A Revised Stepmom’s Bill of Rights

22 01 2010

My Dear Stepmamas:

WOW! My post about the Stepmom’s Bill of Rights generated a lively discussion! Many thanks for all of your thoughtful comments. It’s clear to me that, as I discovered while doing research for my book, there are a lot of brave families out there trying to do their best in frightfully difficult circumstances. BUT, there is still hope. As I have said all along, stepfamilies DO make it every single day. So I’d like to propose an alternate version of the Stepmom’s Bill of Rights because I believe that empowered, happy stepmothers mean happy stepfamilies. (And happy stepmothers are flexible stepmothers. Research tells us that the more flexible the members of a stepfamily are, the higher chance that family will stay together!)

A Revised Stepmom’s Bill of Rights

I will create a rock-solid marriage with my husband so we both feel confident in our commitment to each other and the family. I vow to always make fun together a priority.

I have the right to be on the parenting team with my husband but I realize that this takes time to develop.

I understand that stepfamilies are formed out of loss and that the people I’m living with are carrying wounds that will affect them forever.

I will congratulate myself every day on a job well done. Even on days when I’ve done or said things I’m not proud of, I will be gentle and kind with myself because I am a brave, courageous woman.

I will work to feel confident and worthy of love.

I will not look to my stepchildren for validation or self-worth.

I will protect my heart with healthy boundaries that help me to be a more loving and present wife, stepmother, and human being even if that means making difficult choices.

I will forgive my husband, the exes in our lives, my stepchildren, and myself for our human-ness.

I will try to understand what living in our home is like for every member of our family.

I will create a sanctuary for myself and make self-care a priority so I can recharge my batteries.

I will choose my battles.

I understand that control does not equal respect or love.

I realize that I don’t have any control over what the ex or the ex-in-laws or the kids think or do. The only person I have control over is me.

I will ask for what I need instead of making people guess what I need to prove their love for me.

I will find the gifts in being the outsider in a family that formed before I came along.

I will focus on building relationships instead of on who is right and who is wrong.

I will take breaks when I’m angry so I can be calm when I discuss issues that affect me but I have little control over.

I will hold on to the things that remind me of who I am.

I will plan things to look forward to with my husband and with my family.

I will remind myself often of the many reasons I decided to be with my husband.

I will choose hope.

I will choose love.

Much love to you all,

Jacque

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13 responses

22 01 2010
SteppedinTrouble

I love this. Thank you very much!

23 01 2010
Sarah

Thank you for this. I’ve been struggling for a while…and last weekend I stumbled on this and another site which have produced a lot of “a ha” moments for both my husband and I. The collective calm that has arrived is priceless.

23 01 2010
originalflowers

Beautiful!!!

24 01 2010
Sharilee

This is excellent!

24 01 2010
Carolyn (the grown up child)

This is really beautiful Jacque. It’s bursting with love!

25 01 2010
Peggy Nolan

Jacque – I love this! I hope every stepmom reads this and can take one or two of these points and make them their own until they can incorporate the entire list!

12 02 2010
thedivorceencouragist

This is great!

16 03 2010
michelle

I am currently new to being a stepmom at the age of 24, I dont have anyone to really talk to about my feelings, etc… Iv been searching around the internet, and reading books just looking for answers to my questions. This Post has made me feel so much releif and has made me hopeful. Iv been struggling lately, I never imagined how hard it would be to be a stepmom. Somedays, its rewarding, and others not so much. I have a wonderful man though who is my best friend, that supports me and works with me through ever difficult climb. Most of my problems are more the ex then my step children. They live with us full time, so we have alot of bonding time together. Thank you for this post………It makes me see where I can be different to avoid certain situtations….

11 07 2010
Cathy

I am a stepmom of about 9 years, and recently thinking how blessed I am to have really great step kids (one boy, one girl – both in college now). With this being said, I so struggle with their mom, my husband’s ex…Someone is always “the bad guy” in her world and I am the recent lucky recipient of that award. I understand where it comes from (her insecurities) however it doesnt make it any easier, especially when she shares out with the kids which just happened again recently. (Don’t you just love it when they also rant against you on Facebook? Oh yeah, that feels good.) Your post above and the “rights” was EXACTLY what I needed to reground myself. “Forgiving” is, for me, the hardest part, but I also know one of the most important ones for me and the kids. THANKS.

13 09 2010
stepmamadrama

I need to post these in my household as a reminder, this is so wonderful!

25 08 2011
mel

This is going to be printed, laminated and stuck on the fridge, shared on facebook and hopefully, read!

17 01 2012
instantmom

NO! This is not a bill of rights! This is statements that say what you will do – not rights to do…….and this is ridiculous:

“I understand that stepfamilies are formed out of loss and that the people I’m living with are carrying wounds that will affect them forever”

Most of us are all children of divorce! We are not victims and neither are these children or my husband. So wounds that could have been greater had the parents stayed together? In most cases, the split family homes are healthier and happier than they ever were before the divorce. The children are healthier and happier! I would hope to God that it doesn’t effect them forever, but helps them to grow and learn!

I have been a smom for 9 years and consider myself a very successful one. This is not what new stepmoms need to believe – Please remove your revision!

22 09 2012
Arianna

I love this. Thank you so much. Great Perspective!

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