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,