Monday, October 19, 2015

The Smart Stepmom

smart stepmom, stepmom, stepmothers, step parenting, blended family, blended families
There are very few books out there right now for blended families or that relates to being a stepmother, however, there is a really great book out there that I highly recommend for all Step Mothers, it is called, “The Smart Stepmom” by Ron L. Deal and Laura Petherbridge.  The book is wonderful for all stages of step parenting whether you are just starting off as a Stepmom or have a few years under your belt.  It even helps if you have younger stepchildren, teenagers or adult stepchildren, this book is for you.  If you feel like you’re all alone in this stepparenting role, this book is for you too.  This book is powerful because of all of the valuable information inside of it. One of the perks to the book is that after every chapter in the book there are a prayer and scriptures to help encourage you.  There is also a set of discussion questions after each chapter that helps you explore more in-depth of each chapter and how you can relate it to your blended family.  I have read this book four or five times now and I still find something new in it each time I read it that I didn’t realize was there the last time I read the book.  My only regret to this book is that I didn’t read it when I first got married to my husband, it would have saved me from a lot of mistakes that I made early on as a stepmother.  There are two chapters in this book that is recommended for the husbands to read, which is very helpful.
What was pretty valuable to me was learning how to understand where my stepchildren are coming from and the pain they are experiencing with having both of their parents divorced and having to share their Father with my children and me.
The book talks about how there are many different types of biological mothers and finding out which type is my stepchildren’s mother was interesting and is really helping me learn how to deal with her on a daily basis. The different types of biological mothers are The Open Mom, The Martha Stewart Mom, The Protector Mom, The Overinvolved Mom, The Stonewalling Mom, The Distant, Abusive, or Addicted Mom, and Destructive Mom. Which type is your biological mother, you can find out in more detail when you read the book about the different types there are and how to understand them better. 
There’s also a great example of an email or letter that you can send to the biological mother that is really good and non-threating to send especially if you’re a new stepmom.  This letter or email would help open the door for good communication between the two of you and it would show the biological mother that you’re not a threat to them and that the mother knows that you are not trying to replace her.  I wish I was able to do this; however my husband frowned upon it, just because of how difficult his ex-wife is and can be. I never did get the chance to really speak or send her any communication.  I will always wonder if I did do that if things would be different between all of us and if we would have become a more respectful shared parenting team with better communication between all three of us.
Most importantly I learned that great blended stepfamilies don’t just happen overnight it takes time to cook a step great stepfamily and it takes a lot of patience, time, love, respect, prayer, and encouragement from other stepmoms.  Yes, I said “cook” a stepfamily.  Look at your stepfamily as stew cooking in a Crockpot; you have to cook the stew on low in order for it to really cook all the way through.  A stepfamily is the same way it takes a lot of years before everything is going great.  I also learned that sometimes you need to learn to accept the things you cannot change and to step down my expectations. “This process takes time and patience. Moving from surviving to thriving doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be done.” (R. Deal & L. Petherbridge; 2009).
There’s also a chapter in the book that talks about adult stepchildren and how to handle the issues and problems relating to betrayal, jealousy, rejection, and concern about family finances.
Through reading this book, I learned that when feeling overwhelmed with negative emotions or when stepchildren test your limits, take an emotional break to try to process my emotions better. It has helped me tremendously to just have my own time out when I get upset. I usually go into my bedroom and just gather all of my thoughts and feelings and either write them down on paper or just think about how to handle it. I also learned that it’s okay to need help or support from others when faced with challenges, it is okay to seek out therapy (counseling) to get through a difficult time. Don’t do it alone, you don’t have to anymore; there are loads of support groups out there to meet other stepmoms that are struggling just like you are.
This book overall is the best book you could ever buy for anyone that you know is marrying into a blended family and becoming a stepmom. I think it’s a great wedding gift for blended families, there’s also a book for Stepdads too.
Do you have this book already? What have you found in this book that was helpful to you? What other books that are out there that you have found to be very helpful with being a stepmom?


References:
Ron Deal & Laura Petherbridge, The Smart Stepmom (Bloomington, MN; Bethany House, 2009)

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