Happy National Stepfamily Day! You Are Important!

National Stepfamily Day was created by Christy Borgeld, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1997 to recognize and celebrate the importance of stepfamilies and is celebrated every year on September 16th. The National Stepfamily Day Foundation was also established by Christy to support and encourage stepfamilies.

I hope you will take a moment to affirm your value as a stepparent and celebrate the family you’re creating. If you want some ideas on how to celebrate the day, check out this video:

101 Things to Do on Stepfamily Day

No need to feel like you have to do something fancy. The important thing is to celebrate the relationships you’re investing in and the valuable role you play in your stepfamily.

Anne Sleeman, stepmom and President of Kids On Time, Inc.–a great co-parenting tool–offers helpful insight on what being a stepparent is and isn’t and how it impacts you:

“Being a step parent is a privilege not a right.

Being a step parent means having to make sacrifices of a biological parent knowing that you may never be rewarded or even recognized for them.

Being a step parent means making every effort to participate in the lives of the kids of the person you love as an “extra” parent/adult who loves and cares about them.

Being a step parent means sometimes being on the outside or not being included in family photos or older memories and having to choke back the tears so no one notices that it hurts.

Being a step parent means making lifestyle changes to support being the best parent figure, friend, role model and person you can be.

Being a step parent means you sometimes have to hear others speaking about how they wish your spouse and the kid’s other parent were still together…for sake of the kids. Even if their bio-parent isn’t better suited for the job.

Being the step parent means being introduced as the step-parent, which sometimes includes weird and judgmental looks.

Being a step parent means helping with homework, and talking about drugs and sex and morals and friends and bulling and finances and right from wrong and a whole host of other subjects that come up that you never would have dreamed of discussing with your parents.

Being a step parent means back to school shopping is now more important than shopping for your own wardrobe.

Being a step parent means, somehow, with all the effort along the way, being proud of the young person you have helped to shape and mold.

Being a step parent means feeling proud when your step child does something good for society, themselves or others.

Being a step parent allows you to love and be loved in one of the most unique, misunderstood and underrated relationships in our society.

So, is being a step parent worth it? YES! In more ways than you can count.”

Do you agree? What would you add? I hope you’ll consider today, and every day, the valuable role you play as a stepparent! Happy Stepfamily Day!!

How will you celebrate National Stepfamily Day? I’d love to hear about it!

Pic byphotostock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Create Boundaries for Blessings in Your Stepfamily

Do you remain in a conversation with your stepchild while he/she displays disrespectful behavior? Do you continue to pick up your children’s clothes even though you’ve asked them to do it themselves? Do you allow your ex-spouse to make repeated changes to the kids’ visitation schedule without consequences? If so, it’s likely you have a boundary problem.

Create Boundaries for Blessings in Your Stepfamily

We teach others how to treat us through our actions, inactions, communication and silence. Healthy relationships require constant boundary setting. Without it, we invite confusion, frustration and resentment into our heart and home.

Boundaries can be paralleled to our physical home in which we allow some people in but keep others out. Much like a fence around our home, boundaries can be trampled on and torn down. They can also be moved and rebuilt. As owners of our fence, we decide how to manage our boundaries.

As stepparents, we make endless sacrifices for our stepchildren with few rewards, particularly in the beginning. It’s our responsibility to determine what limits we should put in place to foster thriving relationships.

If we allow our stepchildren to constantly trample over our requests, we set ourselves up for an embittered relationship and create self-centered adults in the process. But if we put boundaries in place to define our expectations and follow through with consequences when our limits are not respected, we open the door to a greater likelihood of healthy, loving relationships without feeling manipulated or disrespected.

I didn’t learn to set boundaries until well into my adult years. I wasted a lot of time always doing what others expected of me instead of considering my own needs. I was unhappy with my circumstances but afraid to do things differently.

Setting boundaries doesn’t mean we become selfish or unconcerned with other’s needs. It means we take care of ourselves first, giving us the capability to then take care of others.

I like the way Sue Thoele discusses boundaries in The Courage to be a Stepmom:. “With practice and commitment, taking care of ourselves and setting self-nurturing limits can become second nature. Cultivating the ability to say “no” to unreasonable responsibilities and expectations makes it easier for us to say “yes” to love and laughter.”

Do you need to put some self-nurturing boundaries in place?

Picture by farconville

Related Posts:

The Power of Boundaries as a Stepparent

Setting Boundaries with Your Stepchildren

Ten Ways to Strengthen Your Stepfamily Relationships

It’s easy to think we must be perfect in our stepfamily interactions and make huge steps every day to strengthen our relationships. But that isn’t true.

Small steps on a regular basis can result in huge dividends with your stepfamily.

steps

Here are ten easy ways to show every day love and harbor positive relationships in your stepfamily:

1) Offer grace freely and often.

2) Think positive thoughts about your stepchildren; if a negative thought pops up – replace it.

3) Say at least one nice thing to each person in your stepfamily daily or as often as you see them.

4) Live “one day at a time” and enjoy the present moment – don’t project into the future.

5) Take care of yourself: emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

6) Strive to keep a thankful spirit.

7) Nurture your marriage with sweet gestures, alone time, and date nights.

8) Send thoughtful text messages when your stepchildren are away.

9) Deal with conflict when it occurs in a healthy context – don’t stuff it, don’t ignore it, don’t exaggerate it.

10) Pray for each member of your family daily.

Other ideas? What suggestions can you give to help strengthen stepfamily relationships?

Related Posts:

Is Your Stepfamily in a Season of Challenge?

Five Ways to Create Stronger Stepfamily Relationships

Lessons Learned About Stepparenting from Tim Tebow

Five Practical Tips for Successful Stepparenting

Finding Success Through the Bumps on Your Stepparenting Journey

As I listened to my husband on the other end of the phone with his daughter, I knew something bad had happened. He handed the phone to me and said, “She wants to talk to you.”

1170300_important_callThrough tears, my stepdaughter, Adrianne, relayed that her boyfriend of six years had broken up with her. When she was home over Christmas, she had told us she thought they would be getting engaged in 2013. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

My heart is breaking for her. I know she’ll work through her sadness but at 27 years old, she’s invested a lot of time in a relationship that’s come to a halt.

I’m thankful she has reached out to us during her difficult hour. She asked if she could come spend next week-end with us. Of course, we’re happy to have her drive the three hours to our place and visit any time.

Here’s the paradox of stepparenting. During her adolescent years, we had the typical stepmom-stepdaughter relationship — highly strained the majority of the time. Research shows the stepmom-stepdaughter relationship is often the most difficult. Our relationship was no different.

However, as she matured through her young adult years, Adrianne began reaching out to me more often.  She began asking my opinion on issues and calling us more regularly. She made it a priority to attend family vacations with us and create stronger relationships with her stepsisters.

Well into the second decade of our marriage, Adrianne and I have a wonderful relationship. I’m thankful we’ve been able to connect and can now enjoy our time together, instead of walking on egg shells when she’s around.

Does it have to take that long to bond with your stepchild? No! Some stepparents connect easily and find stepparenting a joy. But many do not.

The adolescent years of stepparenting are tough. It’s easy to slip into thinking that the relationship will always be strained.

The teen-age years may take a heavy toll on your relationship. But kids do grow up and often recognize the value of their parents when they leave the nest.

Don’t give up on finding success on your stepparenting journey. Maybe you won’t find it in the first decade of your marriage. Maybe it won’t happen until your stepchildren leave home.

But it’s never too late to enjoy the success of a thriving stepfamily relationship when it happens.

Is it taking longer than you hoped to find success on your stepparenting journey? Will you share about it?

Related Posts:

Learning How to Love my Stepchildren

Is It A Privilege to be a Stepparent?

Are You Willing to go the Distance as a Stepparent?