Stepmom Circles Podcast: Role Ambiguity

4 02 2010

Tune in to my first Stepmom Circles Podcast of 2010 to hear a conversation I had with Claudette Chenevert of Coaching Steps about role ambiguity: one of the most challenging aspects of stepmothering. Because there are no known models for stepmotherhood–besides the wicked stereotype–we get to choose what kind of stepmother we will be. That’s a challenge and a gift! Listen to my free Stepmom Circles Podcast to hear what kinds of roles tend to work best for stepmoms. You can also check out my book A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom for some exercises that can help you identify what role you’re comfortable with. And in the March issue of Stepmom Magazine, Erin Erickson will have an article about this important topic so keep your eye out for that. Here’s to finding a role that fits you and your family perfectly!

How do I tune in? Click the link above for this episode or visit HERE to browse all the Stepmom Circles shows.


New Podcast: The Smart Stepmom AND a Contest for Free Books!

12 11 2009

stepmomcircles3Tune in the Stepmom Circles Podcast to listen to my conversation with Ron Deal and Laura Petherbridge, the authors of The Smart Stepmom, a wonderful christian-based resource for stepmothers that is filled with practical information that can help your stepfamily thrive. The book includes prayers for stepmoms as well as research-based strategies for new stepmoms. During our talk we discuss disengaged dads, how to deal with ex wives, and the realities of stepfamily life.

BONUS: Listen to this episde of my free Stepmom Circles Podcast for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Smart Stepmom. I’ll choose two winners from the people who comment here with the correct answers to the following questions. Hint: Listen to this episode to hear the answers!

Question #1: According to Ron and Laura what is one thing that makes a stepmom smart?

Question #2: Can you have a happy marriage even if your stepchildren hate you?

Question #3: What did Ron tell the woman whose boyfriend was doing things behind her back?

Good luck!

Free to Be Me

18 02 2009

Here’s an exercise designed to help you see what your comfort zone is, to help you figure out what kind of stepmother you want to be. Consider the statements as jumping-off points, and if something rings true for you, follow it and see where it leads.

  • I want the kids to be able to talk to me about their problems.
  • I don’t want to feel responsible for their daily lives: their schooling, discipline, friends, allowance, guidance, etc.
  • I want to be an active participant in their daily lives.
  • I am an affectionate person and I love it when they give me hugs and kisses.
  • I want to tuck them into bed and read them stories.
  • I am more comfortable remaining at a distance, like a teacher who gives guidance but does not get emotionally involved.
  • I do not need my stepchildren to give me emotional support.
  • I want my stepchildren to make me feel loved and included in this family.
  • I can tell them what to do, like pick up their socks or dirty dishes.
  • I want us to be respectful of each other.
  • I want to be the ringleader of fun.
  • I want to be a role model.
  • I want to feel like they’re my kids.
  • I want to be a mother.
  • I have never wanted to be a parent.
  • I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m willing to be open and accepting of my new experiences.
  • I’d like to be a warm and soothing influence on my stepchildren.
  • I want to be the “intimate outsider.”
  • I want to feel like I am a part of this family.

Figuring out your role within the stepfamily is a lifelong process. You, your husband, and the kids will negotiate it over time. You can create the role that fits for you and your family.

Excerpt from A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom

Another Award!

4 02 2009

bookcoverGirls, tonight I’ll be raising a glass of red wine to celebrate all of you! To those who shared your stories with me as I wrote and those who have read my book since, I’m beyond  thrilled to announce that A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom is a 2009 Gold Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award! Thank you to all of the brave stepfamilies I interviewed and to the generous experts who gave of their time and expertise. And to my own family. I love you guys!

How long will you be angry?

3 02 2009

stepfamily-letter-projectI’ve been struck lately by the letters we’ve received at the Stepfamily Letter Project. They are all beautiful letters, full of love, anger, hurt, alienation, and brutal honesty. And that was the goal for that website: to provide a place where all stepfamily members can have a voice. I’m proud of it. I’m glad it is doing some good. The feelings people are voicing there are real. They allow glimpses into what it’s like in blended families in the United States, England, and Australia. I knew there would be a lot of pain in the letters. I knew there would be anger. Still it makes me sad that people feel so alone within their families. It reminds me of the reason I wrote A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom in the first place, which I explain in this quote from the last chapter:

“The idea for this book had many wellsprings, one of which was an interview I conducted for a magazine article I was writing. I was chatting with a surgeon who ran her own practice. She had also been a stepmother of three for more than two decades. All the kids were grown, and she and her husband enjoyed each other’s company immensely. She told me she was known by all of her friends and colleagues as a success story. Her stepfamily looked like an episode of the Brady Bunch; it was all happy and smiles and good will.

I asked her a few more questions about her stepfamily’s dynamics – for instance, how she’d developed a good relationship with her three stepchildren, two boys and a girl, who were all teens when she moved in with them. I asked if her husband was a strong and present father who supported her. I asked about the relationship with his ex. Nothing seemed to upset her. When I asked a more direct question about her relationship with her stepdaughter, I hit a nerve, and this woman spewed forth a stream of venomous rage about her stepfamily life that she’d stored up for years. The resentment and anger and hurt just poured out of her like lava.

I’ve never written about her, and I’ve changed identifying characteristics in this telling of the story because this woman didn’t want anyone to know her secret: that even though she appeared to be a happy stepmom, underneath it all she still seethed with anger.

I spent several days after the interview thinking about this woman. She felt all the anger and fear and jealousy we all feel, but she’d stuffed it instead of dealing with it directly and letting it go. It reminded me of my dad’s advice he’d given me just after his divorce from my mother: “You don’t have to love your parents, you don’t even have to like them, but you must make peace with them. You can’t be 65 and still let your parents control your life because you’re pissed about what they did to you when you were 5.” I thought this advice, slightly retooled, could have been just as applicable to this woman’s situation as a stepmother.”

Please don’t get me wrong. There are days when I feel anger. There are certainly days when I feel hurt. And my great challenge is to let each new instance stand for itself instead of firing up all the old injustices into an avalanche of negativity. I don’t want anger and pain to be the feelings I’m constantly stuck with, rubbing me raw until I blow up or curl up and give in. You know what I mean?

So ask yourself this: How long will you allow yourself to be angry? What purpose does your pain serve? I am not trying to make light of our challenges, but there has to be a better way to live than being angry all the time. I’ve tried it. It’s exhausting. I would much rather focus my energies elsewhere. What about you?

Stepfamily Letter Project

13 01 2009

Ladies: I’ve teamed up with Erin on a fun website called the Stepfamily Letter Project and we need your input! Here’s a description from the site:

In the Fall of 2008, Erin  wrote an open-ended letter to her stepdaughter on her blog. The letter was filled with things Erin wished she could say to her 12-year-old stepdaughter but didn’t. From future hopes and dreams to the intricacies of teenage angst, the letter was one stepmom’s heartfelt approach to communicate with her stepdaughter without actually “communicating.”  The letter went on to capture the attention of other stepmoms across the Internet. 

One of those stepmoms, Jacque, had heard of The Mother Letter Project, a compilation of letters that a husband has been collecting his for wife as a Christmas present. 

The letters, written for mothers, could be about anything so long as it was addressed to a mom. At the same time, Jacque popped open her computer to begin her annual holiday letter to her family. Each year Jacque, her husband, and her three stepkids write a letter to each other that describes the previous year’s ups and downs and hopes for the upcoming year. Then they read them out loud to each other. It’s a tradition that Jacque’s dad and stepmom started when Jacque was a teenage stepkid.

And so an idea was born. Why not create a site where blended families could write anonymous letters to a member of their family. Stepmoms, stepdads, stepkids, husbands, bio-moms, half-siblings — we wanted to create a place where blended families could write letters to the people in their families  — be it heartful and  joyful to angry or sad.

If you would like to add a letter to the Stepfamily Letter Project, there are a few steps to follow:

  1. Compose your letter. We’re taking all kinds of letters: Happy, sad, angry, sweet — it doesn’t matter. We only ask you don’t threaten any harm in your letter. We won’t publish those. 
  2. Send your letter. You can send your letter within the body of an e-mail, in a Word document, a text document or Google Doc.  All we ask is that you send it to We’ll try to publish the letters within 48 hours of receipt. 
  3. Include your name and e-mail. Obviously, because you’re e-mailing your letter, we’ll have your e-mail address. Please also include your first and last name somewhere in the email . We will not publish your name or e-mail address on the website; however, should we need to contact you for any reason, we’d rather not have to start out with “Hey you with the letter.” 
  4. Spread the word. If you know someone in a blended family who you think would want to participate, let them know about the site. We’re happy to answer any questions about the project. We’ve event created this fabulous button (175 pixels x 175 pixels for your web-savvy folks out there) that you can post on your own blog or website.


    5. Check back or subscribe. If you have an RSS feed reader or aggregator, sign up for an RSS feed for the site. This way, you’ll be alerted when we post a new letter. 

Blended Family Teleconference Call

30 12 2008

Hi gals:

Join me for a live one-hour teleconference call with Emily Bouchard, a stepmom of two, blended family coach, and the founder of on Thursday, January 15, 2009, at 6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST as we discuss the challenges and joys of stepmotherhood!

The call is free (except for your local long-distance charges) when you sign up here and if you have a question you want answered during the live call, you can submit it to Emily who will be conducting the interview.