A reminder: I am co-conducing a workshop with Dr. Rachelle Katz, author of The Happy Stepmother (no, it's not an oxymoron!) If you are a woman in parntership with a man with kids of any age; a divorced dad; a couple in a remarriage with children; a mental health professional who wants to learn more about the dynamics of remarriage or repartnership with children — join us this Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 pm. Details here...hope to see you!
Maybe what you want for the holidays is some understanding! I wrote a piece for StepMom Magazine that is currently on their sample articles page. Have a look...and you may just want to get yourself a subscription to the online magazine as a holiday gift.
I recently wrote an article about Stepmothers and being disliked (look for it in the September Issue of StepMom Magazine). Tolerating that others may dislike us for reasons beyond our control, and in spite of our best efforts, is an important skill to develop.
There's been a lot of talk in the media recently about the "science" of a healthy, happy marriage. Based on the last decade of research, experts have identified some factors that put a marriage at risk for divorce. Have a look at my latest post for psychologytoday.com on the topic...and tell me about it: Have you ever considered divorce in your remarriage/repartnership with children? What changed your mind?
Jacque Fletcher, author of the important and supremely helpful book Becoming a Stepmom and www.becomingastepmom.com, invited me to discuss "Stepmartyr Syndrome" with her several weeks ago for her terrific weekly podcast series. Here's the show. Have a listen and then tell me about it: Have you ever done so much for your husband's kids or your husband and his kids that you started to resent it? What were you doing? How did you change it. Are YOU a stepmartyr?
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!
"How can I decrease my sense of resentment when it comes to my partner's kids?" you readers keep writing and asking. Or, how to "witness that a stepchild has problems — whether it's that he or she doesn't try in school, is spoiled by mom and dad, is entitled or irresponsible, hasn't developed key and age-appropriate life skills, or acts out in any number of ways — rather than experience it viscerally" and be torn apart by it?
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.
Over the months, many of you have written me about your concerns as women with stepchildren. I'd like to list and address the top ten — so I need your help. What's on your list of top concerns? Here are some ideas from all of you so far (not in any order)...