New Podcast: Stepfamily Law

26 08 2009

stepmomcircles3Gals: Listen to this episode of  Stepmom Circles, my free podcast for this week’s interview. I talked with stepfamily law expert Margaret M. Mahoney! She is a lawyer, a professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, and the author of the ONLY book about stepfamily law that I’ve been able to find, Stepfamilies and the Law. The book was published in 1994, but sadly not very much has changed since then. Click on the book link to see the entire book online or order a copy of it if you’re looking to do more research.

Join the Stepmom Circles group on FaceBook to discuss the show!

Click the above link to listen to this episode or visit HERE to browse all the Stepmom Circles episodes.

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You’re a Stepmother? For Shame!!!

20 08 2009

Okay, so there’s another part of this whole library card story I want to discuss admit. When the librarian refused my stepchildren library cards I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I felt that by marrying their father I had done something terribly wrong in the eyes of the world. I turned tail with my stepchildren and left without saying another word to this woman. I might as well have said: “You’re right, I shouldn’t be here. What was I thinking?”

My fierce-warrior-stepmother-advocate self didn’t show up until the middle of the night when I woke up fuming.

I’m going to repeat this: My first response was embarrassment and shame.

No wonder we lie about or omit the fact that we’re in stepfamilies in public. No wonder stepmothers are harmed in therapy.
No wonder stepmothers feel uncomfortable on the soccer field or at school conferences.
No wonder stepmothers feel less-than, last place, and left out.

The mistreatment of stepfamilies is so prevalent in our society that we internalize it.

There is no shame in helping to raise children who are not your own. I am a stepmother. At the VERY LEAST, I need to give myself a break. Shame? Screw that. I don’t know about you, ladies, but I’ve had it with feeling like what I have done for this family is something to be embarrassed about.

So I think we need some chants. Are you with me? Just like “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” is chanted at gay pride parades, we need a chant for stepfamilies, stepmothers, stepfathers, stepkids, and remarried parents. It’s got to be something that demands that stepfamily members are not ostrisized by society. 

So how about it ladies? Put your creative thinking caps on and send me some good chants! Next thing you know we’ll be planning a rally on Washington, D.C.





New Podcast with Brenda Ockun, Founder of Stepmom Magazine

20 08 2009

stepmomcircles3Check out the new episode of my free radio show Stepmom Circles Podcast. I interview Brenda Ockun, a stepmom of two and the creator of the online resource Stepmom Magazine. Tune in for advice and stories from two veteran stepmothers who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is!

Join the Stepmom Circles group on FaceBook to discuss the show.

Click the above link to listen to this episode or visit HERE to browse all the Stepmom Circles shows.





Legal Status of Stepparents

20 08 2009

Stepfamily law in America is a big hot mess. If you are confused about your legal status as a stepparent, don’t feel bad because everyone is confused. When I started doing research last week about what the laws are in Minnesota, I wasn’t suprised to find that as I stepparent I am liable for the kids while they are in my care but I have no rights. 

To find out more about the law in America, I’m interviewing stepfamily law expert Margaret M. Mahoney, professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, and the author of Stepfamilies and the Law for my Becoming a Stepmom podcast radio show. If you have questions you want me to ask Ms. Mahoney, comment on this post and I’ll try to fit them into our interview!





A Happy Report

8 08 2009

Ladies:

I’m happy to tell everyone that the library card fiasco has a happy ending! After my three stepchildren were denied library cards by a librarian who said I couldn’t sign them up for cards because as their stepmother I wasn’t a legal guardian, I emailed an irate letter to the county library administration offices. The director of the entire library system emailed me back to say he would do some research to discover what had happened because as a stepparent himself, he was appalled at our experience.

This is part of the letter he sent me yesterday:

“Do we want to preclude step-parents from assisting kids in their care to get a library card? The answer is a clear “no”. Just to clarify that intent, at our next re-printing, we will revise our registration form to add “step-parent” to the “parent/guardian” line. We will also cover the topic next week at a circulation team meeting so supervisors are aware of our intent in this area.”

Yay!!!! I will be doing more research on the topic of legal guardianship, power of attorney, and medical power of attorney and will post more on this soon.  I’m also writing an article for Stepmom Magazine that will run in the September issue. In the meantime, I wanted to share a couple more thoughts on this.

I could have lied. A lot of stepparents I heard from after my original post said they either just didn’t bring up that they were a stepparent in similar situations, or lied outright when asked because it was just easier. If I had lied, the kids would have their cards and the librarian would never have exploded this issue. I have certainly allowed people to assume I’m the mother to make our lives easier. But now the staff of the whole county system are going to be trained in how to deal with stepfamilies. They are reprinting the library card application form to include stepparents!

I know that legal guardianship is a complicated issue. Ostracizing stepfamilies, however, is not complicated. It is very simple. It shouldn’t happen. Yet stepfamilies feel like outsiders all the time in churches and schools on sports teams and in our neighborhoods. Enough already!





An Outraged Rant: Legal Guardianship

5 08 2009

The ostracizing of the American stepfamily continues.

As you might know already, stepparents are not legally related to their stepchildren. Laws are different in every state, and there are a few exceptions but overall WE ARE NOT FAMILY IN THE EYES OF THE LAW. That means unless you have a legal guardianship document that is signed by BOTH PARENTS if they are still living and available, then you can’t take the kids to the hospital and okay an emergency medical procedure that could save their lives, pick them up from school, ask for a report card from school, or GET THEM A LIBRARY CARD.

Seriously.

Today I went to the Dakota County Library in Lakeville, Minn. Because I did not have proof of legal guardianship I was not allowed to help my stepkids get library cards.

I was told this by a librarian in front of all of the children. She might as well have said YOU ARE NOT A REAL FAMILY. And a once proud stepfamily walked a little less tall today. Even though I really wanted to tell her off I knew it wasn’t this librarian’s fault. It is a policy.

With stepfamilies and the people who are not married who are living with other people’s kids OUTNUMBERING first families in America, these outdated policies are completely ridiculous.

Certainly the ostracizing of American stepfamilies will continue if we hold our tongues about tough issues or don’t share with our communities and schools and governments that their policies are based on 1950s dream-land and not the reality of the lives of the people they serve.

Please, please, please, check into the laws about your legal relationships in your state. And if you don’t have a legal guardianship document signed, ask your partner to talk to his ex about getting one signed for you.  And get it done.  

I don’t have one. Not because we haven’t had the discussion about the need for one or that anyone disagrees to it, but because no one (read DH) has ever gotten around to getting the document, encouraging our other household to sign it, and signing it himself. 

I am absolutely outraged. A library card. Three children were turned out on the street today by our country’s library system because a devoted stepparent who helps pay for the house they live in and the food they eat, who listens to them talk about their problems at school or with friends, who provides daycare during the summer, does their laundry, gives them hugs, bandages them up when they fall down, and helps try to raise them to be successful adults was not allowed to get them a library card.

This must change. It’s time we stood up for ourselves not only with our stepfamily members but with society at large, don’t you think?

Has anyone else felt ostrasized because you’re in a stepfamily? By your church, school, neighbors, government, friends, family?





Meditations for Stepmoms

5 08 2009

Dear Stepmoms: Web_cover

The Meditations for Stepmoms 8-Part Audio Program plus ebook is available now!!!!

Meditations for Stepmoms
by Jacquelyn B. Fletcher

Add to Cart

Are you a stressed out stepmom?
Are you sick of the tension in your home?
Do you want more fulfilling relationships with your partner or stepchildren?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions Meditations for Stepmoms is for you! The guided meditations included in this audio program teach you how to visualize your ideal relationships and then turn your hopes into reality. Each meditation ends with a homework assignment so you can put what you’ve learned into action right away!

“Jacquelyn is a storehouse of knowledge on this subject. And better yet, she talks to you like a trusted friend who has been through it before, because she has.” -Lizz Sommars, host of Conversations with Lizz, KBSG-FM

 Here’s what is included:

Meditation #1: Vision of the Future

  • Reduce the tension in your home
  • Create your ideal relationships
  • Identify your big-picture goals

Meditation #2: Vision of the Gifts

  • Find inspiration to get through the tough times
  • Tap into your inner strength
  • Gather your sources of support

Meditation #3: Vision of  a Partner

  • Renew your bond to each other
  • Find ways to move forward as a strong and committed unit
  • Appreciate the special reasons you’re together

Meditation #4: Vision for Others

  • Discover your wishes for your stepchildren
  • Find strength in compassion
  • Build bonds with shared experiences

Meditation #5: Vision of Appreciation

  • Refuse to allow anger, resentment or hurt feelings to run your life
  • Learn how to give thanks to challenging people for teaching you valuable lessons
  • Find the gifts in any situation

Meditation #6: Vision of Empowerment

  • Increase your confidence
  • Stop second-guessing yourself
  • Give yourself the credit you deserve

Meditation #7: Vision of Wisdom  

  • Learn to trust your own instincts
  • Brainstorm ways to solve the problems in your home
  • Discover answers to your toughest questions

Meditation #8: Vision of Your Best Self

  • Imagine your best self and create opportunities to be that person
  • Find ways to enjoy yourself even in the midst of challenging situations
  • Commit to taking care of yourself

What You Get

Meditations for Stepmoms Audio Program: Includes 8 downloadable MP3 audio recordings you can listen to on your iPod, MP3 player or computer.

  • Each meditation is set to beautiful music and is approximately 15 minutes in length
  • The guided meditations are led by award-winning author and former radio host Jacquelyn B. Fletcher

BONUS! Downloadable Meditations for Stepmoms eWorkbook!This 26-page eWorkbook includes:

  • Exercises that correspond to each meditation
  • Brainstorming tools to help you creatively solve stepfamily problems
  • Questions to inspire important conversations with your partner

All downloads are available immediately after your payment is processed!

Get all 8 Audio Downloads PLUS Bonus eBook for just $14.95

Add to Cart

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED: If you are not satisfied with your purchase, for any reason, contact me within 14 days for a FULL REFUND. Listen to the entire first meditation for FREE here.