Category Archives: Leadership

A Stepmother Wall! And The Family Will Pay For It!

stepmothers, mothers, stepmom, stepfamily, stepchildren, remarriage, divorce, parenting, gossip, ex, ex-wife, Stepfamily help, Barbara Goldberg
My Stepmother Wall has a long couch. I’m setting boundaries.

If you have ever been told that you do too much for others, this blog is for you.  Do you feel that you can’t say ‘no’ to people?  Are you sorry you said ‘yes’ and then resent it later?  Welcome to the club of people that know what it feels like to be used.  The motto of the club is that being ‘liked’ takes precedence over all other considerations.  It is like we are human Facebook pages.  We judge ourselves by how many ‘likes’ we have.  Instead of having a place to ‘click’ on us, we do favors for people and buy them stuff.  It is an unending search for love and acceptance.  I am exhausted just writing about it.

If you are also exhausted, it is time to build that wall around yourself.  That wall or boundary is going to teach others how you want to be treated.  You can let in those that show you respect and shut out those that do not. Only you have the keys to your wall. Once you become encased with your private barrier, you no longer have to answer immediately.  When requests come in for your time and resources, you can say things like, “Let me get back to you.  I’ll let you know.”  Now, you can breathe and think at your leisure.  Now, you can deal with the anxiety that is sure to arrive as you learn how to say ‘no’.  Now is your chance to watch as your true friends strengthen you and the fake ones leave.  Now, you can lessen the load!

You can decorate your wall.  It can be any color of your choosing. Any pattern.  Any image.  It can be plain. Your wall is built with your confidence and your happiness and joy.  Terms like “I have to” and “I don’t have the time” ring alarm bells within your private world.  When these alarms go off, there is a good probability that we are about to say yes to something that we do not want to do.  Or, worse yet, we are about to turn down something that we want to try.  Maybe, it’s time to do the opposite of our gut reaction.  “No thank you”.  “Yes, I’d like to try that.”

As you place each brick, the uncertainty will grow. Am I doing the right thing?  I’m scared.  I’ll be left all alone.  No one will like me. Time to take a hard look at the wall’s foundation.  It is built upon the lessons of childhood.  Parents. Teachers. Observations and interpretations.  All the stories that we were told and that we believed were right.  “Children are to be seen and not heard.  Do as you are told.  Listen to authority figures and do what they say.  You have to do things for people.  Good people do things for people and give them things.  If you give people things, they will like you.  If you say, “no”, you are not compliant.  You have to do what you are asked.  No = a message of dislike to the other person.” Actually, it just means “no”.  Are these lessons from your childhood a mantra for the future?  Have you changed? Are you exhausted?

Someone has to pay for the wall and it will be your family. They will have to adjust to the new ‘you’ who makes mindful choices.  The family may see you more often now.  They may see you reading, playing tennis or taking a private retreat.  “Who is that woman with the wall around her?” they may ask.  “It’s me!”

 

 

I ENTERED THE OLYMPICS WITHOUT TRAINING

Would you enter an Olympic event without training?  Envision yourself diving into the pool next to Michael Phelps.  Stand next to Simone Biles and, together, perform a floor exercise.  Meet Katie Ledecky at the pool and race her in the 400 metre free style.  Close your eyes and see yourself in any of these scenarios. … Continue Reading

Stepmother’s Lament: OMG! I’m a Nag!

Do you recognize yourself? When was the last time you pointed out a negative characteristic of your partner?  Their ex wife?  Their children?  If you do not have to think very hard, this blog may be for you. Nagging.  By definition, nagging is the pointing out of negative qualities to someone.  It is the ultimate… Continue Reading

Stepmother Lament: I Will Always Be An Outsider

“This family makes me feel like an outsider. I do all this work and I am still an outsider. When will I ever feel like I belong?” It’s a common stepmother lament. We cook, clean, run errands, pick up kids, buy them clothes and, yet, we feel like a third wheel. It is just this… Continue Reading

The Stepmother Who Blames: Is That You? (Yup!)

Do you find yourself blaming others for your life situation? See if any of these ‘stepmother’ statements strike a chord with you: “These kids are a nightmare because their mother and father don’t discipline them. It is their fault. Our marriage is a nightmare because the ex tortures us. It is her fault. I cook,… Continue Reading

Stepmothers: Are We Too Harsh on the Ex?

Did you ever wonder why the ex-wife just can’t get over it?  Maybe, you are a stepmother who has been a part of the family for years, yet you still feel as though the ex-wife hates you.  You just don’t understand it.  As you know, we study the art and science of stepfamily management here… Continue Reading

Stepfamilies Are a Fertile Ground for Passive Aggressiveness

Passive aggressiveness runs rampant in our stepfamilies.  I hypothesize that there is a minimum of one family member who exhibits these behaviors.  Are you one of the passive aggressive family members?  Or, are you living with passive aggressive people who drive you insane? Passive aggressiveness is when someone is agreeing with someone, but really doesn’t… Continue Reading

A Stepmother’s Legacy Found in a Starbucks Coffee

Have you ever thought about what is truly galvanizing you towards your life’s legacy?  I was moved to think about this question as I watched Oprah interview Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks.  Starbucks provides an aggressive benefits package for its employees that work 20 hours or more per week.  How great is that?  (As a… Continue Reading

A Stepmother Looks at Nelson Mandela’s Life

At the time of this writing, it is the day of Nelson Mandela’s funeral.  Nelson Mandela was the past president of South Africa and is credited with bringing the end of apartheid to that country.  Mr. Mandela spent 27 years in prison.  He entered prison at the age of 44 and was released when he… Continue Reading

The Evil Stepmother Speaks: Your Stepchildren are Champions!

I have often said that it is difficult to know if we are happy or unhappy with our life as a stepmother because we don’t know who we are or the role we are supposed to play in our families.  In the past, I have written about our roles.  Are we friends?  Quasi parents?  Memory… Continue Reading