Thank You: From a Divorced Dad to His Wife

ID-100106167This is a comment a divorced dad left on my blog post “Stepmoms, you knew what you were getting into.” He sees his wife’s contributions and sacrifices with absolute clarity and appreciation, and I wanted all stepmoms to benefit from his sentiment. Thanks, David!

Hello Stepmoms,

First off I would like to thank Jenna for taking the time to share something that should be required reading for anyone involved with a stepfamily. Every member of a stepfamily has their own struggles to deal with, but what so often gets overlooked are the efforts of the stepmom. She has adopted a family that wasn’t her own, but so often has to pickup the shattered pieces of a divorce, wounded kids and distressed husbands, and then carry these broken hearts as if they were her own.

Never knowing what to expect, she ventures into each day frazzled from the day before. Disrespected by kids, exhausted by court battles, clinging to her own sanity and always asking the question, “how did I get to this place in my life, when all I wanted was the love of the man I married.” There was no way you could have known the trials associated with that love, or the depths of strength you would have to tap into just to make it through another day. You are the unsung heros of your family.

I never realized even a fraction of what I was going to put my wife through, even before we got married. At 44 she had never had kids of her own. I had three kids from a previous marriage, all of which had been emotionally abused by their bio-mom. Like the story goes, before we were married, my two younger daughters took to my wife, the younger one even calling her mom a couple of times. But then entered my 22 year old son with a chip on his shoulder, and single handedly turned them against both of us and then blasted my wife for no reason other than to try to rob me of my happiness because he was mad at me for seeing someone new.

Not knowing what to expect, having never had kids, my wife had only shown love to all of them and this was a stab in the heart. Since then we have battled to put things back together again and have had several struggles with my girls, guardian ad litems, custody battles, counselors and senseless court hearings.

Often her sanity has hung from a thread, and not even our wedding day was completely happy because of my sulking daughter. My wife has been through hell and back and still she struggles to do all that she can to understand how to be a better stepmom. I love her more each day for the love and endurance that she gives to each of us, especially since so little is returned back to her. This is a very weak tribute to her devotion and not enough words can be said to honor her efforts. But if nothing else I hope she knows that she is loved.

Stepmoms are very special women that deserve far more than they get, and I am thankful for all of the sacrifices and devotion you make to better the lives that you touch, and the love that you give. God bless all of you!

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Everyday Voices: It’s Not Just About the Kids

Guest post: by Jennifer Shepherd

I have been a stepmother to two amazing teenage boys for the past 23.5 months. Having had a stepmother of my own for the past 20 years, I already knew that it was a thankless, terrible job with few to no benefits and a lot of stress. Although my stepsons and I had a great relationship before my husband and I got married, I still worried that something might change once I married their dad. The chances of their parents getting back together, for example, would diminish even further once he had a new wife.

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about with the kids. They have been a parent’s, much less stepparent’s, dream. My son and I moved from our home into theirs, and he had to transition to sharing a room for the first time.  Likewise, my younger stepson had to go from having his own room to sharing with someone else. I worried about the adjustment, but the boys made it work without fuss. I was so proud of all three of them.

My stepsons live with my husband and I full-time. A little over three years ago, he was awarded custody in his divorce, and the boys’ mother declined her visitation time with them (every other weekend and every Wednesday). The boys were crushed by the abandonment, and it got worse when she and her boyfriend announced that she was pregnant. They felt as though she had chosen her new family over them.

She did come to sporting events (as long as they took place in our town). Aside from that, however, the boys didn’t see her. They told us it was what they wanted, and that they were happier this way, but I knew they still loved their mom.

Again and again throughout that time, the boys amazed me with their resiliency. It was a tough spot as a stepmother to be in, but they were so easy to love I just tried to do the best I could to make sure they realized that they would always have a stable home environment with me and their dad.

Then I wrote the paper.

For a Communication Research course I was taking in college, our project was to research a topic and write a 20-30 page paper about it. Because the topic was near and dear to my heart, I chose stepmothers. It was a great choice, because it led me to several stepmother support groups online. Reading their stories, and subsequently interviewing them, led me to realize all over again how blessed my family was. But one topic that came up time and time again was the relationship with the biological mother.

I completed the paper three months later and, at the urging of my new stepmother friends, posted it online in my Facebook notes to avoid the hassle of emailing it to so many different people (I had surveyed 100 stepmothers). I wasn’t worried about the boys’ mother at this point for two reasons: first, other than a couple of sentences in the intro identifying my situation as a stepmother, she was not a part of the paper. Second, she had told the boys time and time again that she had blocked me on Facebook, in her phone, and in her email so that she would never have to communicate with me in any way.

I was wrong to have believed that. She did block me, yes, but then accessed my account through other means. She read the paper, and everything changed.

She reacted badly, and said a lot of negative things to all of us.

All of that was standard with her personality type. But then something unexpected happened: she actually started trying to be involved with the boys’ lives. 

She started traveling to out of town games and tournaments. She stopped cropping them out of her Facebook pictures. She started contacting them and actually talking to them. They started to rekindle their relationship. They became more receptive to her. They actually started seeing her for an hour or two here and there.

At first, my younger stepson didn’t know how to handle it. He felt that he had to hate one of us at all times.

Once I sat him down and explained to him that we would both love him no matter what, and that he could love both of us without upsetting us (I hoped I was speaking for her, too), he got better.

My purpose in writing this is because I know there are so many more stepmothers like me out there: stepmothers whose major obstacle in their journey isn’t their relationship with their stepchildren, but instead dealing with the biological mother of those stepchildren.

While it is still a long road ahead of us, the important thing, to me, is that she has a relationship with the boys again. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to scream, but I keep reminding myself to breathe and let it go.

Maybe someday she will, too.

© 2012 Jennifer Shepherd    All Rights Reserved
(photo credit:FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Jennifer Shepherd is a lifelong Midwesterner, though if asked she can’t say how this happened.  She has a great son, two amazing stepsons and an awesome husband. She loves to read, write, and laugh at everyday craziness. She also likes to laugh at pretty much everything else. She got married in 2010, got cancer the same year, beat it the next year, and finally got her bachelor’s degree the year after that. Master’s in progress!

What moms should tell their daughters about their stepmoms

Q: Mary from Vermont asks: What, if anything, should I tell my 12 year old daughter about her new stepmom?

A: The best thing Mary could do for her daughter is give her permission to like and love her stepmom.

Children, especially girls, often take on the feelings of their moms in regards to the other parent remarrying. If mom isn’t happy about it, the daughter will often mimic that emotion, causing conflict in the new stepfamily and inner turmoil for the child.

To quote Wednesday Martin, author of Stepmonster,  “The best thing a mom can do post-divorce when her ex-partner repartners is to explicitly release her kids from their loyalty binds by saying, “I’m a grown up. It won’t hurt my feelings if you’re friendly with Suzie. I hope you will give her a chance.” It takes a lot to say this many times, but the payoff is kids of any age who don’t feel torn down the middle.”

© 2012 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

(Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net)

Everyday Voices: Freakonomics – Nannies and Stepmoms: One and the Same?

It was a hard day for me when I had to let my nanny go (I know, Veuve Clicquot problems!).  My daughter, Zemrie was turning four and heading to preschool.  I also have a fabulous stepson, Zac who is nine.  Julie has been a life saver, assisting our family since my daughter was born.  She has even watched and played games with Zac, the Zman, on a few occasions.

I was busy doing some work, housecleaning, planning, etc… and as Julie left one day, I said nonchalantly, “Well, you know the little lady is heading to school, so we will be seeing a lot less of you in a couple months.” I gave a little pouty-lip frown and head tilt, then as I went onto writing the grocery list, I looked up and noticed her crying.  I thought, dear God woman, I am not sending you back to Honduras!  We live in LA, you will find a new job in a week!  My other thought was that of guilt…I will get online and put my attanae out and help her with a new gig.

Man, was I so off with my thinking.

She looked up with watery eyes and spilled, “I will miss Zemrie so much, I have been with your family for four years.”  I stopped in my tracks, what??  This isn’t about a job or cash flow??  You love children that are not yours??

She continued on as I stood there dumfounded.  “This is the hardest part of this job.  Leaving the kids I love, teach and adore.”  My chin started to quiver… I hadn’t felt a tear over something like this in so long… I thought this was a duty for her… an obligation.

Duty and obligation?  Sounds so familiar to me.  Most people believe stepmoms are parents out of obligation…something you must do, based on the situation, which is only part of it.

I stood there and looked at Julie and thought to myself, I feel a connection and empathy (or is it sympathy…I always forget).  If anything happens to my husband or we decide to separate, I will also be “let go” from Zac’s life, a boy I have been raising since he was four…most courts would make you really fight for even slight visitation and most likely there would be none…and would fade overtime.  No biological connection is really a doozie, but it doesn’t make the love any less, as I also realize even with Julie.

I began to watch Julie while she was with my daughter, something I have never done through her eyes… only mine… judging, making sure she was teaching correctly, giving my daughter the utmost attention and the right amount of hugs and guidance…something that I am sure most do when watching stepmoms, including our spouses, in-laws, friends, biomoms, teachers and complete strangers.

I noticed so many things Julie did that I never knew before… the truly selfless behaviors, everyday, many hours of the day… she certainly did not get the payment, monetary or other-wise that she deserves.  It’s priceless to find a gem like that.

My negativity started coming out again… will she pull away?  Will she become flaky?  Ugh, I want to slap myself, but I just put on some really good face cream I ordered from Ole Henriksen….

None of that happened over her last months.  It seemed like she was even more attentive and caring, because it was genuine.  Hand me the tissues and waterproof mascara!

I talked to another mother who works with Julie and she told me she had a waitlist for her services!  People that lived closer to her than I do and would even pay her more than what I was paying.  I couldn’t believe this.  She loved our family and chose the less desirable route for her…a difficult choice to say the least.  Something most of us stepmoms can certainly relate to…not that I would even put myself on the pedestal I now put our Julie on…she makes me want to have another baby so she can come back!

Then I come to my senses… hell no, I’m not that crazy, pass me the Malbec and I will just sit back and remember how lucky I am to know someone else who loves children that she shares no dna with… we were a lot more similar than I ever thought we would be.

Cheers to you and people like you Julie!  You make me know the term ‘biological’ is truly just a technical one.  Visit anytime, it’s a court order!

(photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

© 2012 Sara Stanley   All Rights Reserved

Sara Stanley is a biomom, stepmom, stepdaughter and an audacious stand up comedian and writer who has been featured on The Style Network and E! Entertainment Television.  She has also written copy for National Campaign ads.  Sara is a business woman and telecommutes from home for a successful finance company as well (gotta pay the bills!)  info@sarastanley.com

 

Our Family Wizard – Intrusive, Harassing Communications – Be Gone!

Does your partner have a contentious relationship with his ex? Does she call, email or text him multiple times a day for seemingly unimportant issues? Perhaps to rehash an old argument or let him know about a movie she saw that reminded her of him? Or maybe she’s addicted to criticizing and/or blaming him for her unhappiness?

Well, I’m here to tell you about a wonderful tool that might just put an end to (or at least lessen) the intrusive, harassing communications.

Our Family Wizard is a third-party website for divorced parents in high-conflict situations. It’s a place where all communications can occur. Everything is time-stamped and recorded for use in court should the need arise. As their website states, No more “he said, she said.”

Forty-four states have actually court ordered its use among co-parents as a way to diffuse the aggressive communications between co-parents in hopes of  keeping the children out of the middle.

When the other parent sends a new message or does anything else on the site, the other parent gets notified. The parents can choose their method and frequency of notifications, preventing your dinner and other family activities from constantly being interrupted.

There is also a shared calendar, expense reports, private journaling tool and family resource center. Everything that co-parents need is right there in one place.

Of course this may not stop every parent from sending harassing messages – but at least now they’re readily accessible, with a nice little “print” function, to present in court if need be. In fact, the courts can actually log in and see everything for themselves. Very cool. 

The website does a much better job than I do at describing in detail all the features it offers. So do your family a favor and check it out!

Note for stepparents: There’s a “third party” feature for stepparents, grandparents, etc… It’s pretty limited as far as the options available, but you can sign in and see the shared calendar and receive messages. Unfortunately, you can’t add events to the calendar.  I’ve already contacted OFW about adding that function for stepparents, seeing as (especially stepmoms) we do most of the scheduling. 🙂

© 2012 Jenna Korf   All Rights Reserved

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Acknowledging Loss and Embracing Your Life As a Stepmom

Embracing stepmom roleAlthough being a stepmom can be awesome, you’ve probably experienced some losses along the way. And although the losses are a result of your choice to be with the man you love, that doesn’t make them any less valid or painful.

Most losses need to be mourned in order to properly move on from them, so they don’t keep creeping up causing you emotional distress and inner conflict.

People often associate the act of mourning with extreme tragedy, like the loss of a loved one. But there are many other situations where grief is appropriate and mourning is necessary.

Let’s be honest, no eight year old plays dress up pretending to be a stepmom. Our life is not what we expected it to be. And often there is something getting in our way of completely embracing this life we’ve chosen.

Some losses that stepmoms may initially experience are:

  • Inability to have your own children if your husband has had a vasectomy or if finances for his children make it impossible
  • Experience of “firsts” with your husband – marriage, children, buying a house, etc…
  •  The phase of falling in love and the growing of a relationship without interference from anyone (ex-wife and kids)
  • Control over every aspect of your life

Losses along the way may include:

  • Having a healthy relationship with your stepchild’s mom
  • Having a mutual, loving relationship with your stepchildren
  • The planned future or your children’s future due to financial obligations of your husband to his children and/or ex-wife
  • A child-free future
  • Being stuck geographically

It’s difficult to move forward into the present if you’re still holding onto the past. You’re always going to be resisting what IS at the same time you’re trying to move forward; like trying to walk into the ocean against 12-foot waves.

Mourning your loss, whatever it may be, gives you a chance to look honestly at your thoughts and feelings about the situation. You must move into the pain (as uncomfortable as it is) in order to move through it and come out the other side.

Once you shine a light on something, it’s not nearly as scary as what’s lurking in the dark. 

My Mourning…

For me, the loss I needed to mourn was the future I had always pictured for myself, which didn’t include kids.

I never wanted my own children. It was just something that never appealed to me. I loved my “me” time. I always envisioned my future traveling with my husband, wherever and whenever we wanted. My life, my dreams, goals and plans never involved kids.

But once I met my husband all that went out the window. I was trying to embrace this new lifestyle I had chosen and couldn’t figure out why I was having so much trouble adjusting.

With my husband’s encouragement, I attended a personal retreat to recharge. After a few days of being alone and contemplating my situation, it hit me.

I was still holding onto my dream of a childless future even though there was no possibility of it. I was subconsciously resisting what my life had become.

All those plans and dreams needed to be put to rest and replaced with new ones, but that couldn’t happen until I acknowledged that I was still holding on to them.  In that moment of realization, the flood gates opened, and all this pent up emotion came spilling out.

But I didn’t just have to acknowledge my grief in order to let it go, I needed to mourn the loss. I had to face what giving up that future meant to me. A lifelong collection of plans and dreams gone. I had to face, head on, all the painful emotions that I was feeling as a result of the choice I made to be with my husband.

After I experienced the grieving process, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my chest, that I didn’t even know was there. I was healing. And with it came a new excitement.

I was finally able to look at my new future and be excited about the possibilities it brought. 

That was the turning point for me in my stepfamily. That’s when I started to relax around the kids and actually enjoy them. And they in turn did the same.

How to Mourn

Mourning takes different shapes. It is a very personal and individual process and there’s no set timetable for it. Some ways to mourn include: journaling about your losses and the emotions you’re experiencing, joining a support group, turning to your spirituality or religion, etc…

After you’ve gotten really clear on what you’re mourning and have felt all the feelings that come up, it’s time to start looking ahead. It’s time to start looking at the potential in your future; who you might become, the strengths you might gain, what you might learn, and most importantly, the whole reason you’re here in the first place – your hopes and vision for your relationship with your partner.

Even though the process is painful, it’s also cathartic. The outcome is a healed part of yourself and the ability to fully embrace what IS instead of being stuck in the “what is NOT.”

Also, don’t let anyone tell you what is okay to feel grief about and what is not. Your pain and what you perceive as a loss is not up for discussion or judgement. Whatever you feel is valid.

What have your experiences been in regards to loss? Are you holding on to something that’s preventing you from embracing your life?

© 2012 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

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Share Your Stepmom Challenges and Solutions

There are so many elements to being a stepmom. Some wonderful and some worthy of being put in a box never to be seen again.

Still, many stepmoms have managed to overcome that initial “Oh my God what was I thinking…” phase and move into the “Okay, I’ve got this. It’s not so bad after all” phase.

I can sit here and preach all day long about how to get that peaceful place, but I’d like to hear from some of you.

 

  • How did you overcome your stepmom challenges?
  • What was the moment that changed things for you?
  • Was there a moment? Or more like a series of moments?
  • What is your outlook on stepmom-dom now?

And to those who are still in the “Crap, this sucks” phase, what are you struggling with most? What do you think needs to happen in order to find your peace?

When we share our stories, others learn and are comforted by them.

Sending appreciation to everyone in advance!

© 2012 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

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(photo credit:FreePhotos.net)

Dealing With a Difficult Ex-Wife

Within many stepmom communities, divorced moms have earned a pretty bad reputation, and it’s easy to see why. There are many reasons why perfectly sane, intelligent, otherwise-normal women act not-so-normal when their ex-husbands remarry.

Stepmoms can save themselves a lot of stress and angst by understanding a few basic truths and some sound coping strategies.

So, here are five things that will help you cope with a less-than welcoming ex-wife.

1. Don’t expect appreciation from her.

You deserve to be acknowledged, but being deserving isn’t enough. In mom’s mind, she didn’t sign up to co-parent with you, and she and her ex were doing just fine before you came along.

If you stop expecting a “thank you” that might never come, you’ll stop being disappointed. Let that expectation go, and if she happens to come around one day you’ll have reason to celebrate!

Who you should be receiving appreciation from is your husband. If he’s lacking in that department, give him a little reminder that it would be nice to be recognized for all you do.

2. Let go of wishing she would do things the way you do.

It’s so easy to judge another’s parenting. Realize that she is not you. She doesn’t see life through the same filter as you. She probably has different values than you, and our values guide most of our decisions.

Is she making decisions that put her child in immediate danger? Will her choices assure your stepchild a life of crime? If so, then your husband needs to kick it into high gear, but if not, try to let go of your judgments. They’re a waste of time and the only person they hurt is you.

3. Recognize the need for boundaries.

Does she seem to CC you on every nasty email to your husband? Or perhaps you’re the lucky recipient of her anger. A wonderful boundary to set in regard to email is setting up a rule.

On most email servers, you can set a rule that says, “If from ___ then send to ___.” That way, her email goes directly into a designated folder for later use in court or the trash—whichever you see fit. Or better yet, just block her completely.

Either way, it saves you from being harassed or affected by her negative words. And what you don’t know won’t hurt you.

4. Remember that she’s your husband’s ex, not yours, and it’s his job to deal with her.

I don’t know why we stepmoms feel the need to have our hand in everything, but the smartest and sanest thing you can do is let your husband be the one to communicate with her.

This might seem harsh, and you might feel guilty because he’d rather not talk to her either, but it was his decision to marry her, or at least procreate with her, so she’s his to deal with.

Stepping away from her drama will leave you in a more peaceful state and better able to support your husband.

5. Don’t take it personally.

Unless you were intentionally nasty and cruel to her, please stop beating yourself up, wondering what you did to make her hate you.

And while you’re at it, please stop trying to be overly nice to her while she continues to show you she has no interest in forging a relationship with you. There are probably a million emotions she hasn’t processed or isn’t capable of working through and she just might not be able to accept you.

It’s OK to stop trying to get somewhere with her. On the upside, she doesn’t have to accept you! Her acceptance or lack of has nothing to do with your value as a person or a stepmom.

Her opinion of you doesn’t dictate your worth.

Let go of trying to please her and focus on what really matters— you, your marriage and your family.

(As previously published in the October 2011 issue of Sm Magazine)

© 2011 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

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Put Down Your Good Intentions and Step Away From the Ex-Wife

 

step away from ex-wife

 

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We often talk about stepmoms overdoing it and needing to step back from all their responsibilities; needing to take a break from taking care of everything and everyone.

But sometimes it’s not the stepchildren they need to back off from.

Sometimes it’s the ex-wife.

Stepmoms usually start out innocently communicating with mom around things like schedules and logistics. If that goes well, she starts thinking “Great, mom is receptive to me. She’s accepting of me.”

She then takes mom’s receptiveness as an invitation to move into position and start taking the reigns around other aspects of co-parenting.

She also starts to think she can heal the relationship between her husband and his ex. Oops…

What starts out with good intentions on the stepmom’s part, often turns into an ugly power struggle or war between mom and stepmom.

Before she knows it, she’s crossed a boundary she couldn’t see and mom is up in arms accusing her of overstepping and trying to take over.  (Cue the barrage of nasty text messages from mom)

The stepmom is often an easy scapegoat. We’re the new kid on the block (even if we’ve been around for years). And it’s so much easier to point the finger at someone else and tell them what they’re doing wrong, than trying to see how their presence could benefit the family and wanting to find solutions.

Stepmoms, when you start getting frustrated about this, remember these four words: YOU CAN’T FIX IT.

It was broken long before you showed up.  And as much as you might love your husband and want to make things better for him, you can only do that in your household. When it comes to his ex, it’s HIS job to handle her.

There are some moms who do communicate better with their child’s stepmom and choose to deal with her rather than her ex. For those of you who can make that work, I commend you!

But for all the others…

Your husband has a choice. He either chooses to lay down some ground rules with her or he chooses to continue letting the dynamic be as it is.

Either way it’s his choice.

So what do you get for  “getting out of the way”? You get to improve your marriage. What your husband wants is to feel supported by you. By letting him deal with his ex and NOT harassing him about his decisions, or hers, you allow the space to simply support him.

And you get to go about your business focusing on all the things that bring you joy, knowing that whatever stress she brings, you’re more protected from it than you would be if you were right in the line of fire.

This will be a challenge for those of you who define yourselves as control freaks. You might feel like bursting at the seam every time something happens, but eventually you learn to enjoy not having the pressure of needing to know every gory detail of the interaction.

And you might need to fake it ’till you make it. Put notes around the house reminding you to bite your tongue.

Your husband is a big boy, let him handle things in his own way (which I guarantee will be different than the way YOU would handle them).

If it’s something that affects you, then have that conversation with him. Otherwise, learn to let go.

You’re making room for more peace in your life and at the same time showing your husband “ I trust you, I believe in you.” And more than anything, that’s what our husbands want to feel from us.

So stepmoms, do your best to remove yourself from fights that aren’t yours.

Your marriage will thank you for it!

© 2012 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

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10 Best Things About Being a Stepmom

 

Stepmom celebratingThere are probably 100 reasons why the most common words out of a stepmom’s mouth are “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

But why focus on the negative?

Here’s a countdown of the top 10 BEST things about being a stepmom!

10. You get to have kids AND keep your kickin’ body. No stretch marks or saggy boobs here!

9. You get to deflect blame. When you’re out with your stepchildren and they decide to throw a loud, embarrassing fit, you can stare back at the crowd and with a clear conscience say “Oh, they’re not mine.”

8. You get to have “behind-the-scenes” influence. You get to co-parent with your husband behind closed doors, then sit back while he dishes out the discipline. What evil stepmom?

7. You’re growing as a person. Anytime you’re faced with something challenging, you can’t help but learn and grow from it. What have you learned? How have you grown?

6. You get to watch your husband be in awe of his offspring. One of the sweetest things is to see the man you love fill with pride over his children. You get to sit back and listen intently while he shares his thoughts, hopes and plans for their future.

5. You can go from outsider to instant insider. There comes a time when you go from being a stranger to being part of the family. This can show up in a million different ways. It could be with a first hug, or when the kids finally decide to talk to you, or when you walk in the door and your stepson yells “Hurry up! Look what I made in school today!”

It’s an inclusion that wasn’t there the day before, and there’s nothing quite like it.

4. You’re not their parent. Instead, you’re a safe place for them to open up about things they might not want to share with their parents. This could be good or it could be bad, but either way it lets you know you’re special to them.

3. You can heal a family. Sometimes it takes an outsider to break the pattern of the family drama. You can provide your husband and your stepchildren with a new way of being that they otherwise might not have experienced.

This also gives the kids an opportunity to witness what a healthy, adult relationship looks like.  And with that vision, when they grow up, maybe they’ll seek out nurturing relationships, where the dynamic is supportive and reciprocal, instead of what they might have witnessed when their parents were together.

2. You get to walk away. When the kids are throwing attitude, acting ungrateful or just plain mean, you have the option of walking away. When YOU’RE the one with the bad day and can’t bear to be surrounded by kids, you get to take a time out.

Many stepmoms don’t take advantage of this option for fear of appearing “separate” from their stepfamily, or because they feel too much guilt. They end up burnt out because they don’t remove themselves when they desperately need to.

But the fact remains, as a stepmom, you can tell your husband it’s all on him and you’re taking the night off! I suggest every stepmom exercise this option at least once every two weeks.

And the number one best thing about being a stepmom is…

1. You’re loved for just being YOU. You have an opportunity to be loved by the kids, simply for who you are, not because you gave birth to them. Now how freakin’ cool is that?

Did I miss one? Feel free to share!

© 2011 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved