FOUR REASONS Why Being a Step-Mom (or Dad) is Hard!

Reason #1: THE STEP-CHILD

You did not conceive, give birth to or delight in the birth of this child.  You did not nurse him or walk with him when he had colic.  You did not see her first smile or gaze with wonder into her eyes.  You didn’t rejoice when he turned learned to crawl.  You didn’t laugh when she said her first word.

For a birth parent there are a million moments with this child that are like invisible threads winding these two hearts together.

You enter this child’s life after age four, or eight, or twelve years of these moments that you have missed.

You are beginning to build a relationship when this child already is tightly bound to his birth mother and father.  No matter what difficult dynamics may be between them, this child is deeply, genetically and emotionally loyal to the two who gave her life.

Reason #2: THE FATHER

He’s a great guy or you wouldn’t have fallen in love with him.  You believe you can help him heal from the trauma of divorce or the loss of his former wife.

What you don’t immediately see is that he feels sorry that his kids have suffered trauma, too.  He couldn’t protect them from the loss of their mother.  Or he left their mother because he was unhappy or the situation was intolerable.  He believes, whether it’s true or not, that he’s contributed to a deep wound in his kids.  He wants to make all other parts of their lives as easy and conflict free as possible to make up for the pain they have felt or are experiencing.

So, he wears rose colored glasses when it comes to his kids.  He sometimes excuses behavior you think needs correction.  He doesn’t seem to notice when they leave their stuff all over the house, or eat candy before dinner, or are rude to you.

And he resents it when you suggest his kids may need more dependable structure in their lives.  After all, what do you know?  You didn’t live through the events that brought them to this place.  You don’t understand that Susie is especially sensitive and must be treated with kid gloves.  Or that Bobbie is just acting out his confusion and only needs time to adjust.

Reason #3: THE MOTHER

You are, in many ways, acting the role of the mother.  You may fix meals, drive to school, do the laundry, and attend sports events,  ad nauseam.  But you do not enjoy the loyalty or the affection of these children.  That belongs to their real mother.

And she may be jealous of sharing her time and authority with you.  She may still be reacting to the pain of her dream family splitting apart whether or not it was her choice.  She may see you in competition with her for her children’s affection.  She may want to punish the former spouse by changing custody plans at the last minute, or taking him back to court for more money.  She might even tell lies about him…and you… to the children!  She may try to engage you in the drama.

And your beloved may be so sick of dealing with her that he is relieved when you take over the communication with her…meaning you are drawing her fire more than him.

Having an adult, mature relationship with an Ex where the needs of the children are put ahead of the convenience of the parents (and step-parent) is an ideal situation.  It even occasionally happens that way.  And sometimes relationships with an Ex that start out crazy gradually become more sane.  (Watch the videos recommended below to see how one father learned to handle his “crazy Ex.”)

But sanity seems to be the rare exception when it comes to broken marriages and custody of children.

Reason #4: YOU, THE STEP-MOTHER

Yes, you too, may be contributing to the issues.  Often you, the “new wife,” believe you can rescue this wonderful man.  You are the salve that will heal his wounded heart.   You will provide the love and stability that these hurting children need.  You will love them all back to health and happiness.  You will be the catalyst for a more positive future.

And then you begin to resent how unappreciative they all are!  You are being taken advantage of and feel used.  You chafe at the lack of authority you have to make decisions and follow through with needed discipline.  You can’t understand why your beloved doesn’t see that Bobby needs firm boundaries, or that Susie shouldn’t get her own way just because she’s throwing another tantrum.

Can’t he see that he’s ruining his precious children?  Doesn’t he understand that you’re giving advice because you care about what kind of adults they will grow up to be?

THERE IS HOPE FOR STEP-FAMILIES

Unrealistic expectations are at the core of so many step-family choices that add to the chaos and pain rather than relieving it.  You cannot force a new, fragile step-family into the happy, well-adjusted family that most imagine being a part of when they marry.

And yet there are proven guidelines that help the unique dynamics of a step-family work more smoothly.  I said “more smoothly” because step-family life is very rarely smooth.  It is multiple times more difficult to navigate around the issues and personalities in a step-family than to deal with the normal ups and downs in a first marriage with shared birth children.

Visit this page on my website to listen to interviews of several real-life step-couples who have successfully dealt with all of these issues.  Hearing their stories is far more effective and powerful than if I were to give you a list of guidelines in this article. Their experience is inspiring and their solutions are practical and duplicatable! 

  • Hear Jeremy and Lisa’s story and the valuable lessons they’ve learned.
  • Listen to James and Kim share some things they did impressively well.
  • And you must hear how establishing a few house rules made a big difference to Sherman and Alexa.

http://nancylandrum.com/stepping-twogether

Holiday Traditions: A Year-End Gift

There are many post-holiday traditions: the after-Christmas sales, returning items that don’t fit or don’t suit, football games, taking down the tree and house decorations, cleaning up the trash, finding a place for the unusual gift, eating the last of the goodies, moaning over weight gained, enjoying the holiday photos, savoring the memories, or recovering from the unpleasant incident with a relative…

Moving from this year to the beginning of another brings up all kinds of feelings in me.  I sincerely hope that by this time next year my knee injury will be fully healed so I can enjoy walks with my dogs again, and ride on my elliptical without pain.

I’ve been stretched to the max by the course I set out on a year ago to create an online communication skills course.  It is completed, I think.  And ready for students.  But I find I’ve only climbed one mountain to discover another bigger mountain ahead of me…marketing.

However, I have learned a lot this year.  It’s OK to ask for help.  It’s just fine that I can’t do everything myself.  There are people out there who LOVE to do what I don’t want to do, or don’t know how to do.  The building of an online business is a process of ups and downs.  I don’t expect to get it all right the first time.

For the past few months I’ve been longing for someone to take my hand and guide me through steps one through ten, cheering me on all the way.  I don’t remember if my longing ever took the form of a prayer, but an answer has come…I think.  I’ll have to wait and see, but I’m hoping I’ve found the experienced guide for whom I’ve been longing to take me through this marketing, course-building maze.

Whenever I’ve felt discouraged—out of my league—challenged by programs like Camtasia, Kajabi, and GotoWebinar, I’ve taken a deep breath, sometimes just left it alone for a few days, and then cajoling myself like I might a young child learning to ride a bike, promised myself I would go slow, call tech support when I got stuck and conquer this giant!

You may have heard me refer to Helga, the negative voice in my head.  She loves to remind me of my age.  “You’re too old to start doing this!”  But I’ve learned to say back to her, “If I wasn’t doing this, what would I be doing?”  Silence.

My dream for 2018 is two-fold:  To create an online relationship skills course, (or courses) that adequately support me, (yes!) but also to help hundreds (or dare I say thousands!) of couples learn skills and concepts that will enable them to create and enjoy the marriage of their dreams!

For the past twenty-five years I’ve taught classes and privately coached couples, many of whom have transformed their relationships from highly conflicted into consistently loving and respectful.  Every time I see that transformation begin to happen, I feel energized! Joyful! Sure that I am exactly where I’m meant to be, doing exactly what I’m meant to do!

This is my New Year’s Gift to You:  A free coaching appointment either in person (Murrieta, CA) or via Zoom.com.  We can spend some time together, get acquainted, and see what I can do to help further your 2018 dreams for your marriage.  Click on the link below to set up an appointment!

Wishing you the Best Year of your life and your marriage!

Schedule Your Free Appointment!

Nancy