Monday, December 03, 2007

An Interview With Karon Goodman

Here is the long awaited post from Karon Goodman. Karon is the author of the newly released "Stepping Stones for Stepmoms: Everyday Strength for a Blended-Family Mom"

We decided to use an interview format for this post so you can get to know Karon and what she's all about. I can assure you that you are going to like what you learn.

1. For our readers who are just getting to know you, can you give us a brief introcuction of who you are and why you care about stepfamilies and more specifically stepmoms?

When I became a stepmom more than eleven years ago, it was like I'd entered a parallel universe. Like all stepmoms, it was a life I never expected to be living, and every functioning brain cell seemed to desert me. I couldn't believe the feelings and fears I was dealing with -- but I had to deal with them, and so do all the other stepmoms out there, so the more we learn, the
better. I hope that the strategies and approaches I've come to rely on can somehow help other stepmoms through those painful and trying times.

I'm sure stepdads have issues of their own, but as a stepmom, I think I felt a lot of pressure that my husband didn't, and I know other stepmoms understand that part of their role. It's a unique challenge, and my first book for stepmoms, "The Stepmom's Guide to Simplifying Your Life" focuses on what stepmoms can do to make their lives better regardless of what everyone else is doing. That practice has been a guiding light for me and seems to strike a chord with my readers, too.

My husband and I live in Alabama and I'm the mom of one son (22) and stepmom of two (22 and 18). I also write inspirational books for women and love meeting readers and traveling to speak at conference and workshops.

2. In your book you have a chapter entitled, "Trading In Envy." Can you share some about how envy can develop and grow in a stepmom and what she can do
about it?

Stepmothering brings lots of weight and responsibility, and it can be hard to see out from under it all. When a stepmom does peek out, she sees those around her with a much lighter load -- sometimes, including her stepkids' mom -- and that's tough to handle. It's easy to fall into a pattern of envy when she feels she's sacrificing so much and often receiving little or no
appreciation or recognition for any of it. It's easy, and it's self-destructive because envy takes her focus off her and puts in on someone else whose life and behavior she can't control anyway.

To combat the envy, it's essential that we redirect our focus to what's happening in our lives and our homes and put the energy of our thoughts and actions there. No matter what my life is like or how much more burdensome it is than someone else's, it's the one I've "chosen" which means that I can "choose" to work to make it better when I focus on what I have instead of what I don't. Envy creates bitterness and blocks the very things we admire or desire from coming into our own lives. If we want anything to change, it has to start with us, and that means thinking and planning more about our own lives than anyone else's.

3. I wrote a post for this blog called, "When Stepmom Gets Mad" a few months back and it seems to have realy struck a chord with my readers. What can you tell us about anger and being a stepmother? Also, what can the angry stepmom do with her anger?

It's easy for a stepmom to become angry because so much seems out of her control -- and that means we have to deal with actions and decisions we don't like, and sometimes we get mad! Regardless of what we're angry about, we have to realize that we can't control what other people do, we can only control our response. If the situation is such that you can talk to the person about what happened, that's always best to try to keep the same thing from happening over and over. If not, then again, we have to choose how we'll live -- in anger or in peace. We can stew over things others do or we can live our lives making the best choices we can make for ourselves and our families. And it helps to develop a think skin as a stepmom, to understand your anger, see if you contributed to the situation in any way and rectify that if you can, and then move on to the next thing on your list. Stepmoms learn quickly it's all about looking ahead.

4. Your book not only has some good advice and examples on various topics, but it is also full of scriptures, prayers, and questions. I like the diversity of formats. But I have to ask, do you really intend for people to write in your book?

Absolutely! Books are meant to be loved and lived in, laughed and cried over. Books are like living things that ask us questions about ourselves and invite us to answer, in safety and in truth. Hopefully, they touch us and inspire and encourage us to make tomorrow better than today. Maybe that's a lot to ask from a stack of paper, but it's my goal with all my books.

5. Final question: I took a poll on this blog about people's expectations of stepfamily life versus the reality they experienced and most said that stepfamily life was harder than they had expected. So, for someone who is in their first 3 years of stepfamily life and is experienceing it as harder than expected, what encouragement can you give them?

I think some statistics say that most stepfamilies fail before the fourth year. It's no wonder -- the life is challenging and humbling like no other. But it's also full of growing opportunities, because you will encounter situations you never could have dreamed up in your wildest imagination and you'll have to "give up or grow up" through them.

If the struggling stepparent will focus less on those unmet expectations and more on the progress she and her family are making -- even if it's small -- she'll be able to learn from her mistakes and develop better strategies every day to deal with the issues she faces. As one of the points in my new Amazon Short, "7 Decisions You Can Make Today to Improve Your Steplife, learning to "live well with imperfection" is crucial because stepfamily life is messy
unpredictable, but our attitude makes it manageable and even enjoyable, and becoming the stepmoms we want to be makes us strong and able to bring great joy and peace to our families.

Thanks, Karon, for your time and your wisdom. I hope people can see that you are on to something. we hope you'll visit us here on the blog again before too long.


Karon said...

Thanks so much for being part of our blog tour! I greatly appreciate your time and attention and all you do for stepfamilies. Enjoy your day!

Many blessings, Karon

mkfreeberg said...

Great advice, great post and great blog. And I know the ideas are great too, because they overlap with mine. I'm definitely bookmarking this.

I really wish these issues would get more attention in general, especially from folks who are thinking of "stepping." It is often discussed, if at all, as a move with very simple ramifications for those involved, when in actuality the ramifications are only as simple as life itself. Which of course is anything but. It's beginning to border on a national crisis, and it doesn't have any need to be one.

thestepmomlife said...

Love her comments here. She's been such a blessing in my life and I know she will be to other stepmoms for years to come!

Thanks for your insights and blog as well. It's nice to build a community of stepfamilies seeking to be all God wants us to be!

toughsteplife said...

I have just dicovered this website and Im thrilled to know that there are people out there who would really understand the challenges of step mothering. Im a stepmom for just over a year. My stepchildren(22 & 16) do not live with us but my bio children(15 &11) do. My challenge comes every school holiday when my youngest stepson comes around. He is extremely cut off from me and does not seem to acknowledge me anybody in his circle. I try, even asked my husband to help build a bridge to let this child know Im not the enemy. We are fully aware as well of the influence his bio mother has in this. Im confused disappointed and hurt, maybe more so because my husband is not supportive when it comes to my challenges. Please give me advice.

Fajita said...

Dear Toughsteplife,

Your describe the common, but challenging, issue for a step parent. Your youngest is experiencing the loyalty challenges that come with stepfamilies. It may have nothing to do with you.

Your goal is to be kind and available. You cannot force it.

I recall growing up when my mother made roast on Sunday. The smell in the house was so good coming home from church. The smell could get me to do anything. The same is true with you. You need to be a good aroma in the presence of your stepson.

Patience will be your best asset.