New Stepmom Circles Podcast: Ron Deal and StepDads

21 04 2011

Finally!!! A new Stepmom Circles Podcast is ready. Ron Deal is one of my favorite guests. In this show we talk about Ron’s new book, The Smart Stepdad. There are even fewer resources for stepdads than there are for stepmoms. Ron always has so much wisdom to share and this podcast is not just for stepdads. It’s for moms who have kids and married a man who became a stepdad to their children. It’s for stepmothers because is the advice he gives is applicable to all of us. Find Ron at http://www.successfulstepfamilies.com

Enjoy!

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Children’s Bill of Rights

30 03 2011

Stepmoms: When I received training in how to help stepfamilies from the National Stepfamily Resource Center, I got this document in their Smart Steps information for stepfamilies. The Children’s Bill of Rights has some wonderful guidelines to help both parents and stepparents talk to the kids about what they’re going through. Good stuff.





Where’s Jacque?

3 11 2010

Hello Dear Stepmoms!

I’ve heard from many of you lately with emails asking: Where are you? Life got in the way of my blogging and podcasting but I’m happy to say that I’m back in the saddle. If you have topics you’d like to hear on future episodes of the Stepmom Circles podcast or addressed on my blog, please let me know! It’s been a wild fall but I’ m happy to say that we’re all doing great. Work deadlines are met. The kids are all back in school and my daughter is almost potty trained. Life is good.

I recently had a conversation with Brian Johnson, the founder of www.PhilosophersNotes.com. Brian has spent the last two years reading all of the optimal living books he can find and he put together 6-page summaries, mp3 podcasts, and web videos of all the books for people on his website. It’s great! Self-development literature for people on the go. In our talk, he reminded me how important it is to “rock your fundamentals” as he calls it.

I’m going to reframe his words for us stepmoms. When you’re feeling down or you’re taking on a new challenge, or facing a daunting conversation you’re scared to have, first look to yourself. Are you doing the things you need to do to feel your best? Are you exercising? Are you praying or meditating? Are you doing those things that fill you up? (And do you know what they are?) If not, return to those fundamentals immediately! (Or discover what they are.)

A big shout-out to Brian for helping me remember to return to the things that give me the most energy. And a big thank you to all of you who continue to read my blog and listen to my podcasts. It’s so cool to know that I’m connected to so many wonderful women all around the globe.





Stepmothers: Cultivate an Open Heart

30 06 2010

 

 When you’re dealing with people in your family who challenge you with hostility, hurtful words and actions, it can take a Herculean effort to keep an open heart. But remaining open is a worthy goal. Why? Because storing your anger and bitterness in a closed heart will corrupt your spirit and poison your family. The fact is, anger comes out one way or another and you can either work consciously to deal with resentment and opening your heart or you can allow the negativity to eat you alive. I know I sound dramatic, but I believe remaining open is critical to your well-being.

It’s a tall order when you have a stepdaughter challenging your place in the family or an ex-wife badmouthing you to the children. It can be even more difficult when your husband does not support you in front of the kids or expects you to do all the parenting of his children.

Try some of the following strategies to help you maintain an open heart in even the most difficult situations.  

Thank Your Lucky Scars.
You read that right. The scars you’ve developed from painful situations can teach you valuable lessons about your personal journey. Look for the message in the pain that can help you evolve to a more mature, loving human being.

Watch for Patterns.
If you understand why something is happening in your home, it makes it much easier to open your heart. For instance, if you’ve had a good relationship with your stepson except for during holidays, big school events, or the day he returns from Mom’s house, pay attention. It could be that your stepson is experiencing the grief of his parent’s divorce at each of these junctures. It could be a loyalty issue where he feels that if he likes you or spending time at your and Dad’s house that his mother will be hurt.

Develop a Strong Sense of Self.
Women who feel better about themselves overall have an easier time with stepfamily life. That’s because they don’t need everyone in their stepfamily to like them in order to feel good about themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself, remember this: I do and I will hold that belief in you until you can develop it yourself.

Set Your Boundaries.
Learn how to say “No” in a kind and loving way to protect your heart. By setting boundaries about what kind of treatment you will tolerate at the hands of your stepfamily members, you are sending a powerful message to everyone about how to live with an open heart. By protecting your heart with a gentle “No” you are actually giving yourself the needed energy to extend to your stepfamily in more powerful ways.

Nurture Your Compassion
Every time you feel anger building in your heart, use breath to help you connect to the more evolved part of yourself. Sit down and take ten deep breaths all the way into your belly. Then think about the person who is making you angry. Ask yourself what might be causing their behavior. Most of us act out toward other people when we are hurt, grieving, lonely, insecure, or scared.

Lighten Up
Instead of thinking about how hard your life is, try this playful exercise. Instead, view your stepfamily as an experiment so you can take some of the pressure off of yourself and the people who are now connected to you. If you have a surly stepson, brainstorm creative ways you can play with the relationship. Tell him a joke. Do something he likes to do. Tell him about the most embarrassing thing you did when you were his age. The heart responds to fun. Take a light-hearted view and it can help you feel more positive about your relationships.

Let Your Light Shine
This is an exercise in imagination. Close your eyes and think about your heart. Imagine a light is shining out of your heart center bathing everyone and everything around you in love. Shift your shoulders back and down away from your ears so the front of your chest feels broad and open. Breathe.

Cultivating an open heart is not something that happens in one sitting. It is a state of being that we work toward our whole lives. Commit yourself to living with openness instead of remaining closed, defensive, and angry and your relationships will ultimately thrive.

Jacquelyn B. Fletcher is the author of the award-winning book A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom, the co-creator of The Stepfamily Letter Project, and the host of the popular Becoming a Stepmom podcast. This article first ran in Stepmom Magazine.





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 http://nuclearfamiliesthemovie.com.

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 (www.nuclearfamiliesthemovie.com), 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.





Children of Divorce and Stepmom Resources

3 06 2010

Two things caught my eye today: The June issue of Stepmom Magazine is out. A big thank you to Brenda Ockun, the one-woman show who puts together such a great collection of writing from stepmom experts, stepmothers, and counselors from around the globe.

AND this video is only the beginning part of the film but it still made me cry. Joyce Borenstein of Illumination Animation has made an animated documentary film in which thirteen children from the ages of 8 to 18 describe their experience with divorce. Check it out: