your partner laugh, connect and share with their daughter(s), especially when you don’t feel like you get that type of connection.
He that is not jealous is not in love. ~ St. Augustine
Identify the situations that make you feel jealous. Is it when he jumps at any request his daughter makes? Is it that he never seems to see anything wrong that she does? Is it that he buys his daughter whatever she wants without checking with you (even if it’s a big ticket item)? Etc….
Spend time figuring out what situations trigger the jealousy and then address them. Talking with a counselor is a great way to work through this challenge. Breaking down what triggers these feelings will help you develop a game plan to talk with your partner and work through them.
Communicate with your partner – The focus of the conversation needs to be on how the events in the home make you feel not on what he and/or his daughter(s) are doing. Focusing on you and your feelings will allow your partner to make those conclusions himself. It’s when we go into attack mode and tell our partner everything he and his girls are doing wrong that he will very likely shut down. Once your partner shuts down emotionally and physically, they won’t hear anything you have to say. This only leads to more frustration.
Time is on your side - The converse relationship between length of time a woman is a stepmom and the depth of jealousy they feel towards their stepdaughter indicates that slow and steady wins the race. Things will likely get better as time goes on. At some point, stepdaughters grow up and move on with their life. Right? With maturity developing in the stepdaughter and understanding in the stepmom, time seems to dissipate feelings of jealousy.
Next month, we will examine jealousy through the stepdaughter’s eyes. Yes, many stepdaughters are jealous of their stepmoms and these girls really opened up and their truths will hopefully lend insight into why they do what they do with their father and reveal their motivations for purposely making stepmoms feel like an outsider. Yes, these girls admitted to it! Stay Tuned!
My article originally appeared in the September, 2011 issue of StepMom Magazine.
What are your thoughts on Stepmom and Stepdaughter jealousy? Can you relate? Let’s start a real conversation on this topic. Thank YOU!
Thu 12 Jul 2012
Everyone in the family looses when kids are encouraged and/or rewarded to disrespect their stepmom and their father.
As part of the “What Would You Do?” series, I’m sharing with you a collective question I received from many stepmoms: how do you handle it when you feel your stepkids are encouraged and/or rewarded by their mom to be disrespectful to you and their father?
It doesn’t seem uncommon for stepmoms to struggle with a bio mom who openly encourages her children to be disrespectful to her and the children’s father. Some stepmoms even shared that their stepchildren are rewarded for being disrespectful and/or disobedient.
Gifts for Disrespecting StepMom???
Often it appears that a child isn’t openly encouraged (or told) to disrespect their stepmom. Rather, the mom verbally rewards their child when they share that they spoke disrespectfully to their stepmom and/or dad. I’ve heard from some stepmoms where their stepchildren are physically rewarded.
This not only wounds the stepmom and dad but it really puts the kids into a loyalty tug of war. A tug of war where the child is the biggest loser. When any parent encourages their child to be disrespectful, it’s a form of alienation and it plays havoc on a child’s emotional well-being: “someone I love is telling me to be mean to someone else I love….how do I make sense of that?”
I believe it is essential for a child’s emotional health and for the health of the child’s future relationships that no parent ever bad mouth another parent in their presence or verbally or physically reward their child when they share any disrespectful talk or action toward the other parent and/or stepparent. If and when an unkind word is spoken, it’s important for the adult to go to the child and apologize.
One stepmom wrote to me that her eight year old stepson came home from his mom’s with a new ipod touch. When she asked where he got the “new toy” he told her “mom took me out and bought me this when I told her that I refused to do my chores for you.” This stepmom was first speechless and then furious. She admits that she told her stepson how wrong that was of his mother and regrets ever saying it. She later apologized to her stepson for her reaction.
I’ve heard from other stepmoms that their stepchildren are told by their mother that they don’t have to listen to their stepmom because she isn’t their real mom. Another stepmom shared that her kids are physically rewarded for disobeying she and her husband (their father). The kids will come home with new stuff and say their mom bought it for them because they told her how they didn’t follow the rules at “dad’s house”.
The reality is that these stepmoms can’t stop the mom from saying and doing what she is doing. While the kids may love the “stuff” they get from mom, it has to pang their hearts to comprehend why she is doing it. I say stay firm with your rules and in enforcing the consequences for those rules. At some point the children will have to decide if the consequence for disobeying you and their dad is worth the “item” and/or verbal praise they get or it. A child will at some point wonder “what does mom’s actions say about her if she is rewarding me for being disrespectful?”
While your stepchildren may not like your rules they will come to appreciate your consistency. They come to learn they can depend on you. You are the same today, tomorrow and the next and that brings peace to a child especially when there can be many “unknowns” living in two homes often with two sets of rules.
It’s important for all of us to remember that kids are kids and to try hard not to take it personally. I know it sounds simple but what kid is going to turn down a new toy or gadget from a parent? Having said this, I’m suggesting that regardless of whether a child is rewarded for disrespecting a parent, that disrespected parent/stepparent has to take the high road and not condemn the parent in front of the child and not condemn the child for accepting the new “toy”. I would even caution against approaching mom. If her goal is to upset you and you give her that, she is getting what she wants and your reaction may validate her actions for her and may motivate her to continue her choices.
I also think it’s important to remember that if the other home is truly encouraging disrespect that their words/actions speak volumes about their character and not about you and your spouse and how you run your home.
As hard as it can be at times, maintain “your house. your rules” and reinforce that you set the rules in your home and all the kids are expected to follow them. You can stress that respect is fundamental to every relationship and that respect need be extended to everyone in the family. No exceptions. This rule should come down from the father. It makes a strong impact when dad backs his wife (the stepmom) to the children.
And I must note that this issue is not just limited to moms against stepmoms. I’m discussing it in this context given that the struggles have come from stepmothers however, I believe some parents in general (moms, dads and stepparents) encourage their kids to disrespect the other parent. I also believe that many parents don’t consciously set out but due to insecurities they find themselves rewarding their kids for a disobedient attitude and actions at their other home. No excuses just pointing out that pain unfortunately governs many parental decisions especially in co-parenting situations.
In closing, a stepfamily is a family and the greatest blessing a child can experience who lives in a stepfamily is to feel love, acceptance and peace. A parent may not like that their child has a stepparent but accepting them and encouraging love and peace is a gift that will bless the child beyond words. The truth is that no matter how much a child loves and embraces their stepparent they will always love their mother and father: it’s a bond that even distance can’t break. This is something I wish every parent whose child has a stepparent would understand. There is no need for jealousy and no room for it either.
What suggestions do you have for a stepmom who struggles with this issue? Do you struggle with this? Does the mother of your stepkids encourage them to be disrespectful to you? Have your stepchildren ever been physically rewarded for being disobedient and/or disrespectful to you? Thanks for sharing.
Fri 11 May 2012
I connected with Tia, the author of today’s piece, via Twitter. She is a mom (not a stepmom) and her daughter has a stepmom. She is sharing her heart and the gift she sees in her daughter’s “bonus” mom. It wasn’t this way at first and Tia shares who and what has inspired her to embrace her daughter’s “bonus” mom. Her journey will touch you and you will be moved by the blessings that pour onto her daughter because of it. Tia is amazing! I can’t express in words what this piece means to stepmothers. I am grateful for Tia and her story and hope every mother whose child has a stepmom will read and be inspired by her story.
Before I begin, I know at least one person reading this is thinking, “…but you don’t know what I’ve been through.” You are right! None of us knows someone else’s journey, unless we’re walking down the same path and wearing your shoes. I don’t believe that ever happens, but if it could, just know I wear a size 5 ½ shoe and prefer peep-toes or flip-flops.
Author and her daughter
I am a mother and not a step-mother. I have one daughter who was a mere 14 months old when her father and I separated. Naturally, I felt she needed me around the clock but I also knew how important it was for her to build a strong bond with her daddy; so I requested we share joint-custody. It was a very difficult situation to be away from my daughter overnight. It was even more difficult that my daughter had a step-mom within 5 months following the divorce.
Let’s be honest. I knew there would be a new woman in my daughter’s life one day, but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen so quickly. My daughter will be 5 years old this month and the first three years following the separation was not an easy road to travel. During the past year, I’ve recognized and now value the Gift of a Stepmom. I’d like to take you through how I got to this place but first, I’m replacing “Step” with “Bonus”.
I refer to my daughter’s family through marriage as “Bonus”. Where did I get this from? LeAnn Rimes. This was a turning point in recognizing the value of my daughter’s bonus mom. For reference, LeAnn Rimes referred to herself as a “Bonus” Mom to the 2 children from her husband, Eddie Cibrian, previous marriage to Brandi Glanville. Some people were aghast by LeAnn Rimes’ use of the term and I must admit that was my first reaction, too! Then, I took some time to process it. I asked 3rd parties familiar with co-parenting what the term “Bonus” meant. (By the way, I also found out that it’s interchangeable with, “Blended” and “Bonded”.) I applied this new found information to my situation and liked the change.
Next, I removed the emotions from our situation and looked at it objectively. Surprisingly, my first observation came from looking at my own family. I recognized the gift that my older sister is to her daughters in a blended family with 2 biological daughters and 2 daughters through marriage. If you ask her, she has 4 daughters. If you ask me, I have 4 nieces. I feel the same amount of love for all 4 girls. This got me thinking…
While I don’t believe any person walks the same road in the same shoes, as another person, I think there is something to be learned from the parallel paths we journey down through life. So, I applied what I saw in my sister’s blended family to my daughter’s blended family. A light-bulb went off! What I realized is that if my daughter’s bonus mom felt the same way about about my daughter as she did for her 3 biological children; then I needed to be more accepting and recognize the important role she has in my daughter’s life.
Recently, my daughter became a big sister to a half-brother by her dad and bonus mom. She is now one of five! Leading up to the birth of her brother, I began to pray for her bonus mom’s good-health and the health of her unborn child. Why? Through this process, I needed to find a common ground on which I could relate to my daughter’s bonus mom. So, I started with the most obvious – motherhood. Motherhood is like a brotherhood. There is an unspoken bond, whether we like to admit it or not. Once I began including her in my daily prayers, over time I noticed a change in my heart towards her and I began to value her for whom she was as a person. When I realized this, it was like having a weight lifted off of me.
Author and her daughter
Then, there comes a defining moment that will change the dynamic of the relationship between the two mothers. Both people know it, when it happens! In our situation, it was at my daughter’s soccer game, while my daughter was sitting on the bench with me. With a quizzing look on her face, she asked me if her bonus mom was her momma, too. I affirmed that was correct. Still, with her wheels turning, my daughter cautiously stated that she had two mommas. With a smile, I hugged my daughter and responded, “Yes. You have two mommas who love you very much.” My daughter was satisfied. She smiled big and was ready to go back in the game. After the game, my daughter’s bonus mom stopped me. She had overheard our conversation. Appearing very amiable, she thanked me for what I had said to our daughter during that conversation on the bench. Yes, I said “Our Daughter”. My daughter has two mothers and a father who love her very much. Ultimately, this was a humbling experience that probably helped to break down some of the barriers between us.
Being a mother or a parent isn’t easy. A child doesn’t come with a parenting manual at birth. If they did, most of us would probably throw it out the window on the first sleepless night when nothing works! Am I right? With social calendars, careers, school, activities and daily routines, a parent has to either be organized and have great time-management skills or be extremely flexible. If you have a child; you understand the time demands that go into caring for an infant and toddler. During the early years, parents learn to function on auto-pilot or adrenaline; maybe caffeine, too! My daughter’s bonus mom is a professional in the workforce, involved within the community and a now a mother to 5 children, including an infant. I need a break just thinking about how she manages it all! While my daughter’s father is a good dad, I would be naïve to think her bonus mom wasn’t hands on in caring for our daughter from an early age at the time of our separation. I am appreciative for the time she invests in our daughter; down to the smallest things, such as fixing our daughter’s hair before daycare or putting a dress on her before a church program.
All relationships need a solid foundation by which to grow. Currently, when it comes to day-to-day interaction, I find it much easier to work with my daughter’s bonus mom as opposed to her father. Is our relationship perfect or ideal? Not even close. However, there have been significant strides made between the two of us, as I’ve tried to describe here. While all of us are part of the co-parenting dynamic, my ex-husband and I have also made noticeable improvements in our relationship. It takes two or in this case three; so I can’t take all the credit. For my part, I hope the changes that have evolved within me being able to accept my daughter’s bonus mom and family as a gift in her life have contributed to where we are today. While I’ve been overjoyed and on an occasion brought to happy tears with our progress, I consider this a building block for the future. Remember, this is a journey I’m making in my size 5 ½ shoes and without a parenting manual. Sometimes it’s two steps back to move three steps forward.
Ultimately, I believe family is what you make it. So, how do I know my daughter’s bonus mom is a gift? I talk to my daughter every night she is with her daddy and it’s clear her bonus mom makes time to spend with our daughter; doing activities together such as baking a pie or planting flowers and spreading mulch. It may seem mundane to an adult, but to a child, it means the world! I smile at the thought because that’s what a mother does. In the case of my older sister, it is my bonus niece who is reciprocating the Gift of a Step-Mom. She happens to be pregnant with her first child, a girl, and is naming the baby…after my sister! One thing I’ve learned is that a child can refer to two people as “momma”, as my daughter does. That doesn’t make one person more or less important than the other. They are both special to the child in their own way.
Bio: My name is Tia and I am the mother to one beautiful little girl who is almost 5 years old. She has taught me unconditional love, which I never knew before becoming a mom. My ex-husband and I share joint-custody of our daughter. The last 4 years have been challenging as we learn to co-parent, but they have humbled me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, without facing some of the obstacles I’ve encountered on this journey. My daughter has a stepmom and 4 wonderful siblings, who my daughter loves very much. While our relationship is evolving, it’s so much better today than two to four years ago. It has taken work to get to this place of acceptance and peace. I can honestly say that I value my daughter’s stepmom and her family. My daughter is blessed to have so many people in her life who love her and want nothing but the best for her future. One thing I’d like to share that I appreciate about my daughter’s stepmom is that my daughter has picked up some of her strengths, which might be my weaknesses. It makes my daughter well-rounded. For example: I am so glad my daughter is not timid or shy, which she gets from her stepmom. Not only do I appreciate this in my daughter, but also in her stepmom.
Wow! What a world if all moms saw their children’s stepmother in this light… in the light of the love they give. So grateful for Tia for sharing her heart with us. Would you leave her some comment love?
Wed 9 May 2012
This is one amazing woman with one amazing heart. One of the greatest joys of being a stepmom is connecting with wonderful women like Adrienne. She shares how hard Mother’s Day has been for her and what she has learned through it. Her words will touch you in a way that will leave you wiser and feeling comforted that you are not alone. Grab the Kleenex and get ready to be touched by Adrienne’s story.
When asked the question, “Is Mother’s Day a challenge for stepmoms?” I would say yes, Mother’s Day has been a huge challenge for me from time to time. In the 16 years that I have been married to my husband, I have more often than not focused on what I didn’t have instead of what I did have – causing my own unnecessary grief and anguish. Before I explore that premise more, allow me to share a little background.
I was the custodial stepmother to (3) girls, ages 6, 10 and 14. The girls are now age’s 22, 26 and 30 – adult stepchildren. Their mother was not in the picture in any significant way (i.e. no weekly visits, special outings, financial or emotional support). My husband worked evenings and weekends which left the lion’s share of the parenting to me, which I gladly accepted because nurturing and loving and edifying is my God-given nature.
Well, fast-forward after providing this care for many years, I grew to “expect” (gigantic mistake) that I earned the privilege of being reciprocated and honored for my service on Mother’s Day. After all, I did all of the heavy lifting during their formative years; so I was willing to share this honor with their biological mother – fair is fair right? Wrong!
My “expectation” of being honored on Mother’s Day by the (2) oldest girls after they left the home began something like this:
- One year, they sent a card with my youngest stepdaughter to give to me at 10pm at night. I was so offended that I wanted to hurl that thing out of the window. Of course I didn’t and instead graciously said thank you to save face.
- Another year, when my youngest stepdaughter became a teenager she received a call from the oldest stepdaughter (who is a young adult by now) outlining the full day of events that she had planned for their mother and that she expected my youngest stepdaughter to attend – from beginning to end. Celebrating their mother is not a problem, but disregarding the fact that I exist, that the “family” traditionally honors me on Mother’s Day and not attempting to ascertain the timing of our festivities was a total slap in my face.
- Yet another year, after being reminded that I am celebrated on Mother’s Day as well, so some accommodations need to be made; and then agreeing to have my youngest stepdaughter back in time for our festivities and then reneging on their agreement which requires us to change our plans (once again) to factor in time to pick up the youngest stepdaughter so that she can celebrate with us. I was not a happy camper that day…and I was supposed to be celebrating at my favorite seafood establishment!
- Finally, I remember just leaving my home and driving around crying my eyes out on one Mother’s Day because…I don’t remember why…I just remember the overwhelming feelings of rejection.
Well, silly me, I didn’t have to endure all of this pain, offense and anger. I was too focused on the circumstances and not the root of the problem. I was too focused on my emotions and let them get the best of me. I’ve heard it said this way: “You can have emotions, just don’t let your emotions have you!” Mine had me right where they wanted me feeling less than, feeling unappreciated, feeling as if something was wrong with me because I just couldn’t get these girls to love me!
I now have a new perspective on Mother’s Day, past and present. The girl’s were unable to acknowledge my many positive contributions to our stepfamily because they were in a severe loyalty bind and needed it to be very clear to everyone that their Mom was, is, and will always be numero uno. I was unable to see the forest for the trees because I didn’t and hadn’t realized that they were grieving the loss of their family of origin. Every time they saw my husband (their dad) with our son (their little brother) and my daughter (their little sister) they saw a family unit that they weren’t included in and the grieving starts all over again. I wish I knew 16 years ago what I know now about stepfamily dynamics. It still would have been complicated but I am convinced that it would not have hurt so much.
Now when I think of Mother’s Day, I have my expectations aligned in reality and at a different gauge for each person in my family:
- No expectation at all for my (2) older stepdaughters, so any acknowledgement I receive is a wonderful surprise.
- I expect to receive a lovely poem/card from my daughter sharing her appreciation and fond memories of our life together…always special.
- I expect to be loved, honored and cherished by my husband and my son because I am the only wife and mother either of them have and they both like to spoil me on special occasions.
- I expect to make the day joyful and loving and fun by focusing on all the wonderful gifts that the Lord has given me:
- Stepchildren that don’t hate me and actually like me most of the time.
- A son that loves me.
- A husband that adores me.
- My annual trip to Seattle to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom, grandma, sisters and nieces.
If only I had known and accepted the simple truths of stepfamily dynamics years ago. I wouldn’t have wasted so many years sad and frustrated on Mother’s Day when I had so much to be thankful for in my life. One of the many foundational beliefs’s that I live my life by these days is this:
“The manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.”
For me and my family and stepfamily, that means simply to “lay some grace on the friction in your relationships and watch those rough edges smooth out”.
Make it a Happy Mother’s Day!
Adrienne Wilson is a
- Committed Christian;
- Wife to my loving husband as we seek to strengthen our Stepcouple;
- Mother of 1 son;
- Smom of 1 daughter;
- Stepmother of 2 stepdaughters;
- Step-grandmother to 2 step-grandchildren (ages 9 and 6months)
Adrienne shares that she finally has her priorities straight for this season of her life and is learning to thrive in this jumbled world by keeping it simple and grounded in her faith.
She plans to join the forces of stepmoms helping stepmoms in some form or fashion. She knows that just hearing someone else’s story has made her feel validated and successful when before she often thought that she was simply wicked and quite the failure. You can connect with Adrienne on Facebook or on Twitter.
Tue 8 May 2012
Get the Kleenex out. Marissa shares her heart, her struggles and her joys as a wife and stepmom. Many will relate and be uplifted by her honest words and heart for her family. StepMoms truly make a positive difference. Meet Marissa:
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” -Erma Bombeck
When I was 24, I became a wife and a stepmom in the space of an “I do.” Coming from being a college student still living at home with parents, this was an enormous change for me, and it was difficult. Stepmoms as a whole get told “you knew what you were getting into” a lot. I’m not sure I did. I’m not sure anyone really knows. You can’t really appreciate the depth of the situation until you are in it, and no one really tells you exactly how difficult it is. That said, I wouldn’t have chosen any differently even if I had known at the time how hard it would be for me to adjust to this new life, to find my place in this new family, and to find peace with it all.
The beginning was rough. My husband and I had only known each other for ten months before we were married. I had known my stepson even less time and his mother I’d met only a few times, and I’d stayed in the background – generally in the car – while we picked him up or dropped him off. So, I didn’t really have a firm relationship foundation with either my stepson or his mother. I entered the world of step-motherhood completely inexperienced and without a clue as to where I stood in the grand scheme of things. At the same time I was learning how to be a wife, which no one ever teaches you how to do either. All together, I was completely overwhelmed.
But I wanted to make a difference. Being my husband’s first wife, I wanted to be the best. Being my stepson’s “second mom”, I wanted to be accepted. I took an active role in everything I possibly could. I went to karate practices, baseball games, etc. whenever my work/school schedule allowed. I literally stepped into the roles of wife and stepmom and began looking for work to do.
The problem was, things had been functioning a certain way without me for over six years, and the way things had been functioning was not the way I felt they needed to function. So, in my eagerness to fill my new roles, I began trying to modify those things wherever I saw a “better” way to do something. This was easy at home, where as my husband’s wife I had complete domain over rearranging furniture, picking out new curtains, and planning meals. It was not so easy outside the walls of our home, where as stepmom I had no say over the days and times we got to spend with my stepson. I had no say over most decisions regarding him. In the very beginning, I was lucky to even be informed of schedule changes, since at the time my husband managed those with his ex and he was not used to having to inform anyone else of those decisions.
As you can imagine, I struggled. I felt helpless and excluded when I wanted to feel important and included. And I hated that. I got upset easily, whenever the schedule changed, or whenever I wasn’t informed of some new decision. I stormed around the house, venting frustrations that I’m sure neighbors three houses down could hear. I admit I was a very unpleasant person to be around at times, and I am thankful for my husband who patiently listened and stuck by me through those times.
At some point, I mentally and emotionally broke. I became tired of fighting everything all the time. I gave up trying to muscle my way through and change everything. I refocused my energies inward instead of outward and looked to myself for change instead of everyone around me. I didn’t want to be the person who brought dysfunction into the home. I didn’t like the person I was becoming- angry, bitter, and frustrated.
I asked myself what was important. What was I most concerned with?
Mostly, I just wanted it to be fair. My husband is a wonderful father. Although the relationship between my stepson’s mother and my husband did not work out, he stayed by his son. I have to admit, it was a quality I admired in him when we first began dating. Rather than being scared off by the fact that he had a child, I adored him for being a responsible parent and being present in his child’s life. I still adore him for that. When I look back, I realize I was trying to find my role yes, but I was also fighting for fairness. I wanted my husband to have the time with his son I thought he deserved.
I began keeping track of the schedule on paper. I wrote down every day we had Ethan in my school planner. I asked instead of waiting to be told. It took some time, but my husband started volunteering the information without me asking. Eventually that morphed into a calendar we could both see online.
During all of this, my relationship with my stepson’s mother grew as well. I lowered my guards a bit. I relaxed and didn’t take everything so personally. I lived each day trying to turn the other cheek, catch bees with honey, or whatever cliché you think of when you make a concerted effort to be nice to someone, even when they may not be nice back. The great thing is, she responded to my efforts in a way I didn’t expect – by being nice back. The transformation that took place in my life was palpable.
Eventually, scheduling became my “thing” and I took over the responsibility for my husband. I communicated with his ex to arrange the schedule for the summer – seeking my husband’s approval as well obviously – and then began to keep a yearly calendar and plan for months in advance. For example, since we are fairly flexible with parenting time, we routinely switch weekends around special events that each family may have….like Mother’s Day. We make sure our son is with his mother the entire weekend, regardless of whose weekend it is “supposed” to be or what the parenting time guidelines say. Keeping a calendar months in advance allows me to see and plan for the best way to work the schedule to make that happen and keep the parenting time fair.
Through all of this, I began to see that the parenting time is fair, which allowed me to relax even more knowing that my husband is getting a fair amount of time with his son. It also gave me a job within my role as stepmom, something I was so desperately looking for when we first got married.
I don’t know that I would say that keeping the schedule is the greatest thing I bring to the table as a stepmom. I hope that I bring so much more than that. I hope that I bring love, togetherness, unity, and completeness as well. I just think that finding my niche in the family helped me get to a place where I could begin to provide those things too, and at the end of each day, I know I gave it my all. And as Erma Bombeck said, “when I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.”
I picture the role of stepmom as the last piece of a puzzle – we may not have been there first, but we are the piece that makes the picture whole.
Marissa describes herself as an incredibly blessed wife to the love of her life, stepmom to a 9 year old boy, and student studying medical laboratory technology. Between all the chaos that entails, she loves to blog and craft, and is very involved in her church as a singer, Sunday school teacher, and Volunteer Coordinator. She runs a craft circle out of her home every month and she co-writes “Revolutionary Moms: a co-parenting blog” with her stepson’s mom. She is still learning new things everyday on her journey through wifedom and stepmotherhood, and hopes to be able to share what she has learned with others who may begin their journey after her.
You can read her blog at www.RevolutionaryMoms
Follow on Twitter at @RevolutionaryMoms
Like on Facebook at RevolutionaryMoms
Mon 7 May 2012
The love that Tiffany has for her husband, two stepsons and son will melt your heart. She beautifully articulates the love that a stepmother brings to her home and into the hearts of her stepchildren. She has lovingly filled a void in their lives. Read her beautiful story:
When becoming a stepmom we volunteer to take the responsibility to be a mother of someone. The role of motherhood alone is a very rewarding yet scary task to take on. Then you add ‘step’ in front of that. Stepmothers exercise the act of giving beautifully. We give out of our hearts. Like most biological mothers, we give with the same motivations considering the children’s best interest.
For me, I took on the full-time stepmother role when my two stepsons were almost 2 and 4 years old. Their dad did an amazing job raising them as a single parent from when his youngest son was just 5 months old. The boys were so kind hearted and so well behaved for what they had been through at such a young age.
My stepson’s biological mother choose a path in life that led her far away from her young innocent children. When meeting my stepsons they latched on and quickly created a motherly bond with me. They didn’t truly understand at that age what the word ‘Mom’ meant due to her absence. To show them unconditional love has been a gift. It has not been easy dealing with the hurt she has caused and continues to cause but it’s all worth putting up with for my stepchildren. Their biological mother is in their life limited to what the court allows.
My main goal in becoming a stepmom was not to replace their biological mother but to give the innocent children a stable family environment and deep motherly love. I feel that’s mainly what children need. They need to feel important, wanted and loved. I was given the blessings of potty training the youngest, bottle breaking, going thru teething, enrolling in preK, kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, taking them to school and all doctor visits, etc. The list can go on and on.
The love and trust I receive in return from them is the most rewarding feeling. My stepchildren know they can always count on me. I have had them full-time for years other than her visitation of three weekends a month. They can see I choose to be there for them out of care and not just there because it’s on a court order. Each Mother’s Day I have received the same amount of sincere attention from them.
To add to our happiness, my husband and I gave my stepsons a little brother in March 2010. My stepsons adore their little brother and call him ‘their baby’. Having him has added strength to our blended family environment. I feel honored to be raising three sons. Regardless if ‘step’ or ‘biological’ I have the same amount of love for each son. I hope everyone can have respect for all that has a motherly role because it is not easy work. Like the saying goes ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I couldn’t agree more.
We all need to lean on one another! To all the stepmothers out there, your hard work does not go unnoticed! Every day is Mother’s/Smother’s Day!
My name is Tiffany Helkenberg and I live in Southern California. I’m a wife to a loving and hard working husband. Helping others and being a caregiver is my passion. I spent years working in the medical field prior to becoming a stay at home mother. I spend all my time devoted to raising my step sons Mason age 7, Konner age 5 and my biological son Logan age 2. You can connect with me via Twitter at @Smom4Life
Sat 5 May 2012
Meet Kristen. You will be moved by her amazing insight and her journey into and through stepmotherhood. She believes that Warmheartedness, Love & Compassion are the answers regardless of the question. You’ll want to take a few notes, she has an amazing story to share.
I have always wanted to be a Mom. When I thought about my future I always saw children in the picture. I was looking forward to driving carpools, attending sporting events and recitals, helping with homework, making lunches for school, and chaperoning field trips. However, life had other plans for me. An early marriage in my mid 20s ended in divorce after two short years and no kids. I spent the next decade wondering if I would ever meet the right man and have the family that I dreamed about.
And then I fell hard for my husband Nick in my mid 30s – a single father with a 9 year old daughter and a 4 year old son from his first marriage. I was hesitant to meet the kids until I knew that Nick and I were going to make it as a couple. I’d learned the hard way that I can easily get attached to a man’s children and end up confused about whether the relationship is really working or if I just can’t bear to leave the kids. Just hearing of them from their Dad’s stories, I loved Sadie & James long before I even met them.
I remember meeting them for the first time. Sadie was almost 11 years old, James 5 1/2. We met for breakfast at the IHOP. I was nervous and afraid they wouldn’t like me. Nick had never introduced them to a ‘friend’ before and they knew something was up. They were kind yet clearly a bit wary of me. Driving away from the restaurant that morning it dawned on me what I was actually getting into with this relationship. If all went according to the plans that Nick and I had made, I would become these kids’ Stepmother. I’ve read all of the stories and I knew that I needed this version to be different than the faerie tales.
I had no doubt in my mind or heart that I could love these children as my own. But knowing kids as I do, I also knew that they had a choice in whether they loved me. And in a way, whether they loved me back or not could have absolutely nothing to do with me. Nobody wants a new Stepmother. Most kids of divorce want their parents to get back together and for things to go back to they way they were when they had one house where everybody lived together and they had all of their stuff in one place.
I had one game plan to try and make this work – Love & Compassion and low expectations. While Nick and I were still dating I made a point to think of things from the kids’ point of view. I was infringing on their time with their Dad when I’d tag along to soccer games and cookouts in the back yard. They only saw him every other weekend and they cherished that time with him. I never stayed for the whole day and I left before they went to bed. And here is the thing that they’ve told me made a big difference… I always thanked them for including me in their fun and told them I looked forward to seeing them the next time. I fondly look back on this period as when I was dating them all.
After Nick & I got engaged, we built a house 10 minutes from the kids’ Mom with hopes of increasing our time with the kids from every other weekend to something closer to 50%. The kids helped us pick the floor plan, including which rooms would be theirs. James, now 7 years old, was curious which one of the rooms was going to be mine since Dad was getting the big room with the big bathroom. This comment, while cute and funny, was an indication of just how far we still had to go to become a family.
Once we moved into the house, I again went with the only plan I had – Love, Compassion and low expectations. I am a firm believer that few humans can resist an unrelenting campaign of unconditional love. I would show them how much I loved them with my actions rather than say it. I’d been waiting for this job my whole life! I made breakfast, lunches and dinners. I helped with homework and drove the car pools. On weekends they were with us, Nick & I focused our attention on them. We had plenty of time for couple things on the days they were with their Mom. These kids were not losing their Dad, they were gaining a Faery Stepmother that looked after them and made it possible for them to live with their father 50% of the time.
The best thing I did in the first year living with the kids is I paid attention and I listened. I treated them both, particularly my thirteen year old Sadie, as if they were the main characters in my favorite TV show. Each time I saw them, particularly after a few days away, I would get caught up on everything I missed since my last update. I would ask about things that I knew had occurred while they were at Mom’s – a sleepover, a dance class, a math test – and about each of their friends so I could keep up with who was in and who was on the outs and why.
I can still remember the first time each of the kids told that me they loved me. James was a little bit ahead of his sister but I heard it from them both during the first year in the new house. Truth is I knew they both did long before they said it. And as different as they are from each other the conversation was exactly the same. Them: “I love you, Pokey”. Me, with tears in my eyes I don’t even try to hide: ‘I love you too’. Them: ‘I know….’
Kristin has been happily married to her husband, Nick, for just over 3 years and she is the ridiculously proud Stepmother to Sadie (16) and James (11). They make their happy home in Castle Rock, Colorado. Kristin has a day job as a Software Engineer and moonlights as an artist for @KMRArtandDesign (http://www.etsy.com/shop/KMRArtandDesign
). She won the Blended Family lottery with the kids’ Mom (aka BM) and considers her to be one of her dearest friends and her SisterMom. You can connect with Kristin on Twitter at (aka @FaeryStepmother