Holidays can be tough, especially this year, it seems. Money is tight, unemployment is up and the country is in political turmoil. The kids are due to visit, and you’re torn between looking forward to it and dreading potential schedule changes and drama with their mom
Hindsight is 20/20. If there is one thing I wish I could have foreseen when I met my husband, it’s the difficulties I would encounter with his ex-wife. Before she had even met me, it seemed her mind was made up. I was the devil—at least on the days she was willing to acknowledge my existence.
It’s back-to-school time, just the right time to cover a theme very common in many stepfamilies. So many stepmoms struggle with a home that feels chaotic and where kids have no chores, don’t follow basic rules or have otherwise unacceptable behavior. Too often the dads have not participated in organizing and setting up rules of the home, so things are unstructured and kids are not cooperative. If a stepmom takes over the role of disciplinarian without the support of the dad, she’s headed for that “wicked” label.
The conundrums of the divorced father who remarries or repartners are many, but in emotional terms they can be summarized pretty simply: guilt and fear.
Divorced dads who repartner often tell me of feeling guilty that their kids experienced a divorce (regardless of who initiated it); guilty that they repartnered and “shook up the kids’ world again” (we’ll parse that misperception later); guilty that their kids “have to shuttle back and forth between two houses”; and guilty that their kids ever have to experience any unhappiness from the breakup of their parents.
A lot according to Wednesday Martin, Ph.D. and author of “Stepmonster”. Martin explained in the March 2011 issue of StepMom Magazine that stepmoms with the following circumstances typically report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction.
You hear it all the time from stepfamily experts, parenting blogs and marriage therapists: “Put your relationship first.” But how?
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily drama that plagues many stepfamilies. Talk between couples can tend to center around problems with the ex, discipline issues involving the children, money woes and legal strife. When these topics become the center of discussion for too long, couples can easily become consumed and lose sight of the reasons they came together in the first place.
You’re a woman. And there is a vast body of research stretching back to the early 1970s which suggests women are more “relational” than men. That means we derive not only satisfaction and self-esteem, but also our very sense of self, from being in successful, reciprocal relationships with others.
The feelings that come with stepmotherhood are so taboo that sometimes we don’t even talk about them amongst ourselves. It’s time to come clean! Once you know that many of your emotional reactions are a normal part of stepfamily development and that you’re not crazy, life is much better:
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