Category Archives: New relationship after divorce

Guest Post: Expert Insights: All About Stepmoms with Peggy Nolan of The Stepmom’s Toolbox

With over half of all marriages ending in divorce and half of all children under the age of 13 living with one biological parent and that parent’s partner, according to Stepfamily.org, step families are becoming more prevalent and more common. What makes them the same and what makes them different than first or original families? Recently I had a chance to circle around with Peggy Nolan of The Stepmom’s Toolbox to learn about the unique role stepmoms play in today’s families. Here’s a bit of what she had to say.

eNannySource: What are the three most common myths surrounding the role of a stepmom?

Peggy: The most common mythos surrounding the stepmom role is The Wicked Evil Stepmother, perpetuated in folklore and brought forward into our modern day storytelling by none other than Walt Disney. Stories like Cinderella, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel paint stepmoms as spiteful, greedy, jealous and vain women. Many women in the stepmom role spend a lot of energy dispelling this myth to those in their circle of influence. Another myth is that stepmoms are home wreckers. Modern stories like Stepmom (starring Julia Roberts) and The Other Woman (based on the book Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, starring Natalie Portman) depict the stepmom as a home wrecker. Most stepmoms are kind, loving and caring women who simply find themselves in no man’s land when it comes to being a stepmom. Most stepmoms are not notorious home wreckers. In fact, most women enter into a relationship with a man with kids after he’s divorced. Another common myth is that stepfamilies are just like first families. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunately, a 1970’s sitcom portrayed a stepfamily as a happy bunch who immediately clicked, rarely argued and all problems were solved in 30 minutes or less. Many new stepfamilies are under the illusion that their family will integrate as soon as the “I do’s” are said. This illusion is in direct conflict with reality. It takes time for stepfamilies to integrate. It also takes the Three P’s – Patience, Persistence and Perspiration.

eNannySource: How do you define the role of a stepmom?

Peggy: I define the role of stepmom as any woman who is in a long-term relationship with a man who has kids from a previous relationship. Women in the role of stepmom are not their stepkids’ mom. A stepmom may do mom things, but this does not make her the mom. Stepmoms are another adult who cares for and loves their partner’s children.

eNannySource: How can step families work to coordinate childcare so it’s seamless?

Peggy: This seems to be one of the trickiest parts of step family dynamics. Even with the best co-parenting, glitches happen. Someone is late for pick up or drop off. Someone forgets it’s his or her weekend to take the kids. In high conflict situations, these glitches can escalate rapidly. If the parents have a difficult time communicating, many times the stepmom will step in and attempt to be the peacemaker and “fix” the problem. This can be risky, as now the stepmom has put herself in the direct line of fire from three different sides – her husband, his ex and the kids. In lieu of good communication between the co-parents, there are tools that stepfamilies can use to coordinate childcare, such as Our Family Wizard or other online calendaring tools.

eNannySource: How long does it take a step family to function as a cohesive family unit? 

Peggy: On average it takes seven years for a step family to integrate. Some may integrate sooner, some later, and some may never integrate. One of the biggest mistakes step families make is to make their stepfamily become a first family. Stepfamilies are not first families in any way, shape or form. Every attempt to make them so is like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. It’s important for stepfamilies to practice becoming a stepfamily: Practice communication, practice relationship investment, practice building trust, practice getting to know each other, and for the couple – practice date night, practice united parenting, practice making your relationship a priority. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in anything. And if the average stepfamily integration takes seven years – that’s four hours of stepfamily practice every day for seven years. I did the math. It equals 10,200 hours.

eNannySource: What’s your best advice for new stepmoms?

Peggy: My best advice comes from my wonderful husband. It worked for me and it works for everyone I pass it on to. When I suddenly found myself as a custodial stepmom to my husband’s youngest son, I asked my husband how he wanted me to play the stepmom gig. “Be your wonderful self,” he told me. “You can’t go wrong with that!”

This advice works because it’s simply too exhausting to be anyone else. As the stepmom, you are not the mom. Don’t try to be her. Don’t try to outdo her or be better than her. It’s not a competition, so don’t make it one. Don’t compare yourself to the ex-wife. That will only serve to create jealousy and self-doubt. Just be the wonderful you that you are. Trust me, you’ll do more for your marriage and relationship with your stepkids when you live from your true center.

In the fabulous words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

eNannySource: What’s the most common mistakes new stepmoms make? What’s your best advice to combat it?  

Peggy: I believe one of the most common mistakes new stepmoms make is trying to create a first family experience in a stepfamily. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you keep hammering a square peg into a round hole you’ll remain frustrated. You can try to shave off the ends, but that won’t work for long. Successful stepmoms know that this is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time to merge households. It takes time to integrate kids from different relationships. It takes time to get on the same page with your partner about parenting, finances, household responsibilities and shared goals.

eNannySource: Anything else you’d like to share?

Peggy: The best thing women in the stepmom role can do for themselves is practice self-care. Too many women run themselves into the ground by trying to be everything to everyone. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat right. Spend time in silence through mediation or prayer every day. Get at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day. Pursue a hobby or dream that brings you joy. Focus on your relationship with yourself first. Why? Because we teach others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. If you want to feel loved and appreciated by your man and those you love, you must love and appreciate yourself. Self-care is as necessary as oxygen!

Peggy Nolan is a leading authority on self-care and personal development for women in the stepmom role.  She has been referred to as the “Self-Care Queen” by her peers and clients because of her strategies to reduce and manage stress work. Peggy has been part of a stepfamily for over 40 years. She knows what it’s like to be a step-daughter, a step-sister and a stepmom. Peggy is the mom of two adult children, the bonus mom of four adult children and the grandmother of two. Peggy’s articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, Divine Caroline, The Diva Toolbox, Applaud Women, Aspire and StepMom Magazine. Peggy has also interviewed numerous leading experts in stepfamilies on her highly acclaimed internet radio show, The Stepmom’s Toolbox Radio Show. You can connect with Peggy at http://thestepmomstoolbox.com/

by Michelle LaRowe,  Editor in Chief, e Nanny Source

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Guest Post: Dating after divorce – the difficulties of that extra mile

Recovering after a divorce is often a difficult process, especially if your marriage didn’t end amicably. Having to split up your assets, change homes (or adjust to living in one alone) and find trustworthy divorce solicitors can all be stressful. But restoring your confidence in relationships and learning how to date again might seem particularly daunting.

It is important to consider when to start dating on your own terms instead of when others think you should be ready.  Once you take that step, here are some tips to help keep your new relationship in balance with the rest of your life.

Find easy ways to keep in touch. If you and your new significant other are both in the throes of full-time careers and/or still have children at home it can be a challenge to find time to build a new  relationship. The easiest way to overcome that challenge is to stay connected in ways that don’t necessarily require you to see each other in person every day. Talking on the phone, or even video calling, is a good way to stay in touch that only requires a few minutes a day. It can also be a way for you to ease back into dating again with less pressure.

Make the kids feel like a part of your relationship. If you do have young children, one of the most important steps you can take to make your new relationship easier for them is to be honest and upfront. Once you are in a committed relationship you should introduce your children to your new partner. If they have questions about you dating again help them understand how important it is to you. Try meeting on neutral ground, such as a park or a restaurant, at first so they don’t feel overwhelmed.

Have a date night once a week. Even with all the new technology available to help you keep in touch, face-to-face interaction is still an important part of any relationship. If you struggle to find time with each other starting a date night routine is a great way to remedy that. If you always know that you’re going to spend time together on the same day at the same time, it becomes easy to not plan anything else for that time.

Communicate your expectations and hopes.  Starting a new relationship should be a fun endeavor for you but it is important to have a conversation about what you would like to happen. It’s easy for spouses, after being together for a while, to just know what each other want. Learning how to be with someone new might mean that you have to talk about things that you haven’t had to in a long time. If you want to be in a committed relationship, putting that on the table can make all your other interactions with your new partner a lot easier.

Have fun.  Because why would you be dating otherwise? The beginning of any relationship should be about discovering a new person and falling in love. If you find yourself in constant anticipation or extremely happy then let yourself enjoy it. After a difficult divorce, you deserve it.

Cherrie is a freelance writer who currently specialises in writing about divorce, from finding family law solicitors to divorce forms.  You can find her on Twitter @Cherries_Scoop

 

 

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Guest Post: 5 Questions to Ask Before Dating After Divorce

Everything changes after a divorce. After months of dealing with filings, proceedings and divorce attorneys, it becomes time to determine what your next steps will be.

This is an amazing opportunity for you to pursue exactly what you want out of life. Along with your interests and career, and your relationships with friends and your children, a new romantic relationship may be something you are interested in. Before you start dating after a divorce, ask yourself these five questions.

Am I ready to date again?

It’s the most obvious question, but it’s also the most important. Your friends and family may be urging you to date again. Their remarks about how you should “get back out there” may feel like minor comments to them, but that kind of social pressure can be stressful.

It is your decision when you start dating again. You are in charge of this incredible and unique journey that is your life, so don’t hand over that decision-making power to anyone else.

Jumping back into the dating scene right after a divorce can be difficult because you are still figuring out what your new life will look like. You’ll need to assess the commitments you’re already making:

  • Commitments to your children.
  • Commitments to your family and friends.
  • Commitments to your job.

Are you ready to balance a new relationship with your other commitments? Only you will know the answer. And it may take some time to figure that out.

How are my children handling the divorce?

You may be ready to date again, but if you have children with your ex you will need to consider what is best for them as well. Whether it has been a couple of years or only a short time since your divorce, your first new relationship will be a very big change for your children.

No matter the age, it is common for children to have some hesitation when you are dating a new person. They may still harbor feelings that you and your ex will get back together. A new relationship attacks that hopeful feeling.

You can start dating again, but be cautious about how your children meet and interact with this new person. Date for a while before introducing someone to your children. If you don’t see the relationship lasting long term, you shouldn’t expose your children to adults that won’t be sticking around. If you think the relationship is going somewhere, find a safe and comfortable situation to introduce your children. Communication is key; make sure your children understand why you’re dating again, and lead conversations about how it makes them feel.

What is my relationship with my ex like?

If you still have strong feelings for your ex, you are not ready for a new relationship. Divorces can be finalized before feelings are. You might need more time, and you can also consider a healthy dose of therapy after a divorce.

To give yourself a real chance with a new relationship, your heart has to be open to the possibility of a new love. If there is any chance you’ll be saying “My ex is just like that,” or “Do you know what my ex did?” you need some more time to work things through.

Am I confident?

All of the emotions during a divorce can put you in a place where you need to rebuild happiness and confidence. Consider it a great opportunity to become the person you want to me.

Finding your confidence after a divorce is a gradual process. With effort and a positive attitude, you can find the confidence you are seeking in time.

Don’t offer your date a version of yourself that you aren’t comfortable with—wait until you feel good about where you are. When you present yourself as the confident and wonderful person that you are, you can find the confident and wonderful relationship you deserve.

Is a new romantic relationship what you need?

Before turning to a new relationship, remember the other commitments you are making that we discussed above. Is there more you want out of those commitments? Love is a big word, and it encompasses more than just romantic relationships.

Continuing to build a strong relationship with your children can provide the happiness you may have expected to come from a new relationship. Reconnecting with friends can do the same. Being single is also a great time to pursue the career opportunities you may have put on hold during your marriage.

If you are honest with yourself about the above questions and have a positive outlook on your future, you will know when it is time to date again.

Author Bio: Jack is a freelance writer based in Seattle who spends his hours hopping between an ergonomic keyboard and an old school typewriter. You can reach Jack by leaving a comment or connecting with him on Twitter.

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Guest Post: Building Relationships with Adult Children When You Re-marry

Becoming a step-parent presents many challenges – even in the best situations. Becoming a step-parent to adult children is especially difficult. The children have grown accustomed to a family dynamic that does not include you, and they are not forced to see you every day or spend time with you that they don’t want to spend, as they would if they were younger.

Building a relationship with adult children when you re-marry requires some special considerations. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Start from the Beginning

Don’t wait until your marriage is final before you start thinking about your relationship. As soon as you meet the children, start making efforts to build a relationship. Share conversations about things you have in common. Invite them to spend some one-on-one time with you to get to know each other better.

Establish a friendly relationship right from the start and work on building it over time.

Respect Boundaries

Though you may want to have a close relationship with your beloved’s children right away, they may not feel the same toward you. It may take time before you have a relationship with them – or before they even want to have one with you.  Don’t push too much too soon.

Learn to respect their boundaries, and you will be more successful in your attempts to forge a relationship. This extends far beyond respecting what they want in a relationship from you. Recognize that though they are your spouse’s “children,” they are actually grown adults who deserve respect.

Don’t Try to Be a Parent

This is a good rule of thumb for step-parents to children of any age. Your spouse’s children already have parents, and they are unlikely to want to replace either one of them, no matter how much they may like you (or grow to like you). As adults, it is unlikely that they need a real parental figure anyway.
Focus on being a positive and loving person in their lives. If you are successful at building the relationship, you may even become their friend (maybe even a close friend).

Adjust Expectations

Adult step-children have their own fully formed personalities and their own lives. They don’t have to have a relationship with you. They don’t even have to like you. Know that what you expect to happen in the situation may never materialize. You may do everything you can to build a bridge, and all your efforts may be rejected.

Focus instead on doing being polite and keeping the situation pleasant. Over time, you may build on that and find some common ground. You may even be able to build on that and find your way to friendship. Just accept that your expectations may not match the reality of the situation, and you just have to act accordingly.

Becoming the step-parent to adult children can be a difficult and complicated process. However, you can manage to build positive and rewarding relationships with them with some effort. Just remember to respect boundaries and avoid trying to become a parent as you work on the relationship.

Did you become the step-parent to adult children when you re-married? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

Tara Spenser is currently the resident writer for workingcapital.org, where she researches the most affordable business capital available. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, swimming and being a mom.

 

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Guest Post: Building up your self-confidence after a divorce

Building up your self-confidence after a divorce can be a formidable challenge but if you face it head on and work through it you’re going to do just fine. Take time for yourself and let the healing begin by following these easy steps to build up your self-confidence.

Forgive yourself

Forgiving oneself for a divorce is often a difficult task but it can be done. Remember that unless you forgive yourself you can’t move on with your life. Learn from your mistakes. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget, it simply means you let go of the pain and anger. Forgive yourself for any wrongs you have done in the relationship and vow never again to make the same mistakes.

Forgive your ex

No, that doesn’t mean your ex was right, it simply means you let go of the pain and anger and move on with your life. If you were cheated on, stop laying blame and let go of it. You don’t want a cheater anyway – you want someone you can trust. There is someone better in store for you in your life and when the time is right you’ll find them.

Move forward

Don’t live in the past. Move forward with your life. This is your time. Take this opportunity to go back to school, move to a new area or start a new career. Start your life over and create a new life with new memories. Do what’s best for you and don’t worry about what others think. It’s not their life, it’s your life and you deserve to live it just like you want to.

Talk with family and friends

You’re going to lose some friends and gain some friends through this divorce. Talk with those who care about you and let go of those who are judgmental and tell you how wrong you were. Get close to your good friends and family members who can help you or have been in a similar situation. Don’t worry about what your great aunt thinks or someone who doesn’t know you well, it’s not really their business, it’s yours and you are the one that must live your life.

Don’t be afraid to seek Counselling

Even the most planned divorce can cause undue emotional pain and trauma. If you’re finding yourself sinking into a depression, seek counselling and get yourself back on track. Everyone needs a little bit of help sometimes and there is no shame in getting this help.

Get up, get out and get moving

Don’t sit around bemoaning your situation, this is the perfect opportunity to start a new hobby or exercise class. You’ll make new friends and start living life again. Step out of your comfort zone and just do it. The first few times will seem awkward but before you know it you’ll be making new friends and having a great time.

Make new memories

Along with that new hobby, job or craft you’ll find yourself making new memories. Enjoy them and treasure them. In time your new memories will take over your pain and sorrow. You’ll look back and wonder what took you so long to start your life over or get rid of that ex of yours.

Building self-confidence takes baby steps. Each time you step out of your comfort zone you’re moving a step forward.

Author Bio:  Lynn works as a dating adviser for Lovestruck Hong Kong. Lynn has learned a lot about advising expats on the cultural differences when dating in Hong Kong for over 5 years and as learn a lot about her own relationships on the way.

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Guest Post: 5 Ways to Tell If an Online Dating Site Is Worth the Money

With more and more single people choosing to search for companionship online instead of waiting to meet them in the real world, many different types of dating sites have appeared over the last few years. Meeting your potential mate has become more of a science and for some online dating sites, big business. Of course most of these sites do cost money, so before signing up for a dating service make sure it is worth the money you’ll invest. Here are 5 ways to make sure you’ve made a good choice.

Dating or marriage. There are all kinds of dating sites available, so the first step to choosing a site to sign up for is to decide what you are looking for, dating or marriage. There are sites that are geared more for casual dating relationships and people just looking to have fun, and others that focus more on marriage and finding that one special person. There is no point in spending money on a site where the other people on the site are looking for a different kind of relationship than you are.

Similar or different interests. Some sites try to match you with someone with the same interests; others are based on the theory that “opposites attract”. If you have been dating people who have similar interests to you and those relationships have not been what you are looking for, maybe it is time to try something new. The opposite is true as well. Whatever way you go, understanding the philosophy of a site helps you determine if it is something you are willing to invest in.

Deal breakers. What must a person have or not have for you to consider dating them? These restrictions are commonly referred to as deal breakers. It could be religion, physical attributes, political beliefs, or any other factor that would cause you to draw the line and not pursue someone. If you’re Jewish and only want to date Jewish women, then you might want to find a Jewish dating site. There is no point in signing up to meet people you would never want to date.

Free trial. Once you have what you are looking for, search out a few sites that meet your criteria and sign up for a free trial. Almost all dating sites allow you to sign up for a free test run for a few days or weeks and allow you to search their site. It will only cost you money once you decide you want to contact another person on the site. By signing up for a few, you can take some time and see what is available on each of them before you spend your money.

Matches. Once you have used the free trial on a few sites, you will most likely find that certain ones draw you to them more than others. How many “matches” or potential dates you get on the sites is a good indicator of whether you should invest in the site or not. Of course, if the site matches you with 30 people and you would not date any of them it may be time to move on.

There are great dating sites for almost any type of person out there. However, finding the right one is the first step in finding the companion you’re looking for. There is no point in wasting time and money on a site that is not going to produce the results you want. By taking the time before hand to do a little research, you can make sure your money is being well spent.

Posted with kind permission from Top Dating Sites

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Guest Post: 4 Important Tips for Online Dating

Dating has most likely changed since that last time you were out there and looking for someone. Nowadays it is more common to find your partner online and not at a bar. Online Dating is a great way to meet many people looking for the same thing you want. Once you have decided to make the jump and you are ready to start viewing your matches, there are a few things to consider:

Be prepared: Before you sign on to your online dating profile, be sure that you are ready for what is to come. People sign up for online dating websites because they are serious about finding a relationship and love. This mean you should be 100% ready and open to whatever comes from this experience. With an open heart and mind you need to also prepare for rejection, it is okay if someone doesn’t think you guys have a lot in common. Be prepared for everything!

Use good sites: Be wary of free online dating sites, these tend to attract those who may be a little less serious about finding a relationship. Using popular sites like eharmony.com or match.com can help you find what you are looking for. You will have to pay a membership fee, but it is definitely something worth paying for. These known paying sites are very good at using filters and tags to help you find someone that could be compatible for you.

Be honest: You may want to fib on your height or decide that you don’t mind smokers, but be honest with yourself. You want to be honest through and through. Don’t be afraid to state your feelings on topics and use the filters to reflect your honest feelings and beliefs. You do not want to go on a date with someone to later find out, ‘wow I shouldn’t have said I was okay with that political view’. Some people have a hard time be upfront at the start with their divorce. Be honest from start to finish.

Safety: This is something that everyone needs to keep in mind, especially females. Always practice safety when it comes to online dating. Do not share your address or your work location with someone you do not really know. Give it time before you give specific personal details. On your first or second date, plan to meet your date at the location. Choose a busy and well known location and always tell your friends or family where you are going. Go with your gut instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, listen to yourself.

And now the most important tip when it comes to online dating is to have fun! This could be a wonderful adventure for you. Your divorce doesn’t have to define you in your dating life. Good luck and get online!

Elizabeth’s Bio:  Liz just a simple lady hope that more people can live out that dream through reading her articles and thoughts about the effect of online dating. She is a regular contributor for online dating sites.

 

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