Celebrating Mother’s Day as a Stepmom

It’s the hardest holiday of the year for stepmoms – Mother’s Day. Have you made plans for it yet?

I wrote an article last year on how to celebrate as a stepmom. It was recently published again and can be read in Western New York Family Magazine.

Mothers-Day-as-Stepmom_000

What’s a stepmom to do on Mother’s Day? Do we insist that honor be bestowed upon us? Do we create expectations of what our stepchildren should do for us? Do we allow the biological mom to get all the attention for the day?

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for stepmoms because it reminds us of the time and energy we invest in our stepchildren that might include little reward. And if our stepchildren do try to show their appreciation, it can be an awkward and insincere effort, usually prodded by their father.

Read more

Step Parenting Blended Families

What I’ve Learned in 19 Years as a Stepmom

My husband and I celebrate 19 years of marriage today. All four of the kids in our wedding picture are grown – we have only an “ours” child still at home – 13-year-old son Nathan.

I love the way my friend Heather Hetchler counts years in stepfamilies – # of kids X years married, so in stepfamily years, we’ve been married 95 years! Wow! That’s a long time!

Read more

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day as a Stepmom

If there’s one holiday that stepmoms would rather not celebrate, it’s Mother’s Day. It can be a hard day because we’re reminded of the time and energy we invest in our stepchildren’s lives with little or no reward. And if our stepchildren do try to show their appreciation, it’s often an awkward and insincere effort, usually prodded by their father.

So what’s a stepmom to do? Do we create expectations of what our stepchildren should do for us? Do we allow the biological mom to get all the attention for the day? Do we insist that honor be bestowed upon us?

If you play an active role as a stepmom, you deserve some recognition for your efforts. That doesn’t mean you’ll get it from your stepchildren. Some children feel it dishonors their mom to show appreciation to their stepmom on Mother’s Day, particularly if their mom invalidates or competes with the stepmom’s role. However, there’s nothing wrong with asking your spouse to honor and acknowledge you for your ongoing efforts with his children.

I’ve learned to enjoy Mother’s Day with no expectations from my stepchildren. If they offer me a gift or choose to honor me in some way, I’m thrilled. But even if they don’t, I remind myself it’s a privilege to take part in shaping another child’s life and affirm myself for what I offer. I know my husband appreciates the role I play and we will celebrate the day together.

Some stepchildren love to recognize their stepmom on this special day and will make a sincere effort to let you know how much you mean to them. A host of variables play into how a stepchild reacts on Mother’s Day. The length of the marriage, the age of your stepchildren, the biological mom’s behavior, and the environment in your home contribute to your stepchild’s behavior. If your stepchildren honor you, embrace the offering. But if they choose not to, don’t take it personally.

Here are a few suggestions to help you enjoy the day, regardless of what your stepchildren do. Pick one or two, or construct one of your own, to create a day that will leave you feeling special for the valuable role you offer your stepfamily.

1. Spend Saturday night at a Bed and Breakfast and wake up Sunday morning to a scrumptious breakfast prepared for you. Re-connect with your spouse as you reminiscence and celebrate the good things happening in your stepfamily.

2. Find another stepmom who’s having a difficult time and spend the afternoon with her. Encourage her efforts and talk through her challenges. Laugh together and affirm one another. Find positive ways to offer your support on an ongoing basis.

3. Abandon your house and spend the day at a nearby lake, beach, bike path or hiking trail. Absorb the beauty of nature while you count your blessings in your life. Set goals with your spouse that will help you become more connected in your stepfamily such as regular game nights, stepmom-stepdaughter shopping dates, or movie nights as a family.

4. Attend your favorite church or place of worship wearing a beautiful corsage, signifying the important role you play as a stepmom. Take pride in participating in your stepchildren’s lives as an additional parent.

5. Give yourself the gift of relaxation with a good book, time at the movies or a day at the spa with a girlfriend. Eat at your favorite restaurant and tell your family you’ll be taking the day off from chores. Pamper yourself in whatever way feels special to you.

Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be a difficult day for stepmoms. If you create expectations of how you want your stepchildren to honor you, it will result in disappointment. But if you choose to create your own special day, you’ll make memories that leave you feeling blessed to be a stepmom. So go ahead – plan your own celebration! You deserve it!

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Leave a comment – I’d love to know!

If your spouse is looking for a gift idea for you, suggest a ticket to our next stepmom retreat! We’ll be in Asheville, North Carolina September 26-28th. Come join us! Details here: http://sisterhoodofstepmoms.com/

Pic By Iamnee

 

 

Great New Resource for Stepmoms: “Recipe for Joy–A Stepmom’s Story”

I love introducing new resources for stepmoms because as you know, if you’ve been a stepmom long, the journey isn’t easy. I’m participating in a blog tour this week and can’t wait to tell you about a new book, Recipe  for Joy: A Stepmom’s Story of Finding Faith, Following Love, and Feeding a Family by Robin Davis.

Recipe for Joy: A Stepmom's Story

Davis has been a food writer for almost 20 years and promised herself there were three things she would never do: move back to Ohio, get married, and join an organized religion. The book cites a compelling story of how her life took a turn she would have never predicted.

In a transparent, authentic voice, Davis relates a journey that begins as one seeking fulfillment through an interesting food and writing career–while running from God, but ends as one finding meaning in life through a relationship with God and two roles she would have never anticipated: a wife and stepmother who moves back to Ohio!

It’s a beautifully written story, in an easy-to-read fashion, that offers hope and inspiration for blending families. I especially related to her quest to seek perfection as a stepmother and frustration in her ability to do so. Here are a few quotes from the book I couldn’t resist sharing:

“I knew, just knew, that if I tried harder, worked harder, and loved harder, I would be a perfect straight-A mom. What that search for perfection actually gave me was an A+ bout of anxiety that turned into something more serious.”

Advice from her husband, Ken: “They don’t expect you to be perfect. They love you just the way you are.”

“Prayers. Daily prayers. …became a ray of light. I don’t mean that my prayers were answered. … But my prayers changed, and my attitude changed.”

“You need to live in the moment, not rehearse the future,” Julie [her counselor] told me. “When you try to live in the future, you’re destined for disappointment. Life will never be exactly the way you imagine it.”

Words of wisdom for anyone doing life in a blended family:

We don’t have to strive for perfection in our stepparenting role to find success.

We can learn to live in the present, enjoying the blessings of today instead of striving for something better in the future.

We can find peace and light for our journey through our daily prayers.

A Must-read book for blended families with words of encouragement and hope offered in a refreshing format. In addition, each chapter closes with a family-tested recipe to try.

Learn more out this great resource here:  Recipe for Joy–A Stepmom’s Story or visit Robin’s website at http://robincdavis.com/.

 

Celebrate Mother's Day with Stepmoms

Five Great Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day as a Stepmom

One of the hardest hurdles to cope with as a stepparent is the reality that we make the same sacrifices as a biological parent but  reap very few rewards for our efforts. In his book, The Smart Stepfamily, Ron Deal gives three reasons why the stepmother role is even more difficult than the stepfather role.

“First, children tend to maintain more frequent contact with their noncustodial mothers. Second, children’s attachment to their biological mother is believed to be stronger than their attachment to their father, making the acceptance and bonding with a stepmother even more difficult. Third, because society expects women to achieve a higher relational standard than men, stepmothers feel greater pressure to build a strong attachment with stepchildren.”

We know it’s not easy being a stepmother, right? Thus, we have every reason to celebrate and affirm ourselves on Mother’s Day for what we do for our stepchildren. But we don’t have to wait and let our stepchildren’s response control our day.

Five Great Ways to Celebrate Mother's Day as a StepmomIt’s natural for stepchildren to honor their biological mom on Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, that could mean the stepmom gets left out.

So why not choose to create your own special day? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Spend Saturday night at a Bed and Breakfast and wake up Sunday morning to a breakfast prepared for you. Re-connect with your spouse as you reminiscence and celebrate the good things happening in your stepfamily.

2. Find another stepmom who’s  having a difficult time and spend the afternoon with her. Encourage her efforts and talk through her challenges. Laugh together and affirm each other for the special role you’re playing as you’re making a difference in your stepchildren’s lives.

3. Abandon your house and spend the day at a nearby lake, beach, bike path or hiking trail. Absorb the beauty of nature and remind yourself of God’s love for you through His creation, His sovereignty over your life, and His willingness to walk with you through difficult times.

4. Attend your favorite church service with a beautiful corsage on, signifying the important role you play as a stepmom. Then spend the afternoon with your spouse creating a “God box” that outlines prayer concerns for your stepfamily on small pieces of paper. As you drop each concern in the box, pray for your family’s needs. Keep the box going for an entire year and re-visit the box next year to see how God has answered your prayers.

5. Give yourself the gift of relaxation with a good book, time at the movies or a day at the spa with a girlfriend. Eat at your favorite restaurant and tell your family you’ll be taking the day off from chores. Pamper yourself in whatever way feels special to you.

Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be a difficult day for stepmoms. Plan your own celebration! You deserve it! And if your husband’s looking for a gift idea for you, tell him to send you to the Stepmom Retreat in September. It will be a great time of fellowship with other stepmoms and a place to find help, healing, and hope on your journey. Go here for details: http://blendedandbonded.com/events/

How are you celebrating this week-end? I would love to hear about it!

Pic by  posterize.  This post was originally posted 5/9/2012

Related Posts:

Celebrating Mother’s Day as a Stepmom

More Mother’s Day Thoughts

 

 

What is Your Role as a Stepparent?

When we moved to Louisiana a year and a half ago, my two biological daughters stayed behind in Conway, AR. They both had summer jobs and wanted to stay close to their friends the rest of the summer. At 18 and 21 years old, I knew they could manage on their own but needed a temporary living place before they moved  into college housing in the Fall.

Moving with Grace

My next-door neighbor, Sara, offered to let the girls stay at her house. She and her husband have four grown children and extra bedrooms. It was a perfect arrangement to get us through a transitional period.

When we returned to Conway to help my daughter Jamie move into her college apartment, I observed the relationship between her and my neighbor. It reminded me of a stepparenting relationship in the early years.

Sara knew her role as an additional parent to the girls. She didn’t try to overstep or undermine my relationship in any way. But she did offer a listening ear and everyday support when the girls needed it.

Late in the summer the girls’ dad came for an out-of-state visit. Because their dad is an alcoholic, his behavior is unpredictable and their relationship with him is tenuous. Sara spent several hours talking to the girls about their feelings and struggles with their dad. She offered an unbiased opinion to the situation  as a third-party observer. The girls needed a maternal figure to talk to and since I wasn’t there, they confided in Sara.

I believe that is how our stepparenting role should play out. We are to provide everyday support and a listening ear for our stepchildren when they need it. We are to be a cheerleader for their every effort in sports, music, school, drama, or whatever. We are to love and care for them as if they are our own. But we are not to undermine or compete with their biological parent. We are not to try to replace their biological parent. We are an additional parent.  

Our stepparenting role may change as years pass. When my stepchildren lost their mother to cancer eight years ago, I became their primary maternal figure. My husband has stepped into the primary parenting role with my girls because of their dad’s instability. But for many years, my husband and I both worked at functioning as an additional parent to our stepchildren.

As we drove away from our neighbor’s house to return to our home in Louisiana, Sara was on the front porch with her arm around my youngest daughter, Jodi, who stayed there another week before moving into the dorm. It gave me a warm feeling to know that, although I couldn’t be there every day because of our move, my daughter was loved and cared for by an additional parent.

What role do you play as a stepparent? Is it a healthy role that benefits your stepchildren?