Thursday, December 15, 2016

Protect your Privacy on Facebook

Facebook Privacy, stalkers, stepmom privacy, facebook, blended family, facebook spies, facebook stalkers
Do you have a Facebook profile? Do you have a husband whose ex-wife stalks you on Facebook? Or does that ex-wife have spies that are reporting your every move to the ex-wife? If you do, you’re not alone. This blog post is just for you. I am going to show you how you can make your Facebook profile more private to those outsiders, stalkers or spies.  First of all, you need to be on a computer in order to do a lot of these changes and modifications. Some of these you can’t make using your phone.


Check out Your Profile
View your profile as you would a stranger.  You can do this by going to your main screen of your profile by clicking on your name and then follow these instructions below:
1. Make sure you are on your Facebook wall. (You did this by clicking on your name)
2. On your cover photo, you will see Update Info and View Activity Log buttons, after it then you will see “…” Click on “…” (See Picture on left)
3. Then pull down menu will appear, choose “View as” from it. Then your profile will change into what a stranger (non-friend) would see when they go to your Facebook profile. Here you can see what is viewable to a stranger and what is not. If you have a lot that is viewable, I will show you how to make it more private. You can come back to this step after you are done with making all of the changes.

Newsfeed Posts
In order to make it more private to where only your Friends see it follow these steps:
1. Got to the top of your screen on the right corner (next to Your name and Home) there should be a “Lock” icon, click on it.  It is the last icon on the top menu of your profile.
2. Then select “Who can see my stuff” (See Picture on right)

3. Then you’ll see “Who can see my future posts?”
4. Make sure you select “Friends”. There is also an area there if you want to exclude certain friends from viewing your posts, you can specify that under the options area under the drop down menu.

After you are finished with that, from now on everything you post will only be viewable to your friends only.  Now if you want to hide past posts in your newsfeed, follow these next steps.

Past Newsfeed Posts
Follow these steps for each post you would like to hide.
1. On each post, you will see a “World Globe” icon. Which means everyone who has a Facebook account can view that post. (see Picture on right)
2. Click on the “Word Globe” icon, a drop down menu will appear click on “Friends”
Then repeat this step for every post you want to be more private.
Photos

Photos
To make your photos more private follow these steps:
1. Click on “Photos” from the main screen.
2. Click on “Albums”.
3. On each album, you’ll see a star or globe or people icon that is dimmed out on the bottom right corner of each album. You cannot change the privacy settings for the albums with a “*” on them but you can do all of the rest.
4. Click on that icon, which will then give you a drop down menu, click on the option you desire, which I would choose “Friends”. There is also a “More Options” area where you can specify exceptions to certain people to not view that photo album.
5. Repeat these steps for every photo album.
The only albums you cannot change are profile pictures, timeline photos, mobile photos and cover photos. For these albums, you can go into them and delete the old photos or move them into albums to make them more private. But leave your main profile and cover photo alone, if you do anything to that you will no longer have a profile or cover photo.
Another tip: If anyone tags you in a photo, try to remove the tag, because tagged pictures are viewable to strangers. So if you don’t want strangers to see that picture always remove the “the tag”.
After you completed all of this click on your name and go back to “view as” at the top and check and see if your photos are not viewable to strangers.

Cover & Profile Pictures
To make your cover and profile pictures in your timeline hidden follow these steps:
1. Go to your newsfeed, when you find an old profile or cover photo, there is an “arrow” icon click on it. (See Picture below)

2. Select from the Drop down menu “Hide from timeline”.
3. A box will then appear asking if you are sure you want to hide it. Click on “Hide”.

Now it’s hidden, do this for all of your cover and profile photos that are in your timeline/newsfeed. Keep in mind that the photos are not deleted, they are just hidden so strangers cannot view them.
If you see photos on the left and they are still viewable. These photos are your Profile or Cover photos. You can delete the old pictures or move them to other albums so they are not viewable to strangers. Until all you can view are your recent Profile and Cover photo.

Friends List
If you would like to hide your friends list to strangers or even to friends on your Facebook, following these steps:
1. Click on the “Friends” from your main screen. (See Picture below)

2. Then select “pencil icon” on the right corner. (See Picture below)

3. Then select “edit privacy”
4. A pop down menu will then appear under each option “Friend List” and “Following”. (See Picture below)


5. Select “Only me” for the friend list and you can do the same for the “Following” option too.

Now your friends list and follow list are not viewable to strangers or your friends.

About Page
At the top of your timeline after you click on your name, click on “About”
Then for each area on the left, you can add privacy options to them as well. Follow these steps in order to do that.
For Work and Education under “work”. Put your mouse pointer over it. You will then see “Options” appear.
1. Click on it, then click “Edit”
2. Down on the bottom left of “Save Changes” button, you will see a drop down menu where you can select who want to see this information.
3. Select any option you want. I have mine selected as “Friends” only.
4. Then after you are done with the changes make sure you select “Save Changes”.
5. Repeat these steps for multiple works you have listed. You can do this for each thing listed such as college and high school too.


Then go to “Places you’ve lived” section and follow these steps
1. For each City and State, put your mouse over it, then an “Edit” will appear.
2. Click on “Edit”
3. Then Select who you want seeing this information.
4. Then click on “Save Changes”.

Repeats this for each city and state you have listed. Be sure you select “Save Changes” else it won’t save.
Contact and Basic Info
Are the same steps you did for Work and Education, so follow those steps. Same goes for Family and Relationships details about you.

Life Events
1. For Life events, you have to click on each one
2. Put your mouse over the title of the event and then click on the arrow on the right, then “Edit”, then select who you want to view it.


Likes, Movies, Books, Music, etc...
Lastly, if when you go check and do a “View as…” again and notice that the sections titled: “Likes”, “Movies”, “Books”, “Music” etc… are all viewable to a stranger you can make those more private it too.
Go into each section in order to edit the privacy, follow these steps:
1. Click on the pencil icon on the right corner of each section.
2. Then select “Edit privacy”
3. Then select from the drop down menu who you want to view this.
4. Then select “Close”.

Repeat this for all sections (Likes, Movies, Books, Music, etc)

After your all finished with all of the edits go back and do a “View As…” to see if everything is more private now.  If you made it more private, congrats. Now it should be very hard for your stalkers or spies to read anything from your profile unless you accept them as a friend on your Facebook profile.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bad emails from The Ex-Wife

bad emails from the ex-wife
Everyone hates it when they receive a dreadful email from the ex-wife telling you what she thinks of you or how your parenting skills suck or just how she feels about you.  Or an email about something she disapproves of that happened this past weekend at your house.  Every Father and Stepmom get all worked up after they get an email like that. Your first reaction is to hit the reply button and tell her what you think of her parenting choices or how you feel about her.  Well, then this blog post is for you. 
After you are done reading an email that is really awful from the ex-wife, follow these six guidelines on how to handle the bad and awful email instead of what you normally do.

1. Wait to read the email at home instead, so it doesn’t affect your job.
2. Walk away from the email. Get your mind on something else.
3. Don’t reply until 8 hours later or the next day if possible.
4. Don’t reply at all.
5. Save the email print it out for your records for court.
6. Respond only to any question she may have asked that relates to the well-being of the children.

not responding is also a good response

Keep in mind when you do respond it’s a domino effect. Meaning it will fuel the fire to keep on and going and going. Email wars are never any good for anyone.  If you decide not to respond at all she may call or text you asking you if you got her email. You can simply say “I don’t think a response was necessary” and just leave it at that.
When you do respond make sure it’s when you have cooled down and make sure your reply email follows these 3 guidelines:

Is it Nice?
Is it True?
Is it necessary?


If your reply to the email is not either of these guidelines then don’t respond because she can use it against you in court. Don’t give her leverage to use in court.  Another thing to keep in mind, high conflict ex-spouses will sometimes read the email to the kids to get the kids to hate you.  When dealing with a high-conflict ex-spouse always try to communicate through email or via text messages that way you have a paper trail. It’s hard to prove something someone has said on the phone or in person.  Unless you record it which is illegal in some states, however, some states allow it as evidence and some don’t.  Look into it before doing it.
My husband’s ex-wife would send countless of emails telling him what a bad parent he is but rarely had anything else in the email that was of importance that would warrant a response from him.  Almost every other Monday after a weekend with the step-children, she would send an email about something she wasn’t happy with.  In the beginning, he would get so upset and call me at work reading the email to me. He used to fire back at her with an email and then it would just go back and forth. Until one day I said, let it go, don’t respond at all.  Once he stopped responding to her hateful emails. Our life was a lot better. Any time an email was sent to us we would laugh about it over the phone.  He would only respond if it was really necessary and it was short and to point answers.  Once he started handling the emails like that, she eventually stopped sending them.  I think she finally realized that we weren’t going to let her hateful emails come between us and we weren’t going to stoop to her level of craziness.  Don’t let the ex-spouse affect your happiness with one another.  Whenever you get an email always follow those six guidelines above and you will be less stressed out.  Always kill her with kindness and don’t respond to craziness unless it’s really necessary.  Remember anything you say in your email can be used against you in court.  Save every correspondence you get from the ex-spouse, so you can, in turn, use it against her in court if need be.  Also, build up a case against the ex-spouse, don’t just go to court over one email, collect several damaging emails and then use them in court against them. Please remember only respond to crazy and bad emails when: you can be nice, if it’s true, and if it’s necessary.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Break Through

break through, blended family, blended family break through, step family, stepmom, step mother, step parents
It’s been awhile since I wrote on my blog and I apologize for that, but I took the summer to concentrate on my family. Do you have a difficult relationship with your step kids?  Well, I did on and off for this past eight years. It’s been up and down and at times more down than up.  Then it hit rock bottom in 2013 to the point where my step kids didn’t want to be around me and my children.  And it lasted for three years. Those three years were so difficult for me, I felt like a part of me was missing and more importantly, it felt like our blended family was incomplete. I also had a lot of bitterness and resentment I was holding on to besides a tremendous amount of hurt from my stepdaughter.  Then I decided early this year to forgive her for everything she did and said to me.  Then I decided to reach out to her and send her an email expressing how much I missed her and my stepson in my life and also asked her for forgiveness for any hurt that I have caused. I also brought up all of the fun times we have had that I missed a lot and how I wish we could make a fresh start and repair our relationship and how much I love them both and how I only want the best for both of them.  In a few days she responded back and now it’s been seven months and our relationship is slowly coming around and getting better.  I owe all of this transformation to God, only he made this possible through a lot of prayers this all happened
Just recently my stepdaughter contacted me asking me to go to a Christmas play with her.  This is a first time that she reached out to ask me to spend time with her 1:1.  At this point, it’s been me asking them both to do things with me and my kids.  Her reaching out to me was such a great feeling since she could have asked anyone else to go with her.  She also asked to go to a Halloween event that is coming up with my girls too. We have come long ways. I know I will never get those three years back of everything I missed out on but I’m grateful for where we are at today.
If you are having issues with your step kids, I encourage you to pray and seek God. I also encourage you to be the bigger person and reach out to them first.  After all they are children whom don’t know the right thing to do and sometimes can hold grudges a lot longer than us adults can. If you can’t see them in person, I encourage you to write them a letter/email expressing your feelings and telling them how much you miss and love them. Keep it positive and don’t dwell on the negative things that happened to make you distant from them. They might have done and said some hurtful things, but you need to let it go of it and try to make a fresh start.  Try to remind them of all of the good times you have had with them and how you miss them being a part of your life.  You might not get an apology for all of the hurt they put you through and you have to learn to be okay with that. It was not easy for me to accept the fact that they might not apologize for the hurtful things they did and said.  The best thing is to let it all go and make a fresh start. Don’t give up on them it can and will work if you make the first move and pray and have faith and believe for your break through
I could have given up on them and said it’s hopeless, they will never have a relationship with me, but I chose to not give up, I chose to die to self and rise above all of the hurt they have caused.
Life is short, don’t spend it holding onto bitterness, hurt, resentment and unforgiveness in your heart towards your step kids, make amends and get your fresh start, your break through is right around the corner. Don’t ever give up on the relationship with them, you can be a complete blended family again, but it all starts with you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cedar Point - Fun for the whole Family

If you haven’t gone to Cedar Point during Hallo Weekends you are definitely missing out on a lot of fun for all of your family. Hallo Weekends run between September 16th through October 30th.  I took my family recently and it was so much fun. The lines for the rides were short and it got even more entertaining when the sun went down.  There are fourteen haunt attractions and twenty-one great pumpkin fest attractions in the whole park. There are pathways in the park that had people dressed in costumes ready to scare you.  If you have small children that don’t want to be scared you can buy a “No Boo” light up the necklace for just $8.00 that will keep the scary characters away.  They can even go into the haunted attractions with the necklace on and will be bothered by the characters. 
The whole park is decorated so nicely and festive for Halloween. There are so many photo opportunities.

They have over a thousand pumpkins decorated or designed in a way that’s really festive.  They have tombstones everywhere throughout the park.  You can even bring your kids dressed up in costume and they have designated attractions that give out candy to them.
I do want to give you a heads up on something though when you are there don’t buy the souvenir cups to drink out of because you will have to buy a locker to store it because all of the rides will not let you use the storage bins to put the cups in. The rate for the lockers is $4.00 for 4 hours.
The newest roller coaster, Valravn was a great ride; I definitely recommend riding in the very front of this coaster to really get the effect of the first drop.  It’s the best seat on that roller coaster.
The first night we were there, they had a funeral procession for the Mean Streak roller coaster because they shut it down.  I am actually pretty happy about that, it was the worst roller coaster ride in the whole park.



My top five favorite roller coasters at Cedar Point are:
1. Valravn
2. GateKeeper
3. Millennium Force
4. Maverick
5. Raptor 


My top five scary attractions are:
1. Eternity Infirmary
2. Blood on the Bayou
3. Screamworks
4. Slaughter House
5. Erie Estates.


The only haunted attractions I didn’t get to go see was the Eden House and the Zombie High School. Hopefully next year, I will be able to go back and experience those two haunted attractions.

A fun attraction the all of my kids loved was the Linus Mummy Pit which was bubbles or foam that they got to play with that were shooting out of two machines. They loved it, but I have to warn you, they will get a little wet if they put bubbles all over them. They did have towels there to help dry you off after playing with the bubbles.

An awesome show to watch while you are there are the “Blood Drums”.  They had these zombies that would come out and do trapeze stunts which were awesome to watch while the drummer played his drums from high above.
They also have wristbands you can buy to for all day drinks and food which I think is definitely well worth the price.  For the food wristband, you can eat every 90 minutes at many food places. The drink plan is nice because you don’t have to carry a souvenir and rent a locker to store it. 
All in all, it was a great time for the whole family and less wait time for rides. Definitely, plan a trip to Cedar Point, you don't want to miss out on all of the fun you and your family can have. To learn more about Cedar Point Amusement Park, click here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Blended Family is Not an Nuclear Family

a blended family is not an nuclear family; blended family; step parenting; step family; stepmom
Even though sometimes it feels like it is a Nuclear Family. The first five years it will at times feel like your in a Nuclear Family. If you can get through the first five years you really have a chance to be successful. If and when you can make it to ten years you are an honored veteran.  The first five years of my blended family have had many ups and downs. The downs were so bad that I thought about walking away from it all several times. The hardest struggle was dealing with the discipline with all of the children, but mainly the stepchildren because the ex-wife constantly interfered with our discipline. It was a very hard time for both me and my husband but we got through it without losing one another in the process. To get through the rough years you need to go through the blending process.  There are 9 steps to the blending process in which came from Gary & Greg Smalley‘s book titled: “The Blended Marriage”. These principles will help guide you along the blending process and get you through the hard times and make you go from feeling like a Nuclear Family to a successful Blended Family.

9 Steps for the Blending Process (Gary & Greg Smalley; 2014)

1. Expect outside influences to intrude
This means that ex-spouses, in-laws, and friends will try to cause problems or give you unwanted advice. It’s going to happen, it’s just inevitable.

2. Expect children to feel torn between both parents

The stepchildren will have a hard time adjusting especially if PAS is going on with one or both parents. Try your best not to talk badly in front of the stepchildren about the other parent. Let them form their own opinions about their parent without your influence. If you notice them struggling for whatever reason, counseling can really help the stepchildren adjust to being in a Blended Family.

3. Be prepared for change
Before you got married or moved in together, you both had two different styles of parenting. Coming together as one style of parenting is going to take some time and a lot of adjusting and compromise.

4. Be willing to make sacrifices for the common good
For example, you might celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve whereas your husband celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day. You might have to compromise and change the day around to where it makes sense for all of the children in the family. You have to make sacrifices and adjust your life around.

5. Understand that your expectations will most likely have to be adjusted
It’s a good rule of thumb to walk in with little or no expectations at all, that way you don’t get discouraged if an expectation you have failed. You can also learn how to have realistic expectations in your blended family by clicking here.

6. Define love as commitment, not merely feelings
A Blended Family takes a lot of commitment from both of you meaning 100/100 on both of your parts. Make a commitment to one another that you will not give up, no matter how bad and hard it may get.

7. Remember that effective blending doesn’t happen overnight
A Blended Family takes a lot of time, commitment, patience, and faith in God. It also helps to read a lot of books on Blended Families and Step Parenting. Having a support group to turn to when the going gets tough is another great help.  Last but definitely not least, counseling for both of you or just one of you will help too.

8. Realize that sometimes blending doesn’t go smoothly
There will be a lot of bumps along the way, so don’t feel discouraged.  Just kick off the dust and try again. You need to realize that you will make mistakes along the way, it’s only normal. No parent is perfect and either is a Blended Family. It’s just how you recover and learn from those mistakes is what matters most.

9. Be committed to the covenant of your marriage regardless of circumstances
Put each other first after God. It goes in this order: 1. God  2.Spouse 3. Children. If you follow this order your marriage will be strong and you can get through anything that comes your way.

I know some of these steps seem impossible, but if you make them possible in your Blended Family it won’t be a Nuclear Family at all.  Don’t give up on your Blended Family you can be successful and get through the first five years and even ten years if you just follow the blended process that Gary & Greg Smalley put together.

When we first got together it was very hard. All of the children fought and argued over everything. It put us against one another at times. Then the ex-wife would get involved in our discipline and our rules which made things even ten times worse. There were times where I felt like it was a losing battle. The first five years have been the hardest in our Blended Family but we made it through it. We did make some mistakes along the way that we can’t do anything about except to learn from them and that’s what we have done. I am happy to say we are going on eight years being together and seven years of marriage and I really feel like it’s going uphill now and we are finally in a good place. So don’t give up on yours yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel, just keep on going it will be worth it in the end.

References:
Smalley Greg & Gary (2014). The Blended Marriage. Explore, Reflect, Unite. Learn how to cultivate a fruitful life together. Focus on the Family. Published by Bethany House publishing group.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Should you buy a gift for The Ex-Wife for Mother's Day?

buy gift for the ex-wife, mothers day, mothers day gift for the ex, blended family, step family
Should we recognize the BM (Biological Mother) and buy a gift for her from the stepchildren for Mother’s Day?  The answer might surprise you. The answer is YES, you should.  If the biological Mother is single and doesn’t have a significant other or husband to do it, then you most definitely should buy a gift for her from the kids.  If she does have a significant other or husband in her life, ask the stepchildren if that person is going to take them out to get their Mother a gift for Mother’s Day.  If they say he isn’t, then you need to do it for them. They should be recognized regardless of how they treat you.  It’s not about you; it’s about the stepchildren showing their love and appreciation towards their Mother on Mother’s Day. It’s teaching the step children that they should always honor their Mother on special holidays such as Mother’s Day.  The gift might have been bought by you and your husband but it’s from her children, not from you.  It’s the thought that counts and it is stepping outside of your thoughts, feelings and comfort level towards her and being the bigger person.  If she throws the gift away, she’s only hurting her children and then shame on her.  But not shame on you.  So take the stepchildren out this weekend and have them pick something out for their Mother and have them pick out a card for her.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on her, just spend anywhere between $25.00 to $40.00 on the gift.  If the stepchildren are older they may have money of their own that they want to spend but have no way of getting to the store to get the gift for their Mother.  Once they get old enough and can drive a car, they can get the gift, but may need to be reminded to do so.  I think it’s even more special when a Stepmom takes the initiative and takes the stepchildren out to get the gift, it really shows the stepchildren that you are okay with them loving on their Mother and recognizing them.  But, if you just can’t get past everything she’s done and just don’t want to do it at all, and then have your husband take the stepchildren out to get it. No Mother should go unrecognized on Mother’s Day.  Every Mother should feel loved and appreciated for being a Mother by their children.  Regardless of how she treats you and your husband, regardless of how difficult she is, regardless of how active she is in your stepchildren’s lives.  If money is tight then have the stepchildren make her a homemade card and have them make a craft or you can even help them bake a cake for her and have them decorate it.  Don’t let your ego or your hurt feelings get in the way, this is her day just as much as it is your day. I know for me personally, my ex-husband doesn’t take my kids out to buy me a gift for Mother’s Day. But my husband does it, so it doesn’t bother me that my ex-husband doesn’t do it.  I am sure if I was single, he would do it for me.
Try to honor all types of Mothers this Mother’s Day regardless of how close you are to them, if they are a Mother they should be honored and appreciated.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Know Your Role

know your rule, stepmom, step mothers, role of a stepmom, blended family, step family
Do you really know your role in your blended marriage? Do you know what your limits are? This is something that is very important to discuss with your husband or significant other before you get married or move in together.  I have heard it many times where a Stepmom has overstepped their role and has disciplined or said something to the stepchild that the husband was not happy about.  You need to have the discussion with your husband about what he is comfortable with and what he isn’t comfortable with. Because you don’t want to overstep your role and have your husband undermines you right in front of your stepchildren.  If that ever does happen it shows your stepchildren that what you say doesn’t matter and that they don’t have to obey or listen to you and that their Dad has the last say.  You both need to sit down and come up with what you are comfortable with, meaning if your husband is ready for you to discipline his kids and how will it be handled.  Determine and establish who will be the primary disciplinary in the family overall or with the stepchildren and who will be the second disciplinary in the marriage.  The stepmom should not be the primary disciplinary to the stepchildren. If you as the stepmom feel that you have taken on that role and it’s too much for you, then you really need to have a serious conversation with your husband about it.  The husband should be the main primary disciplinary with his children.  Putting you in that role can really become a disaster for your relationship with the stepchildren and the biological mother.  Stepmoms should always try to be more of the nurturer and encourager parent type role rather than the disciplinary role of the household. I know there are some Stepmoms that are with the stepchildren more than the husband is due to work, then you have to be the be the disciplinary in those cases.  If you notice your stepchildren resenting you, it’s because you’re doing too much of the discipline in the household and your husband needs to step up and be more engaged in the discipline area. He should always support you with whatever discipline you give out to his stepchildren. If he ever feels the need to disagree with it, then he needs to tell you later on when the children are not around, but never in front of the children.  If your discipline isn’t working the husband should always try to step in to help enforce it.  You should always be on the same team with one another. Stepmoms shouldn’t undermine husband’s discipline either especially in front of the children. Always try to be on the same team and become a united front together.
There was a time not that long ago where my stepdaughter was yelling at me in a busy restaurant and just wouldn’t stop yelling at me even after I asked her to stop yelling and lower her voice. My husband just stood there and didn’t do or say anything to make her stop. It made me feel like he didn’t care about the way she was treating me and that he supported her actions towards me. He later apologized for it, but it still hurt me that he couldn’t step up to the plate and put her in her place. She was totally out of line and very disrespectful to me.  This is a good example of a husband not having your back. A husband needs to have your back no matter what. If he can’t have your back then you don’t and shouldn’t discipline the stepchildren.  Let him deal with his own children and you handle your children.  It’s so important that you talk about your role with his children. If you can’t agree to discipline and consequences in the home, maybe you both would benefit from attending a parenting class together to help you agree on discipline and consequences. There is also a post I did awhile back about disciplining your stepchildren, feel free to read it and see if it helps.
Another role that is important to discuss and determine is your role with the biological mother.  Is your husband going to handle all communication with the biological mother or are you going to handle some of it?  It’s something you definitely need to figure out and early on in your relationship or marriage. My recommendation that has worked in my marriage is that each of you handles all communication with your own ex-spouses.  It just makes it less difficult to deal with and helps avoid a lot of stress and conflicts. My husband solely communicates with his ex-wife about his kids and I solely communicate with my ex-husband about my kids. If you have it set up to where you both communicate with the ex-spouses and it isn’t working you can always change it around, there’s still time to do that.  If you do share communication with the ex-spouses and its working then leave it the way it is. Just make sure you establish boundaries with one another about what you can say yes to with the ex-spouses and what you both need to discuss first before giving answers too.
Knowing your role as a Stepmom and finding out what your limits are and getting it defined only helps better your marriage and your blended family. If you haven’t had that talk yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Should I Attend Sporting or Other Events?

blended sport events, attending stepchild sporting events, step family, stepmom, blended family, children's sport events, stepchildren's sporting events
There comes a time when the stepchildren get involved in Sports or other school events and you ask yourself should I be attending these for support? The answer is yes and most definitely encourage your husband to attend even when you can’t attend always make sure you make it possible for the biological parent to attend their child’s event.  As your schedule permits, attend as many events as you can.  Even if the biological mother is there, just because she’s there doesn’t mean you have to sit by her.  It’s important that you go with your husband for moral support and to show your stepchildren that you care about them and that they are also important to you too.  It’s really important to the stepchildren that you cheer them on and support them in the activities they do.  I know from previous experience growing up in a blended family myself, my Dad only attended one sporting event of mine, out of many that I had.  Even my own mother didn’t attend many of them either and it really hurt me as a child that no one was there to cheer me on.  I remember the feeling like it was yesterday, it felt like they didn’t care and it really hurt me especially when my friend’s parents were there and mine weren’t.  However, my friend’s parents would cheer me on which made me feel good, but it isn’t the same thing as when it’s your own parents there to cheer you on.  I played three sports growing up, girls’ softball, tennis and ran track.  It’s a great feeling when you have parents there to support and help cheer you on.  It makes you feel loved, valued, and important.  Try your best to attend every sporting event or special events like Home Coming Dance, Prom dances, Science Fair, Art Fair, Choir Concert, or Band Concerts.  What I mean by attending the dances, I mean by going over to their mother’s house and taking pictures of them before they head off to the dance.  I mean games, not practices, however if you want to attend practices to, that is up to you, but games are more important to attend than the practices.  Your children and stepchildren need that support.  If you have more than one child in sports and you run into a timing conflict, then split up and have one attend one and the other parent attends the other one.  I know it may be hard to attend every sporting or school event they have, but try your best to attend most of them.  When you can’t make it for whatever reason, make sure you tell your child that you cannot be there for it, so they know in advance.  
With our children, one of my daughters is in competitive cheer and my other daughter was in girls’ soccer and currently in the choir and then my stepson is in football and baseball.  Sometimes we have conflicts with the events, but we always to try have at least one of us there in attendance to show our support. Yes, it’s not easy to be there with the ex-spouses but try to look past that and be there for your child.  Just remember your doing this for them.  If you can’t be there for whatever reason it’s not the end of the world as long as you have attended most of the events.  If you tell your child you will come to their event and then don’t show up, it really hurts and disappoints that child. It shows the child that they can’t count on you to be there for them.  Commit to what you can commit to and when you can’t be there make sure you always tell them in advance.  We keep a family calendar that is on our phones, where both my husband and I can put events, appointments or other things on the calendar that way we know what’s going on at all times.  Try to find a calendar application that you can both share on each other’s phones that way you always know what’s coming up or you can buy a dry erase calendar that goes on your fridge, either way, it will help you stay organized and aware of things coming up so you don’t miss them.  Try to remember these events are all about the children and not about you, it's important to be there and show your support and cheer them on every chance you get.

When you were in sports or other activities did your parents attend most of them? If not, how did it make you feel when they couldn't be there for you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mother's Day - Stepmothers Are Mothers Too!

mother's Day, stepmothers are mothers too, stepmoms, stepmothers, blended family, mothers day, step family
Mother’s Day is just right around the corner. It can be a very hard day for us Stepmoms because we are then reminded that we aren’t really our stepchildren’s mother, so we often don’t get recognized or appreciated.  When really we should get recognized, even though we are not their biological mother, we are still a mother; we are special mothers who have chosen to love, accept and take care of our stepchildren.  We take care of them as we would our own children. We also deserve to be honored on Mother’s Day. We would love to get recognized by our stepchildren after all we have taken good care of them and always look out for their best interests. Even some of us Stepmoms have even taken care of our stepchildren even better than their biological mothers have in yet we seldom get any credit or recognition for it on Mother’s Day. To me, Mother’s Day is a day of appreciation to ALL types of mothers and being a Stepmother is still a mother.  Sometimes our husbands don’t realize that they need to be the one to help their children recognize that their Stepmother also needs to be appreciated and recognized on Mother’s Day too.  Sometimes us Stepmoms need to have a talk with our husband’s about Mother’s Day so they know whether or not you want to be recognized or not.  Because sometimes our husbands can be clueless about it and don’t realize how it could hurt our feelings if we don’t get appreciated and recognized on Mother’s Day.  If you are in a new blended marriage, it’s good to talk to your husband about it and share with him your thoughts about Mother’s Day and whether or not it’s a big deal to you.
All it takes is our husbands talking to their children about it and taking them to the store to buy a card and a small gift. The children could even make their own homemade card.  They do sell Stepmother cards for Mother’s Day and even “like a mom” Mother’s Day cards.
I think why it is a hard day for us Stepmoms is because we feel like we are reminded that we are not their real mother, and yet we have all of the same feelings, go through frustration, all of the pain, emotions, financial strain and the difficulty of being a Mother and yet get none of the joys, recognition or appreciation of doing it all. We are Mother’s to regardless if it’s a Stepmother; we are still a Mother after all Stepmother has the word “mother” in it.
My first and second year of being a Stepmother, I got recognized by my stepchildren and it felt so wonderful to get a card that they both picked out for me and a gift.  But then after those two years it all stopped which made me sad and hurt, but I also understood that my stepchildren are going through loyalty conflicts and PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) with their mother which makes it very hard to be nice to me and accept me as a mother too. We always made sure we took our stepchildren out to get something for their mother for Mother’s Day. One year I even took my stepdaughter out to the Hallmark store to make sure she got her mother a card. I feel it is very important that their mother gets something on Mother's Day too regardless of how I felt about her.
We also want to be recognized and treated special on Mother’s Day since we are a mother too regardless if we didn’t give birth to our stepchildren we still love and take care of all of their needs just like a biological mother would do.  This Mother’s Day make sure you honor ALL Mothers not just the one that gave birth to you. Stepmothers are Mothers too.

Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

  • Pedicure & Manicure gift certificate
  • Massage gift certificate
  • Jewelry is always nice
  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • Perfume
  • Bath & Body Lotion gift set
  • Gift Card to their favorite store
  • Create an Anytime Coupon Book that says stuff like: we do the dishes, laundry, vacuum whole house, clean the house, dust, cook a meal, mom’s day off from all chores. You give it to them so that they can use the coupons any time they like
  • Make a stepping stone for the garden with handprints or footprints
  • Get them a personalized coffee mug with either handprint or picture of the kids
  • Have child make their own card and paint a picture for them
  • Have the kids get their picture taken and get it framed for her work
  • Homemade handprint craft of any kind
  • Handprint flower pot with a plant inside of it
  • Get them something they been wanting for a long time
  • Stitch fix gift certificate
  • Take them out to eat at their favorite restaurant
  • Create some pottery for them from a Pottery store
  • Have the kids bake a cake for her
  • Have the kids cook breakfast and serve it in bed for her
  • Buy her, her favorite bottle of wine
  • Make up a gift bag of all of her favorite candies or sweets
Another Great Idea:
Ladies if you want great gifts, make up a Sizes Card that has a few important things on it:
Clothing Size, Pant Size, Jean Size, Dress Size, Shoe Sizes, Favorite Colors, Ring Size, Bra Size, Underwear Size, Lingerie Size
This size card can go in your husband’s wallet so any time he is at the store and wants to buy you something he knows all of your sizes for everything. Make it a business card size so it's small enough to fit in his wallet. You can even get it laminated so it doesn't get ruined.


Stepmoms - Was there a Mother's Day that you didn't get recognized and how did it make you feel?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Did I make a Mistake?

did I make a mistake, Am I making a mistake, blended family, blended family problems, down times in blended family, step family, stepmom problems, stepmom
Sometimes when things get hard in our marriage and with our blended family.  We can often ask  ourselves: “Did I make a Mistake?”  Is this marriage worth fighting for? Is this blended family ever going to work? Will we ever become a happy blended family? Is it all worth it?  I know I have asked these questions a few times myself.  My husband and I have been going to therapy for a year now, because of some things that we would like to resolve within our relationship. It has not been easy to open up and share our struggles with one another yet alone a therapist, but in doing so it has helped us tremendously.
When we start to feel like we just can’t do it anymore, pray and seek God.  When we face challenges in our marriage that really overwhelm us, God will give us the strength to persevere, trust in him for a break through. God will never let you down. Then talk to someone you trust with your feelings and emotions. It's good to be able to get those feelings and emotions out with a trusted friend or a therapist.  Then think back about when you first met your husband, what were the qualities that you found in him that made you feel like you couldn’t live without him?  Write these down and make a list of them.  What were your first thoughts about when you met his kids? Write those down.  How was the first time your kids and his kids met? Write that down.
Will we ever become a happy blended family
I know we never set out of this life to be a Stepmom and could have never imagined our life to be where it is at right now.  Kathy Lipp & Carol Boley state that we need to do these 5 things when it comes to feeling like we made a mistake.

5 Things to help us get through our down times:

1. Accept Reality. Your stepfamily has been born of a loss of either a death or divorce. Everyone has suffered at one point. We all should know that.

2. Prepare for Action. Get organized and make a plan. A plan of how to make it work. What changes can you make to make things better? Share that plan with your spouse if he is struggling too.

3. Know that you’re not Alone.  God and all of his resources are available to you, therefore, you can succeed. It’s important to believe this. There are support groups available such as “Stepmoms are us” on facebook that will be there for you. You can also get therapy to help get you through the hard times.

4. Stand Firm. Be strong and courageous.  It will be tough but stay faithful to your task. Do the right thing even when you don’t feel like it. God will supply what you need to accomplish this.

5. Know God’s Heart.  Study God’s word making it the basis for your thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions. God will help you when you seek him daily. God is greater than your problems, he will help you get through them and resolve them.

There’s a great book that I recommend that will help you with your daily devotional time with God. It’s called: "Daily Bread for the Starving Stepmom" by Laurabeth Hoisington and Melanie Anthony. There are 31 days of devotions along with a scripture and a prayer for every day to help you grow more as a successful Stepmom.  When you are done with that book, I recommend another great devotional book which is: "The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian. There are life and marriage changing devotions. If you want your marriage to change, it will once you read this book and for the better.
There is another great book that will help encourage you with being a happy Stepmom and help encourage your marriage. It is called: "The Happy Stepmother” by Rachelle Katz. This book gives you 10 Steps on how to be a Happy Stepmother. One of which is making your marriage or relationship second priority which means taking care of yourself is the first priority.  Rachelle Katz states that a strong effective partnership is an absolute necessity if you are to survive the stresses of stepfamily life with your dignity and self-respect intact.  A Strong relationship will help you cope with any problems you face with the stepchildren and the ex-spouse(s).  When you’re in a committed relationship with your spouse you are willing to work at whatever means necessary to help maintain it.  A happy couple knows that there’s going to be ups and downs throughout the marriage and believes that they can work together to get through it.
Back to the lists you made, they are great and every time you feel down always refer back to the lists and it will remind you of the reasons why you fell in love with your husband and the reasons why you should do whatever it takes to make it work. Every one of us has down times even in first marriages. We just have to pick ourselves up and not stay in that state of mind for long. That’s why it’s great to have a great support system in place.  A place where you can go and vent away without any judgement, just love, support and prayer that’s really all we need to help lift us out.
Don’t forget to try speaking positive and know whatever we speak out of our mouths, we give life too.  You will get through this and become stronger than you were before. Hang in there and know you’re not alone in this; there are other Stepmoms who have had these same thoughts and go through struggles too.
Here’s a prayer that will help you through this hard time:

Lord, I can’t do this life alone,
Help me to see all of the positives
in this marriage and in my Blended Family.
Give me the strength to keep pressing forward.
Help me to be the best Wife and Stepmom I can be.
Show me what I can do to make things better.
Please give me patience, love, compassion, understanding,
flexibility, and commitment to making it work.
Please help to me be more positive and speak positively.
Thank you for all you are doing to help me, my marriage,
and my blended family.
I love you and trust in you to get me through it.
Amen


Have you ever felt this way in your marriage? If so, how did you overcome it?

References:
Laurebeth Hoisington & Melanie Anthony (2015). Daily Break for the Starving Stepmom. Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC
Rachelle Katz (2010). The Happy Stepmother. Stay Sane, Empower Yourself, Thrive in Your New Family. Harlequin publishing company.
Stormie Omartian (1997). The Power of a Praying Wife. Harvest House Publishers.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Affirming Words

affirming words, affirmation, stepmom, stepmom support, blended family, step family
It is very important to always look for ways to compliment our children and stepchildren.  Affirming words go a long way with children.  Can you think back of when you were a child, do you remember any affirming words or compliments you received? Did that help encourage you to be the person you are today? Unfortunately, I only remember bad names that I was called from my mother.  I don’t remember any encouraging, complimenting or affirming words growing up.  Do you want your child or stepchild saying the same thing or do you want them to remember affirming words you used to speak good into their life? We need to speak positive words over them it will help shape them into the person they will become when they are adults.  Kathi Lipp and Carol Boley state that we should use affirming words to express your understanding, support and belief in your stepkids.  Speak words of life into your children.  Find ways to say something encouraging and positive at the right moments. Some examples of affirming words are below:

Affirming Statement Examples:
Your making wise decisions, I’m proud of you.
Every time you smile, it lights up a room.
You’re such a caring person, I love how you care for people.
You are a great cleaner.
You are always so organized.
You’re a great decorator.
You’re always thinking of others, you are so thoughtful.



You can speak life of future into their lives by saying these statements to them:
You are going to make a great parent someday.
You’re going to become a great inventor.
You inspire others to be a good person.
You are great at figuring things out.
You are going to do such great things for God, when you get older.

Affirming words also can encourage your child to try new things. As Amy Baker & Paul Fine state parents who engage in mindful and positive parenting believe in their children and convey to them an attitude of encouragement and faith in their ability to solve their own problems, identify good solutions, and achieve their goals.  When you see the best in a child it helps to encourage them to try new things.  Trying new things helps them grow up to be independent adults.  When you encourage your child, you show them that they are valued, respected, loved and trusted.  All children need to feel that way from their parents. When your child shares their hopes and dreams with you, show enthusiasm towards it.

Affirmations for Yourself
Using affirmations for yourself can help release negative energy and turn it into positive energy. When dealing with something negative say to yourself “I will release these negative feelings and not let them have any more control and focus my attention only on the positive energy today. I chose to live today at the fullest.”
It’s also helpful to make a list of positive attributes.

Positive Attributes
I am a caring person.
I am a loving person.
I am a good person.
I am a generous person.
I am a creative person.
I am a smart person.
I am a positive person.


Rachelle Katz states that affirmations can also bolster your belief in your ability to grow, change, and improve your life.  You can do this by writing a list of “I can” statements such as:

I can succeed
I can achieve
I can overcome anything


And try to use “I will” statements that will help you move to achieving any success in anything you want to accomplish.

Examples of “I will” statements are:
I will take on only what I can handle today.
I will control my emotions & feelings today.
I will control my temper & attitude today.
I will feel less guilt today.
I will be the best stepmom I can be today.


All of these will help you turn your negative affirmations about yourself over to positive affirmations. In order to give affirming words to our children, we also have to have our own positive affirmation about ourselves.  Whatever we speak out of our mouths will come to pass, so speak positive affirming words not just to our children but to ourselves and our circumstances.  We give life to whatever we speak. As Proverbs 18:21 says “Life and death are in the power of our tongue”.  If we speak negative thoughts or words about ourselves or our children they will come to pass. Proverbs 6:2 says “We are snared by the words of our mouth”.  Choose today to start speaking positively to our children and to ourselves.  Try saying positive affirmations every day like: “I’m excited about today and about my future. Something good is about to happen to me today.” Or say this “I’m blessed. I’m healthy, I’m strong, I’m valuable, I’m talented, I have a bright future.”  Try this and see if your days are better than before. See if your children’s attitude and behavior changes when you use affirming words on their lives. Remember that whatever you speak out loud, you give life too.
References:
Amy L. Baker & Paul R. Fine (2014). Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex. What to do when your ex-spouse tries to turn the kids against you.  New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Rachelle Katz (2010). The Happy Stepmother. Stay Sane, Empower yourself, Thrive in your new family. Harlequin publishing company.
Kathy Lipp & Carol Boley (2015). But I’m not a Wicked Stepmother! Secrets of Successful Blended Families. Focus on the Family. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex - Book Review

co-parenting with toxic ex, blended family, stepmom, step family, toxic ex, toxic ex-spouse
This book has really opened my eyes to see where the ex-spouse may be coming from and also showed me what the children are going through when a parent is toxic.  In my own situation, it has helped me learn how to handle my stepchildren better. Helped me understand why they do and say the things they do.  This book is a big eye opener and has helped me to discover healthy parent strategies to overcome the hard times with my stepchildren.  Who are constantly facing extreme loyalty conflicts thanks to their mother who has successfully poisoned my stepchildren against me and my husband.
If you have gone through or are going through a messy divorce, sometimes the other parent will try to undermine the relationship you have with your children. This book will show you how to be a positive parent, gives great parent strategies and coping methods for a hostile ex-spouse.  In this book, you will learn how to avoid parental alienation and techniques on how to relate and talk to your children.
This book discusses five behaviors that co-parents use to induce loyalty conflict.  Those five behaviors are:
1. Sending Poisonous Messages about you
2. Interfering with Contact & Communication
3. Erasing & Replacing
4. Encouraging your Child to Betray your Trust
5. Undermining Your Authority and Fostering Dependency in your Child


It also goes over watching for the signs that your children are caught up in a loyalty conflict. The book helps you by giving you the right tools in how not to make mistakes when you are co-parenting with a toxic ex-spouse.
You will discover ways of how to become a positive parent even though you have a toxic ex-spouse to deal with.  There are core concepts of positive parenting and this book lays out great ways and how to accomplish that.  There are eight parent strategies that will help you deepen your bond with children that are going through hard loyalty conflicts due to your ex-spouse poisoning them against you.
Eight Parent Strategies:

1. Active Listening When your child is talking to you, nod and acknowledge that you are listening to them. Another way to acknowledge that you are listening to them is giving nonverbal cues and then use words to show you are listening to them for an example “I see” or “go on” then recite what they said to show that you understand them.  Active listening also involves asking questions about what they told you and then lastly offering to problem solve it.  However, not everything needs to be solved or fixed; they might just need someone to talk too.
2. Nondirective Attention 
Give them your undivided attention which means, no distractions when they are talking to you.  That means put down the cell phone or turn off of the TV to show them that they have your undivided attention.  As Amy Baker co-author of Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex states that when you engage in nondirective attention, you’re as fully present as possible, but your child runs the show.  Try to show your child nondirective attention a little every day, because it really shows the child that you are interested in what they have to say and it also makes them feel important.
3. Praise & Encouragement 
Try to find ways to encourage them.  Then find ways to praise them whenever they do something right.  Give them positive attention like hugs, smiles and words of admiration.
4. Emotion Coaching Anytime you feel an emotion talk about it with your child and label that emotion that way the child learns from your example and then will start to label their own emotions when they have them.  Try to always validate your child’s feelings when they are expressed.  Make sure they know it’s okay to have those feelings.  An example of a validation is saying “It’s okay to feel that way right now. I would feel that way too if it happened to me too.” Model how to cope with their feelings of emotions.  Always encourage them to label what kind of emotion they are feeling.
5. Training 
Sometimes our children need to be trained on how to do something that is required of them to do.  It could be a really hard adjustment when they don’t know how to do something and are afraid to ask for help.
6. Inviting Cooperation 
Providing an invitation to help out with something might be a great way of getting them to help out more with things without having to ask them directly.  For example: “If anyone wants to help me make dinner, feel free to come join me now.”  It’s a different way of asking for help and it might work with some children.
7. Offering Choices 
Instead of saying no to a request they made try to offer the child reasonable choices that you would like.  For example: instead of asking “Do you want to take a shower”, ask this instead: “Do you want to take a shower before or after dinner”.  If there is something your child must do but you don’t want to hear them say No to it, offer a choice in the question of it leading to doing the task you want them to do anyways.
8. Family Meetings When children are having a hard time adjusting to things within a blended family.  It’s good to have family meetings about things.  Every new blended family should be having family meetings in order to help adjust to the family dynamic.  As Amy Baker co-author of Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex states that having family meetings help build family cohesion which helps strengthen family bonds and prevent conflicts and discord.  To learn more about family meetings and how to create them, click here.

The book also helps you develop and create great disciplinary strategies that involve healthy consequences that deal with the “Four R’s”.  The Four R’s are Related, Reasonable, Revealed and Respectful.  Overall it has been said by Amy Baker and Paul Fine that the stronger the bond of love between you and your child, the less susceptible your child will be to your ex’s undermining and interference.
Another concept I took away from this book is how to learn to use positive self-talk when dealing with difficult acquisitions or conversations with the children.  I learned that my thoughts can defeat and paralyze me if I don’t be careful.  I learned to let go of the negative self-talk and learned how to develop positive self-talk.
Overall, I just can’t say enough great things about this book.  If you have a toxic ex-spouse, this book is a Must Read.  I wish I would have read this book sooner because it would have helped us more early on when we really needed the help the most.  There’s a lot to be learned in this book that will help you get through the hard times with your stepchildren or biological children who are going through hard loyalty conflicts due to a toxic ex-spouse.  Your time with your children is going by fast; learn how to overcome this struggle before you live with regret. I live with a lot of regrets after reading this book, wishing I would have read it a lot sooner.  After everything, we have already been through with my stepchildren and their biological mother.  Don’t live with regret, read this book now and learn how to make a difference in your children’s lives, learn how to deepen your bond with them and help them overcome being stuck in the middle.

If your stepchildren or biological children went through loyalty conflicts, how did you handle it?


References:
Amy L. Baker & Paul R. Fine (2014). Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex. What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You. New Harbinger Publications.

Monday, March 21, 2016

10 Things Stepkids Want & Need to Hear

top 10 things every stepchild wants to hear, stepchild, stepchildren, step child, stepmom, blended family, step family
Here are the top ten things every stepchild would love to hear from their Stepmom or Stepparent. When you do say these things, make sure that you mean what you say and say what you mean.  Always look for opportunities to use affirming words to your stepchildren.  Using affirming words with them makes them feel loved and admired by you. Before you do say one of these things, make sure you do it in a quiet place where there's no one else around. It makes the moment feel more sincere, special, important and more meaningful.


Here are the Top 10 Things every Stepkid would want and need to hear from you:

1. “I will never try to take your mother’s place.”
A lot of stepkids are going through loyalty conflicts, it really helps when you say this to them. It helps take the pressure off of them.

2. “You matter to me and you are important to me.”

Even though you do feel this, way they need to verbally hear this from you.

3. “I love you no matter what you do or say to me.”

Sometimes stepchildren think that because you got upset with them that you don't love them anymore.

4. “I will never get in the way of you spending time with your Dad.”

Stepchildren often feel like you are taking their Father away from them and that they don't get to spend time with just him. 

5. “I will never make you choose between me and your mother.”
This makes them realize that it is okay to love both their mother and their stepmom. That it is okay if they chose their mother over you, that you understand it.

6. “I will always be here for you when you need someone to talk too.”
This will help them realize that you are there for them if they need to someone and they are not comfortable talking to their Father about something.

7. “I will always have your best interests in mind.”

This will show them that any advice you give to them is for their own benefit and only to help them.

8. “I will always encourage your Dad to spend quality time with just you, without me around.”

Saying this shows that you will always try to make sure they get 1:1 time with their Dad.

9. “I may not always like or agree with the choices you make, but I will always care about you.”

This shows them that it's okay if you make a choice that you might not agree with, doesn't mean that you will care for them less.

10. “I’m sorry…. I made a mistake or hurt your feelings.”

Apologizing and owning up to a mistake you make with them, shows them you are not perfect and it's okay to make mistakes sometimes, everyone makes them.


Saying these things above will not only help the stepchildren feel close to you, it will earn their trust and love from saying these things to them. Another way to really show what you say to be truth is to spend time with them 1:1, take them somewhere special and get to know them. Because saying these things is just not enough, you need to show them that they are important to you.  The way you do that is by investing time with them. Words are just words if you don’t show it by what you do with them.  Like for example, if their Mother’s birthday is coming up, to show them that you’re not having them choose you over their mother, take them out shopping to pick out a gift for their mother.  Spending time with your stepchildren by doing something they would enjoy a lot will go a long way with them.  It will create childhood memories with you, which they can one day look back on as they become adults.  Take advantage of their childhood and create memories that will stick and last with them.
It’s so important to tell them what they would like to hear but only do it if you feel that way for them. They will be able to tell if you’re just acting it out or if you really mean what you say.  So, mean what you say and say what you mean, they will respect it and it will create a close relationship with your stepchildren.

Have you ever said any of these top 10 things to your stepchild yet? If so, how did it go?