Monday, June 21, 2010

The Wicked Stepmom

Ron L. Deal (Amarillo, Texas). Kyron Horman is missing. The 7 year-old boy from Oregon has been missing for over two weeks and authorities are looking everywhere to find him. It must have been the stepmother, right?

Apparently authorities are now taking a closer look at Terri Horman, Kyron’s stepmom. Of course, I have no idea whether in this case the stepmother is guilty, but what is troubling is that society finds it easy to believe that a stepmother is the culprit. One post to an online news report said, “The stepmom was my first thought.” Another said, “Typical story. Divorced father gets custody of his child, hooks up with another woman. Life is great at first…Then things start to come apart.”

When a biological mother is accused of harming their own child, doubt is our first reaction (“How can that be? A mom would never do that!”). But stepparents rarely get that benefit of the doubt. Did you know that the original version of Cinderella (and other popular fairy tales) portrayed the mom as the wicked parent who abused her own daughter? Later, the Brothers Grimm changed the story to a wicked stepmother so it was more “acceptable” and, therefore, more marketable, to society. And still today, we are quick to judge.

It’s my experience that stepmothers (and stepdads) are not wicked or evil or manipulative. Except in a few highly publicized cases, they are distinctly sacrificial and deserve a pat on the back from society. We just celebrated Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Today, say thanks to someone’s stepparent.

Sandra Bullock and Stepfamilies

Ron Deal (Amarillo, Texas). Everyone wants a successful marriage; actress Sandra Bullock is no exception to that. “I’ve always been very skeptical about marriage because I only wanted to do it once,” she said a few years ago before marrying her now separated husband Jesse. “I want to do it the right way.” But then she got blindsided. This past month we learned that Sandra and Jesse are divorcing following his alleged serial affairs.

What many don’t know is that Sandra’s marriage to Jesse James (yes, that’s his real name) is her first, but it is Jesse’s third. Even though this is a first marriage for her, it is a remarriage for them. Remarried couples have a tremendously high divorce rate—at least 60% when it just involves a couple, but more like two-thirds when stepchildren are present, as in Sandra’s case. I’m confident that the general demands of marriage blindside all of us, but remarried couples have many more blind spots: issues, dynamics, and stressors that erode their relationships. Not all marriages are the same and not all prescriptions for health are the same either.

If you know someone in a remarriage, point them toward resources that will help them beat the odds. If you are in a remarriage, read the monthly Smart Steps article in HomeLife magazine and visit us online today: