Tag Archives: Relationships

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: 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: 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: Back on the Dating Scene Post-Divorce? How to Make Online Dating Safe

If you are single after divorce, you may have never thought that you’d be ready to date again.  But once you have recovered from the heartbreak and are back to feeling like your old self, you will find that you are ready to open yourself up to love once more.  And a great search method, especially for divorced singles, is the method of dating on the internet.  But because the web is a vast world that is made up of all sorts of people who might not have the same good intentions as you, if you don’t practice the proper safety precautions, you pose the risk of running into someone more terrifying than your ex-spouse.  Here’s how to avoid such an incident:

Share—but not too much.  The whole point of using online dating is to get to know new people in the hopes that one of them could be eligible in the form of a date, friend or even long-term relationship material.  But if you give away too much information to a possible match before you have spent a decent amount of time communicating with them to discover whether or not they are who they say they are, then you could be asking for trouble.  Be cautious of anyone who is pushing for too much detail from you in the beginning and never disclose the following until you feel secure that your new online friend is worthy of your trust:

  • Last name
  • Personal email address
  • Phone number
  • Home address
  • Business address
  • Access to your financial accounts
  • Anything else that would be identity revealing

Take things nice and slow.  Because much of the awkwardness that comes with traditional first dates is eliminated with dating online, most people are more comfortable communicating and sharing with others over the internet than in person; so often relationships move faster online.  But just because you’ve spent endless hours and many a sleepless night chatting it up with your cyber-crush doesn’t mean that you need to accelerate at warp speeds when it comes to meeting them face-to- face.  And even when that time comes, it’s imperative to continue taking things slow.  Enjoy the beginning “get-to-know-you” stages of the relationship—if there is a real connection, then there’s no need to rush it; there will be plenty of time to get to know one another on a more intimate level later.

Put safety first on your first dates.  When you’ve finally reached a point where you feel that it is an appropriate time to meet in-person with your online match, that is awesome—but you aren’t in the homestretch yet, my safe online dater.  Not to worry, though—you can still have fun; just make sure that your first date-nerves come from excitement and not from fear for your safety by keeping the following advice in mind:

  • Don’t accept a ride from your date.  While it’s a nice offer, you don’t want this person to know where you call home and you definitely don’t want to be trapped in a car with them if the date doesn’t go as planned.  Use your own ride to meet your date and be sure to let a friend know where you are going.
  • Pick a popular, public spot.  The first few dates with your online match should not be spent at their apartment or on some deserted private beach.  Choose instead a public spot and even consider making it a double/group date so that you have other people with you to ensure your comfort and safety.
  • Be aware of what is happening around you.  While that bottle of Merlot sounds mighty tempting, it’s best to skip any alcoholic drinks during these first few meetings so that you can be in complete control.  Keep an eye on your drinks, your belongings and don’t forget to listen to your gut if it tells you that something isn’t right—your intuition is rarely wrong.

Sabrina Jackson is a guest post author who enjoys sharing her tips for safe dating.  In addition, Sabrina is also a contributor for Adult Dating Sites where she gives advice to online singles for picking the best dating sites for them.

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Guest Post: Simple Words of Wisdom for the First Relationship after Divorce

If you’ve been through a divorce and are dating again, of course, your new relationship is sure to be very exciting.  But because you don’t want to make the same mistakes you made in the marriage that didn’t work out, getting back on the dating scene can also be a bit scary.  So to help guarantee that your next relationship is a successful one that doesn’t end with another broken heart and a broken home, take a relationship refresher course with a few simple words of wisdom:

It’s gonna be work.  You know how they say that nothing good comes easy?  Well this is especially true when it comes to relationships.  Sure, it’s always rainbows, hearts and butterflies on a stroll through the park in the beginning stages, but once the newness fades away, storm clouds are bound to roll in and rain on your love parade every once and a while.  No matter what the movies make you believe, no relationship is perfect…and it’s important to understand that the successful ones take work.

Most arguments arise from our own insecurities.  Arguing is a natural part of any healthy relationship—but many times we let our own fears or insecurities get the best of us and we tend to take them out on our partner.  So before you start throwing pots and pans or decide to take to your partner’s closet with a blow-torch, be sure to step back and make sure that you are really upset for the right reasons.

Anger is a waste of time.  When arguments pop up every now and then, do your best to keep anger at bay that might cause you to say or do something you might later regret.  Try to clearly communicate your feelings so that you don’t spend all of your precious time being mad and drag out useless arguments.  When it comes down to it, life is too short—don’t waste it being unhappy.

You are in charge of your own happiness.  Of course, a meaningful relationship is a part of a fulfilled life and has the ability to make you very happy…but you cannot rely on your partner as the sole provider of all of your happiness.  You are the only one responsible for that.  When you center your entire world around your partner, you risk the chance of everything falling apart if your relationship does—so reach outside of your relationship to find other parts of life that satisfy you and bring enjoyment.

You can’t change someone else.  The only person you have the power to change is yourself—not your partner.  When you love someone but force attitudes or behaviors that you believe are right upon them, you will do nothing put push this person away.  Instead, be clear and open about your expectations for your partner and the relationship while being accepting of who they are.  If you can’t, then cut your losses and spring for someone who has everything you want/need so you don’t have to mold them into your ideal image of a partner.  If you are with someone you are trying to change, they clearly aren’t right for you in the first place.

Treat your partner how you wish to be treated.  The golden rule is one that has been around forever and has been drilled into us since we were little—and it is especially useful when applied to grown-up relationships.  You get what you give…so treat your partner the same way that you wish to be treated.  It’s the most basic relationship rule and should always be practiced.

Be lovers and friends.  Some of the best relationships are those that are built upon strong friendships.  If your lover didn’t start out that way, then develop the kind of partnership that gives them the additional role as your best friend.  It might not sound so romantic, but for those that practice relationships based on the idea, they say it’s the glue that holds their relationship together through thick and thin.

Sabrina Jackson is a guest post contributor who enjoys sharing her relationship advice.  In addition, Sabrina also writes for Free Dating Sites where she offers her tips for safe dating practices on the internet.

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Guest Post: 3 Vital Steps to Dating After Divorce

The divorce is final and you are free to make your own decisions after years of consulting and coordinating with another person. Before you decide to start dating again spend some time making your life ready to welcome a new relationship. Common post-divorce dating mistakes include not grieving your lost marriage, not knowing what kind of person you want, and being too clingy once you find someone. Work to avoid these problems, and you’re on the way to a happy after divorce dating life.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve

Even if you wanted a divorce you will need time to grieve for the relationship. Spend some time honoring the good in your marriage in your own way. For some people that honoring will be more ritualistic, but others may want to look through photographs or read old emails from when times were good. Give yourself time to ponder what went wrong and why and think about what you will miss about your spouse. Don’t get lost in this phase but be sure that you are over your marriage before you put yourself back into the dating pool.

Know What You Want from a Relationship

Understanding what went wrong in your marriage will help you to know what you need in a new relationship. Perhaps your ex-spouse worked 60 hours a week and had little downtime. If that didn’t work for you, then you’ll know to stay away from people with a similar work ethic in the future. Not sharing interests or having different life paths can be significant factors for the ending of a relationship.

Before you head out into the dating world, you should be clear with yourself about what you need and want from a future partner. Also be clear about whether you are looking for a casual or serious relationship to avoid getting yourself into a doomed relationship in your post-divorce life.

Practice Your New-found Independence

For people who spent many years with their lives closely enmeshed with someone else’s life, breaking free from that set-up can take practice. Have very consistent boundaries with yourself about what you will and won’t tolerate with a new partner. Let’s say that you and your ex-spouse fought every year because he wanted to spend holidays only with his family. This year, you are going to go to your parents’ home for Thanksgiving. Don’t give in if your new beau wants to go to his sister’s house instead. Stick to your guns and create for yourself the life that you want to have. Consider dating after divorce as another chance at finding the fairy tale romance.

About the Author:   Bridget Sandorford is a grant researcher and writer for CulinarySchools.org. Along with her passion for whipping up recipes that incorporate “superfoods”, she recently finished research on Pastry Chef Job Descriptions and International Culinary Schools.

 

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