Ah, that hot, vexed topic: money. Divvying it up can be tricky in any partnership. Now throw in some kids from a previous marriage, and it becomes more complicated still. Merged? Partially merged? Totally separate bank accounts? Peggy Nolan and Erin Erickson tackle this topic with their guest Kat Nelson-Reid, a stepmom and financial planner, on tonight's Stepmom's Toolbox Radio Show at 8 pm EST. To tune in, click on this link:
Sure, it's a long holiday weekend. BBQs, fireworks...and for some of us in stepfamilies, stress. "Coming together" can be fraught when it's a yours, mine, and ours situation as in a remarriage or repartnership with kids. That's why Susan Swanson's Monday July 5 radio show is so timely. Check out the list of upcoming shows too. Susan is the founder of the Stepfamily Center of Los Angeles, a gifted and experienced therapist — and has walked the stepmother walk!
Like a lot of books for and about stepmothers, books for fathers and books about fatherhood can be a little...trite. And Hallmark card-ish. Or lite. They're either "funny" or "self-help-y." Which is fine, if that's what you want. But if you want a really comprehensive, comparative look at fatherhood, if you want answers to the questions, "What happens to men when they have kids? How does it actually affect them?" you will love a book called Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior. Don't be put off by the wonky title. Yes, it's wonky, but this book is also accessible, fun, and fascinating.
Today I'm running a special guest post by Mary Kelly-Williams, MA, a therapist and stepmother in Boulder, CO about boundaries. You need them if you're a woman with stepkids, but sometimes it's hard to know how to maintain them, how to assert them, for fear of being disliked or perceived as wicked. Here's Mary on how and why it's important to have your boundaries in the stepfamily, and protect them. Otherwise, you'll likely find yourself exhausted, depleted, and resentful. Have a read...and leave a comment!
When I asked about your top concerns as a woman with stepchildren, this one came up again and again: a partner's ex who is angry, undermining, and intrusive. Bottom line: this behavior indicates first and foremost that she is unreconciled to her ex-husband's repartnership. And you are a convenient target for her wrath. Now what?
As a follow-up to Kela Price's recent guest post about how to find a therapist to help you and your remarriage/partnership with stepkids, a couple of other things that might interest you as we wend our way toward Top Stepmother Concern #3 in the next few days.
As we're addressing the concerns of you, women with stepchildren, a reality is taking shape. Namely, many of you could benefit from counseling. Either couples work or individual work, but something. But as stepfamily researcher, social psychologist and stepmother Elizabeth Church, Ph.D. notes in her book Understanding Stepmothers, it's possible that a therapist treating a couple in a repartnership with kids will do more harm than good. Church details that many of her patients came to her after being treated by therapists with no training, familiarity, or real experience helping remarried couples with kids. The results were unfortunate: therapists telling women to "treat stepkids just like they're you're own" and otherwise importing a first-family model to address stepfamily or stepcouple reality. Since stepfamilies are different, that doesn't work. These couples understandably became frustrated, discouraged, even hopeless before finding real help.
Marty Babits is a friend, colleague, and truly gifted therapist who does individual and couples work. His book The Middle Ground is one of the few out there that speaks not just to people in relationships, but those of us in remarriages or repartnerships with children as well.
Thanks to all of for your very moving comments/ letters to your partners' exes and for reading my guest post, "What your child's stepmom wants you to know about her life" on the No One's the Bitch web site.
I have a guest post on Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Carole Marine's No One's the Bitch Website today. As you know, I strongly feel that women don't need the additional pressure of "fixing it" with hubby's ex. Civility is often a difficult enough goal, and we need to be very careful about siphoning energy away from self-care and tending to our marriage, given how depleting stepmothering is, and how vulnerable remarriages with kids are to divorce. In the spirit of engineering the kind of civility that can make everyone's life easier, and in the hopes of fostering mutual understanding, here's my post.