Good morning/afternoon beautiful Bonus Moms!
I’d like to know how many of you are now, will be, or have been for some time…Stepmoms in beautiful British Columbia, Canada? Or do you know some friends, family or acquaintances/colleagues that are going through a rough time adjusting to a blended family unit or becoming a step-parent?
Have you felt a total lack of support going through the every day battles, roller coaster of emotions and strain on your relationship? Do you wish that there was some sort of help in a world where the main focus tends to sway toward the bio-parents and their children? Do you feel there is a lack of professional or social support groups? Counselling/Coaching? Legal help? Even retreats to de-stress, learn and re-group your physical and mental well-being?
Please feel free to comment and/or contact me as in the upcoming months I will be training under the amazing and nationally renowned Jenna Korf (Certified Stepfamily Foundation Coach & Author of ‘Skirts at War: Beyond Divorced Mom/Stepmom Conflict’.
Once completed I will have some great news for all of you BC Bonus Moms!
If you are looking for a FB page for information on all of the above, the below link is going to be it.
Bare with me as I get started out and proceed through training for certification but please use the tools and support that we can all provide to one another on this journey!
Studies show that conflict is what creates the most pain and anguish for children after parents’ split, and that keeping parental disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping kids become resilient. Over the last few decades, research by child development experts has demonstrated numerous benefits to children when their living arrangements enable support from both parents. One reason is that parents who co-parent tend to experience lower conflict than those who have sole custody arrangements.
However, very few experts discuss the drawbacks of co-parenting when parents don’t get along or have high conflict relationships. According to parenting expert, Edward Kruk, Ph.D., children of divorce benefit from strong and healthy relationships with both parents and they need to be shielded from their parents’ conflicts. He writes: “Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme cases, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both parents.”
It takes two special parents to navigate a successful co-parenting arrangement over time. Interacting with each other at drop-offs, making shared decisions, or even speaking to an ex who you’d rather forget can be a challenge. Often divorced parents have a lot of unresolved anger after their breakup which can make moving forward smoothly problematic for their children.
What is the solution for divorced parents’ who want to do what’s in the best interest of their children when they have high conflict? According to Dr. Kruk, “Parallel parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.”
In other words, parallel parenting allows parents to remain disengaged from one another while they remain close to their children. For instance, they remain committed to making responsible decisions (medical, education, etc) but decide on the logistics of day-today parenting separately. Dr. Kruk posits that the higher the conflict between the parents, the more structured the parenting plan should be.
The key to successful parallel parenting after divorce is to keep the focus on your children – and to maintain a cordial relationship with your ex-spouse. Most importantly, you want your children see that their parents are working together for their well-being. Never use them as messengers because when you ask them to tell their other parent something for you, it can make them feel stuck in the middle. It’s best to communicate directly with your ex and lessen the chances your children will experience loyalty conflicts.
The following are suggestions based on my own experience and advice from experts. First of all, it’s paramount that you gear your parenting plan to the age of your children and that it is consistent. Try to develop routines for them leaving and coming home when they are young. As they reach adolescence, strive to be more flexible and adapt to their changing needs.
Tips to help kids live happily in two homes with parallel parenting:
1. Utilize a third party mediator – This person can be a counselor, social worker, or even a member of your church. They can help mediate any face to face meetings between you and your ex-spouse.
2. Develop a parallel parenting plan – This should describe specific times and public places for exchanges, plans for cancellations, etc.
3. Limit communications to only those that are necessary for the care and well-being of your children. Communicate through email as much as possible and avoid text messages which can come across as hostile or blunt. A notebook can be passed back and forth between homes to communicate any important information.
4. Reassure your children that they have two parents who love them. If they balk at going to their other parent’s home, you can say something like “Even though mom and dad aren’t married anymore we both still love you and are good parents.”
5. Maintain a cordial, business-like relationship with your ex so that your children won’t feel intense divided loyalties. It’s important not to express anger at your ex in front of your children so they don’t feel stuck in the middle.
6. Help your kids anticipate changes in their schedule. Planning ahead and helping them pack important possessions can benefit them. However, keep items to a bare minimum. Most parents prefer to have duplicate items for their kids on hand.
7. Encourage your younger child to adhere to their parenting time schedule – being consistent with their routine will help your kids feel secure. Younger children often benefit from avoiding frequent shifts between homes. Whereas teens usually benefit from flexibility in their schedule because they may have difficulty juggling their busy life with school, extracurricular activities, friends, and jobs if they start working.
8. Remember to keep the spotlight on your children’s best interests. You and your ex may detest one another, but you both love your children. Keep in mind that your ex is your child’s other parent and deserves respect simply because of this fact. Encourage your child to spend time with your ex-spouse’s extended family since this will help them to feel more secure in the long-run.
Keep in mind that communicating with your former spouse is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s childhood into young adulthood. This may include special events, graduations – and perhaps even weddings. It’s important to keep clear boundaries so that your children wouldn’t harbor fantasies that you will reconcile. For the most part, this means less personal sharing and focusing on exchanging information, cooperation, and making good decisions about your children.
It’s also possible that even though you and your ex-spouse may not be capable of a cooperative co-parenting arrangement now, it may be an option in the future. It may take years, but eventually the anger you and your ex harbor for one another may dissipate sufficiently for you to consider co-parenting. Keep the door open for the future since it will benefit your children if you are cooperative colleagues.
In sum, modeling cooperation and polite behavior set a positive tone for parallel parenting. When children are confident of the love of both of their parents, they will adjust more easily to divorce. Keeping your differences with your ex away from your children will open up opportunities to move beyond divorce in the years to come. Ask yourself this question: how do you want your children to remember you and their childhood when they are adults?
There are many stepmoms struggling to fit in and find peace in their families, not because they don’t get along with their stepchildren, but because they’re introverts in a family of extroverts. Continue reading →
I saw these words on a Bio Mom/Stepmom’s blog and although I didn’t fully agree with a lot that she said, some of the points are definitely pivotal to a healthy wife/stepmom relationship.
Some of it will be ‘hard to swallow’ for some of you, some of you it will resonate with. But I can assure you that if you look deep inside a lot, if not all, will ring true and most of all is the best way to conduct yourself in your “position” in the children’s lives as well as ensuring that you put yourself AND your husband first. Your marriage IS the most important thing between you. The children have their Mother and their Father…and the important adult figure…YOU.
See the below for her 10 Crucial Steps for stepmoms:
1. You are not their mother. Even if your husband has primary custody of the kids. Even if their biological mother rarely sees them. Even if they CALL you mom. Do not make the mistake of believing in your heart that you have all the same rights and privileges as the woman who gave birth to them– because you don’t. You can have a meaningful, loving, influential relationship with your stepchildren, but it will be different from that between a mother and child. That’s okay. Embrace it, and make the most of it.
2. Silence is the best policy. We live in a world where everyone loves to vent, whether it’s on Facebook, over the phone, or during a Girls Night Out, but take it from me– No one likes to hear a stepmother vent about her husband’s ex or her step-kids. Divorce is one of the most devastating things a person will ever go through, and no one needs to hear from you how the ex-wife is handling it, or how her kids are acting out in the aftermath. One of the hardest parts about being a stepmom is the need to keep quiet about the tough stuff, and how it’s affecting you. If you’ve got to let it out, limit your thoughts to a very close, trusted friend, or even better- tell it to your counselor or therapist. Which brings us to number three.
3. Find a counselor or therapist, even if you don’t think you need one. My husband and I didn’t visit a counselor until we’d been married eight years- HUGE MISTAKE. I went into the first session thinking I was a horrible stepmom and that our problems raising the girls were unique to us and insurmountable, and do you know what the counselor told us? “You guys are doing great! Do you know that I hear your exact same problems from nearly every blended family that comes in this room? Do you realize that 70% of blended family marriages fail? You’ve almost made it through! YOU’RE DOING GREAT!” I really, really, really needed to hear that. Going to see a counselor helped me stop beating myself up and allowed me to realize that what we were experiencing was actually NORMAL. For me, that changed everything. Also? You might need to visit a few counselors/therapists before you find the one that’s right for you. Be prepared to shop around until you find someone you and your husband are both comfortable with.
4. It’s okay to take a step back. This was initially a tough one for me, because I thought my girls needed me to act just like I was their mom. WRONG. Remember number one? I’m not their mom, and acting like I was probably caused some resentment and confusion on both ends. I now believe that a good stepmom is physically/emotionally available when her step-kids need and want her to be– and she backs off and becomes a behind-the-scenes supporter to her husband’s parenting when they don’t.
5. Protect your marriage at all costs. You and your husband need to be each others refuge, particularly when you’re having issues with your children or stepchildren. If child-rearing issues are pulling you apart, pinpoint exactly what’s hurting your marriage and protect your relationship in this area immediately and relentlessly. A counselor can be WONDERFUL at helping you do this. Ultimately, zealously protecting your marriage benefits everyone- Your stepchildren need to see you and your husband stay together and fight for your relationship, even when times are tough. It will teach them to do the same some day.
6. Don’t compare yourself to other stepparents. You will come across other stepmoms who can’t stop raving about how WONDERFUL their relationships are with their stepchildren. “They tell me ALL their secrets!” they’ll gush. “They told me they think of me as their REAL MOM!” “They convinced the city to hold a parade in my honor!” Etc. Don’t let it get you down. Remember what I said earlier? More than 70% of blended family marriages fail. Girl, you don’t need a parade. You’re keeping it together. You’re doing great.
7. Don’t play the blame game. Maybe you, like me, have spent too much time beating yourself up about your shortcomings as a stepmother. Or maybe you think your marital problems are all your step-kids’ fault. Maybe you even think your husband is to blame, because he always seems to take their side. Realistically, you’re probably ALL partially to blame for the problems in your relationships. You can’t change everyone else, but you can change yourself. Work on that, and hope that your efforts inspire others in your family to try harder, too.
8. Forgive yourself. Stepmom, let’s just get something straight right now. You are going to make a lot of mistakes. Like, a LOT lot. Please don’t do what I did and spend years convincing yourself that something is very wrong with you because you seem to screw everything up. Forgive yourself. Over and over and over again. Forgive yourself. And move on.
9. You can’t fix what you didn’t break. My own stepfather said this to me a few years ago. I wish I had heard it a lot sooner, because I spent years trying to do a whole lot of fixing. I really thought I could solve everything and everyone if I just tried hard enough. What a waste of energy. So many issues a blended family faces come from the divorce, which the stepmother (hopefully) had nothing to do with. As wonderful as I’m sure you are, you can’t fix that.
10. Stick with it and know that you will emerge from this a better person. Now that I have raised my stepdaughters and had time to look back on the experience, I feel like I ran a gauntlet of tremendous emotional challenges and came across the finish line truly changed. I am wiser. I am gentler with myself. I am more reluctant to judge others. I am a far better wife and mother than I would have been without my stepdaughters. Our family is still a work in progress, but the worst is behind us. We made it through. And the experience actually ended up being a huge bonding point for my husband and me.
I certainly don’t want to make being a stepmother seem all gloom and doom, because it isn’t. We’ve had many, many wonderful times together. I would change a lot of things I did as a stepmother if I could go back in time, but I wouldn’t give up my blended family. I still believe I’m here for a reason. We are all imperfect. We all have the potential to be amazing. We are all working toward that potential, in our own time and in our own way. We are learning more about each other as we go. We are all messed up, but you know what? We are family.
We are family.
And in the end, that’s what matters.
Finished Module I of the Stepmom Transformation series last night and collaborated with my husband at the end.
Went well and quicker than I thought! lol
“Defining Your Role” complete!
On to the next module when it arrives!
Today I purchased the first leg of my journey to self discovery as a Step-Mom.
A five session/module to start me on my way to a better understanding of myself as a step-parent and defining myself mentally, emotionally and even physically within my family and relationship dynamic.
This is a comprehensive home-study program created to help you master skills essential to stepmom success.
“I did this program with my husband. We found the assignments so helpful that we filed them away because we want to do them yearly.” – Chrissy
How Does it Work?
You’ll receive a total of 5 modules with one module being emailed to you each week. This will prevent you from experiencing information overload and will provide you time to work through the exercises in each module. (If you’re an overachiever you can request to have all modules sent together ;))
This program will help you:
Each module contains valuable information, real-life examples and written exercises designed to help you resolve your issues, facilitate your growth and increase your personal power, resulting in a happier you.
“I gained a lot of tools from this program that I can use when my step-family situation challenges, that would otherwise be very difficult to get through. I feel guided to a better and happier me.” – Erica
As you’ve probably guessed from the title, this module is designed to help you get clear on what your role as a stepmom is. It will help you figure out what you want that role to look like and ultimately how you want to show up for your stepchildren. It will also help you explore any beliefs that may be blocking you from being your authentic self.
Tired of being treated like a doormat? Do you often agree to things that you’d rather say no to? Do you feel attacked by the ex-wife or disrespected by your step-kids? Boundaries help you protect yourself from unwanted behavior. They also teach others how to treat you. In this module you’ll learn how to create and enforce healthy boundaries so you feel protected and empowered and overall happier than you’ve ever been.
When you’re not living in alignment with your personal values, internal (and external) conflict is inevitable. This module will help you clarify your values and teach you how to honor those values so you’re living a more satisfying life. This module will also provide you with tools to help you and your partner resolve conflict that was seemingly un-resolvable.
This module is full of tips on how to effectively communicate with men. It contains information on what your partner is likely experiencing as a divorced dad, the difference between men and women and how to use those differences to communicate with your partner in a way that will help you resolve conflict. This module is designed to help you get your needs met and better understand and appreciate your partner.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: When you’re not feeling good about yourself, even the smallest of stressors can seem insurmountable. In this module, get ready to reconnect with your inner Goddess! This module is designed to help you understand why making yourself a priority is vital to becoming a happy stepmom. It will help you rediscover the best parts of yourself and give you the strength to move yourself to the top of the priority list – without feeling guilty!
I am back after a few months away, due to personal reasons, and upon attempting to log into my blog “A Day In The Life Of A BC Bonus Mom”….I quickly realized that it was GONE. No longer available. My hard work, sweat, laughter, tears…had all been obliterated into the internet ether somewhere.
So, I find myself back and having to start all over from scratch, regaining my old contacts, finding all who I used to follow and support, so bare with me as I find my blogging feet again!
Nowadays, I am being found under “bcbonusmomblog” and I will be re-entering the world of Step-Families and not only looking for support but giving it on whatever levels I can. There will be posts on everything family related…kids….education….recipes….legal stuff….opinions….relationships as well as the constant struggle between bio parents and step parents. There simply does NOT appear to be much, if ANY support for step-moms…step-parents….in British Columbia at all. Now, I am not sure if I can or will change that but I am sure that I can endeavor to try.
I attempt to attend as many early childhood development workshops (psycho-educational) as well as step-parenting/step-family courses that I can annually, as well as having the day to day issues and drama that comes with being a stepmom coupled with first hand experience with an uncooperative co-parent with an evil streak. 🙂
For those of you that don’t know me, or don’t remember me, I am Nell and I am a Smommy to two wonderful young boys that entered my life 3 years ago now when I met the man who I would eventually marry. We did indeed marry a year after meeting and I officially got the name of “stepmom”….or evil stepmom as I have been so lovingly called…lol I have lived, worked and traveled overseas most of my life and have gained a plethora of life experience along the way. Although I now have a permanent base set up back home in BC Canada, my journey has not ended, it has simply taken a different road….and it is certainly a roller coaster ride!
So, join me! Follow me as I start the next chapter….share and care with flare!!