Five Surprising Things This Divorced Mom Learned After Becoming a Stepmom

Snowball-Heart

      It really is a mindf**k. Okay, so after almost seven years of writing about divorced moms and stepmoms, I thought I understood how and why so many stepmoms were having such a hard time. The kids weren’t hers. The ex-wife didn’t want her around. Perhaps her partner was unwittingly just plugging her […]

More than one day of thanks

Photo credit: dottieg2007 - creative commons license

There’s a very good chance that your thinking is skewed on the side of non-gratitude. Especially as it relates to this topic of divorce-connected families. Just like news, a car wreck on the side of the road or gossip, it’s the drama, chaos and conflict that catches our eye and rivets our attention in our […]

A Webinar with Jenna Korf and Margaret Paul on the Challenges of Finding Love and Acceptance in Stepfamilies

Screen Shot 2012-10-14 at 10.24.05 AM

  Do you feel undervalued? Do you long for love and acceptance? If so, join Jenna on Wednesday, October 24th as she has the honor of speaking with best-selling author, Margaret Paul, to discuss why so many women still struggle to find love and acceptance in their stepfamilies. During the free teleseminar/webinar, you’ll have an […]

Damn Expectations…

ID-1008244

I’m going to take a guess here: nothing in your situation is what you expected. Is it? We’ve all heard that expectations lead to disappointment, because inevitably, things turn out differently. But we had no idea just how off our expectations could be, did we? Stepmoms thought that mom would be thankful to have a […]

Never-before-seen Carol and Jen videos!

ex-wife and stepmom video

I’ve had these three videos of Carol (my kids’ stepmom and co-author of No One’s the Bitch) and I hanging around in a tech vault somewhere and completely forgot about them!They’re Part 2 of the following topics: The most common problems between divorced moms and stepmoms What to do if “the other woman” doesn’t want […]

Stepmoms, Why Your Husband Is So Important

man

There seems to be an epidemic of stepmoms divorcing. I don’t know the details of every situation, but it’s a pretty good guess that their husbands did not step up and support them. Experts agree that  the marriage needs to be the primary relationship. If your husband doesn’t realize this, you have a high chance of […]

Divorced Moms and Stepmoms: We’re Not That Different

wits end

We’re all women. We all struggle. We’ve all had thoughts and feeling we wish we didn’t. We’re all in situations we wish we could change. We’re similar in so many ways, yet we continue to be separate. Mom has to struggle knowing her children are part of another family, one that doesn’t include her. This […]

What We Can and Can’t Change

flower

Do you think you’re able to change someone? I’m guessing intellectually you know you can’t. After all, how many times have you heard “The only person you can control is yourself”? Yet you continue to think: “Maybe if I’m nicer to her…” “Maybe if I appease her…” “Maybe if I ignore her…” “Maybe if I […]

Why Silence is Sometimes Golden

50282te05ajd1hs

(Stepmoms! Tired of struggling? Register now for Jenna’s Stepmom Bootcamp!) I know many of you have been falsely accused of a variety of offenses by the other woman. Some of them completely ridiculous that left you thinking, Where the hell did that come from?? She couldn’t be more wrong! Its like she concocted some strange story […]

Impossibly High Standards

balanced rocks

When it comes to how you expect the other woman to behave, could you meet those same standards? Never say a single bad word against you. Always do what’s best for the children (according to your private interpretation). Never be late (come hell, high water or bad traffic). Never get angry, be snippy, play the […]

To Divorced Moms and Stepmoms Trying to Make Peace

9549m2qs1t273j

There are plenty of divorced mom and stepmom “couples,” trying to make it. Hoping to find a way, at the very least, to be cordial to each other. Maybe even friendly. Peaceful. But this relationship is tricky at best. Just when you think you’ve made some progress, a rude comment or accusation comes out of […]

Are you ready to release her? When to say “when!”

1370578940_734c5acabe

(Register now for Jenna’s August Stepmom Bootcamp!) How much energy are you spending on the other woman? How often during the day do you think about her? Have you googled her lately? Complained about her latest antics to your friends? Your husband? Anyone who will listen? And  how does it feel to be consumed with trying […]

Apologizing 101

4705725485_dbe5ff668f_o

“I’m sorry…” Two very powerful words, when spoken from the heart. Why? Because you’re acknowledging that you’ve caused another pain, whether it was intentional or not. It’s an opportunity to express your regret about the way you behaved, the words you spoke, or the intentions you held. Without an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, how can the […]

The Power of a Name: Just-A-Stepmoms and Bio-Moms

girl_sticking_out_tongue

I sometimes like to think of weird things that might have extremely large numbers assigned to them. …How many breaths each and every creature that’s ever lived has taken, all together. …How many times the clouds have passed over the sun as someone looked skyward. …How many times you’ve eaten lunch. …How many times your […]

How I survived this stepfamily “stuff” – Part 2

27756jrs6tisao1

Last week, I described how my strong sense of self is partly responsible for me surviving my stepfamily journey, sanity intact. The other crucial part of this is my husband’s support. I don’t think men know just how much influence and power they hold. After all, they’re the whole reason we’re here, right? We fell in […]

How expectations affect us

Expectations

Unmet expectations can be our greatest source of disappointment. Moms, did you expect your ex-husband’s new wife to take a back seat in the co-parenting car? Did you expect your kids to miss and need you when they went to your ex’s house, only to find out they had a great time and even…gulp…liked the […]

What divorced moms should know about stepmoms – a stepmom’s perspective

Lonely tree

(Disclaimer: these descriptions don’t encompass all situations. There are outliers and extremes and hundreds of different scenarios. But these are the most common experiences for many stepmoms.) Buy the Book Now! Skirts At War: Beyond Divorced Mom/Stepmom Conflict now! 1. She isn’t playing house with your child and your ex-husband. Stepmoms are trying to build their […]

Jenna takes the “Just meet her!” challenge

two_birds_on_fence

As some of you may already know, Jenna has had a less than ideal relationship with the mother of her stepchildren. These relationships are contentious! But in the spirit of  showing women what’s possible with our Just Meet Her! Challenge this month, she agreed to serve as a guinea pig and issue an invitation. Lo […]

What all stepmoms should know about divorced moms

16408scbnt53ts5

In my three short years as a stepmom, I’ve learned some things about divorced moms that I wish I would have known at the very beginning. It would have made my journey SO much easier. I’m sharing them with you now, in hopes that your ride will be a little smoother than mine. Keep in […]

Stepmoms, 5 ways to avoid the Mother’s Day blues

sad woman

Mother’s Day has come and gone, but there are some stepmothers who are still recovering from the aftermath. What were your expectations for Mother’s Day? Did you expect your stepkids to make you breakfast in bed? Give you a card? Call and tell you how much they appreciate everything you do for them? If you didn’t […]

A challenge: Can you respond instead of react?

2756036830_3256247221

On Tuesday, I posted a challenge on Facebook for all of you peace pioneers, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of you were ready to take it on. For those of you who missed it, here’s the challenge: For one week, when faced with an emotional trigger, wait 5 minutes before responding. […]

Co-parents: Are you keeping the kids out of the middle?

girlwithflower

Since none of us would be here if it weren’t for the kids, I started thinking about how some parents can’t help but put their children in the middle of their mess with their ex. And every time I think of it, I’m reminded of an extraordinary book my husband and I read, called “Keeping […]

How to deal with a defensive person

Photo credit: graur razvan ionut

A common theme in my stepmom support group is how defensive some husbands get when their wives attempt to address an issue regarding the kids. Most of time, the issue never gets addressed, because defensiveness usually leads to one, or both, parties shutting down. If someone gets defensive when confronted, it’s usually because they’re taking your issue as a […]

Are we sabotaging ourselves?

Swan

Credit: anankkml The other day, during our webinar with the super insightful publisher of Stepmom Magazine, Brenda Ockun, she said something that struck me. Something that I would like to shout from the mountain tops and that I wish someone had told me 3 years ago: If you and the other woman can’t have a […]

Moms: you are the crux

Divingforrocksdyno

At 46, I’m certainly not one of the greatest rock climbers around, but it’s a obsession I truly love that has changed me on many levels. Just like any sport that attracts die-hard followers, it has its own lingo and insider terminology. “Beta” are the tips and inside scoop to help you successfully complete a […]

Happy Valentines: six secrets to communicating with men!

heartcake

The relationship between mom and stepmom is a tense one.  Add a dad into the mix, and all effective communication can get thrown right out the window. Not because he’s not good at it, but because men are wired differently than women. Ever notice when you’re talking to your husband or ex-husband that a few […]

The Family-Family Meeting Blow-up

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For a while there, whenever our dual-family family was ironing out some major issues—like which kid was living where, and for how long—we’d have these really intense family meetings. We’d all sit around the kitchen table after dinner, or in the living room, half of us sprawled on the floor… and we’d talk. One of […]

Thanksgiving Day Tango Tips, Part 4

barbados_cherry

One very easy way to increase your feelings of gratitude is to TAKE CARE OF YOUR BLESSINGS. So often, we take for granted the things that are working well and assume they will always be there. Kids that still reach out. A reliable partner. Your job. Your health. The place you live. Your car. Friends […]

Thanksgiving Day Tango Tips, Part 3

Petit_Trianon_trees

So far, it’s not about you and you’re going to be the peaceful, powerful presence in the room. It’s also a good time to be reminded…. YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM. That’s right. Even though you have your “story” about how all the things that have been done to you are so wrong and unfair […]

Thanksgiving Day Tango Tips, Part 2

tree_on_the_hill

Yesterday’s tip was about how inconsequential you are — in a good way. Today, the focus isn’t on your belly button, but the spotlight does swing all the way back around to YOU. Think of an oak tree on top of a hill, buffeted by wind and rain. Hail. Bird poop and scorching sun. Gloomy […]

Thanksgiving Day Tango Tips, Part 1

yoga_balance

Each day this week, I’m going to dole out a short tip on how to deal with Thanksgiving for dual-families (where you’re “stuck” with the stepfamily or the divorced family). So here’s the first one…. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. No, really. It isn’t. I know most things are, but this actually isn’t. If you’re having […]

New videos are out!

video_still

But first, Happy National Stepfamily Day to all the stepmoms and their families! Thank you for all you do to love and care for our children. We’re all brave pioneers in this day and age, navigating a very different world when it comes to parenting and marriage. Did you know that 1,300 stepfamilies form every […]

Who are you and what do you want?

road_and_oil_seed

Took a bit of a break here to let the well replenish itself, let the fields lie fallow, let the sediment settle– and any other nature metaphors that might fit. I’m back now and ready to crank up the rusty writing machine and noodle brain…. In the interest of starting a conversation back up with […]

Which boat are you in?

Two-Boats-dock

Many of you come to this site because you’re looking for information that might give you an advantage with your difficult mom/stepmom relationship. You want something extra to help you create a shift. Movement in the right direction. A breakthrough out of nowhere. You’re the only one who knows what it’s like in your particular […]

Are you afraid of being mugged in your own family?

up_the_escalator

(New here? Subscribe to our RSS Feed or via email. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Check out excerpts from our book or audio book, and join us on the forum. I’ll be part of a panel for StepMom Magazine’s Ask the Expert Day on Facebook this Wednesday. Drop by and join us!) “…An epidemic […]

What you and I have in common – Part 1

love_heart

I’d painted myself into a corner with my writing here recently and felt less and less able to really be myself. What popped me into clarity was reading about how stepmom Becky Lippett of La Belle Mere transformed her previously wretched relationship with the ex-wife, while on the cusp of divorce. Look at what she’s […]

Who’s in YOUR extended family?

jen_carol_david_LG

Who’s in your extended family? How often do you see them? Who can you call when you’re in a pinch? Most families are spread far and wide these days, so when you need a parent, sibling, grandmother or grandfather to step in, you’re out of luck. But sometimes, the two linked households after a divorce […]

What your stepchild’s mom wants you to know about her life

open_door

Mutual understanding is one of the most important ingredients in the ex-wife/wife coalition mix. This post is in response to a guest post from the stepmom’s perspective by author Wednesday Martin. Let the dialogue begin! It’s not easy to feel judged and misunderstood It’s not easy for me to be constantly seen at “the enemy” […]

Guest Post by Wednesday Martin: What your child's stepmother wants you to know about her life…

ivy_doorways

Please note: If you tried to leave a comment earlier and couldn’t, please try again, as comments should be working now. Host issues – we’re working on it…. Thanks! (Like it or not, the two women in your child’s or stepchild’s life are typically the hands-on parents. Gender roles die hard! With both sides vying […]

Dr. Phil episode on conflict between moms, stepmoms and dads to air Dec. 1st!

Fire up your recorders! The show we taped last week in L.A. will be on Tuesday, December 1st. We're on the first half of the show (including David, Carol's husband and my ex – poor guy) and then there's another mom/stepmom/dad combo on during the second half of the show. I had big plans to […]

The shifting sands of connections

There's a funny little thing that can happen with people you love that drags the relationship down without you even noticing it – until after the fact. I just came back from visiting my daughter Sophie, who moved out a short time ago into her own cool, little abode with roommates just north of the […]

A crystal ball: will your relationship with the ex-wife or stepmom ever improve?

blue_smoke

Here’s an easy way to know if you’re ever going to break through the impasse with the stepmother or bio-mom. Ask yourself: am I stressed? Does my stress level stay at a pretty consistent level? (Sure, you might also be thinking, Well, it’s because of HER that I’m so stressed, but not so fast, Buster….) […]

Sorry!

For the second week in a row, I've fallen off the posting wagon, so just wanted to apologize for not adhering to what I'd said I'd write earlier. Chalk it up to an extra migraine-y couple of weeks, which culminated in a two-day, back-to-back marathon spent in bed with ice packs on the noggin, that […]

A Rant: Painting the New American Family Landscape

haybales

Here’s a crazy image for you: picture a hay wagon, careening along a bumpy road, strewing bits and pieces of straw in its wake. On one side of the truck, you have a stepfamily — the father and stepmother tersely yelling at each other to hang on tight and make sure Little Timmy doesn’t go […]

New stepmom? Heading off conflict from the get-go…

Feeling your way into potential stepmotherhood? Are you dating a divorced man with kids and things are looking promising? Here are a few ideas for setting a healthy course from the very beginning that will make you thank yourself later. Bond over the good stuff, not the bad. Don’t make a part of your bonding […]

Top 10 Reasons for a Mother/Stepmother Relationship Revolution

AngelinaEberlyStatue

(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? […]

Erasing the enemy – Part Two

toad

(If you missed Part One, it’s here.) The stepmother clicked the button to end the call before it started ringing. Then she took a deep breath and began to dial again. She stopped halfway, remembering some of the worst verbal insults that had made their way back to her, some of the angry and hateful […]

Shoring up against potential (family) erosion…

I was talking to my friend Bernadette yesterday from Slow Family Living about putting together a panel for next year's SXSW — and was surprised at her surprise by a part of our conversation. Context: she has four kids under the age of 11. My two girls are 14 and 18, with one already out […]

Cold Hard Facts

Welcome to our first guest post! It's by Katherine Shirek Doughtie, one of the co-authors of a "sister" site, the fabulous, but sadly currently dormant The DHX: The Doughtie Houses Exchange — which is also about creating cooperative mom/stepmom relationships. (Katherine is the mom and Jill Doughtie is the stepmom.) The post is actually a […]

Top 5 War Zones between Stepmoms and Moms, Starring Gisele Bundchen and Bridget Moynahan

  By now, you’ve probably heard all about the public catfight going on between supermodel stepmom Gisele Bundchen (left) and actress mom Bridget Moynahan (right). Moynahan dated New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for three years and discovered she was pregnant soon after they broke up, at which point Brady and Bundchen were already dating. […]

What if you've been betrayed?

toasted_marshmallow

So what if you extended yourself with the mom or stepmom and it went poorly? What if you reached out to her and she screwed you? Or you were just going about your business when you suddenly realized, Whoa! That is totally unfair? Happens to all of us. Stepmom/mom scenarios are rife with little exploded […]

The right names for the right meaning…

I just discovered the blog of a dear friend, Joel — one of my favorite people to climb with. I had no idea he was such a talented, closet scribbler! Here's a link to a thought-provoking post about how the names we have for each other in these newfangled family relationships don't really do justice […]

Blog round-up/shutdown

A weird thing happened on my way to a new post…. I thought I'd peruse a few blogs on our link list and see what folks have been up to so I could point readers in an interesting direction (kind of the lazy way to generate content, but sometimes, that's all you got). My first […]

Who gets to be your mama?

There's a fascinating discussion taking place over on the Doughtie Houses Exchange (DHX) site about the weird feelings both mother and stepmothers struggle with when the children bond with the stepmother (up to 65 comments so far!). In "Other Women's Children," mom Kathy Shirek Doughtie talks about bonding with her new step-son and whether it's […]

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, […]

When the mom puts up a wall: an interview with Morocco

A few weeks ago, we talked about how sometimes you have to make some big psychological adjustments when you just can’t get anywhere with the other woman, whether mother or stepmom.  Here, we talk to Morocco of The Ommy Diaries about how she’s coped with both progress… and roadblocks.  See if you can relate to […]

Looking back at the ugly times between us…

running_horse

I am working like a fiend on this book and feel like an athlete that’s training, or actually, make that running a marathon. I’ve never written at this pace in my life! Last week, the focus was on a chapter called Own Your Own Crap. (Tt was “Shit”, but we changed it to “Crap” for […]

The Fragile Bridge of Trust

old_wooden_bridge_1

When Indiana Jones threw sand out into the precipice, suddenly revealing an invisible bridge, he found the magical solution to quickly getting across, away from his enemies. But… he still had to actually cross the narrow bridge without falling off. Trust between you and the stepmom or mom is like that same skinny bridge made real […]

What impact do stepmoms have upon us? An interview with Kelly Gray

We’ve heard from teens about life with a stepmother. We’ve heard stepmoms themselves discussing what it’s like for them, trying to manage an instant family and competing loyalties, all while adjusting to a new marriage. I thought it’d be interesting to hear from someone who has the luxury of hindsight in this situation.  I met […]

One thing you can do when the other woman makes you go "Grrrr…"

How’s it going with the ex-wife or stepmom in your world? On a misery scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst, are you pushing an eight? A 9.5? Is the dial turned to eleven? When it comes to pick-ups and drop-offs, does your stomach clench up within two miles of their front […]

Extended Families through a Teen's Eyes

Well, I thought I’d do a Vulcan mind-meld with my eldest daughter, S. to see if she had any staggering insights into life in an "extended family" and she basically looked at me as if I were wearing pants that reached all the way up to my tattered pocket protector.  (What’s wrong with pocket protectors?  […]

Stepmoms and Teens

Feel like you could sometimes throttle your teen stepchild(ren)?  How about your own child?!  Stepmother’s Milk features a not-to-be-missed interview with Emily Bouchard (Ms. April, but not to worry, she’s clothed), detailing her life as a stepmom with two teenage daughters. She does a great job of being honest about not only the nitty-gritty details […]

Give me a parenting manual, and I'll throw it away

My daughter turned 17 this morning. Seems as good a time as any to reflect back on all these years, especially as the bittersweet waves ebb and flow through me: she’ll be gone in two months. This is it, I find myself thinking. I’m almost done…. How could it have only been five years ago […]

Babysitting My Ex-Husband’s Son for the Weekend

babysitting my ex-husband's son

This weekend I did something kind
 of weird, only in the sense that it doesn’t happen very often around the world,
 as far as I know…. I babysat David and
 Carol’s 3-year old son, Jacob from Friday morning ’til Sunday afternoon. They went
 out of town for a well-deserved break (alone! first time since he […]

Which house would you rather live in?

birds_fill_the_sky

Consider two homes…. Same potential people. Totally different outcomes. Stomach-knotting relationship #1: The mother is running around, yelling at the kids to get their things ready, taking her anger at the stepmother out on her kids. She’s stressed because the house is a wreck after homework and school projects, too much to do at work […]

Our Logo, or… One Mission, Two Cups

No One's the Bitch logo - by Carol Marine

Believe me, the irony of where I was and with whom was not lost on me. The last time I’d been here was about 17 yrs. ago when I was dating my ex-husband. Now, I was here with Carol, his wife, and their almost two year-old son, J. We were on a mission: find a […]