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Do You Have Stepfamily Concerns Or Questions? Thursday Is Your Chance To ASK THE EXPERTS!

July 28th, 2010

If you’ve ever wished you could ask a real expert your most important questions about step-life, now is your chance! Please join me and other well known panelists this Thursday! You won’t want to miss this incredible opportunity, sponsored by StepMom Magazine.

Thursday, July 29th
11 am to 4 pm EST
On StepMom Magazine’s Facebook Page

Asking your most important questions couldn’t be easier! Simply:

1. Visit the StepMom Magazine Facebook Page
2. Post your question on their wall
3. Panelists will respond with comments to your questions throughout the day

Visit the StepMom Magazine site for more information.
I am really excited about this unique opportunity to help so many stepfamilies. I look forward to “seeing” you there!

Unbreakable Bonds: How To Help The Kids

July 21st, 2010

Life in a Doll House

Too often, as a struggling stepparent, it’s easy to lose yourself in self-pity, resentment and jealousy—and, amid it all, forget what the kids are enduring.

Grappling with the separation of their biological parents—not to mention also adjusting to the idea that one or both parents now have new partners—is a devastating process for the children.

Yes, it is important that you focus on your new relationship, as a stepcouple, to provide a strong foundation for the whole stepfamily. But it is of equal importance that you maintain awareness and compassion for the kids, who must now suffer against the absence of a biological parent.

Rather than compete with the loyalty children can’t help but feel toward the now-absent bio-parent, strive to understand, with consciousness and empathy, its significance.

Children are naturally bonded to their biological parents—present or absent. Kids will protect their parents unconditionally and interminably, as if by instinct. Nonsensical as it may seem, this sort of loyalty only grows with the bio-parent’s absence.

Understand that this is natural. It can be easy to see this as unfair—after all, you’re the one who does all the work and provides the support. Still, the biological bond cannot be broken. All you can do is support the kids through the anger, sadness and confusion they’re bound to feel at the loss of a bio-parent.

How, specifically, can you do this? I encourage awareness of just how deep and powerful these losses are—think about the kids and, whenever possible, do what’s in their best interest. That will always serve you well.

Stepcoupling is all about keeping present and former relationships appropriately inclusive and alive for as long as is feasible and healthy, allowing the kids to make their own decision as they mature.

What relationships can you keep alive and well in your family, biological and otherwise?

I’ve posed the following questions for guidance:

  • Do the children have access to their biological parents?
  • Do they have permission to have a relationship with their absent biological parent without bias?
  • What part do you play in making that happen? And what obstacles do you face?
  • As a stepcouple, how do you encourage and support each other when frustration, resentment and anger take over?

Don’t Be Fooled: There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Family

July 13th, 2010

As stepcouples, does it sometimes feel as though other so-called “normal” families are better off? Do you sometimes observe them and feel jealous of the way they appear to interact—to talk and play and laugh—so naturally and comfortably? And, as a result, does this comparison make you feel as though your stepfamily were somehow worse?

I used to watch “normal” families and conclude that they had no problems, and that because my stepfamily was “different,” we were the one with problems. Extended family gatherings gave me plenty of opportunity to envy “normal” families, which always left me feeling depressed, alone, and incompetent.

With few stepfamily models to learn from, we felt alone and uneasy in how to build our stepfamily. And comparing ours to “normal” families didn’t help. But, in time, I learned that there is no such thing as a family that is normal or perfect; that all families face their own unique set of challenges. Comparisons, of course, are only relative to who’s doing the comparing.

Today, now that our five children are grown, some with children of their own, I can look back and appreciate that, while our family has never been “normal,” it is pretty darned great. Life is a journey, after all—for all families. True: the stepcoupling and stepfamily journey is one of the most challenging. But it’s worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears, no matter how “abnormal” and difficult it may seem.

As a stepcouple, can you and your partner think of activities, traditions, or experiences that you particularly cherish in your stepfamily?  Anything that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy counts.

Susan Wisdom LPC

July 12, 2010

Please share your experiences and thoughts.

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