Positively Paula

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?

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.

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. 

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.


Fascinating Stepmom Art: You May Not Believe Your Eyes

Thursday, February 24, 2011
I want to share one of the most unique things about stepmothers that I have ever come across on the internet with you. The Other Mother website is dedicated to stepmothers "for all that you do...and have been put through..." by artist and stepmother Karen Piovaty. Karen warns viewers, "Enter with caution! The faint of heart need not apply to the world of stepmotherhood."

I admit up front I have no background in the study of art. I can tell you I find her exhibit compelling. The pictures struck several chords in me, evoked emotion, and made me stop to think about my own stepmom experience. On top of that, I started thinking about stepmotherhood in our society in general. 

And, don't miss the accompanying essay, "Disturbing the Piece(s): Re-Viewing the Role of 'the Other Mother'" by Jane E. Hindman, Professor, Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, San Diego State University.

I've talked about having a future National Stepfamily Summit, and wouldn't it be great to have this artwork displayed there? Take a look and let me know what you think. 

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.

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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