In May of 2008, I got married! And I acquired a step-daughter at the same time! Step-families can be a lot to step into. While I would never claim that I’m the perfect stepmother (but who’s a perfect mom, anyway?), I’m certainly not wicked either, although I long for a t-shirt that I saw once that said “Wicked Cool Stepmom”.
Still, stepfamilies, by their very definition, were formed after a first relationship had something bad happen to it, either a death of a partner or a divorce. So you can understand how there can be a lot of emotions coming into play with stepfamilies: How well does everyone get along with the ex? Can all the various yours, mine, and ours children get along without killing each other? How wicked, exactly, is your stepmother?
Still, at the end of the day, it’s important to realize that the word “Stepfamily” has the word “family” in it. It’s just another type of family, and it can be made to work, with lots of love and kindness.
There’s tons of books that the library can provide on being part of a stepfamily – everything from Stepmonster (by Wednesday Martin) to The Courage to be a Stepmom: Finding Your Place Without Losing Yourself (by Sue Patton Thoele) to The Everything Guide to Stepparenting (by Erin Munroe). There’s lots more books where those came from too. You can check our catalog to see the availability of all of the titles, or you can stop in and ask one of our reference librarians for assistance.
There’s also a lot websites that you might find useful as you embark on a stepfamily journey. Here’s a few that I check on regularly:
The National Stepfamily Resource Center can be a good place to start. They have links to counselors and support groups in your area, if you think you need a little extra help getting situated in your stepfamily environment. It also has links to articles and information about being a step-parent.
Of course, sometimes you don’t need facts, you need to hear from someone else who has been in your shoes. The blog Stepmother’s Milk has many different contributors, each bringing their own viewpoint about being a stepmom. The articles can be kind, wise, funny, mean, or a little sarcastic, but I’ve always seen something interesting on there. It’s a good place to grab new and interesting links to guide you to other places on the internet too.
There’s also a lot of online forums where stepfamily members can vent, support each other, or just plain form new friendships. A lot of these tend to be for stepmothers – I haven’t stumbled across anything for stepdads, but feel free to post in the comments section! The online forums will require registration, but you never have to use your real name. Two of the biggies are:
One last site that I wanted to mention is The Stepfamily Letter Project. Sometimes, being in a stepfamily is hard. I focus on the stepmother’s part, because that’s what I am, but my mom is a stepdaughter (and stepsister), and my dad is a stepson (and stepbrother). I’ve seen stepfamilies from the children’s sides too. Sometimes, you just need to vent. The Stepfamily Letter Project is just that – people post letters anonymously to their step-parents, to their stepchildren, to the exes. Those people will probably never read these letters and realize that it’s about them, but it gives people a chance to mentally clear their head. Plus, after reading the letters, you might be able to say that your own stepfamily is in a better spot . . .
Feel free to add more helpful sites and books in the comments field! I know there’s tons more – let me know about them!
— Jennie M.