Positively Paula

Is Your Stepfamily All-Inclusive or Exclusive?

Thursday, October 28, 2010
The other evening I listened to a live webinar hosted by the non-profit organization, Stronger Families, called "You're Not My Dad." It featured Gil and Brenda Stuart, authors of "Restored and Remarried." Gil and Brenda provided a lot of helpful advice for stepfamilies based on their experience of raising a stepfamily with seven children. And, yes, they are still smiling! It's a joy to listen to them.

Not too many things surprise me anymore about stepfamilies. But, I was really intrigued by something they said.

Gil and Brenda said that a couple of months after they got remarried, one of Gil's children got married, and the adult child did not want Brenda at the wedding. Brenda said she didn't go to his wedding. 

Then another person participating in the webinar noted that they follow a rule in their stepfamily household. If an event is centered around a particular child, the parent and stepparent leave it up to that child to determine whether the stepparent can attend. And, if it is an event that is more of a family event, both parent and stepparent attend.

I guess this really surprised me for a couple of reasons. First, I haven't personally run into any stepparents who have a similar rule. And, secondly, right or wrong, my husband and I have always participated in events in our family together. Obviously, every stepfamily is different and there are a lot of extenuating circumstances.

I decided to contact Brenda personally to discuss this topic. I was curious and wanted to know more about how this works in her family. (By the way, Brenda did grant her permission to share her personal thoughts.) She pointed out that while being excluded can hurt, it doesn't have to offend. I can see her point. Many stepparents take things too personally; I, myself have been guilty of that.

Brenda also pointed out that timing is important. Just two months into her own remarriage and with her family's personal circumstances, it just made the most sense for them. She pointed out that many times stepparents have to ask themselves, "Who is the adult here?" Another valid point!

Some could look at it another way and say, "We are the adults here and we will decide as parent and stepparent what we are going to attend." I'm even more curious now and would love to hear more input! How do you handle who will attend what events in your stepfamily? And, why? Comments are most welcome.

Note: The video broadcast, "You're Not My Dad," hosted by Stronger Families featuring Gil and Brenda Stuart will show again on November 1, 2010, 7-8 pm PST. 

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