“I’m so glad I attended your workshop,” stepmom Marissa shared with me. “The main thing I took away from the event was that I need to stop focusing on my desire to have a ‘blended family.’”
“The pain I have experienced because this wasn’t happening has been overwhelming,” she continued. “But since the workshop, I decided to focus on the wonderful relationship that I have with my husband, Jerry. I no longer dwell on negative thoughts surrounding the fact that his two teen girls have not accepted me or my children as a stepfamily. I have been so deeply hurt and frustrated because they prefer to view us as friends.
“Because I’ve lowered my expectations and accepted that stepfamilies take time, my joy and peace now come from the fantastic relationship I have with my husband. And the terrific relationship that he has with my four children. They have bonded extremely well, with very little problems.”
Marissa also shared that she was especially grateful that her change of perspective came just before the holiday season. She was driving herself crazy trying to create the perfect stepfamily, “winter wonderland” scenario. She viewed that as a vehicle to draw her stepdaughters into a deeper connection.
Instead she and her husband have decided to have a family meeting where both families discuss the agenda, school events and schedule, traditions, tree trimming and decorations, cookie exchanges, etc. This will allow each child to share any expectations or what they want to see happen over the holidays. They plan to ask the family if there are specific traditions that are important, or fears that might be brewing.
I encouraged Jerry to take time alone with his daughters and to ask them to set aside a special occasion for just the three of them. I suggested that if they are “girly,” he might consider having them get dressed up and go out for dinner. Most kids are thrilled when a father gives his undivided love, loyalty and time for a fun “Daddy-Daughter/Son night.” But this is especially true when he remarries as it communicates, “I don’t love you any less because I have a new spouse.”
Stepmom Kari told me, “After the stepfamily seminar I took your advice and suggested that my husband have time alone with his kids. I was shocked at how quickly this turned things around. When they returned, everyone seemed more relaxed and we had a great evening.
“Plus, I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy having the house all to myself for a few hours. We all benefitted, and it’s going to become part of our routine.”
Stepchildren are much more likely to embrace a stepmom if they don’t view her as the person who took dad away from them.
“My goals have changed,” Marissa concluded. “I’ve decided to forgive the hurts of the past, learn to be the best role model I can for his daughters, and accept that right now they view me and my kids as friends. I have accepted that his girls are the ones who decide the depth of our relationship.
“It still hurts because I know they may, or may not; allow me into their life as a stepmom. But I no longer dwell on it. I’m going to focus on what I can control and let go of what I cannot.“