Six Tips for Helping Stepparents Deal With Jealousy

green-eyed monsterWithin families and stepfamilies that have experienced separation and divorce, horror stories are often shared and retold (to people within the family circle and outside of it) about who did what to whom; of alleged wickedness and “evil” behaviour; and of “monsters” real and imagined.

Whatever the situation (or the story), there is one monster in particular that often rears its ugly head causing tension and havoc in families and stepfamilies alike – that “green-eyed monster,” also known as jealousy.

Jealousy is typically an emotion rooted in a fear. Fear that something belonging to you will be taken away or of a loss in status of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection. Within stepfamilies, jealousies typically originate as a protective reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship and the anticipated loss of something that is important to the person in question. It typically co-exists alongside thoughts and feelings of envy (the desire to have something that is possessed by another), hurt, hostility, insecurity, fear, concern and anxiety. It is expressed through a myriad of different behaviours (as opposed to a single behaviour) and it doesn’t always look pretty. [Read More…]

By |October 24th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Stepparents|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

6 Great Tips for Stepfamilies/Co-Parents to Navigate Back-to-School (Madness)

school bus For many families the start of the school term and the return to school is a looming presence that generates a sense of palpable unease. The back-to-school madness, coupled by parents who operate from two separate homes  juggling their respective household’s needs, brings with it a unique set of challenges.

The pressure of organizing enrollments, purchasing of school equipment and supplies and selecting and confirming extra circular activities can exacerbate simmering tensions and ignite old debates between separated parents about finances, about who did more, who did nothing or who doesn’t do enough.

The key to limiting back-to-school madness and a successful school year for parents, stepparents and children, ultimately comes down to two things: civility and effective communication between everyone involved – between parents, children, stepchildren, ex-spouses and new partners, teachers and administrators. All of whom, although in particular parents and stepparents, are integral parts in ensuring the kids’ academic success and emotional wellbeing. [Read More…]

Gender Roles in Stepfamilies: How Traditional Thinking Sets You Up to Fail

stepfamilies and gender rolesNo matter where you fall on the feminist continuum, there is no denying traditional gender roles exist. We all know them. Men go to work and are breadwinners. Women stay at home and are caretakers.

What you may not know is that these types of gender roles wreak havoc on stepfamilies. They also set stepmothers up to fail. And, believe it or not, we all have a role to play in setting the trap.

Your Partner’s Role

Following divorce, separation or death, children and their dads transition and adjust to living together on their own. Many times this can mean a father taking on tasks that he didn’t previously do – like picking his children up from school or organizing play dates.

Most children find that they enjoy this time with their dad. In fact, Sarah Allen PhD, and Kerry Daly, PhD, found in their research study titled “The Effects of Father Involvement,” that both children and fathers do better when dads are actively involved in their children’s lives. [Read More…]

How Our Family Makes Father’s Day a “Biggie” Deal

Christy Stansell FamilyI hope you don’t have one, but if you do, I’m guessing your court order looks something like mine: the child will spend Mother’s Day with Mom and Father’s Day with Dad, even if it is “supposed” to be the other parent’s weekend.  That was all good and fine…. until I got remarried… and now my husband – the “step-dad” – never gets to have Father’s Day with his step-daughter.  It’s heart-wrenching.

When my second husband and I were dating, my little girl told me, “When my dad goes to heaven, I want Biggie to be my daddy.”  We called him “Biggie” because, as God’s humor would have it, he and my daughter have the same name, just spelled differently. Little did she know then that it wouldn’t be long before she’d get her wish. I remarried soon after my daughter’s 6th birthday.  She delighted in being the flower girl for our wedding.

Now my forever-husband and my daughter are “like this” (picture fingers wound together tightly!) And, even though her birth father is still alive, my daughter calls her step-dad “Daddy” (much to her biological father’s chagrin.)  I’m not about to forbid my daughter from calling him whatever endearment she feels comfortable. Honestly, if her dad got remarried, and she wanted to call his wife “Mom” I’d let her, without complaint, because I’m confident in my role as her mother… but I digress. [Read More…]

Love, Acceptance and Stepchildren

StepfamiliesI watched Andrew Solomon’s Ted talk, “Love, No Matter What,” recently. And, it got me thinking about its relevance to stepfamilies and creating a stepfamily you love.

If you haven’t already seen it or it’s been awhile since you last watched Andrew’s talk, here it is: [Read More…]

A Different Christmas (Celebrating with Stepfamilies)

DifferentChristmas1 The carols are playing, the decorations are up and strings of lights are strung over houses with care. It all seems rather normal, but for repartnered families having a first (or tenth!) Christmas together, it can feel pretty surreal. We share Christmas with my stepson’s mother.

One year he spends Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning with us and heads to his mother’s for the majority of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Vice versa the following year.

After 12 years and two other children, I still can’t decide which is more difficult. Having the joy of Christmas Eve with all of the spine-tingling Santa expectation and early morning waking to presents only to be followed by the letdown of him leaving for the rest of the day.

His absence a niggling presence in all that we do the rest of the day. Or the alternative of waking up to Christmas morning without him and having the long (feels-like-forever) wait until he gets home to let our family’s ‘real’ celebrations begin. [Read More…]

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