When will this end?

I found this article on the site Stepmom Station. It talks about the stigma of the “StepMom” title. It continues to boggle me that the perception or connotation of that title is still a negative one. There are MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of blended families and remarriage is part of life as we know it. The stereotype of a StepMom is one that I am trying to help change and is one of the most important reasons I started this page.

“Close your eyes for a moment. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Stepmother”? If you are one yourself, it’s probably a fairly normal person. With flaws yes, but also with some good, redeeming qualities. If you are outside of the stepmother community, the image you got is probably that of a woman who is evil. Dare I say it, “Wicked”. A woman, whose stepchildren despise her existence and who, in turn, treats them rotten. A woman who probably had something to do with the breakup of the marriage, thereby splitting apart a happy family.

What is it about just the word stepmother that conjures up such awful images and makes people cringe and the mere mention of it? Why is it when you tell someone you’re a stepmother, they feel they have free reign to ask personal and inappropriate questions such as, “Oh. Well how do your stepchildren feel about that?” or “Really? Do you get along with the mother?” Is all of this association just from the fairy tales? I think it has to be more.

When a woman is single and dating, it’s perfectly acceptable for her to announce that she will not date a man with children. Friends and family support her in this. She would be the one suffering if she did. If however, you do date and then, gasp, marry said man; YOU become the evil one. The one causing suffering, rather than dealing with it yourself. If you dare state that you might be suffering, you’re greeted with the ever-popular response of, “Well, you knew what you were getting into.”

Few people outside of blended families ever associate the word Stepmother with kindness or compatibility or can even think that perhaps she is someone who the stepchildren not only like, but whose lives are being enhanced by her being in it. People watch closely and if a stepmother dare look funny at her stepchildren, see she is evil.

I’ve experienced this in my own family. People who know me and know what kind of person I am. That I have a good heart and treat others with kindness and respect. Even still, I’m a stepmother and so they watch my every move with my stepdaughter. I’m told that I’m too hard on her, even if my sister does/says the same to her children. I’m told that I should love her as my own, but don’t dare discipline or make decisions for her. I should treat her equal to my son, but never confuse that I am not her parent.

Just the word “Stepmother” has such a negative association to it. Will that ever change? The sad truth is that when most people hear the word, the first thing that comes to their mind is “Wicked.” Seldom, if ever, do people say, “Wow, that’s great. Good for you for taking that on.” Or, “How lucky your stepchild is to have you in his/her life.” It seems to be out of the realm of most people’s conception, that a stepmother can actually be a good, positive thing. Although I’m skeptical, I’d also like to be optimistic in my thinking that someday, maybe, the word “Stepmother” will bring thoughts of “Parent” rather than the dreaded ,“Wicked.” ”

Megan EdwardsWhen will this end?

Never Give Up!

I love this quote!

I love this quote!

Megan EdwardsNever Give Up!

The Surprise!!

I finally got to surprise my StepSon with my cat, Ollie. Check out the super cute video!

Megan EdwardsThe Surprise!!

StepMom/Step Child Strategies

After yesterday’s article I thought I would post something that may be helpful and constructive for StepMoms who are hands-on and would like some guidance and strategies.

HOW TO SOLVE PROBLEMS WITH YOUR STEPKIDS

Being a stepmom can definitely be challenging. You don’t want to be viewed as a pushover or a wicked stepmother. Learn how to develop positive relationships with your stepkids and deal with these common stepparenting issues.

Different approaches to discipline
Quick tip: Stress your values and expectations, and also give some positive examples of how things are different in your home — just make sure to never bash their biological mother or her own approaches.
Discipline and house rules are some of the biggest issues when it comes to blended families. No doubt, in your first year as a stepmom you’ll hear, “My mom lets me do it!” You can’t control the rules, limits and consequences at the ex’s house. However, you need to provide the children with some consistency. Talk to your husband and establish the ground rules for your home. In the beginning, don’t try to change drastically from what the kids are used to expecting. They’ve had enough change in their lives with the divorce, and you don’t want to come across as the wicked stepmother. Let your husband handle the discipline for the first six months to a year. This will provide your kids with some stability, and will allow them the opportunity to get to know you in a way other than as an authority figure. If the children are older, carefully explain that different households sometimes have different ways of handling things.

Dealing with disrespect
It’s one thing for your stepchildren not to like you right away, but it’s a completely different issue when they disrespect you. Though you might want to respond to disrespect in an immature manner, you need to realize that these children have gone through a tremendous upheaval in their lives. You signed up for this — you knew your husband had kids when you married him. They didn’t sign up for this. Most kids behave poorly due to anger, fear and a loss of control. Stepchildren are looking for someone to blame and that person is you. No matter how difficult it seems, don’t take it personally. Allow your husband to handle any discipline or consequences when his kids act disrespectfully toward you. Continue to treat them with kindness and respect as you try to gain their trust. Don’t expect your stepkids to love you overnight. Your relationships will take time and patience.

Handling disinterest
Some children become very withdrawn during a divorce. They act like nothing bothers them, but become increasingly disinterested in the family dynamic. You can’t blame them. Their picture-perfect family has dissolved, and all of a sudden they are dealing with a new parent — you. You need to create a mutual sense of trust with each of your stepkids. Treat each one as an individual, rather than always dealing with them as a group. Spend one-on-one time with each kid and take a genuine interest in their lives. Find some activities or events you can enjoy together without your husband around. As important as it is to spend one-on-one time with the kids, you should also schedule family time where you participate in fun activities together as a group. This will reinforce the idea that you are now part of their cohesive family unit. Sharing experiences and creating memories as a family is key to developing positive relationships.

Drifting from your husband
You just got married to the love of your life, but now you seem to be drifting apart already. Being a blended family isn’t easy and stepparenting can take its toll on a marriage very quickly. Don’t let your stepkids pit you against one another or let a meddlesome ex-wife cause any issues. Plan date night with your hubby once a week. Even if you just spend a couple hours together, it will allow you to vent a little, recharge your batteries and stay connected with one another.

Stepparenting at the holidays
The holiday season can be very difficult on children of divorce. If possible, make your wedding plans early in the year so you’ll have many months before having to deal with Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time as a stepmom. This is often the hardest time of the year for blended families. Start planning as early as possible. Talk to your husband about the important family traditions that he’d like to maintain with his ex-wife and kids. Get together as a family and discuss your holiday plans. Allow the children to help decide what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Be willing to compromise a little bit on your expectations, and try to honor their requests. If your stepkids want to open their gifts on Christmas morning at their mom’s house, then let them do that. You can always open gifts the night before Christmas, or later in the afternoon on Christmas Day. Establish new family traditions as well — stringing popcorn to decorate the tree, caroling together on Christmas Eve or going to church at midnight.

You can read some expanded thoughts on many of these points and other good articles and links here:
http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/951461/stepmom-911-5-common-issues-and-solutions

Megan EdwardsStepMom/Step Child Strategies

It May Not Be All On You, StepMom

I found this blog post by Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

I think this may be relevant to some StepMoms. It’s an interesting and perspective whether it applies to you or not.

“Stepmom’s nightmare is not her problem to solve:

You are the stepmom to kids who not only don’t listen, but threaten to go back to the other parent at the mere mention of expectations. When you complain to your partner – their father, he shrugs it off, not wanting to upset the apple-cart and risk losing precious time with his little angels.

These situations often involve separated parents who have poor to limited or no ability to communicate between themselves. It is likely that their relationship as a couple was a disaster and that court or the threat of court figured prominently in their settlement.

Dad is either limited in his parenting abilities or is afraid that his kids won’t see him if he doesn’t give way to their demands. Either way, dad tries to either be an ostrich and put his head in the sand to avoid the situation or tries to befriend the kids, thinking that the kids will like “Uncle Dad” and thus behave better.

Kids in these situations have long since learned to exploit the parental conflict to get what they want. Instead of expectations they have things – toys and gadgets. They may also have no meaningful curfews or consequences to hold them accountable.

The stepmom is at risk of being set up as the wicked witch for ratting out the kids, spoiling everyone’s’ fun and being a pain in the butt to her partner. Truth is, she may be the most distressed and may be the only one to see the situation for what it is – a bigger train wreck waiting to happen.

Kids who are out of control and who can pit their parents against each other are at risk of school failure, early onset sexual behavior, pregnancy, drug alcohol abuse and trouble with the law. As they disrespect their stepparent and get away with murder at home, they then try out their misguided skills and beliefs outside the home at school, workplace and community.

This is actually a pretty common scenario and if there is a call for counseling, it is usually by the stepmom who is fed up with the situation and feeling unsupported by their partner with spoiled kids running roughshod over them both. Trouble is, without both bio-parents on board, the likelihood of turning things around well are limited.

In order to make a good difference in these situations and the lives of these children, both parents must learn to cooperate and support each other as parents lest the kids continue to divide and conquer. Trouble is, as the stepmom takes on the task of calling people out and seeking to improve matters, all eyes are on her as an agitator. She becomes the source of conflict and she feels like she is steering a sinking ship.

The truth of the matter is, these are not her kids and this is not her responsibility even though she becomes a victim of the family dysfunction.

Stepmom, you have two options: leave or step back and let the chips fall where they may.

Assuming you step back and let the chips fall where they may, the real trick is to redirect any issues or expectations with regards to your partner’s children, to your partner. Do not take responsibility for his children because in so doing, he gets to avoid it.

When he finally gets overwhelmed and asks for your advice, don’t get sucked into rescuing him!

The real trick to facilitating change here is to leave him wrestling with these problems of his own creation. Unless he truly feels there to be an issue from which he cannot escape, he will not be motivated to address it. You rescue, he is relieved and nothing changes.

Eventually he has to come to realize that counseling is a must for him and his former partner and that together they must resolve the situation.

You as stepmom continuing your involvement in their dynamic only serves to keep the heat off them and keep it upon yourself.

Want to feel better? Take a bath, read a book, go for a walk, get a manicure, do anything but take on your partner’s responsibility. As you disengage from the turmoil, you leave it for your partner to engage.

If you don’t have the stomach for this, then you may have to consider leaving as an option and that too may trigger a crisis to raise your partner’s profile in terms of taking the situation seriously. But still, the problem with his kids is his to solve.

Tough medicine for tough situations.”

Megan EdwardsIt May Not Be All On You, StepMom

Dad/StepMom Payback Time!!!

I don’t know if my StepSon is just really tired or if my partner and I are just very well rested but, for the past 2 mornings, we have woken up before him. Now, what usually happens is, he wakes us up and blares his alarm clock in our room until we get out of bed. It’s really rough when you’re tired!! So this morning, it was time for us to get him up so we went into his room and tried to get him out of bed. He wasn’t having it. So we turned on his alarm clock and started dancing to the song it plays. My only regret about this, is I don’t have a video of it!! I don’t think he will be waking us up that way anymore! LOL!

alarm clock pic

Megan EdwardsDad/StepMom Payback Time!!!

Ideas for decompressing from StepMom stress

Here is some StepMom advice. One thing we all know by now is that sometimes life can be frustrating and sometimes the catalysts for that frustration are out of your control. I found this list while browsing some articles online. Below are some bits of StepMom advice for coping, distracting and decompressing from some of the pressures that come with this role.

These are ideas from StepMoms:

Exercise

Focus on your career

Go back to school

Meditate/yoga

church/religion

Volunteer work

Social time with your girlfriends

Turn to your hobbies or find a new one

Focus on strengthening your relationship with your partner and family

Go for walks…long, long walks. lol

Take a getaway weekend or week if you can.

Get a pet. A nice cat petting always helps me.

Read good books

Go to movies in the middle of the day

Take breaks from the entire family

Feel free to comment on this blog with any other StepMom advice you think would be helpful for StepMoms.

Megan EdwardsIdeas for decompressing from StepMom stress

A Nice Morning

TGIF StepMoms!!!!! This morning started off nicely. I got up with my StepSon and made some tea for myself, coffee for my partner and milk for him. I love little cozy mornings like this! We get SS back on Sunday afternoon and my partner will probably do something fun like go to the wave pool with him while I sleep after working an overnight shift.

What are your weekend plans with your StepKids? Or do you have a kid-free weekend?

morning cuppa

Megan EdwardsA Nice Morning

A StepSon #TBT

#TBT one of the first times I hung out with my StepSon! He was walking around in my leopard print high heels and I’m so glad I captured the moment! Do you have a #TBT memory? I’d love to hear about it!

tbt tristan

Megan EdwardsA StepSon #TBT