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…]

The Mother’s Day Predicament for Stepmothers

Stepping Through Girl-with-No-Entry-SignModern-day Mother’s Day celebrations are an opportunity to pay tribute to our mothers and thank them for all their love and support. For stepfamilies, this day of appreciation of mothers and mother-figures can raise a whole lot of something – not all of it always good!

For many reasons, it can be difficult for children, even those with the most amicable of co-parents, to celebrate both their parents and stepparents on Mother’s/Father’s Day. Mother’s Day can highlight the most intractable problems between moms and stepmoms and leave children feeling like they are fighting the ‘Battle Royale’ of internal battles out in public for their whole world to see.

As a stepmother, being ignored by your stepchildren on Mother’s Day – well, it sucks. More so, if you have been in the picture for a long time and you do a lot of parent-like things for your stepchild. Putting yourself in your stepchild’s shoes and looking at the situation from their perspective might help take the sting out of being overlooked or ignored on Mother’s Day. While considering things from the child’s point of view, you might also find that their response towards you on Mother’s Day actually has little to do with you as a person or as a stepmom, but more about their own feelings and struggles. [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…]

Featured In