Archive for the 'stepmother role' Category

Affirming You in Your Role as a Childless Stepmom

I’m not a childless stepmom. But I have the utmost respect for those of you who are.

For many years, I didn’t give much thought to what it would feel like to be a childless stepmom. But after talking to several of you and watching how you do life, I realize the ultimate sacrifice you make as a stepmom without children of your own.

We know that a stepmom doesn’t get to experience the “firsts” of a biological mom. The first one to have a child with your husband. The first one to experience parenting with your spouse and your baby. The first one to make any kind of a decision regarding that child and a host of decisions later.

But a childless stepmom never gets to experience those events or realize the joy of having a biological child, even if it’s from a previous relationship.

Many childless stepmoms I’ve spoken with are not childless by choice. Infertility plays a role all too often. And the roller coaster of trying to conceive takes a heavy toll every time.

If you’re struggling with infertility or any kind of extended wait, you might find comfort from a devotion posted by Tracies Mills with Proverbs 31 Ministries, titled “Waiting for God’s Best.” It speaks of the 20 year wait Isaac endured before his wife, Rebekah, gave birth to their twins (Genesis 25:26). Waiting is hard. And waiting without answers can be unbearable.

A childless stepmom faces different challenges than a stepmom with her own children. She is misunderstood by the parenting community and perhaps not even accepted by other moms. She endures the same parenting challenges but receives little reward for her efforts.

So if you’re a childless stepmom, I affirm you in your role. God bless you in your efforts to make a difference in your stepchildren’s lives. And although others may not appreciate or recognize the important role you play, you can be assured that you, as a stepmom, have value.

Are you struggling in your role as a childless stepmom? Do you need to reach out to other stepmoms?  Will you share how you cope with the challenges you encounter?

Related Posts:

Stepparenting Heartache

Stepparenting Heartache, Part Two

Count Your Blessings

You Don’t Have to be Super StepMom

I was talking to a stepmom this week who is recently divorced.  She had two stepchildren and told of her struggle to be Super StepMom. But it didn’t matter how hard she tried, it didn’t change the difficult relationship with her stepchildren.

There are so many variables that influence what kind of relationship we have with our stepchildren. And many of those variables are beyond our control.
We can make every effort to be Stepmom of the Year but come to the end of the year with the same relationship we started at the beginning. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept the blame for the rejection.
During my stepson’s adolescent years, he found all kinds of reasons to dislike me. Some of them might have been legitimate, but most were unfounded. Regardless of how hard I tried to be a good stepmom to him, he rejected my efforts.
I have been married to my stepson’s dad for 16 years and after many difficult years, my stepson and I now have a good relationship. It isn’t because I became a different person toward him. It’s because he has matured into a young man who, at 21 years old, recognizes and appreciates the role I’ve played in his life.   
Did I want to quit being his stepmom during those adolescent years? Absolutely! Did I deserve the treatment I received? No! Am I thankful I didn’t walk away? Yes!
Acting as a Super StepMom doesn’t guarantee a good relationship with your stepchild, and usually results in unmet expectations. Consistent love over time, through the ups and downs of life, could be the difference. But regardless of your stepchild’s behavior, the only way you fail in this role, is if you quit.
Do you need to give up the role of Super StepMom and the expectations that go with it?
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What is our Role as a Stepparent?

When we moved to Louisiana toward the end of June, my two biological daughters stayed behind in Conway, AR. They both had summer jobs and wanted to stay close to their friends the rest of the summer. At 18 and 21 years old, I knew they could manage on their own but needed a temporary living place before they moved  into college housing in the Fall.

My next-door neighbor, Sara, offered to let the girls stay at her house. She and her husband have four grown children and extra bedrooms. It was a perfect arrangement to get us through a transitional period.

We spent last week-end in Conway helping my daughter, Jamie, move into her college apartment and I observed the relationship between her and my neighbor. It reminded me of a stepparenting relationship in the early years.  

Sara knew her role as an additional parent to the girls. She didn’t try to overstep or undermine my relationship in any way. But she did offer a listening ear and everyday support when the girls needed it.

Late in the summer the girls’ dad came for an out-of-state visit. Because their dad is an alcoholic, his behavior is unpredictable and their relationship with him is tenuous. Sara spent several hours talking to the girls about their feelings and struggles with their dad. She offered an unbiased opinion to the situation  as a third-party observer. The girls needed a maternal figure to talk to and since I wasn’t there, they confided in Sara.

I believe that is how our stepparenting role should play out. We are to provide everyday support and a listening ear for our stepchildren when they need it. We are to be a cheerleader for their every effort in sports, music, school, drama, or whatever. We are to love and care for them as if they are our own. But we are not to undermine or compete with their biological parent. We are not to try to replace their biological parent. We are an additional parent.  

Our stepparenting role may change as years pass. When my stepchildren lost their mother to cancer six years ago, I became their primary maternal figure. My husband has stepped into the primary parenting role with my girls because of their dad’s instability. But for many years, my husband and I both worked at functioning as an additional parent to our stepchildren.    

As we drove away from our neighbor’s house to return to our home in Louisiana, Sara was on the front porch with her arm around my youngest daughter, Jodi, who is staying there another week before moving into the dorm. It gave me a warm feeling to know that, although I can’t be there every day right now because of our move, my daughter is loved and cared for by an additional parent.

What role do you play as a stepparent? Is it a healthy role that benefits your stepchildren?

Related Posts:

Is It a Privilege to Be a Stepparent?

Unexpected Stepparenting Moments


Prayer Changes Relationships

This picture is my neighborhood prayer group I have been part of for almost seven years. We meet weekly at 6:00 a.m. (just rolled out of bed – no make up or hair fixed) and pray for the needs of each family represented for an hour.
I joined this group when my husband and I were fighting a custody battle for my stepson after his  mom died and his stepfather had applied for custody. It was a very difficult time and these ladies became my support group.
Year after year of praying diligently for my stepfamily and its relationships has resulted in some amazing healing. My stepson has changed from an angry adolescent who wanted to isolate himself from our family to a maturing young adult who loves and cares for each family member.
The Mother’s Day card  my stepson gave me this past Sunday brought tears to my eyes. The comments he wrote said, “After this last year, I’ve needed a mother the most, and you have been outstanding. Thank you for putting up with all my crazy ways and being a great mother to me!!”(exclamation marks included).  
I don’t write this to brag about our relationship but only to encourage you if your stepparenting relationships are strained. I’ve been there. I’ve had so many days that I wanted to give up on my stepmother role. But as my stepchildren reach their adult years, they show me their appreciation more and more.
The rewards of stepparenting don’t come during the early or middle years, they come at the end – probably after your stepchildren leave home.
But I’m convinced that the hours I’ve spent praying for my stepfamily and our relationships have made a difference. Our family was broken when my husband and I married 15 years ago, and only God could have put the pieces back together. 
With tears in my eyes, I said good-bye to my neighborhood prayer group last night. As  my husband and I and youngest son move to Louisiana, I’ll be in search of another prayer group to join. Or perhaps, I’ll start a neighborhood group where we move. But I can assure you, I won’t quit praying for my stepfamily. Because prayer changes relationships.
Are you praying regularly for your stepfamily?
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Have You Seen Our New Ebook for Stepmothers?

How was your Mother’s Day? Do you need a pick-me-up after a difficult day?

I hope you’ll consider downloading our new ebook for stepmothers that Heather Hetchler and I compiled, “Stepping with Purpose: Stories of Strength and Faith for StepMothers.” It can  be downloaded FREE from my website home page.   

Here’s an introduction taken from the book: 

“Stepparenting is a hard role.We’re given parental responsibilities but have no parental rights. We perform parental chores but get few parental rewards. We offer love and acceptance to our stepchildren but may receive pain and rejection in return.

That’s why we’ve created this e-book. We believe stepmothers need the support of one another for strength and encouragement. We also believe stepmothers who rely on their faith for guidance and perseverance for their stepparenting journey will find greater peace, fulfillment, and success.

So, we’ve compiled eight stories of strength and faith from seasoned stepmothers walking the trenches of stepparenting to help you. We don’t pretend to have all the answers but hope to offer ideas and suggestions that have worked for us.”

I hope you’ll take a look at the encouraging stories submitted by some wonderful stepmoms when you download the ebook here. And then check back with me and let me know what you think!

Related Posts:

A Sampling of Stepmother Stories from Ebook  

New ebook for Stepmothers available today!

I’m excited to announce a new e-book a fellow stepmom, Heather Hetchler, and I compiled that can be downloaded for FREE from my website home page. It’s a collection of  personal, real-life stories and struggles from seasoned stepmom authors that are designed to encourage and support you on your journey.

Here’s a sampling from a story titled “Learning how to Love,” by Laura Petherbridge, co-author of The Smart Stepmom:

“If I’m being totally honest there were times in my early years as a stepmom that I didn’t even like my stepsons, much less love them. To me they appeared spoiled and pampered, plus everyone in my husband’s family seemed to tip-toe around their wants and whines. … But as a Christian I desired to learn how to love them. I knew Christ could teach me, if I was willing.”

“The first thing God revealed to me was that I had a tainted view of the boys. They were hurting kids, not bratty villains. Their sharp, stinging comments were merely an angry response to their circumstances. They didn’t view me as a wonderful new addition to their family; to them I was the new woman rocking their boat of security. In their eyes, I was taking away their Daddy.”

Here’s another sampling from a story titled “Acceptance,” by Jackie Brown:

“Having my stepdaughter 24/7 was not what I had planned. My life became a roller coaster of angry, sad, unhappy, and at times, depressed feelings. The reality is that I suffered a loss … a loss of the way things were and the way I wanted them to be.

I learned first-hand that there are many things you have to accept in the role of being a full-time stepmom:

Accept that your time, space, and privacy are different from what they once were.
Accept that being a stepmom is unfair and lonely at times.
Accept that you may not see the fruits of your sacrifices until the stepchildren become adults.
Accept that there will be many sacrifices that often go unnoticed.”

There are great stories in this e-book. I hope you’ll hop over and download this free ebook today. Then, come back and let me know what you think.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Celebrating Mother’s Day as a Stepmom

With Mother’s Day only a few days away, you may be thinking about how your stepchildren will handle the celebration. It tends to be an awkward holiday for many stepmothers, including myself at times. We don’t know whether to expect anything from our stepchildren or let the biological mom get all the attention for the day.

Personally, I believe if we’ve played an active role as a stepmother, we deserve some recognition. But that doesn’t mean we will get it from our stepchildren. We may need to ask our spouse (the father of those children) to honor and acknowledge us on Mother’s Day for the difficult role we play.

Stepfamily authority Ron Deal includes a statement from a stepmom in his article, “I Dread Mother’s Day.” The stepmom says, “I get all the grief of parenting, but I don’t get to enjoy the pleasures associated with being a mom.” As a stepmom, I’ve had days I feel that way too. But thankfully, it’s not every day.

I’ve learned to enjoy Mother’s Day with no expectations from my stepchildren. If they offer me a gift or choose to honor me in some way, I’m thrilled. But if they don’t, I know my husband appreciates what I do and lets me know that regularly. I also believe God put these children in my life to care and nurture and I want to be obedient to His calling.

In my next post I’ll talk about a free e-book that will soon be available on my website in honor of stepmoms. I hope you’ll check back to find out how to get your copy.

How does your family celebrate Mother’s Day? Is is meaningful day or a difficult one?

Related Posts:

More Mother’s Day Thoughts

Overcoming the Pain of Rejection

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