Positively Paula

LeAnn Rimes, Gary Busey, and Huh? A Call for Better Stepmom Reporting!

Thursday, August 18, 2011
A couple of weeks ago I tweeted about People.com's "Caught in the Act!" column that opened with a picture of LeAnn Rimes, her husband Eddie Cibrian, and Eddie's sons. The piece consisted of four lines total, and the opening line was "What a good stepmom!" I tweeted about it, and I knew from LeAnn's tweets back to me that she wasn't too happy.

You see, I had tweeted, "'What a good stepmom!' for shopping w/ stepsons. More to being a good stepmom than shopping. Let's hear it." And, once again I learned a lesson about communicating on-line whether it be via email, Twitter, or whatever else. Most of us have had the experience of our thoughts and even feelings being interpreted differently than we had intended.

Here's the real point I wanted to make in my tweet, and I am so thrilled that I have more than Twitter's 140 characters in which to say it. I wish the media would cover remarriage and stepfamilies in a more positive way. (By the way, I just tweeted the preceding sentence because it fit into a tweet.) 

That paragraph that opened with "What a good Stepmom!" didn't really do justice to what LeAnn or the majority of stepmothers do every day for their stepchildren. It pointed out that: their family was enjoying a shopping outing; she was wearing leopard print shorts while browsing; she ran into Gary Busey; and, she returned to the area for a romantic meal with her husband later that day.  That's it!

I'm just not getting how the opening line connects in any way with the rest of the paragraph. Good stepmoms do more than shop with their stepkids, and I think the column contributed to the unfair picture of remarriage and stepfamilies that is often painted. (Read more about this in my column entitled, "On ReMarriage: Hollywood Paints an Unfair Picture" in The Washington Times.)

I'm pretty certain that LeAnn Rimes, like most other stepmoms, did a lot more that day to be a good stepmom than what was portrayed. And, regardless of what people think about her, her marriage and the circumstances in her and her family's personal lives, which I was quickly informed about by people whom I doubt even know her in a flurry of Twitter activity, my point was and is this:

Attention media! Let's please hear more about the positive, inspiring, loving things that stepmothers do every day for their stepchildren. I'm not looking for "The Brady Bunch" model, nor am I trying to be a Pollyanna. But, when will the media provide us a broader range of views of stepfamily and remarried life?

I  invite LeAnn Rimes and the millions of other stepmothers to join me in calling for a shift in the way media covers stepmoms. Let's talk about about stepfamily life, its challenges, and more importantly, real solutions.

Ask Us About How to Marry for Life When You've Already Got a Life!

Thursday, August 11, 2011
On the RemarriageWorks.com home page in our RemarriageWorks Book Giveaway, we are giving away a copy of Love for Grown-ups: How to Marry for Life When You've Already Got a Life by The Garter Brides - Ann, Pat, and Tish. Now is your chance to post your questions to them! The Garter Brides want to hear your relationship questions! To receive their first-hand advice, submit your questions here, and they may be answered in an an exclusive video on RemarriageWorks.com. The authors will be receiving questions via RemarriageWorks.com through August 15th. Their book is an invaluable resource to finding love and happiness for women 35 and older.

Who Are the Garter Brides?

It all started, as many great adventures do, with girlfriends having dinner (i.e., drinks). Nina, Ann and Pat were business colleagues and longtime friends, all over the age of thirty-five. All had successful careers and were going on dates (approximately 9,000 of those by Pat alone, according to her), but none of them thought she'd get married. But...Six months later Nina got married. Six months after that, Ann got married. Six months after that, Pat got married. Nina said, "At my age you wear a garter, but you don't throw it." She slipped it off and gave it to Ann, who wore it at her wedding. Ann then gave it to Pat, who wore it at her wedding. They named themselves The Garter Brides and a new tradition was born!

Today girlfriends ranging in age from thirty-eight to fifty-seven have worn this good-luck garter, and it has traveled - in a FedEx box - all over the United States and even to that city of newlywed bliss, Venice.

Send in your questions in the comment section below!

These women have a lot to share. They won't insult your intelligence with babble about getting in touch with your inner beauty. And, as they say, "We understand you have a busy life you'd love to share, a cozy bed into which you'd welcome a good man for some great sex and great fun, and a well-oiled BS detector you didn't possess in your twenties. You're mature enough to handle grown-up love, to move forward without looking back and to appreciate how great a gift that is."

Hmmmm....sounds like some people in our RemarriageWorks.com audience who are thinking about or taking the plunge of getting remarried may like this!  We invite you to post your questions as a comment for The Garter Brides here! And, enter to win a free copy of their book, too.


2nd Wedding Wednesday: Where Will We Live as a Stepfamily?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Finding a home to call your own is often far from a walk in the park for remarried couples and stepfamilies. There are so many factors to include. Which house do you keep? Which do you sell? Or, do you just bite the bullet and sell them both? Ideally, the most viable decision would be to purchase a new home that you can truly call your own. But, we all know about the country's current economic woes, so that may not always be possible.

If your remarriage includes children, incorporate them in the search for the perfect residence. According to Jeannette Lofas, with Dawn B. Sova in Stepparenting, "look over magazines together before starting your new home and discuss the pictures in the magazines rather than argue over an actual new home with your family. If there are going to be some deep arguments about your tastes in living quarters, this is a good way to begin developing family cohesion."

One key factor in a move remarriage-style is location. The children are already overwhelmed with the adjustment of what they had viewed as their family, and now they are dealing with new family relationships. To avoid any additional trauma, keeping the kids in their same school district is probably a smart move. More quests for the perfect home are limited to a certain area for this reason.

Some blended families are comprised of more than one or two children who have been accustomed to having their own room. This may drive you to attempt to purchase a home big enough to accommodate each child. Making an effort to have the kids feel part of the family is a top priority. The last thing you want to hear is "Why do I have to share a room, and he/she doesn't?" Or, "Why do I have to change schools, and he/she doesn't?"

Many remarrying couples try to keep everyone happy. That's a major challenge. And, finding a new house can be a financial burden. For couples who are remarrying and older, the idea of buying a five bedroom house when retirement is just around the corner may not seem reasonable.

Despite all the challenges and accommodations that go into selecting the perfect roof for your stepfamily to live under, finding a home is just another step in the so-called blending process. Remarriage and stepfamily living is a journey. And, it is one to handle with care down to the smallest detail.




2nd Wedding Wednesday: The Familymoon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
When approaching a second wedding, most couples are immediately aware that it will be far from conventional. In a second wedding, so many of the small details are handled in a less traditional way. The second wedding invitations may include the joining together of more than two people; the encore bridal dress may not be white; and, it's likely that his and/or her children will be involved. So, it goes without saying that your honeymoon, too, may lack the traditional romance and one-on-one time.

Not many couples would ever put the word "child" in the same sentence as the word "honeymoon," but remarriage often includes blending families, and that obviously requires a focus on your children. So, while planning the date and location of your second honeymoon, maybe it's time to consider a familymoon! (The word "familymoon" was trademarked in 2004 by Beaches Resorts.)

Essentially, a familymoon is a family vacation, a time set aside to spend time with the family and to create memories. Family time for a stepfamily is extremely important. By letting your children and stepchildren know that they are a part of your remarriage journey, the blending process will go more smoothly. 

There are some fantastic resorts that offer an opportunity for romance, one-on-one time with your new spouse, and great family fun. A great example is Franklyn D. Resort & Spa, the only resort in Jamaica to offer your family a personal vacation nanny throughout your stay. One of the attendees of our recent Remarriage Bridal Showcase for Encore Brides in Leesburg, VA just won a vacation from Franklyn D. Resort  Spa. I can't wait to hear how it went!




2nd Wedding Wednesday: The Perfect Second Wedding Invitations

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
When I was getting remarried, I had a really tough time trying to find the perfect wedding invitation. Regardless of whether you are going the cheap DIY wedding invitations route, or the "sky is the limit" budget route, you are most likely looking for unique wedding invitations that fit your needs.

When it comes to planning your second wedding invitations, here's what I imagine probably isn't going to work for your second wedding invitation wording:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (read "your parents")
invite you to the wedding of their daughter (read "Your parents are most likely not paying for your second wedding.)
to
Mr. John Doe (read "He may have children of his own and you acknowledge that you will support, care for, and accept that they come with this remarriage at least part of the time.")
at
a fabulous, extravagant venue (read "We may be having an extravagant venue, but we want to include our children somehow in the ceremony and/or celebration.")

OR

You may simply want to include the children in the invitation somehow. Perhaps you want to include your children throughout the wedding planning process.  I can't think of any better way to get off to a good start, whether it is shopping, planning, or including the kids in the second wedding invitation wording itself.

When I was getting remarried, I searched all over the place for the perfect second wedding invitation. None of the catalog samples provided us ideas for wording for people like us; i.e., a couple getting remarried with kids. Whatever you want to call it, whether it be stepfamily blending, merging two families, or creating a new family, it was important for us to announce to our family and friends that we were celebrating ALL of us coming together. Wedding invite wording was important to us.

Since we were planning a destination wedding at Martha's Vineyard, I ultimately ended up going to a calligrapher who designed a grapevine border around our wording, and wrote the names of our five children in the grapevines.  This beautiful artwork is now framed and displayed in our home today as a keepsake that I treasure.

Since publishing RemarriageWorks.com, I thought there has got to be a better second wedding invitation selection for marriages that include children. Or, second wedding celebrations that are hosted by a remarrying couples' grown children. Or, second wedding invitation wording that is sensitive to the kids' feelings if you are marrying a widow or widower. I, personally, did not want to offend my stepchildren by having my invitation read, "Today I will marry the love of my life." Maybe our kids, in various stages of grief from divorce or death of a parent, would be hurt by thinking their mom or dad was not the one and only love because they are too young to understand. Who knows? 

I now know that there has to be some better second wedding invitation options, including both wedding invitation wording and design.

As a result, I've partnered with the creative and talented invitation designer, Carla David of Carla David Design to come up with unique second wedding invitations that can be customized to reflect your new stepfamily or remarriage needs. I hope you check out RemarriageWorks.com's second wedding invitations and let me know what you think!

    2nd Wedding Wednesday: Your Second Wedding With Kids

    Wednesday, July 06, 2011
    For the 65% of remarrying couples who have kids of their own, deciding whether to have children at the wedding is often a no-brainer. Instead your dilemma often revolves around how to include your kids in the second wedding celebration.

    First, if you have or want a great relationship with your children or stepchildren-to-be, I highly recommend that you don't exclude them from your wedding. I have heard stories about couples not including their children, and I truly believe your kids should be a part of your wedding event in some way, the very least of which is to be invited. After all, when you get remarried with kids, the reality is you are bringing families together; there is more to consider than just you and your spouse.

    "One of the most complicated aspects of stepfamilies is figuring out the issues of belonging - who feels 'in' and who doesn't," according to Jean McBride, author of Encouraging Words for New Stepmothers. Assuming the children want to be included, here are some ways to include them after you get engaged to remarry:

    • Create opportunities for parents who are about to become stepparents to spend time with their stepchildren during the wedding planning phase (e.g., enjoy a make-up session or spa day; shop for wedding attire together; have a pre-wedding picnic; let the "guys" in the newly forming family have their own version of a "bachelor" party on a paintball excursion or golf outing, etc.).
    • Let the kids help sample the wedding food from the wedding venue beforehand. Allow them to create a kid's menu to enjoy at the wedding reception. Have a cake designed just for them that celebrates a new family coming together.
    • Include unique second wedding favors for them. Consider having entertainment for them. When I remarried, we had an antique fire engine on which the kids could take rides, and it presented some great photo opportunities, too.
    • Encourage your kids to participate in your wedding ceremony. Older children can recite a reading or a poem. Or, your entire stepfamily can participate in a sand layering ceremony.
    • Present your children with a wedding gift or keepsake so they can be recognized and have a treasure to help remember the day.  
    • Have a special dance with them. For many kids, they will want to feel connected to you on that day.
    You don't have to have a traditional second wedding or reception. You and your children can make it as bold and creative as you would like. Brainstorm with your kids beforehand and discuss the planning with them. Taking these steps will go a long way in setting the foundation for a happy and healthy stepfamily. 

    Introducing Second Wedding Wednesdays!

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011
    I get a lot of questions about second weddings. Since we launched our premier event for remarrying brides, the Remarriage Showcase for Encore Brides, I'm getting even more queries and interviews about what to have and do at your second (or subsequent) wedding. As a result, I'm really excited about writing about topics related to second weddings on Wednesdays and I'm calling it "Second Wedding Wednesday" so you know when to look for it.


    Based on the questions I have received, I'll discuss topics, such as:
    • second weddings and children, 
    • how a second wedding is different from a first,
    • what are some great resources to consider when planning a second wedding,
    • second wedding vows,
    • what to wear and second wedding dresses,
    • and, much more!
    Feel free to drop me a line ([email protected]) and let me know what you would like to hear about when it comes to second weddings.  I never claim to have all of the answers, but I promise you if I don't know the answer, I will continue to find the most credible and valuable resources to help you no matter where you are on your remarriage journey - before, during, and happily ever after!

    Give the Stepfathers Some Love, Too, on Father's Day

    Sunday, June 19, 2011
    A male colleague and I spoke this week about the lack of positive attention that stepfathers get. (So, for all of you deserving and extraordinary stepdads, it is especially important that we send you some stepfather love on this Father's Day!) I first wrote about this topic in The Washington Times, "On Remarriage: Stepfathers Deserve to be Honored Too" a few years ago. It still hangs in a frame on a wall in our home today in honor of my husband who is a stepdad to my two sons. I'm wondering has anything changed for stepfathers since I wrote that column in 2008?

    There have been some positive changes that I've noted. Just yesterday a stepdad mentioned to me that he was pleasantly surprised to see a whole section of stepfather Father's Day cards in the store. I don't know how big that section is, but I still don't get the sense that there are enough cards for even half of the millions of stepdads in the country.

    And, since 2008, I am aware of one additional book written specifically for stepfathers, namely The Smart Stepdad by Ron Deal. This book, which is in the Christian living genre offers advice for men navigating stepfamily living and provides essential guidelines to help stepdads not only survive, but succeed.

    So, yes, I think things are moving in a positive direction when it comes to supporting stepdads, but there is still a long way to go considering that 4 out of 10 adults are now in a blended family. 

    Why aren't there more resources for stepdads? Is there no demand? Do stepdads not care? Do they not seek outside resources and assistance to help them be the best stepfathers they can be? If not, why are they reluctant?  Is there indeed an overwhelming demand, and there just aren't enough experts or resources to meet their needs? What are your thoughts on this?

    As a final tribute to stepdads this Father's Day, take a listen to Brad Paisley's music video, "He Didn't Have to Be" which was produced in 1999, reached #1, and was nominated for CMA song of the year. With so many more stepdads around today, this song is even more important. Happy Father's Day!

     

    For Moms and Stepmoms: Peace Starts at Home Summit

    Thursday, April 14, 2011
    On August 2, 2010 I blogged here about hosting a National Stepfamily Summit which will raise awareness of stepfamilies' needs, celebrate stepfamily life, let stepfamilies know they are supported, identify problems and more importantly, SOLUTIONS to stepfamily challenges. I am planning this summit for early 2013. It's going to be big so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, there is another unique event you should know about. Have you heard about Peace Starts at Home, a summit for bringing mothers and stepmothers together? 

    Peace Starts at Home, "dedicated to the idea that bringing mothers and stepmothers together, will create greater peace and a healthy environment for children of divorced parents," was created by Ellen Gottlieb. It will be held on May 18 in Brooklyn, NY and will feature a play, "illustrating how gridlock between a mom and stepmom can be broken" and a panel of experts.

    I'm really excited to be on the panel of experts, along with Jennifer Newcomb Marine, co-author of No One's the Bitch; A Ten Step Plan for the Mother and Stepmother Relationship; Jeanette Lofas, Ph.D., LCSW, Founder and President of the Stepfamily Foundation; and Brenda Ockun, publisher of Stepmom Magazine; to discuss issues related to mother-stepmother relationships. 

    I love Ellen's concept. And, I've read the featured play, The Other Mother, by Isidore Elias. You won't want to miss this. This play is truly unique and eye-opening, and it isn't just for stepmoms and moms. I think everyone that is connected to a stepfamily would benefit from understanding the dynamics of the mother-stepmother relationship.

    Mohandas Ghandi said, "If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children." (source of quote) 

    Thank you, Ellen for reminding us that peace must start in our own homes.


    What is There to be Thankful for in Your Stepfamily?

    Friday, March 11, 2011
    A dear friend and mindset coach I know, Renee Canali, gave me a very meaningful gift, namely a small book entitled 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik this past Christmas. In a nutshell, it is a story about a guy who handwrote 365 thank you notes in one year and the remarkable things that happened in his life as a result of displaying such gratitude. I've started writing more thank you notes as a result, and it feels good. It got me thinking; how many of us are grateful for our stepfamily members?

    And, how many of us get caught up in the whining and complaining about exes, our kids' other stepparent, and all of the challenges that stepfamily life can bring? I'm guilty! Especially in the early years of my remarriage, I complained, got angry, and I'm sure I drove my friends and family nuts on many days. And, even now having been remarried for nearly eight years, I still have my moments.

    In hindsight, I feel like I have wasted valuable time and energy simmering in a stew of negative feelings. I wish I had read books, including 365 Thank Yous and Jack Canfield's The Success Principles, years ago. In his book, Canfield writes, "When you are in a state of appreciation and gratitude, you are in a state of abundance. You are appreciating what you do have instead of focusing on and complaining about what you don't have."

    So, turning back to remarriage and stepfamily life, for what is there to be grateful?  As a start, how about:
    • the opportunity to learn about your own strengths and weaknesses?
    • the chance to learn more about love and its many forms?
    • a second chance for true happiness after experiencing divorce or widowhood?
    • learning how to appreciate others?
    • developing healthy coping mechanisms?
    • the ability to be a positive influence in a young person's life?
    All of these experiences do not just happen overnight, rather there is a process for each. So, while we continue to progress and work on these things, we can express appreciation in our stepfamilies each day - for even the smallest things.

    In The Success Principles, Canfield explains that there are three different kinds of appreciation. He describes three different ways (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) "the brain takes in information, and everybody has a dominant type they prefer." 

    So, every day we can strive to appreciate the people in our family in the way that makes them feel good. We can hug one of our stepchildren who responds to touch. We can call one of our kids who is away at college to find out how they are doing, and we can write a note telling our spouse how much we appreciate what they do.

    The things that we grumble about may still be there. But, if we follow John Kralik's example, we'll actually feel happier.  Thank goodness for that!




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