Positively Paula

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?

Here Comes Support for the Remarrying Bride

Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Are you getting remarried? Or, planning a second wedding? Or, have a friend who is? Last night I had the sincere pleasure of interviewing two incredible women on the RemarriageWorks.com show on the Stepmom's Toolbox mini network on BlogTalkRadio.com. In this free, downloadable podcast of "Here Comes Support for the Remarrying Bride," you'll hear top tips that you should know before your second wedding day.  

My two guests were Christy Borgeld, founder of National Stepfamily Day and Martha Wiles, a wedding planner and encore bridal specialist. Christy Borgeld, as mother of the groom, has just experienced planning a wedding in her own blended family and offers some valuable suggestions on working through stepfamily challenges during the encore wedding planning stage. And, Martha Wiles shares some really unique ideas about planning second weddings, including suggestions if you and/or your future spouse have children.

You can also catch some of their fabulous insights about remarrying, second weddings, and stepfamily blending in my book, Journal for Stepmoms as they have each contributed some helpful information to it. Tune in when your schedule allows; it's a great way to kick off your second wedding planning. Enjoy and best wishes to you on your remarriage journey!

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.

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.


Don't Settle for Mediocre in Your Remarriage, And Get a Bonus, Too!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011
If you want to be happy and satisfied in your remarriage, I highly recommend Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life by Kim Olver. She invited me to partner with her to promote our books, mine being Journal for Stepmoms. I receive many proposals like this, but I'm really picky about what I choose to recommend to you. Having read an advance copy of Secrets of Happy Couples, I decided to partner with Kim and offer 25% off my new release Journal for Stepmoms if you purchase both books. 

If you want more effective communication in your remarriage, a more exciting and healthy sex life, and more respect and trust, consider Secrets of Happy Couples. Kim surveyed 100 happy couples and prominent relationship experts. According to Gary Chapman, Ph.D., author of The Five Love Languages (another favorite book of mine), "If you wonder what it takes to be happy as a couple, this book is for you...Olver is breaking exciting new ground." 

Remarriages often face a lot of pressure; it's obvious with the divorce rate for second marriages being 65-70%. You can relieve some of the pressure by checking out this book. And, as an added incentive, if you buy Secrets of Happy Couples, you can get 25% off of Journal for Stepmoms which is an invaluable tool for stepmothers and stepmoms-to-be. 

If you purchase Kim's book now, you will receive more than 60 phenomenal free gifts valued at over $3,500.  Check them out! I know you may be thinking that this is a typical marketing gimmick. But, I assure you that I think Secrets of Happy Couples is so helpful that I have shared it with some very special people in my own stepfamily life.

Plan to Have a Fabulous 2011 in Your Stepfamily

Monday, January 10, 2011
In my newly released book, Journal for Stepmoms, there is a section called, "Planning." Planning is critical for stepfamilies that are trying to figure out joint custody schedules, kids' activities, household budgeting, colleges and schools, taxes, estates, wills, retirement, and more! And, as Jacquelyn Fletcher, author of A Career Girl's Guide to Becoming a Stepmom, just reminded me, don't forget to plan fun in your stepfamily!

So, how do you have fun with all of this planning? 

My husband has always been an avid calendar user; in fact, he blocks out time in his calendar for updating his calendar. I, on the other hand, had a pocket calendar in my purse when we met, but it could only fit so much. I remember like yesterday the angst and stress I felt in the early days of our remarriage whenever we had one our calendar planning sessions sitting at the computer.

I knew it was important to have good strategic and day-to-day planning to make our household of seven people, with kids in five different schools run smoothly. But, nonetheless, I would get tense, anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. The last thing I wanted to do after such a session was open another discussion about financial planning, taxes, or retirement. I can't even think the word fun in the same sentence.

Recently, Claudette Chenevert, a certified Stepfamily Foundation Coach, shared a simple, but brilliant idea about planning in the new year. She shared that she and her husband have had a tradition in their remarriage for 20 years. During the first week of the new year, they sit around a fire with candles on the table, and synchronize their calendars for the year.

Now that idea definitely helps me get one more step closer to fun! If you have any ideas that help make planning in your stepfamily more fun, please do share!


Perfect Gift Ideas for Stepfamilies

Thursday, December 09, 2010
In my last blog, I talked about how stepmoms would benefit from giving themselves the gift of journaling. In the midst of this holiday season, I'd like to suggest some gift ideas that anyone could give to members of a stepfamily.

And, attention dear parents and stepparents! If you like any of these ideas, please do not be shy about putting these items on your wish list if you are asked. You may never get these goodies unless you ask. In fact, if you are a new member of a stepfamily, you'll probably be doing your relatives a huge favor by helping them get to know what you like. And, since some of these gifts don't cost a dime, all the more reason to let someone know your desires.

In the "no nickel needed" gift category are:
  • alone time for remarried parents. Offer to watch their kids so they can have that rare date night.
  • patience and flexibility regarding convoluted schedules. Many remarrieds face stress as they are dealing with work, school, and joint custody schedules, especially if they have children in different schools. Offer to host a holiday dinner on a date that allows EVERYONE to attend. And, make them feel at ease if Christmas dinner happens to be on Dec. 30th this year.
  • acceptance and sensitivity. Instead of asking a new family member to step out of a family picture because someone wants a picture of "just their" relatives, perhaps take an extra picture with all family members included and frame it as a gift or create a calendar. Remember to get a gift for all of the children---step or not. You don't have to spend much to have everyone feel included and welcomed.
For those who plan to spend some cash, stepfamily members might really like:
  • family tree gifts. Red Envelope has some really unique family tree gifts, such as a keepsake quilt or family tree photo frames.
  • mouse pads, aprons, bags, stationery plus other custom-designed items that display a silhouette of the stepfamily based off of photos that you provide to Simply Silhouettes Stationery & Gifts.
  • consumable gifts as recommended on our Facebook page by an extraordinaire wedding planner Martha Wiles of A Splash of Elegance. Martha recognizes that combined households often have lots of "things." She advises considering a gift card to their favorite eatery and childcare for later in the year.
Enjoy the season and the giving!

Note: The companies and products mentioned in this blog post are not paying advertisers of this website. I simply recommend the items.

Attention Stepmoms: Give Yourselves a Great Holiday Gift

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
This is the time of year when you see a lot of articles and blogs pop up about the challenges that stepfamilies face during the holiday season. Stepmoms often face extra stress as they fulfill holiday obligations that include entertaining, hosting visitors, shopping, figuring out hectic schedules, and determining holiday traditions. Even people who aren't experiencing life as a stepmother can be depressed, stressed, and overextended.

Two especially helpful resources I've seen lately that offer useful solutions for stepfamilies dealing with holiday problems are: holiday tips on Wednesday Martin, Ph.D.'s blog page, and "1-2-3-step approach makes holiday traditions easy" by Christina Roach, MA, NCC, DCC on Examiner.com. And, dear stepmoms, I know the perfect gift you can give yourselves this year.

Give yourself the gift of journaling. Check out "The Health Benefits of Journaling" by Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP who lays out the case for journaling very well. Journaling can help you ease stress, work through problems, safely vent, figure out your thoughts, explore your past baggage, and more.

I know some of you are probably saying, "But, I don't have the time to do the things already on my Thanksgiving plate!" We all do. Just try this for a month and let me know how it goes. I think you may be surprised. And, journaling can be a great place to focus on those things in your life for which you are most grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!





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