New Stepmom Circles Podcast: Does Stepmothering Get Easier?

15 07 2010

A new Stepmom Circles Podcast is available! Tune in to hear my discussion with Dr. Ann Orchard about what happens over time in the lives of stepmothers. Does stepfamily life get easier? What happens when the kids leave home or there is a wedding or the birth of a grandchild?

Dr. Ann Orchard is a licensed psychologist who runs stepmother support groups in Edina, Minnesota. I joined one of her support groups before I married my husband. It was a life raft in a chaotic time and I have continued to benefit from her wisdom over the years. Don’t miss this one!

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How Do I Listen? Click on the links to the show above or visit HERE for all of the Stepmom Circles shows.





Stepmothers: Will This Ever Get Better?

8 07 2010

A few weeks ago I was working with a stepmother at the end of her rope who asked me a question most of us have contemplated at one time or another: Will this ever get better?

“You’re not going to like my answer,” I said.

“Because it’s never going to get better, right?” she asked.

“Your life is going to get better the minute you decide it’s going to be better.”

It’s true that there are things about our lives we can’t control. And that sucks. It is true that often we are unappreciated, overextended, with no authority and no rights. It is true that we have husbands who get defensive and don’t understand why we can’t just relax and let it go. It is true that we have stepchildren who reject us and ex wives who makes our lives hell.

BUT.

We have more power than we think to change the dynamics in our homes. The brilliant Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting, says that you can change a relationship by changing how you react to the same old patterns. Harriet Lerner, the author of The Dance of Anger says that anger is a dance with two or more players. If you pull out of the dance, the rhythm changes.

This stepmother came back a week later to report she’d had a major breakthrough. Instead of reacting to the same old fights in the same old ways, she experimented with changing her behavior. Within a week, her stepchildren and her husband had changed they way they acted toward her.

Will this change take work to maintain? Yes. Will they take two steps back, one step forward? Yes. But this stepmother learned a powerful lesson we can all take to heart. Even though we often feel invisible and like we’re outsiders or strangers in our own home, we can empower ourselves. We can change the level of positivity and negativity in our homes by the way we act or react.

Today I want to ask you a few questions: What is your part of the dance? What are you doing to fuel whatever is happening in your home? If you reacted in a new way what would happen?

For example: If you are enraged at a stepchild for leaving dirty dishes under his bed and scream at him and get in a fight with your husband or stew for weeks about it, who does this hurt? What if you closed the door to his room and let him deal with the rotting, nasty odors himself? That would allow him to suffer the natural consequences for his actions and BONUS: You don’t have a heart attack from stress and your marriage is not harmed because you get in a fight about the bad job you think your husband is doing as a parent.

Will your stepfamily life ever get better? I can’t answer that question for you. You’re the only one who can.