New Stepmom Circles Podcast: Actress, Writer, Producer and Stepmom Traci Dority

22 06 2010

A new free  Stepmom Circles Podcast is up! I had a fun conversation with Traci Dority. Traci is a stepmom of two and an adult child of divorce who grew up with multiple stepparents because her parents both remarried several times. This is an important show for all stepmothers to listen to because you’ll get a better perspective of what is going on in the mind’s of your stepchildren.

Traci has also written a screenplay for a movie called Nuclear Families that she is also producing. Learn more about the movie and sign up to get Traci’s blog at

Want to talk about today’s show? Join the Stepmom Circles group on FaceBook.

How Do I Listen? Click the links above or visit HERE for a list of all the shows.

Guest Post: What is a Mother?

22 06 2010

John and Emily Visher, the legendary stepfamily researchers found that the more flexible a stepfamily is, the better off they are. In that spirit I want to run a Mother’s Day guest post by guest blogger Traci Dority about what Mother’s Day means to her even though Mother’s Day was a while ago! Traci is a stepmother of two and a stepdaughter. She’s an actress, writer, and producer and is working to create a film called Nuclear Families that’s a wonderfully fun and unique way of looking at blended family life. You can also check out the Stepmom Circles Podcast to listen to my interview with Traci, whose story is an inspiration. -Jacque

As Mother’s Day just passed, I’ve been thinking about the women in my life who have at one time or another held the title of Mother, Stepmother, Grandmother, or Step Grandmother. I looked up in my Random House Webster’s College Dictionary the definition of MOTHER. The one that jumped out at me is; “A woman looked upon as a mother, or exercising authority like that of a mother.” How wonderful that being a stepmother is included in this definition!

I’m a stepmom and I bring to this role my history of having also been a stepchild. In fact, like Tiffany in Nuclear Families the movie (, I have had two stepmothers. Like most children of divorce I had to battle the issue of split loyalties and didn’t initially make the effort to maintain relationships with my ex-Stepmothers.

As a stepmom, I have worked hard to temper my expectations about how my stepkids should respond to me. I’ve gotten clear on what I perceive my purpose is in their lives. The conclusion I’ve come to is that if I can just be a good role model for them, I’ve done my job influencing their life. I’ve promised myself I will always teach them by living my life fully. This doesn’t mean I’m self involved, it just means that my influence in their life is less about what I say and more about what I do. I do show up for them when they need me, but mostly they have two great biological parents that are my stepkids’ “go to” people. Trust me Stepmoms, I know sometimes this is a hard pill to swallow, but we aren’t in our stepkids life to replace anyone. However, I do believe it isn’t a mistake that we are in their lives, for whatever period we are able to spend with them.

All of my stepparents have influenced my life and contributed to shaping the person I am today. Unlike Tiffany in Nuclear Families, I haven’t always had the courage to recognize my stepparents (both current and ex’s) impact on my life. Today, I want to pay tribute to the women who have welcomed me into their lives regardless of my biology.

First to my mom – You are my hero and as I see you in me everyday I feel blessed. In my acting work, I always see an expression that is classic “Shelby”. AND, I owe you and Nanny the gifts of good skin, class, and chattiness.

To my first stepmother – I owe my talent for hosting a perfect party and my love for photographs.

To my second stepmother – I owe my joy for cooking and creating beautiful spaces.

To my Granny – I owe my silliness.

And to my step-Grandmother’s – I owe the gift of acceptance. To Maw- maw specifically  – I owe the belief in the power of prayer.

THANK YOU all for contributing to the woman, wife, stepmom and soon-to-be mom that I am.

New Podcast: A Grown Up Child of Divorce

21 10 2009

stepmomcircles3After stumbling across Carolyn Grona’s awesome blog The Grown Up Child, I knew I had to interview her for my Stepmom Circles podcast. Carolyn and I are both children of divorce and we talk about what it was like to be from two homes. Carolyn has created an online space for adult children of divorce where they can articulate how divorce and subsequent remarriages have impacted their lives.

Carolyn shares her tips for divorced parents and stepparents about how we can make our stepchildren and children’s lives a little easier.

We talk about Dads, Moms, Stepparents, Half-Siblings, and what happens when a kid has too much power.

This is an important podcast, gals. I hope you’ll check it out. And once you’ve listened, join us on FaceBook in my Stepmom Circles group to discuss your thoughts.

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

Your Questions Answered: From a Stepdaughter

21 10 2009

Dear Jacque, My dad and stepmom have been married for 15 years. I am now 30 years old and she and I still have an entirely broken and bitter relationship. Can you recommend any books specifically for healing adult blended families (particularly with a long history together)? I am on the verge of giving up.

Thank you for sending in such a great question. I have to give you major kudos for wanting to work on your relationship with your stepmother. I don’t know of any books that speak directly to your question but you might check out Making Adult Stepfamilies Work by Jean Lipman-Blumen and Grace Gabe. It’s more about what to do when families get together later in life so it’s not an exact fit. If anyone has ideas of other books, please respond to this post and help our reader out.

I’m guessing that your early years with your dad and stepmom were challenging simply because you were 15 when they got married and that is a tough, tough age. (Correct me if I’m wrong!) You raise an interesting point that not only do children have to come to terms and with and heal from their childhood, so do parents who live through a high-conflict time. Here are a few things I would offer you wearing both my stepmom and stepdaughter hats:

Compliment her. Pointing out the positives about her role in your life can have MAJOR healing power. Compliment what she did for you and the positive parts of her personality or her relationship with your dad.

Ask your stepmother and dad what that time was like for them. It can be hard for adults to accept that their kids and stepkids have changed as they’ve grown to adulthood. They hang on to what we were like back then. Your stepmother could be holding on to the girl you used to be. Asking her what it was like for her and listening to her with an open heart can have a powerful effect on relationships that need healing. And of course, if you haven’t done so, share with her what it was like for you.

Apologize for your part and ask for an apology. Make the past the past by apologizing for your part in the conflict. It’s true that our parents “were the adults” and “should have known” to do things that would not harm us, but the fact is our parents are human just like we are. So apologize for your behavior. Then ask for an apology back so you can all put the past in the past and move forward.

Find common ground. Are there things you both like to do that have already provided you with a sense of camaraderie or at least a sense of peace? For instance, a lot of adult stepchildren and stepparents are able to heal the wounds of the past when grandchildren are born. Playing with a child or doing something fun together like attending a play or having a cup of coffee at a favorite coffee shop can provide a new way for you and your stepmom to bond.

Spend one-on-one time. Get your Dad out of the picture. Spend time alone with your stepmother and talk to each other. Learn about her life. Tell her about yours. Even if you’ve heard all the stories before, you’ll hear them differently now that you’re an adult and vice versa.

I hope you’ll keep us posted on how things work out for you and your stepmom! It can take hard work to let go of the hurts of the past but it’s worth it.