Category Archives: Soft Place to Land

Stepmother’s Lament: OMG! I’m a Nag!

stepmother, stepfamily, stepchildren, divorce, parenting, remarriage
Stepmothers: Do You See Through a Positive or Negative Space?

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 downer.  How would you like to have someone constantly pointing out your faults?  I bet that you can think of someone in your life that did this to you.  Mom?  Dad?  A Friend?  Is that a person that you long to be with?  Or, do you secretly or overtly avoid them?  Doesn’t it feel as if you can never make that person happy or be good enough?

Then, why do we complain and nag? Nagging can be a natural result of the intense feeling of powerlessness.  We are so frustrated by the wrong that we see around us. We cannot stop talking.  We cannot stop talking when we are desperate for attention.  Any type of attention.  So, even though we know that our incessant complaining will result in an argument, the argument is better than totally being taken for granted.  Abraham Maslow, the well-known psychologist who specialized in studying humans’ innate needs said, “The person … will hunger for affectionate relationships with people in general for a place in the group.” You may be that stepmother longing for affection.

I have big news for all stepmothers.  Nagging will not get us a place in the group.  In fact, it will take us longer to become a beloved member of the family.  The good news is there is a secret to the road to ‘beloved-ness’.

Do the opposite of nagging. Have you ever heard artists teach drawing by looking at the negative space?  When we try to draw something, our natural instinct is to look at the white space.  Try drawing the dark space.  Drawing the negative space can be quite effective. It  is the same thing with our minds.  Our minds will instinctively pick out the negative characteristics of our family members.  Now, do not talk when you think you see something negative.  Only talk when you notice a positive behavior.  It can be the smallest of smallest of things.  Your teenager doesn’t do the laundry, but brings their clothes to the laundry room.  “Thank you for taking the clothes to the laundry room.  You saved me time.”  “Thank you for doing the dishes. I’ve had a long day.  It is so appreciated.”

When you talk to your partner, point out their positive behaviors.  “Thank you for calling the kids’ mom today and getting a definitive schedule.  It really helps me and keeps me calm.”  “I’m so impressed that you gave the kids some boundaries.”

In other words, reprogram your brain.  Only have your brain and ears and eyes notice the positive directions.  Try it.  Reinforce yourself.  For every time you notice and say something positive, give yourself points that you can invest in yourself.  I bet you see a positive change.  Let me know!

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

Who is that Stepmother Woman?

It is easy to think of the stepmother as that woman your ex partner married.  If the stepmother is just that woman who is in the house, it lessens the pain of the divorce and the consequences that failed relationship has brought.  After all, the worst part of a divorce is the consequences wrought upon… Continue Reading

Stepmom Help! Dr. Laura Schlesinger or A Soft Place to Land

Dr. Laura Schlesinger always advises her clients that they should never marry a person with children.  She advises that divorced parents should focus should on the children and there is not room for another person.  She also argues that there will always be resentments on all sides.  Maybe, she is right. The other day, I… Continue Reading