Category Archives: Setting Boundaries

STEPMOM LAMENT: TO NAG OR NOT TO NAG…THAT IS THE QUESTION.

stepmothers, mothers, stepmom, stepfamily, stepchildren, remarriage, divorce, parenting, gossip, ex, ex-wife, Stepfamily help, Barbara Goldberg
TO NAG OR NOT TO NAG?

To nag or not to nag, that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous family members,

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And Set a Boundary that no one can Penetrate.

Or, opt to sleep and stay in a state of silence.

And opt to Internalize my Frustration and Resentment.

I wonder if I am a Coward.  I wonder if I will lose Myself forever to the Whims and Guilt of parents and children who are caught in the mires of a Divorce.

Oh, Woe Be to Me.  ~  Barb Goldberg, inspired by Shakespeare.

It is always the best and the worst of times.  How many times do we ask this critical question: “Do I pick this battle and set a boundary?  Or, do I continue asking for the same support over and over again, i.e. nag?  Actually, there is a third alternative: the one we choose the most.  “Silence.”  If we all thought about it, this is probably our most common conundrum. Let’s try to figure it out.

Rule #1:  You can’t pick every battle. 

If you find yourself going crazy over every little thing, stop now.  Time to find that book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”.  Now, if your brain is telling you that everything is big stuff, that’s another issue.  Your brain is tricking you.  This is fear and anxiety overwhelming you.  It says that you fear many things and it is time to get that under control.  (That’s another blog.)  Chances are that you tend towards anxiety and you know this.

Rule #2:  Pick One or Two Core Values

Think about how you want to be treated.  What do you value?  Respect?  Kindness?  Politeness?  Write it down.  Write down the behaviors next to each value and clearly define what that looks like.  Prioritize those behaviors.  For example, your #1 value may look like this:

I value respect.  I expect to be defended by my husband in all cases in front of the children and ex.  My home is my sacred place and I cherish my privacy.  I do not want my husband/partner to talk about our private lives.  I expect the children to listen when I speak.  I expect the children to adhere to the rules of our house (as the rules that my partner and I have established.)

Only pick one or two items and one or two behaviors.  Do not use a broad value as an excuse to pick everything.

Rule #3:  Focus on Your Relationship

With so much going on, it is easy to start blaming the ex and/or the children for your own angst.  Focus on your relationship.  Men can only hear one thing at a time.  Do not talk about an important issue until he can focus.  Do not talk as he is doing other things.  Nagging often is characterized by the repeating of the same thing over and over at times when they cannot focus.  Men cannot physically hear us.  Talk about why you love him as often as you can.  Your partner needs assurance from us more than anything else.

Rule #4:  Know What You Don’t Know

It may feel as if we know everything, but we don’t.  We are not parent experts.  We are not relationship experts.  We do not know the ex well.  Usually, we only know what we are told.  Let it go.  We do not have to tell everyone what to do.  When we do that, it is our effort to control and make us feel safe in our homes.  Tell your partner the exact things that will make you feel safe.  We feel safe when we are defended.  We feel safe when we are consulted before final decisions are made. We feel safe when we are not contradicted in front of children and other family members.  Safety is how we quell the anxiety, which leads to less nagging and less unhappiness.

The ultimate answer is no nagging as defined in this article.  Look upon nagging as a reflection of our fears.  Remember that your partner is frightened as well.  If you show faith in him, he will respond in kind.  Trust him.  The strongest boundary we can build is the one around our relationship and around the fears in our brains.

To be afraid or to be afraid, that is the question.

Is it nobler to give complete trust to our partners and not take on the burdens of all? ~ Barb Goldberg

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

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… Continue Reading

The Three Magic Words that will Save Your Stepfamily

Join us for our 2017 Stepmom Retreats! Stepfamily life is tough. The only thing that is tougher than blending the family is keeping your marriage intact.  Statistics vary from a 50% to 75% divorce rate in a marriage where there are children from a prior relationship.  Anyone who is a member of a stepfamily will… Continue Reading

4 Tips to Avoid the Summer Divorce Schedule Blues

Oh, boy!  The school year is ending and for many of us it means that the children’s schedules are changing.  We may have the kids for half the summer or camp schedules are starting.  First tip is to remember that every time there is a change, even if it is minor, it will get exaggerated… Continue Reading

My Resentment is All-Consuming

When you feel resentful, do you feel disappointed in yourself?  Feel as if you are a bad or selfish person?  If you feel any of these things, know that you are not alone.  Resentment is that feeling you have when you are doing something that you just don’t want to do or that you feel… 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

A Stepmother Asks “How Do I Stop Myself from Asking about the Ex-Wife?”

Do you ever find yourself asking your partner: “What did she/he say?” “No, really, tell me what happened.” “I don’t care what she does.” Next moment. “Tell me what she did.” Do you feel as if you can’t seem to stop yourself? Does it feel as if you are addicted? So, why are we talking… Continue Reading

Where Do I Draw the Line? I Am the Stepmother, After All!

One of the most annoying things about being a stepmother is that it brings hard subjects up. Often the thing that we don’t want to do, comes up in stepparenting. You know what I mean. Issues like: Drawing the line on issues like self respect, your role in the family and in life, how you… Continue Reading

Stepmother Boundaries. Is it the Ultimate Self-Care?

You have to be willing to take care of you, first. Dr. Maya Angelou said, “I have to be a ninny to ask someone else to take care of me, if I’m not willing to take care of myself.” Yet, isn’t that one of our core frustrations as a stepmother? No one seems willing to… Continue Reading