Positively Paula

3 Top Questions Remarried Couples Should Ask When They Disagree

Wednesday, June 06, 2012
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Chuck Semich, our advice columnist at RemarriageWorks. Our episode, "Top Secrets of Stepfathers" is one of my favorites because I don't think there are enough resources available for stepdads. During the show, dedicated to all stepfathers in honor of Father's Day, Chuck, a licensed family therapist who specialized in blended family relationships and is both a stepchild and stepfather himself, offered a spot check or inventory that we can ask ourselves when we are arguing...  
I asked Chuck for his best advice on how to make your remarriage succeed. Chuck described the top three questions he has asked himself when he has been in a disagreement:
  1. Is this a matter of life or death? 
  2. Am I part of the problem, or part of the solution?
  3. What's more important - being right, or having a healthy relationship?
If you take a moment and think about these questions the next time you and your spouse are arguing, especially about a blended family issue, you can really change your own perspective, and diffuse your anger or frustration. I've tried it. I haven't succeeded in calming myself down every time, but with practice, it gets better.

I invite you to listen to the podcast, "Top Secrets of Stepfathers" with Chuck Semich, and to check out his stepfamily advice in our advice column. His professional and personal experience, along with his wisdom are really helpful. If you and your spouse are facing problems in your remarriage, consider listening to the podcast together.
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Top Secrets of Stepfathers

Friday, June 01, 2012
Looking back over my last nine years in a blended family, I think I could have done a better job, especially when it comes to understanding my husband and his point of view on parenting and stepparenting. Sometimes I wondered why is he doing what he is doing? I just didn't get it so many times. Even after asking him! Do you want to know how a stepdad thinks, feels, and deals with stepfamily challenges? Tune in to my RemarriageWorks show on June 4 at 8 p.m. EST as I interview our advice columnist, Chuck Semich about the "Top Secrets of Stepfathers." 

Chuck Semich, a licensed family therapist who specializes in stepfamily relations in his private practice, was a stepchild and is a long-time stepfather and step-grandfather. Chuck's professional and personal experience with stepfamily living runs deep and wide. In honor of Father's Day, I thought it would be great to hear a man's point of view on blended families, stepparenting, and life as a stepdad.

This is your chance to hear the top secrets of stepfathers! Send your questions for Chuck to [email protected] or Tweet @RemarriageWorks by noon on June 4, and I will consider including them. One of my questions will be: "What do stepdads know that stepmoms don't?" And, "How does my husband seem to compartmentalize stepfamily challenges really well, and I don't?" More importantly, "How can I do that, too?"

The RemarriageWorks show will air live on the Stepmom's Toolbox Network on June 4 at 8 p.m. EST. It's a great opportunity to learn about what makes the stepfathers in our blended families tick!


A Great Bonus for Stepparents Who Want to Change Their Mindset!

Thursday, January 05, 2012
For stepmothers who may be struggling with stress or depression and for stepparents who have lost all hope of being happy or at peace in their stepfamily, my RemarriageWorks.com radio show, "RemarriageWorks: Stepmom's Prerogative, Changing Mindset" on January 2 featured a special guest, Mindset Coach and author of Life As An Onion: The Journey Back to Your Core, Renee Canali. During the interview, Renee made some great offers to help those of you who are looking to step into 2012 with a fresh perspective in your stepfamily life. Now Renee is offering even more tools to help you at no cost!   

Renee Canali and I explored how our stepchildren reflect back to us what we need to change or adopt in our relationship with them, and she shared some exercises to help you shift your mindset and help you think about you and your role in your stepfamily from a different perspective.

During the call, Renee graciously offered a FREE 30 minute coaching consultation by phone, and for those who buy her book, Life As An Onion: The Journey Back to Your Core she offered her free report. 

Now it gets even better than that!  I invite you to listen to the show and take advantage of Renee's valuable offer, including a coaching consultation at no cost from Renee.  Plus, for those who leave feedback in the comment section under the podcast or right here (below) in this very blog, you will receive a complimentary downloadable pdf copy of Renee's ebook, Your Greatest Asset is Your Mindset, based on a presentation she gave at the National Institutes of Health. 

If you've been wanting to feel better, improve your stepparenting, and/or look at things in your stepfamily in a positive way, I hope you take advantage of this! I've personally been a client of Renee's, and it has made a tremendous difference in my life. (By the way, I am NOT being paid for this endorsement.) I want more stepmoms and stepdads (or even future stepmothers and stepfathers) to know about a resource which can help them work through some challenging stepparenting times. It's free. Why not give it a shot?

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!

 

Stepfamily Support Groups: Definitely Worth a Try

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
If you are in a stepfamily, there have probably been at least a few times when you wish you had some extra support outside of your circle of family and friends to help you with challenging stepfamily dynamics. Have you ever considered participating in a stepfamily support group? If not, why?

Contrary to what some people may picture, support groups aren't always comprised of grieving people sitting in a circle crying their eyes out with tissues and a counselor. Support groups are basically "a gathering of people who share a common health concern or interest," according to "Support Groups: Make Connections, Get Help," by The Mayo Clinic staff.

Check out the Mayo Clinic staff's article to better understand the benefits of support groups and how to find one. You can read about questions to ask before joining a group, support group red flags, and how to get the most out of a support group experience.


 If you are averse to stepfamily counseling, I encourage you to check out a support group.  It is a place to share ideas, discuss problems and solutions, and such groups can be great sources of hope and inspiration.

My husband and I attended a stepfamily support group early in our marriage and that experience provided us a lot of hope when we faced some tough times. It was encouraging to listen to people who had been remarried for over 20 years as they reassured us that they, too, faced and more importantly, made it through rough spots such as ours.

If you don't feel like talking in a support group, you don't have to. In a support group I facilitated for families of children with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, we often had expert guest speakers who fielded questions and answers. This format could work in stepfamily support groups, too. You could invite a family law attorney to discuss joint custody issues, or a school counselor to talk about how the school and co-parents can better partner to ensure their children thrive in school as well as in two homes.

For stepmothers, stepfathers, and biological parents, I recommend a free national stepfamily (call-in) support group that is hosted by Yaffa Balsam, a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in CA. I think she has a great idea with this group. At the very least, it is a great way to see if a stepfamily support group is for you. I listened in to her group on August 16, 2010, and I thought the discussion was helpful, informative, and inspiring.

No one cried that I know of.  I challenge you to try it at least once. And, if you have been happily remarried for years, perhaps you can share your wisdom and experience with others who may just be starting out.




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