A Holiday Survival Guide for Stepmothers

By Brenda Snyder, LCSW Originally published in the Nov. 2012 issue of StepMom Magazine.

The holiday season is upon us! It’s “the most wonderful time of the year!” But sometimes, for stepmoms, the very times that are supposed to make us the happiest can have the opposite effect.

As a childless stepmother, I couldn’t wait to share my mother’s awesome Christmas Eve tradition of having Santa Claus visit from the North Pole. Continue reading “A Holiday Survival Guide for Stepmothers”

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Stepmoms: Be the Mother Ship (Not the Mother!)

Be the mother ship. Not the mother.” This is sage stepmom advice I received from my friend Ruth over a cider-slash-venting session years ago. She had been a stepmom before it was even cool. I didn’t know her then. She was 19, he was 30 and suddenly she had two small girls for whom to take care. She hung in there for 18 years of marriage and watched herself and those kids grow up. I know we all think there isn’t enough information out there on being a stepmom these days, but 30 years ago there literally was nothing. She had to learn 100 percent through trial and error. Continue reading “Stepmoms: Be the Mother Ship (Not the Mother!)”

How To Find A Good Stepfamily Therapist

Did you know that the wrong therapist can actually make your situation worse? It’s true! Watch this video for tips on how to find a qualified therapist to help you work through the most common stepfamily challenges.

Tell us what you think about this video. Have you ever worked with a therapist? Do you think it might help your stepfamily situation? Continue reading “How To Find A Good Stepfamily Therapist”

How To Keep The Ex Out Of Your Relationship

Do you spend too much time thinking about your partner’s ex-wife? Watch this video and learn how to focus LESS on her and MORE on your relationship.

Stepmoms: Leave a comment below and tell us what you think! Do you talk so much about the ex it almost feels like she lives with you? Are you ready to set boundaries and try the strategy explained in this video? Continue reading “How To Keep The Ex Out Of Your Relationship”

The 5 Dumbest Things People Say to Stepmoms

Stepfamily life can be complicated. Well-intentioned “advice” often comes from family & friends who just don’t understand why being a stepmom isn’t as easy as it looks!

Let’s hear from you, stepmoms. What’s the funniest, craziest, or dumbest thing anyone has ever said to you? Leave a comment below and, if you liked this video, don’t keep it a secret, share it!

If you liked this video, you’ll LOVE the magazine!


The Secrets Stepmoms Keep

For many women, being a stepmother is like having a dirty, little secret. Why don’t people talk about it? Brenda Ockun of StepMom Magazine explains why in this video:

Mother’s Day Advice for Stepmoms

We know from experience that, for many stepmoms, Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year to handle gracefully. Little acknowledgement or recognition for all you do for your stepfamily year ’round can compound this. Add in the mother of all holidays and you may wind up feeling especially sad or unappreciated.

On an internal level, of course, we’re fully aware that we’re not our stepkids’ parents. Yet, we still want to be celebrated. Our first suggestion is to revel in the quiet knowledge that you do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do. Sure, we know: Being recognized is nice. But if you’re not? These “5 Tips” will help:

Stop pretending.
If Mother’s Day is difficult for you, shift your perspective and your approach. Don’t pretend that your feelings don’t exist. Don’t tell your partner “it’s OK” you were overlooked or that you “don’t care that much.” Be honest. That doesn’t mean rattling off a laundry list of things you do for your stepkids. It means being vulnerable enough to create moments of intimacy that’ll benefit you both. It can also mean being honest with yourself, identifying how you’re feeling and why.

 Celebrate yourself.
The contents of your heart and the way you conduct yourself are more important than what anyone else thinks of you. As a woman and a stepmom, your worth and identity aren’t defined by or dependent on your marital or maternal status. (Read that again.) They’re yours to define. This weekend and always, know that you’re enough and that what you do matters; not just today but every day. Use this occasion to celebrate you, spending time and energy making yourself feel special.

Do something fun!
Wanna know how to make the most of an otherwise difficult day? Hatch a plan that sounds like fun and leave room for spontaneity. Do all sorts of things which bring you joy! Give yourself permission to plan the day around your interests—going it alone or partnering up. Sleep in. Eat your favorite foods. Practice yoga. Read or do crossword puzzles. Have a glass of wine. Take a bubble bath. Take a hike. Do anything and everything your heart desires.

Don’t go it alone.
Managing ourselves and our expectations is easier when we’re willing to accept advice from other stepmoms who have been there, done that for years. Now is the time to call that stepmom friend who understandsand never judgeshow you’re feeling. Don’t have any in-person stepmom gal pals? The StepMom Magazine private forum is available to subscribers 24/7/365. Find a thread that resonates with you. Or start a new one!

Help a sister out.
Mother Teresa wasn’t anybody’s mother, yet she’s celebrated far and wide! If the mother of all holidays has you feeling left out, consider reaching out to someone who’d appreciate your kindness. Let another woman (any woman) know that you admire her and why. Write her a note. Call her. Invite her to lunch. Helping others is an act of healing. So, pay it forward, stepmom. It’ll make her day (and yours) a little brighter!

Whether or not anyone else says or acknowledges it, you’re an incredible woman. To accept a job that offers little security, few accolades and no promise of unconditional love—while also managing the inherent complexities of stepfamily life—proves that you’re one strong, brave … and, among other things, kickass stepmom!

Don’t let Mother’s Day get you down.
Get the guide:
Stepmom Guide to Mothers Day