Top 10 Reasons for a Mother/Stepmother Relationship Revolution

(Angelina Eberly* / photo by Alan P. Van Dyke)

1. While our overall divorce rate has dropped down to 49%, a staggering 75% of remarriages involving children end in divorce.

2. Moms and stepmoms are desperate to escape the feeling that a perfect stranger is constantly trying to undermine them. Who IS this person, really? Do you know?

3. Now that nuclear families have become the minority family unit, we must learn how to create harmony in a radically-changed family landscape.

4. Aww, c’mon. It can’t really be as simple as “It’s all her fault! She truly IS a bitch!

5. We owe it to the kids to work on this stuff after dragging them through the muck of a break-up.

6. Women are amazing at responding to genuine vulnerability and olive branches. Sometime it takes just one little break in the dam to set massive changes in motion….

7. Children see what it looks like when adults model maturity, problem-solving, and the mending of relationships—and then get to internalize these skills for themselves.

8. You are so-o-o going to love having both families on the same page—though the kids may sometimes hate it! Consistent rules and punishments between houses means they can’t as easily play one side against the other. Couldn’t we all use a little more help parenting?

9. Our culture is hungry for a new family model after divorce and remarriage. Since divorce isn’t going away anytime soon, let’s consciously design an extended-family vision that inspires and motivates. What if this became the new “normal” to shoot for?

10. Contrary to popular opinion, families can actually be stronger and healthier after a divorce. Cooperative extended-families create stronger second marriages (thereby preventing another split-up), better parenting, more brainstorming power, happier children, and less hair loss all around.

  • What did I miss?
  • What has YOUR experience been?

(* When Sam Houston ordered his troops to steal the State archives in 1842 so that the city of Houston could be deemed the state capital, Angelina Eberly fired a cannon down Congress Avenue to rouse the residents of Austin and prevent the theft. She succeeded.

Statue by Australian political cartoonist and sculptor Pat Oliphant.)

Thanks for reading!

© 2009 Jennifer Newcomb Marine     All Rights Reserved

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Comments

  1. I’ll join you in that revolution!

  2. Danielle Miller says:

    It’s a great idea in theory. I tried extending that olive branch at least a dozen times, with sincere effort, only to have any vulnerabilities that I showed thrown back into my face either in front of the kids or our court ordered therapist. I think tons of women try for this ideal, but it just isn’t possible. It gives us one more impossible standard to try to live up to.

  3. Danielle, I can understand how the very idea might seem like just *one more thing* that ends up making you feel bad. I can also understand how a working relationship might seem impossible (esp. when the courts are involved). I guess we’re just putting the idea out there as something to shoot for and hopefully inspire. And if you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with the other woman, you can always turn your lens back to yourself, to own any contributions you might be making to the conflict. That will leave you feeling more empowered and in control, you know?
    It’s comments like yours that made me look harder at the nature of conflict and how’s it generated, because I sometimes feel really helpless when thinking about how to help people move out of really difficult situations with a lot of momentum and history. I can see in my own behavior how quick I am to make others wrong (“I’m not telling you again: you have 5 minutes to put the dishes away or I’ll take away your computer FOREVER!”) and how easily the circle of blame begins.
    Thanks for writing!

  4. On an intellectual level I know what you are saying is very valid – but number 10 is where I get “hung up”. I just can’t convince myself that families can be stronger and healthier after divorce – I just don’t see how that is true. I still wish my daughter was being raised in a nuclear family. I feel badly she is getting less than her half sister – who is enjoying the nuclear family that my daughter doesn’t not have.
    By the way – I am still reading your book and my friend is also. Maybe one day I will have the attitude that you have.

  5. Well I’m certainly not saying this way is *preferable!* More like, hey, you can still make something really genuine, loving and nurturing out of the wreckage of divorce. Believe me, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over a certain amount of heartache from putting my kids through this, but it’s also reassuring to see that there’s more good on the other side than I would have ever hoped or imagined.
    Thanks for reading the book and I hope it brings you either peace or new ideas — or both! I’d be totally up for hearing your further thoughts as you go along. :-)

  6. I have not picked up the book yet, but I am a step mom trying to do all that is right for our daughter and son, I find alot my sitution is a little different. They knew me as mamma before thier mother came back into the picture, and ever since she has she tells them, they can call me Mamma Cherie and then when she is at her house she lets her mom and dad get onto them for calling me Mamma… I have no idea what to do about the situation. I try to be civil and in public around her family if they try to come up and hug me, or just to be around me ya know, she jerks them back and picks them up. They also have a half brother and she wants them to have nothing to do with one another, thier family makes jokes about him in front of the kiddos and these qualities bother and scare me. State of Mississippi gave her custody cause the children were so young, and would not take the fact we raised them into account, that she was not there in the first place. They cry to go back and I don’t know how to fix it aside from I would change anything to make them happy if I could, and being a step mom you really can’t. I want to embrace thier family cause I know that is best for them, but it is so hard to embrace thier mother and be friends when her mother is there in her ear, making her every move for her, telling her to be like she is. She got her husband to give up all rights to his son before she would marry him over 32 years ago, and that is the mothers leaning post… It is very hard for me cause I don’t want the babies to ever suffer, thier future is most important to me, any advice on this one????

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