The Stepmom’s Toolkit

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As stepmoms, we need to have many tools for dealing with the myraid of situations we will face.  Here are a few that I think every stepmom needs to have:

  • A Strong Support System~This is a must.  In order to survive the tumult of being in a blended family, it is necessary to have this in place.  Support can come in many forms–friends in the same situation, an understanding spouse, the internet, literature about blended families, or support groups.  Really, just pick one.

 

  • Rewards~Lets face it, things can get hectic in many of our situations, so we have to do something to take care of us!  We all may deserve kudos for what we do, yet we sometimes receive not even a simple thanks.  With that in mind, give yourself a pat on the back!  My “pats” include manicures, pedicures, new books, magazines, and green tea lattes from Starbuck’s.  

 

  • A Place to Purge~You have to vent and here are some healthy ways to do it–blogging, journaling, exercising, and cleaning just to name a few.  I am of the opinion that if you don’t get poisonous energies out of your system, they will reveal themselves in other forms.  When I am overloaded with stepfamily stress, I often lose my appetite and have trouble sleeping.  That in turn makes me irritable and edgy.  Who wants to be around a sour puss?  I don’t, so I choose to find a way to channel the negative energy.

 

  • A Sense of Humor~  I am not the most humorous person in the world.  In fact, the liitle humor that I do have is rather dry.  However, I understand the need to laugh.  It helps relieves stress and can put things into the right perspective.  Besides, every thing is not a dire emergency and heck, some things are just funny!

 

  • Grace~This concept in itself is a beautiful thing.  Grace allows you to be forgiving, humble, and understanding.  It allows me to look at Eliza with pity.  It helps me appreciate what my stepsons have been through. 

  

  • A Mirror~From time to time we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves.  We need to monitor what we are reflecting.

 

  • Discernment~You have to know what battles are worth fighting and which ones are best left alone.

 

  • Integrity~It is hard to maintain one’s integrity in the face of trying times–just ask me. But I feel better when I operate in this manner. I stopped playing the tit for tat game long ago. When Eliza slaps me in the face, as she so often does, I don’t turn the other cheek.  I simply move out of striking range.

 

  • Thick Skin~I am not a lizard so I have a hard time with this one. I am a sensitive person although I rarely let it show. But I’ve learned that you can’t break down at the hint of every perceived slight. If you can imagine, it is not always about you. 

 

  • A Sense of Self~If you are not confident in who you are, it is easy to become vulnerable to the attacks of others. Eliza can smell fear and uses it to her advantage. I credit knowing who I am to help combat her wiles. I know who I am and who I refuse to be. Once she understood that she could not get a crazy reaction out of me, she relunctantly retreated.  Had I been weak and insecure, I would have been another one of her victims. 

 

  • A Solid Marriage~This is probably the most important tool in the kit.  With this in place, I believe that a stepmom can get through any situation. A solid marriage acts as a fortress for any stones that the exwife may hurl. Out of all the tools I have, Eliza is most threatened by this one. She knows that it is impossible to penetrate walls of love and committment.

 

  • A Backbone~Don’t be a weeping willow, be a steel magnolia. A backbone comes in handy with an unruly exwife or the kids. For example, once the boys and I were at the mall two days after Christmas.  Evan was being whiny because I would not buy him any toys. He actually told me that I “needed to buy him something,” in a rather demanding tone. What nerve! I informed him that I had already bought him something two days prior and that he needed to remember who he was talking to.  I also pointed out that if he didn’t alter his attitude that he wouldn’t be cruising the mall with us any time soon. Needless to say, he did a 360.

 

  • A Bridge~Sometimes you need to break out the bridge to get over troubled waters. Even if things don’t calm down, just the fact that you have the bridge to stand on means you don’t have to be in the midst of the chaos. The bridge is also useful when you need to get things done for the good of the whole.

 

  • A Fence~I put up the fence when Eliza is not on her best behavior. It protects me from her need to control, manipulate, aggravate, deviate, and lie. The best thing about my fence is that it is not permanent. When she is ready to play nicely, I pack it away.

 

  • A Good Right Hook~LOL, just checking to see if you are still reading!
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9 responses »

  1. I have been a stepmother for five years and am only now learning of all these wonderful blogs by other stepmothers. We are all so different, from different backgrounds, different places, different ages, different beliefs…..but the challenges and frustrations we face are all SO VERY MUCH THE SAME. The same insecurities and hurts feelings about this or that….it’s incredible. All the amazing women who’s blogs I follow are my support system-even I don’t directly communicate with ANY of them. It’s just such a relief to know I’M NOT ALONE! I’M NOT CRAZY! Other people are having the same issues and nobody is doing it perfectly. It has been said that the hardest job there ever is, was, or will be is that of being I parent. As a biomom of two and a stepmom of two more-I dare challenge that. Being a stepparent, a GOOD (as opposed to “wicked”) stepparent is the hardest job there is. All the responsibility, none of the rights. You’re expected to give your all-and NOT ONLY get nothing in return but to brace yourself for a slap in the face by mom, kids, and/or dad for doing it. *sigh* I could go on and on-but you all know it already. My most important tool in my stepmother toolkit is the internet-where I can find all of you and your tragedies and triumphs. I gives me strength to go on. To pick myself up again and again, and push on loving and caring for the wonderful babies God gave to me but society decrees are “not mine”.

  2. Oh come on, I think that a good right hook and a punching bag are a great resource to have. He he. A support system is so important…I’ve been trying to build up mine slowly between friends, my boyfriend and good literature.

  3. Every one of the tools you have listed is important. I’m so glad you took the time to type it all out so that the rest of us can print it out where we can read it frequently.

    Thanks! And awesome post!

  4. I am fairly new to this. Although I know and have known that I need additional support, I have not known where to find that support. Maybe this is the place?

    I have two step children (6 year old boy and 12 year old girl). My husband and I have been together for nearly three years, but married for just under one year. From the first month, I kept telling myself, it would get easier. That is, dealing with the ex would get easier. Instead, she has for the most part, worsened and become more difficult. She is very up and down. Sometimes she is quiet and leaves us alone and other times she is explosive and out to make my husband’s life more difficult, she tried to control him/situations and just simply belittles everything we do.

    I am very UNconfrontational. I will stand up for myself and I can hold my own, but I do not feel like I should have to be concerned with attacks or belittlement from anyone, nevermind my husband’s ex. If I have something to say, I would hope to have a face to face conversation with the person whom the situation needs to be addressed. She, on the other hand, sends messages through email, text and through her 12 year old quite consistently. And, it angers me. It angers me first, that she puts her 12 year old in the middle and second that she can’t just address her concerns in a mature (she is roughly 7 years older than I) manner. And, it angers me that any of this even angers me:( Or, saddens me, or frustrates me. Whatever the feeling is at that time.

    This is my first marriage and I do not yet have kids of my own. Nor do I want kids until we manage our first “family” and build our foundation as husband and wife. We have the kids 50/50. However, she is primary custodian and he has a divorce decree that he closely abides to, but she enjoys throwing in his face at every opportunity. All of this stress with his ex wife has been very hard for me/us; however, we have made and continue to make great progress!

    I could write more, but does anyone have any encouraging or even maybe not so encouraging insight for me? What have I gotten myself into? What can I do to not be broken down by this woman? What can we do to avoid her coming between us? So far my prayers and my husband have gotten us this far. I don’t want to be just getting by. I want to live peacefully and as happily as I believe I deserve. Afterall, I have not been divorced. Although, sometimes I feel like she is my ex wife.

    Thanks for reading and for any advice or insight you may have.

  5. Strongstepmom~

    Allow me to begin by welcoming you into our circle! Here at “Full Moon”, Rhonda and I know exactly how you feel! I don’t think there is a problem with the exwife that she or I have not encountered.

    I would encourage you to keep your focus on strengthening your maritial bonds, which in turn, will give you strength and energy to develop a solid relationship with your stepchildren. This will also prevent anyone from being a third party in your marriage.

    I wrote about the tools that we stepmoms need really to remind myself. Some days are better than others for me as a stepmom. It is not an easy journey, but it is not impossible. I try to challenge myself to see the silver lining in every situation.

    I have started a new practice when we have a “controversial” situation with Eliza, my husband’s exwife. In my journal I write about the issue, first from our perspective. On the other side, I write it from Eliza’s perspective. This helps me remove my feelings from the issue so that I can focus on what is really at hand. Some say empathy is overrated, but I dare not. I have found that it is best for me to approach blended family situations with logic and without too much emotion. I know that someone has to be the levelheaded one.

    Personally I have been through a lot with my “stepwife” (like you, I often feel like she is my ex!–just read through some old posts). You are not alone! Spend some time browsing through the different stepmom blogs, check out our “Books” page for some good titles pertaining to this subject, and do things to take care of yourself–to name a few.

    Also allow yourself the gift of feeling any range of emotions that you may have. I know I do. It is perfectly normal to feel angry, bitter, spiteful, hateful, sad, jealous, ect. Some of us stepmoms are in very stressful situations! Therefore we have to learn to cultivate peace in any circumstances.

    I hope this helpful! Feel free to stop by any time to ask questions, vent, get or give advice, or whatever you need to make it through the day!

    Be blessed,

    Morocco

  6. Hi Ladies:

    Great blog! And you have nailed exactly what we need in our tool kits. I am a stepmom of three kids and the only thing I would add to your fine list is that it’s important that the people you choose as your support team and your venting mates don’t feed off of the anger/resentment etc. and instead help you to brainstorm creative ways to get through the challenges. I hope you’ll stop by my blog too and let me know if you ever want to do a guest post!

    Best wishes,
    Jacque
    http://www.becomingastepmom.com

  7. Hi everyone. I’m new to this as well, along with the whole stepmom thing. Well I’m not a stepmom but the principles are the same lol….my bf and I have been dating for 6 months and we have talked about getting engaged in a few more months. He has a daughter who is turning one year next week so things are quite difficult with her being so young and the ex so fresh.

    My situation is at least reassuring that, sad to say though, the child was a mistake and they weren’t even dating at the time but tried to for the sake of the child, they broke up shortly after she was born. This also though makes the ex spite me much more since my bf and I are dating due to actual love and not just because.
    The ex in our first few months took my bf to court a lot, fighting to not even give him any rights to the child. Finally though he has rights to how she is raised, and we get her every other weekend. Also the ex is calming down a bit towards me and would like to meet me, however she has backed down the past few times we arranged it.

    I guess the hardest thing is that even though my bf is 27 I am only 19 almost 20, albeit I am very mature for my age and already past the party stage. My bf also has schizophrenia so often when we do get his daughter, though he tries his hardest to take care of her he can also be negligent. I do find it to be a very stressful situation and I’m glad to see I’m not alone in my emotions and I thank everyone for that. If anyone has any words of advice for dealing with the ex, or dealing with their baby it would be greatly appreciated.

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