Thursday, May 24, 2007

When Stepmom Gets MAD!!!

Anger is often the product of unmet expectations. I expect X to happen, but insted Y actually happens. That is the formula for anger (or a whole host of ther negative emotions).

Stepmothers are in a life situation when expectations are not often met. Stepfamily life is complex and often times unpredicatable or even illogical. It is a context in which an expectation getting met might feel more like a game of chance than act of intention. In short, stepfamily life offers multiple opportunities for anger to emerge.

So, what do you do when you get angry?

Here are a few tips:

1. There are no bad feelings: Anger is an unpleasant feeling, but it is normal and even necesssary at times. Recognize that a negative feeling does not make you a bad person.

2. Reject the guilt: Most stepmothers choose a goal just a little higher than absolute perfection as their criteria for success. Anything less is failure - including getting angry about soemthing. You must confront your guilt head on. DO NOT punish yourself for getting angry. It only leads to more anger (or anxiety or depression).

3. Make a Decision: People get into trouble with anger not because they feel anger, but because they do anger in destructive ways. Feeling anger is merely the emotional portion of the equation and is contained within the person. Doing anger is a behavior, an interaction between the person and someone or something else. Be intentional about how you do your anger. You might even decide now, when you are not angry, a few stock options of what you can do when you are angry. The cliched thing is to count to ten. It actually works for some people. It's not the only option, though. Some people just say, "I am getting angry." It gives voice to the anger without being destructive. Other's talk it out and still others write it out. Some people let it cool off over time, but that only makes it worse for others.

Your personality wil guide your way of doing anger. But whatever the decision you make, it needs to be constructive or neutral. Never destructive.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What is a stepmother?

What is a stepmother anyway? On the one hand she is not the bio parent, by definition. She may have bioloigcal children, but they are not how she became a stepmother.

On the other hand, she is not a step. Not really sure how the word step gets in there; it is not all that descriptive.

A stepmother cannot simply act like a mother for a number of reasons. There is probably a mother already filling the position of mother - and typically there is not room for two in that position. When stepmothers try to wedge themselves into the mother position, it places the stepchildren into a loyalty dilemma - a dilemma the stepmom is going to lose no matter how good a person she is or how lousy the bio mother is.

And yet, the stepmother is there and present with the stepchildren and someone has to be responsible. So, how does she pull that one off? How can a stepmother be a responsible parental figure without violating the bio mother's position in the stepchildren's lives?

A stepmother is a woman who enters a family slowly, takes on authority slowly, and never fails to keep a healthy amount of space for the bio mom - emotionally and otherwise. She has as much authority as she has earned with the stepchildren. She is supported by her husband. She admits her mistakes to others and celebrates her victories privately. She waits. Sh resists the temptations of normalcy and accepts the messy reality. She learns to anticipate certain kinds of messes and embraces them with an ironic sense of peace.

If you are a stepmother, you are someone who creates a working path through the unknowable, adjusts the direction of the path on the way, and knows that her goodness is her gift to the world, her family and herself. She knows that she will ahve her reward at the end of the journey, not at the beginning.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Stepmom Superstars

Stepmom superstars are stepmoms who have endured long hours of relational investment with little or return on investment (yet).

They are stepmoms who have maintained their head when their husbands ex tried, once again, to change the visitation at 2:00 PM on Friday.

Stepmom superstars take a moment to view a good potential future even though today the family seems to be headed to Hell in a handbasket.

You are the kind of stepmom who finds time for everyone (including herself).

Few people hope more, wait more, cry more, cheer more, and try harder than a superstar stepmom.

You do not let the absence of appreciation make you quit doing that for which appreciation is due.

Stepmoms, you rock.