Every person has their joys and their struggles. And every person feels support and encouragement when they find others who are navigating their same journey.
One of the greatest blessings of our stepmom community is the encouragement, inspiration, support and understanding we give each other. We are authentic about our struggles while striving to remain positive and without putting others down.
To better understand the needs of stepmoms, I have teamed up with @RedHeadStepmom on Twitter to conduct an intensive survey to understand the many relationships in a stepmom’s life and how it impacts her “happiness quotient.”
The survey is being sent to stepmoms via email in order to preserve the integrity of the data (to ensure stepmoms only fill it out). This is an important research study and we want to hear from YOU!!!
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in the survey. The results will be shared on my site in December and will be sent to those who provide resources to stepmoms. Please email me today!
By better understanding our challenges and our joys, we can better serve YOU!
Encouragement. Support. Inspiration. Resources. Together our stepmom community is strong!
Thank you so much for participating. YOUR Voice Matters. You MATTER!!!!
Today is a special day for a few reasons. First, the United Nations has designated November 16th as International Day of Tolerance. And because of that @redheadstepmom has designated today as Take Your BM (the mother of your stepkids) to Work Day.
@Redheadstepmom told me she had the idea for @TakeBM2Work2012 because she thought it would be fun for Stepmoms to invite their BMs (or representations thereof) to walk a mile in their shoes for a day, be it at the workplace, home or school, and perhaps improve relationships through communication and understanding. I believe that is something most stepmoms wish for.
She and another amazing stepmom, @LovingStepMom on Twitter, started posting about this day. Before long, lots of stepmoms were inquiring more about bringing the
Both mom and stepmom leave footprints on the the children they share. Work together for positive imprints.
mom of their stepkids to work.
As I thought about it, this thought came to my mind (as it has many, many times)….
I would love for the mom of my stepdaughters to know the depth of my heart for my family, for her two daughters. I never want her to be threatened by my presence but rather at peace with it.
Have you ever longed for the mom of your stepkids to understand the journey you walk? Have you ever wished she would accept your presence in her children’s lives? Do you ever think… ‘does she know the impact her hurtful words/actions towards me and her ex are having on the kids’?
Maybe you have a great relationship with the mom of your stepkids. If so, then you live the blessing that occurs when all parents put their egos aside and parent with the best interest of the kids in mind but sadly that isn’t the case for many stepmoms.
So taking my kids mom to “work” with me would be great. I would love for her to see what I do daily and not from a work perspective but from a heart perspective.
Since I can’t take their mom to “work” with me given I’m a custodial stepmom, here are the things I would want the mom of my stepdaughters to know about a typical day for me and the steps I take out of love each day ……
I wake up every morning with the attitude that I will do my best.
I make sure your daughter’s have clean clothes and warm meals.
I’ve taught them the value of dressing modestly. I’ve bit my tongue when they want to wear some outlandish accessory but spoke up when their shirts were too low cut. I protect them.
I teach them to respect themselves.
I’m home when they get off the bus. I listen to the drama of the day. I’m there when they cry because they didn’t get invited to a birthday party. I listen to them share about a crush that they “just can’t tell dad about.”
I offer advice on how to make friends, how to talk to a teacher when they don’t agree with a grade… I help them make life choices.
I’ve had to have the puberty talk with each (and yes, the sex talk). I’ve shared my experience and cried silent tears when they ask me “how old was my mom when she started her period?” There are so many questions I can’t answer for them.
I helped them each buy their first bra and talked to them about the importance of “good support.”
These aren’t conversations that I relish having with them but as the mom in the house, it is my responsibility. If not me, than who….
I’ve worked hard to build into them that their worth is not in the clothes they wear or the boys that like them. They are worthy because God loves them. I’ve taught them that they have to love themselves first.
I’ve been there for questions that they don’t feel comfortable going to dad about.
I’m teaching them to cook and why they should make their bed every morning before they leave the house.
I give them daily chores and make sure that they do them.
I’ve corrected them when they’ve made a poor choice or lied. And I’ve yelled at them at times as I have my own kids. I’ve also asked them to forgive me when I have had a harsh word. I want all my kids to understand the power of asking for forgiveness and receiving it.
I monitor the books they read and the movies they watch.
I get them to practice on time (most days).
I take them to church and small group and have a close group of adult women I trust that they know they can go to if they feel they can’t come to me on something. I am building a circle of trust for them.
I love their dad and I support him. I take care of the house so when he comes home he can just hang out with the kids. I do that so he has more time to pour into his girls and my kids as well.
I tell them you love them.
I tell them they are going to be okay. I tell myself that too.
I’m here everyday.
But being a stepmom is not a glamorous job. Honestly, it is the most difficult and thankless role I’ve ever had. It has tested my patience and endurance. Through it all I have learned a lot about myself. I am stronger, braver, more courageous than I ever gave myself credit for. I am modeling that for the kids in our home.
Things have gotten much better but I want you to know that I am committed to this family. I am committed to loving your girls through it all.
I have endured much in my role. I’ve been sworn at by my youngest stepdaughter. Spit on (by the same one). I’ve had those four dreaded words “YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER” screamed at me when I’ve had to enforce a consequence.
The job of stepmom truly tests a woman’s character and her endurance. Many things I’ve endured “on the job” as many of us have would make most people run. Far. Away. But I get up every morning and try my best. I know the pain my youngest stepdaughter spews at me is just that – her pain. I’m trying my best to love her through that.
Moms, please know as stepmoms we are loving your kids through their life. Love. Yes, love. No one can have too much love. Please don’t be threatened by the presence of a stepmom in your children’s life but rather accept the love they bring.
We don’t become stepmoms because we want to take over the mom’s role. We become stepmoms because we fall in love with a man with children. When we marry him we commit to caring for and nurturing his children.
It is a blessing to you the mom and your kids that we take that role seriously.
The above is a glimpse into my heart as the stepmom of my two stepdaughters. And I want to leave you with these quotes on this International Day of Tolerance and Take Your BM to Work Day:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“Don’t judge any woman until you have walked two moons in her moccasins.” - American Indian Proverbs
Just as we don’t want the mom of our stepkids to judge us, we too have to be sensitive to them. We don’t know what they are going through and what motivates them. Would be interesting for them to give us a glimpse into their heart and their fears. As women, it is our heart and our fears that have the power to propel us forward or get us stuck. We all have hurts and burdens and we deal with them in different ways. Being compassionate towards one another can go a long way. Hard to do but important.
If you could tell the mother of your stepchildren one thing, what would it be? Are you participating in TakeBM2Work2012?
Family Game Night. Three words that can bring sheer joy or agony to my home. Not sure about you but many of our family game nights in the past have gone awry. And I take responsibility for it.
Looking back, it was the family game nights where I imposed my agenda on the family that typically went off course. Trying to get all eight of us to sit around the kitchen table to play a classic board game from my youth sounded great in theory but things seem to get unraveled during the execution. “This is boring,” “my mom hates this game,” “this game is to hard for me to play,” and the list of complaints went on and on….
I love and believe in family game night! As a mom and stepmom, I am committed to building family memories and know that family game night helps do just that. The word “step” adds some extra complexity to plans and I knew it was important to be flexible in what I defined as family game night. Determined to make it fun, I asked the kids to plan a night. From food to games…. they got to do it all. Guess what? It was great!
While we feasted on M&Ms and potato chips (not what I would have cooked up) we also played video games. At first, I wanted to resist as I was a die hard board game player but had committed to trying things their way so I gave in and grabbed a Wii controller.
That first video game night was amazing! My husband and I played video games with the kids and it was fun and enlightening.
During video game night, we all take turns playing and the games adjust to levels so age isn’t as much of a factor in game choice. We are active. We are laughing. We are in the same room. We are getting exercise. Best of all…. WE ARE CONNECTING!!!! We are making memories. We are building a family history for our stepfamily.
I have to admit that I am a video game convert now. My brothers who would play pong for hours years ago would be proud of me and my conversion.
There are so many great and interactive games out there. I love the active sports games like Mountain Sports (I get to go tubing and skiing without injury and getting cold) and I love playing the games my kids like. While I don’t get Skylanders, playing with my boys is a way to connect. My girls love Puppy Luv and giggle when I do it “wrong.” My husband loves to race the kids playing Hot Wheels and Ferrari Challenge. With the holidays approaching, I’ll definitely be looking to add some games to our list. My boys have already put Giant Skylanders and an Xbox Kinect on their list.
While I love playing these games with my family, we have not abandoned the board games. My husband and I find ourselves playing board games with one or two kids and that affords us more one on one time with the kids. And we are still known to pull out Apples to Apples, Beat the Parents, Monopoly, Life and Clue for the family. Games in general are great for families and being flexible in what, when and how we play makes a difference!
Because I have come to love playing video games with the kids I was so excited to see that Activision is hosting a Family Game Summit November 13th. I will be attending and hope you will be too. Here is the info to register to attend this free online family game summit:
ACTIVISION FAMILY GAME SUMMIT
Activision’s Family Game Summit is an event to learn how Activision is transforming family game night with the hottest video games this holiday season. Hosted by actress, author, entrepreneur, and most importantly mom, Soleil Moon Frye! Supported by a panel of experts in their field including Nicole Armstrong from Activision, Suzanne Kantra from Techlicious.com, and Patricia Vance, President of the ESRB. You’ll walk away with a wealth of knowledge on how to use video games to bring families together.
Please join us. As stepmoms, we are committed to our family and always looking for ways to connect. Playing video games with your kids and stepkids is a great way to laugh, connect and build memories. It is those common memories that build a family history. See you Tuesday for amazing tips and ideas on Family Game Night!!!
Note: When I saw the summit, I applied to be an online hostess. Please know I am not receiving any financial compensation for being an online hostess or for sharing this information. I will be receiving some items to test out for taking part in the summit. The views in this post are completely my own. I believe in Family Game Night!
I always love when I get to meet in person someone I have connected with via social media. This September, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Deborah Gilboa (@AskDrG to me on Twitter) at BloggyCon in Cincinnati. Dr. G is as wonderful in person as she is online. I was thrilled when I learned about her new book and you will be too!
Dr. G provides us parents with an amazing tool in her mini book: Teach Resilience: Raising Kids Who Can Launch!
While this book is not written specifically for stepmoms, it is written for all parents who want to raise resilient kids. I love a lot of things about this book. Here are my top five:
It’s a mini book. Seriously. It is 5 inches by 3 1/2 inches and 62 pages.
You navigate by category: Errands, Self-Care, Crisis Management, Occasional Events, Around the House.
Tips are also segmented by age; 2 to 4, 5 to 7, 8 to 10, 11 to 14, 15 to 17, All Ages.
This book offers 50 opportunities to build our children’s resilience and self-esteem.
Easy to read. Straight forward. Ideas you can use every day to continue to build resilience.
You may ask “why teach resilience?” Dr. G answers with this “Resilience means the ability to recover from adversity.” Dr. G knows we help our kids and stepkids most by giving them the tools they need to handle tough situations.
As stepmoms, we know our stepkids have walked through tough times and may still be living with adversity. We know as stepmoms that we deal with adversity. Giving our stepkids tools to navigate life is giving them a priceless gift. How often does our heart break for our stepkids as they go back and forth between two homes with two different sets of rules and “climates”? This book will bless everyone!
I carry my book in my purse and flip through it when I’m waiting in line, stuck in traffic, etc… With it’s size, it makes a great gift idea and stocking stuffer.
The book is so practical. I don’t want to give all of Dr. G’s great tips away but I will share one with you that is for all ages. I have actually done this since my oldest was two and it has made a difference with all of my kids. My stepkids were slightly resistant at first but they like to play along now.
PLAY HIGH-LOW-HIGH (For all ages)
Want more than one word answers about your child’s day? Teach resilience by finding the highs and lows of their – and your – experiences. At dinner (or in the car, etc.) ask each person for a high, a low, and a high from the day.
Kids will learn:
to express emotions.
to evaluate their experiences.
to find more good than bad.
that adults have highs and lows also, and how we handle them!
Doctor G (Deborah Gilboa, MD) is a board certified Family Physician, mom of four kids and founder of AskDoctorG.com, a resource for parents and educators who are working to raise great kids. She gives parenting workshops around the country and offers great free tools for raising kids who are respectful, responsible and resilient!
Stepmom friends, we all know the importance of being mindful as a stepmom and we also know how important it is to get useful tips and tools from other stepmoms who have been there and thrived through a challenge. My StepMom Magazine colleague, Joan Sarin, is writing a book that will help you build your Emotional Intelligence as a Stepmom and she is looking to get YOUR input.
One of the things I cherish about our stepmom community is the way we come together to support, encourage and inspire one another. Please read the following from Joan and I ask you to take the two calls for action and consider sharing your stories with her:
Learn to Love Being a Stepmom By Building Emotional Intelligence (working title)
This book is written by a stepmom for stepmoms – it’s about building the emotional intelligence to make a highly challenging role into a successful and fulfilling one.
Anyone who’s a stepmom knows how hard it is, and how tricky it can be to find your way. At first it seemed like my home was a landmine field, where I could set off explosions of conflict with the slightest misstep. I didn’t know then that all of us had the same anxiety, and our household was often an awkward and painful place to be.
In my book, I tell the story of how we made it through; we will celebrate our 20th year as a stepfamily as this book is published. I now thoroughly enjoy my role as a stepmom in the successful stepfamily we have built. My experience as a stepmom is my most important qualification for authoring this book; however I am also a social psychologist, as well as a Master Stepfamily Coach with the Stepfamily Foundation. Last year when I trained as an EQ (Emotional Intelligence) Educator, the proverbial “light bulb” went off. The Six Seconds’ (a top international leader in EQ training) framework for developing emotional intelligence is an ideal method for a stepmom to use for transforming her experience to a more positive, and happier, one.
There are books for stepmoms, and some give excellent advice. But in my work with many stepfamilies (teaching “The Stepfamily Success Course”) I am struck by the complex variations of stepfamily life, there’s just no “one size fits all” solution. As a smart stepmom, you need a system to work through your feelings and to find answers that are uniquely right for you and your family. Learn to Love Being a Stepmom provides that system.
Fortunately, EQ skills are trainable (unlike IQ, which is pretty much set by our genes). There are eight “EQ Competencies” in the Six Seconds framework. Each of them has a chapter devoted to developing that skill as it relates specifically to stepmoms. Each skill is taught by example and stories, and is followed up by a Study Guide to help you practice. The skills range from better awareness of our feelings to learning how to navigate the difficult emotions; from recognizing patterns we find ourselves repeating to using consequential thinking; and from finding our own intrinsic motivation to practicing optimism. In addition, we learn to practice the critical skill of empathy, as well as discover the importance of pursuing noble goals.
The book is authentic, well-researched, and rich with stories of real stepmoms. It also gives surprising insight into what’s going on in the emotional lives of the other members of the stepfamily. It gives you the “how to” you need to build the internal resources that will help you make good choices for yourself and your relationships. Through this book, you will learn to use your emotions in a smart way, in a way that will benefit you far beyond the stepfamily. All your relationships will improve, with the emphasis on the most important one – the relationship with yourself.
Call to Action:
Please vote for the title you’d most likely purchase by leaving a comment below and Joan will get the vote:
1. Learn to Love Being a Stepmom
By Building Emotional Intelligence
2. The Emotionally Intelligent Stepmom
3. Other(After reading the summary): _____________________________
Share Your Story:
Also, you can help other stepmoms by sharing what you’ve learned. I need several more stories from stepmoms. The focus is on a difficult challenge that you’ve faced and overcme through taking an emotionally mature approach. Just write a brief summary (half to a full page), and I’ll interview you if your story is selected for possible inclusion in the book.
Everyone who sends in a story will receive a complimentary electronic copy of the book; those whose stories are included will get a print copy and more!
- all information will be confidential and anonymous (you can select the name you want to use)
- Please respond to Joan@StepmomSOS.com
- When sending a story, provide your email address & phone number as well as the best time to reach you.
I hope you’ll consider helping Joan and in turn helping many, many other stepmoms.
Day 31: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)
We did it!!!! Thirty one days ago, I said “sure I’ll vlog for 31 days,” not really knowing what I was getting into because I hadn’t done much vlogging at all. A few days in, I thought I’ve got to take this day by day because thinking of it all at once is overwhelming.
Today, I am grateful to have power back on and I am grateful to say I stuck it out. I vlogged everyday. Even in the dark with my flipcam. I took it day by day and I completed my challenge.
Often, the road ahead with our stepfamily can seem daunting. We can convince ourselves that there cannot be light at the end of the tunnel. But there is. In my last vlog of Vlogtober, I’m sharing with you lots of stuff (I totally go off topic many times so please forgive me in advance as I’m a little giddy to have power again) and urging you to take it day by day and focus on the blessings of the day.
Takeaway: When we look at what we face it can be challenging. When we chunk it up and focus on each day, life seems more dobable and the blessings seem more clear. You are stronger than you think. You bring so much to your family. Never ever let go of that. Stepmom friends remember to always Stay Strong and Press On!
Day 29: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)
Today, I am getting my carpets cleaned. While the carpets look good in my home, my husband insists that there is so much dirt in there that once they are cleaned… they’ll look and feel much better.
He’s right. This made me think about what is inside of me. I understand and believe in the power of forgiveness and when someone wrongs me (once), I work through it and forgive. I feel the benefits of forgiving.
But what happens when someone continues to do the same thing over and over? Is there a chance that while we say we forgive, we are building up a wall of protection/bitterness deep inside? We do have to protect ourselves but we also need to dig down and understand whether we are protecting ourselves from future hurt or whether we are we impacting our ability to live and trust other people in our lives.
In today’s vlog, I’m sharing what it means to forgive. It may not be what you think.
Takeaway: Do you have to do some deep emotional cleaning? Scrubbing ourselves periodically opens us up to love and live and gets rid of “junk” just sitting there and adding negativity to our life.
What do you think about forgiveness? Do you struggle with having to forgive someone over and over again?
Day 28: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)
When we bring two families together we are bringing together two family histories. As stepmoms, it can be frustrating when we are helping to raise a child with whom we had no hand in laying the foundation during those first few years.
Today, I am speaking candidly about the challenges of merging those two histories as I recently had a reminder when I went to purchase each of the kids’ favorite childhood books. My stepchildren’s mom and I put a different emphasis on reading when kids were younger. Doesn’t make one of us better than the other… just different.
Takeaway: Do you struggle with the fact that you and the mom of your stepkids do things differently? Do you find it hard when you have the best of intentions but it isn’t met with acceptance because you aren’t doing things like mom? You are not alone. Understand that it IS a challenge to blend two family histories.
Day 26: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)
StepMom Support Rocks!
Watch today’s video where I’m sharing the gift of surrounding yourself with honest, positive minded women who are stepmoms and/or in a blended family.
Takeaway: Having a group of girlfriends whether online, in-person or both is a priceless gift. It is important to have friends who have your best interest at heart and the best interest of your marriage at heart also. They can cry with you yet help support and lift you up and not drag you down further.