Entries tagged with “stepdaughter”.
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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!
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.
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
Fri 18 Nov 2011
Day 18: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches
She chooses to embrace a family and love them.
Today and everyday she is committed to her family and doing what is best for them.
Even when others are unkind, she holds her head high, standing strong in the truth.
Patience becomes her middle name.
Many try to diminish her impact on her family but she knows what she means to them.
Only in time will she truly reap the gratitude of her stepkids but still she presses on.
Marriage makes her a stepmother but it’s her heart that makes her a mom.
Long day today in the stepmom department. Thought I’d write a sentence for each letter of this label we are given when we marry a man with kids. Sure, this may not hit the mark exactly but hope it conveys the heart and love of a stepmom.
Lessons from the StepMom Trenches: Somedays are long and somedays are longer but through it all we should never forget that we choose everyday to be the best for our family. Some days we feel very successful and other days we may not. Regardless of what each day holds, never forget the love and beauty that you bring to your family.
Challenge: take a minute to write what STEPMOM means to you. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to be as stepmom. Love doesn’t live by rules and when we choose to love our family and do what is right for them, we can’t help but do a great job!
Would love for you to share what stepmom means to you.
Sat 12 Nov 2011
Day 12: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches
I had a great idea for a post today as I boarded the bus this morning to chaperone my DD12’s academic team to their first competition of the school year. Alas, when I got home from the meet in the early afternoon I was not feeling well. Took my temperature and it was 99.5. So I did something I rarely do – I took a nap. I took a 3 hour nap and I didn’t feel guilty one bit.
If I’m going to be taking care of this family, I need to take care of me. I’m all for self-care and I promote doing things to relieve stress and treat yourself but I also need to remember that when I get sick, I need to take a break.
Therefore this post for NaBloPoMo is short but I hope it serves as a reminder that the next time you aren’t feeling well, you give yourself permission to take a break and take care of YOU! You may be wondering why I am even writing this post if I’m not well. The reason is that I made a promise to do so. When I make a commitment, I follow through. My compromise is writing a short post on the spot. Hopefully, tomorrow I can share my insight from this morning but I make no promises. Not sure how I will be feeling.
Tonight my husband and kids will be making dinner. I know they appreciate me even more when they have to pitch in during times when I can’t do what I usually do each day. I consider that a blessing.
Lessons from the StepMom Trenches: Take care of YOU. You can’t take care of your husband and the kids if you wear yourself down. It’s not weakness but wisdom to know when you need to just take a break. A super woman is one who helps others but also asks for help when she needs it. I am not invincible and I’m okay with that. I want to model for my kids that everyone has sick, tired, down days and those who love and support you are there to offer their love and support.
Challenge: Next time you aren’t feeling well let your family know and take a break. And when you do take a break make sure you don’t feel guilty about it. Guilt is when we’ve done something wrong. Taking care of you is never a crime.
Wed 9 Nov 2011
Day 9: 30 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches
“Now your bangs are curled, your lashes whirled, but still the world is cruel.
Wipe off that angel face and go back to high school!
Baby don’t blow it,
Don’t put my good advice to shame.
Baby you know it, Even Dear Abby’d say the same!” – Frankie Avalon to Frenchy in the movie GREASE!
Those words were running through my mind today as I took my two stepdaughters for haircuts. You might think that taking your kids for hair cuts is pretty simple. And typically it is but when you are a stepmom everything gets a little more complicated.
Nothing says “my life is ruined,” like a bad haircut according to my oldest stepdaughter. I’ve been to so many Great Clips, Best Cuts, and other salons because my stepdaughters hate getting their hair cut for some reason.
Seriously, they never seemed satisfied with their haircuts. I got to the point where I told their dad that I wasn’t comfortable taking them anymore because the complaining was getting to much. I used to take all six of my kids to Great Clips at once and get all their hair cut at the same time. With six kids if I took them individually, like my oldest stepdaughter begs for, well it would be many appointments.
So my husband took his girls for a time but he also ended up frustrated because he would let them tell the hairdresser what type of cut they wanted and they would each walk out of the salon looking nearly exactly how they looked when they entered and he’d be returning three weeks later for a bang trim.
Needless to say, my two stepdaughters were desperately in need of hair cuts and my husband is out of town and as I look at our calendar of events with evenings filled with activities, I thought I would do him a favor and take the girls while he is out of town.
In the past year I have discovered Regency Hair Salons and my husband and I love taking the kids there. It’s a national beauty school so students are cutting the hair and they do an amazing job and you can’t beat the price. These students are wonderful and they treat all the girls as if they are in a fancy spa.
After my four kids were picked up by their dad tonight, I asked my two stepdaughters to get ready and told them we had to run an errand. I didn’t tell them we were going for haircuts because frankly I didn’t want to hear the complaints;
“I don’t want to go with her!” (meaning her sister)
“What place are you taking us to?
“I don’t have enough time to find a picture.”
“They never cut my hair the way I like it.” Etc……
When we pull in the parking lot my SD13 is not happy. We walk in and she starts giving me all the reasons why she doesn’t want her hair cut. We do have a good relationship and I look at her and ask “if I had told you yesterday that you were getting your hair cut today, would you still be complaining?” “Yes,” she answered.
“I know you very well and I’ve learned that the more time I give you to think about certain things, the more stressed you get and I don’t want to put additional stress on you,” I told her.
She looked at me with that knowing look and continued to complain. We get each other and we can both push back on each other at times and it’s okay. We have a mutually respectful relationship.
I know what to expect now when I take them and even though she complained I knew it was coming and I was OK. I look at my role as a positive role model in their life and I try and use these moments as coaching moments. Sometimes I want to be the beauty school dropout and be anywhere but the beauty school with my oldest stepdaughter and then there are other times when I feel blessed to be there to help her through it.
Lessons from the stepmom trenches: if there is a role that you took over with your stepkids that just isn’t working, it’s okay to ask your spouse for some help and to take a step back. If something you are doing (like taking them for haircuts) is stressing you out and you are then bringing that stress into the home then you are better off giving up that responsibility. For most of us, our partner wants to be just that – a partner. They are willing to help shoulder responsibility.
Challenge: if there is something that stresses you out think about what you can do to lessen the stress. Perhaps, you are doing to much for your stepkids and maybe you can ask your spouse to help you out. Or you can push back a bit on your stepkids depending upon your relationship with them.
Tue 1 Nov 2011
Today, I embark on a 30 day journey referred to as National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo (I can never pronounce it). I’ll be blogging once a day for the next 30 days. I have to credit Alissa from HaveStroller for my participation. Her friendship is the best thing to have come out of BlogHer10. It was my first blogging conference and I didn’t know a soul but met Alissa the first night and we’ve stayed in touch. She is a person of true character and integrity who has passion for helping others and one cute little dude at home. Alissa is not a stepmom but she grew up in a stepfamily and has been a source of inspiration for me.
Having said that, I love a good challenge and typically can’t turn one down so when Alissa threw this at me, I said yes without much research. I asked her if there is a particular theme or a topic we are supposed to write on each day. While the answer is no, Alissa is using her challenge as 30 days of Paying It Forward. Did I mention how much I respect her?
So I thought I’m going to use mine as 30 days of sharing Stepfamily Shorts: stories and blessings from the land of stepmomhood. I’ll share personal stories of my life in the stepmom trenches.
I know that as a stepmom we draw strength in knowing we are not alone on our journey. For the next 30 days, I’ll be sharing personal stories about what is going on in my life. Some may make you laugh, others may make you cry and some may leave you with much to ponder. One will probably leave you itchy as I describe how Lice made us a close “nit” family. Yes, you read it right and there is no turning back now.
My true hope is that each story will help you feel connected. Connected to this crazy journey we are on together.
It can become so easy to dwell on some of the trials we face in our role yet I believe we all have good in our lives and focusing on those little blessings may help us realize that they aren’t so little after all. Finding the good in the not so good is important for keeping hope alive especially during any dark times we may go through.
Often our greatest treasures are those small, sweet tender moments in our lives. We can be in such a rush to reach the end goal line of a big, happy stepfamily that we miss the small victories that really create and contribute to our thriving blended family.
My hope is to slow life down the next 30 days. Focus on the blessings in each day and share those with you in hopes that you too can focus on the small things that bring you great joy. I would love for you to share along with me.
Hope you’ll join me by reading along and sharing your blessings too. Don’t forget to check out my friend Alissa’s blog and Jen from Hey’Yall who is also participating in NaBlogPoMo.
Wed 21 Sep 2011
We’ve all heard the reference to Mamma Bear. It perfectly describes a mother’s instinctual, deep, and emotional need to protect her children. It’s the emotional surge that can overtake rational thinking when a mother finds out her child has been hurt. Society applauds the Mamma Bear and warns those that cross her path to watch out.
I’ve had a few Mamma Bear experiences and recently I saw my StepMamma Bear rear her head. I was both shocked and thankful for my reaction.
Yesterday, my 10 year old stepdaughter came home from school and she wasn’t in the house five minutes and I could tell that she had a tough day. Her and I have a love – blame relationship. I love her and she loves me however she also loves to blame me for anything and everything that goes wrong in her life. I get that I wear the bullseye shirt that is only visible to her. I know it has nothing to do with me personally but rather the role I hold in our home. Knowing this, I’ve learned to step back and not try and solve all her problems.
Between dinner dishes, kid pick up by my ex and a mad scurry to find my binder for the PTA meeting I was late to, I mentioned to my husband that I thought our girl had a tough day and to just watch out for her (I do care)!
When I got home two hours later, my husband looked like he’d been run over. I know the look when he’s had a tough discussion with one of his girls and he had the look. I shared with him that I could tell he had a long night and I let him know I was available if he wanted to talk or if he wanted space that I’d leave him alone. No questions.
About an hour later he dropped it on me. As we were sitting on the couch he asked “do you know anything bout “sally no smiles?” I answered that I knew that she and our daughter “Abbey” didn’t get along well. “Well, funny you should say that,” he replied. “You were right when you picked up on Abbey being ‘off’ today. Before bed she shared with me that this girl slapped her twice on the face; once before school and once at lunch!”
The StepMamma Bear was out! I know my stepdaughter has issues with pushing people’s buttons. I wrote a post last year about her bullying another child but in that moment, my heart overtook my head and I didn’t care what role she may have played in the day’s events, I wanted to march a few streets over and have a little “chat” with Sally’s mom.
And in my StepMamma Bear moment, my emotions overtook logic and I started rapid firing a ton of questions unfairly at my husband…. “when did this happen? was this the first time? were there any witnesses? did she tell anyone? why didn’t she mention it to us when she got home? did she and this girl have words previously? did you coach her on how to stay away from this girl tomorrow? and the list went on and on…. I felt the need to arm myself with all the facts so I could do battle on behalf of my stepdaughter.
In that moment, I lost sight that my husband just spent the last two hours talking through this and finding out his daughter had been slapped. In that moment, it was all about me and my need to know because I felt the need to protect. In that moment, I was a Mamma Bear – step style.
The whole story has not yet unfolded. We did contact the school to let them know about the day’s events. And even if my stepdaughter was teasing the other girl, she would be wrong in doing so and that should be addressed but it doesn’t give that girl a right to slap my stepdaughter.
I stopped my questions. No need to make my husband the target of my frustration and Mamma Bear-Like fury. I contained my “righteous anger” as I sipped my tea and gave myself time to gather my thoughts. Minus the onslaught of questions towards my husband without even taking a breath, I was quite pleased with my instant StepMamma Bear response:
This girl who tests me daily, this girl who has told me she hates me and that she loves me within the same hour, this girl who tries to push everyone away as a result of the rejection she’s faced early in her life is also the same girl that I would go to battle for in an instant!
My stepdaughter’s mother isn’t active in her life and that is a decision she made and while I don’t understand it, I will never judge her for that. My stepdaughter doesn’t have the Mamma Bear in her life that so many children are blessed to have. I hope that the StepMamma Bear will be a suitable replacement. Doesn’t every child benefit from a mother and/or mother type figure who has that “deep in the gut emotional need” to protect them?
I wish my stepdaughter’s mother and all the moms out there whose children have stepmothers could embrace that as stepmoms we do have a heart for our stepchildren. Our goal is never to replace the mother. That is impossible anyway! Our goal is to be a positive role model in the lives of our stepchildren and to be a great support system especially when they are in our care.
When the StepMamma Bear rears her protective head, it’s a sign she cares for her stepchildren as her own. And that is a blessing to the children not a threat to the mother.
Now I’ll admit, I’m more of a mamma grizzly with my four children and a bit more refined as a stepmamma bear but regardless, I have an instantaneously emotional response when one of my six kids is hurt! My heart is to protect all my kids regardless of whether or not I gave birth to them.
Has your StepMamma Bear ever come out? Would love for you to share your story. Also, what do you think about a stepmom feeling the same emotional need to protect her stepchildren as a mom feels to protect her own? Love your comments!
Fri 9 Sep 2011
It is easier to believe in yourself when you have a friend beside you saying, “I believe in you, too.” – Bonnie Jensen
September 12th is National Day of Encouragement! While we all seek to encourage and support daily, seems like a perfect time to talk about the power of encouragement and make a pledge to encourage another stepmom on September 12th!
National Day of Encouragement was created by a group of high school students who were attending a Leadership Conference in Arkansas and were challenged with the task of addressing the biggest problem they saw in their school. While the kids knew that drugs and alcohol were pressing issues, they felt at the root of all the problems was discouragement.
Wow! Those kids are insightful. It is the discouragement that many feel in their life that lead them to do and try things that are not helpful or healthy.
When we work tirelessly to encourage and support one another we make a powerful positive impact in the lives of those we seek to encourage.
No one can doubt that the job of stepmom is tough. It is not a job for wimps that is for sure. We can easily get caught in the dark feelings of being an outsider, feeling unappreciated, and the hurt that comes with being the target of our stepchild’s or their mother’s frustration, just to name of few. And because we all experience the same emotions as stepmoms, we hold such power in being able to understand one another and offer encouragement and support.
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” Walter Winchell
I see this every day on Twitter. A stepmom tweets out a tough situation and within minutes, she’s got virtual hugs of support. Those tweets take seconds for us to send out yet they are powerful pillars of support for that stepmom in need and positively impact her day. As stepmoms, an encouraging word from another smom can truly transform our mood.
“Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, help to make earth happily like the heaven above.” Julia A. Fletcher Carney
While I believe firmly that’s its important to encourage one another every day of the week and I know we are all great at doing that, I want to put out a special challenge to all stepmoms to reach out this Monday and encourage a fellow stepmom:
Email words of encouragement
Tweet an inspiring note
Send a personal card in the mail
Call someone on the phone and/or have coffee over Skype
Surprise a local stepmom you know with a dinner you made or offer to take the kids for a few hours so she can practice self-care and/or couple-care
Let a stepmom know you are praying for her and her family.
In addition to encouraging one another, reach out to other smoms if you are in need of encouragement. If you don’t share what is on your heart, no one knows how to support you. We’ve all been in a tough spot, we are all here to help one another. It is wisdom, not weakness to seek support.
It is so true that when you encourage another, you will be encouraged and uplifted yourself. Not only will your act of kindness bless another but it will bless you in the process.
“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” J.M. Barrie
Will you take the stepmom pledge of encouragement today?
Leave a comment below taking the pledge! If you’ve got tips on how to encourage other smoms and/or how you feel most encouraged, please share below. Feel free to list your twitter or Facebook account if you would like to connect with others. On behalf of all stepmothers, thank you!
“There can be no happiness equal to the joy of finding a heart that understands.” Victor Robinsall