Dealing with social awkwardness

Jill at the Doughtie Houses Exchange (or DHX, for short) has two great posts on dealing with socially awkward situations that actually apply to both stepmoms AND moms. In the first post, “How to make small talk with stepmoms“, she gives some great suggestions for moving ahead in a conversation without stepping on any toes, or creating long, clumsy pauses. Here’s an excerpt:

Yesterday I met someone with a similar — but different — family set-up, and I couldn’t think of how to keep the conversation going. I found myself sitting there smiling blankly while thinking up things to say and then ruling them out because I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t accidentally go in a very painful-for-them direction.

In “Stepmom blues“, Jill talks about what it’s like to experience the stigma that goes along with being a stepmom and how people sometimes respond to her with a wariness that’s painful. A sampling:

Maybe it’s that I represent something scary: divorce, moving on,
remarriage, and then having to share children with an adult you didn’t
pick. Who wants to think about that? Any of it? I wouldn’t either. It’s
horrifying in the abstract.

I know Carol has dealt with this, and I have too! When I’ve gone to social events at their house, like birthday parties or something, people sometimes seem to have this initial discomfort at meeting me, like they’re not sure if they’re supposed to hate me to show where their loyalties lie. I guess I can understand, but it’s a shame it has to go either direction.

What have your experiences been? Do people treat you like you have the plague if you’re the stepmom and you casually meet other parents at school or extracurricular events? If you’re the mom, do you ever feel acquaintances “siding” against you, for no reason?

Apologies over the lack of new posts this week, dealing with intense deadlines for the book and Carol’s off in Canada still, teaching. More new content coming next week!  Early wishes for a happy weekend to all!

© 2008 Jennifer Newcomb Marine          All Rights Reserved

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  1. There have been so many self-serving lies spread about me, that I’m not surprised when people act strange when meeting me. It’s been very satisfying to have people tell me and my SO what a great family we are, how wonderful we are with the kids…then find out who we are. I can see the “Wait! This is the monster I’ve been told about?” cranking through their heads.
    How do I deal with it? I truly am only concerned with the opinions and thoughts of the kids and their father. I can’t stop other people from judging based on nothing.

  2. oh yes, definitely, even from a few of my “neighborly” moms. there’s this instant glitch that takes place when someone realizes you’re not the first wife, especially from first wives. I really feel everything that Jill wrote because it is exactly like that and NOT imagined. You know the difference when you meet people who are just lovely and could care less which wife number i am (or in my case fiancé)…too bad really.

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