Stepmothers Day is one week after Mother’s Day, and so I thought it would be fitting to have a show for my stepmoms! My guest, Kendall Rose is an accomplished public speaker who has been a featured guest and provided commentary about blended family legal and financial challenges and solutions, to leading media outlets. She joins me to discuss her book, The Stepmoms Club, How to be a stepmom without losing your money, your mind, and your marriage.
Being a stepmother isn’t even a little bit easy — but of course, if you’re a stepmom, you already know that.
On Mother’s Day, being a stepmom takes on a whole new meaning. Here’s what stepmoms told TODAY Parents what their lives are really like. Their insights are honest, illuminating and more important to appreciate than ever before: More than 4.2 million children in the United States live in stepfamilies, and that number is on the rise.
It can be hard to be the non-biological parent to a child during the holidays. It’s common to experience resentment (on your end, and the child’s) about where Christmas Eve and Day are spent, competition over who gave the kids the better gift, and jealousy over memories you might not be a part of. Many women are in need of answers and support about how to avoid stress and create happy holiday memories.
Stepmom Kendall Rose shares tips for navigating the holidays with a blended family.
Families come in all different shapes and sizes – and that includes blended. From extra siblings to go around to multiple loving co-parents, merging families definitely has its benefits when there are multiple marriages or relationships.
But step-parents often get a bad rap. Stepmonster! Stereotypes, cultural expectations and conflict by proxy stack the deck against well-meaning stepmothers. It can be anything but a fairytale.
Kendall Rose on MIX 98.1 Richmond, VA
I’m not sure how many of you were fans of Joan Rivers’ Fashion Police on E! News, but I was. Each episode featured a segment called ‘B*tch Stole My Look.’ It was funny because it compared two celebs dressed nearly identically, and the panel of fashion experts (I use that term loosely) discussed who wore it best. I have stolen the phrase and use it on certain occasions.
When I open Town&Style, the first thing I do is look for my column. Yes, that sounds narcissistic or perhaps paranoid, but I just want to make sure I didn’t get cut. On one particular day—as I stared at my face and realized I needed a new photo because my hair is longer now and I think I might have lost some weight—I noticed there was an announcement of a new book by author Kendall Rose titled The Stepmoms’ Club. Wait, I used to work with a Kendall Rose. Certainly this couldn’t be her. Why, yes it was! And immediately, I could hear Joan Rivers in my ear saying, “B*tch stole my look.”
My daughter Emma and I were climbing the bleachers in a middle-school gym, getting ready to watch her brother Elliot play basketball, when we spotted my husband’s ex-wife.
“Mama Jean,” as we called her, was sitting a few rows up with Elliot’s twin sister, Chloe.
Radio Interview with Charlie Brennan on KMOX1120
New book ‘The Stepmoms’ Club’ reminds us: Don’t forget stepmoms this Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day can be the loneliest holiday for stepmoms. The children they are helping to raise are with their mothers. They’ve often helped create something special for the children’s mother and often the work they do is not acknowledged.
“You go to Starbucks and they don’t know you’re not a mother and they wish you a Happy Mother’s Day,” says Kendall Rose. She along with three friends formed The Stepmoms’ Club and now she writes about becoming a stepmother and the challenges of this unappreciated role.
She wrote the book as a girlfriends’ guide to this role, as a way for women to find answers about what other women weren’t talking about.
In “The Stepmoms’ Club: How to be a Stepmom Without Losing your Money, Your Mind and Your Marriage” ($15.99, Source Books), Rose shares stories and wisdom learned after 15 years of helping to raise her husband’s children from another marriage. Rose, which is a pen name she chose after her’s and her grandmother’s imaginary tea names, uses that name to protect her stepchildren. All the names in the book are not real names, but they are real women with real stories of how hard it is to be in this role.
How do you overcome the “wicked stepmother” stereotype perpetuated by Disney and make it work? The biggest rule is to always focus on the children and their needs.
“When parents don’t get along, they’re not focus on the issue at hand what’s going to be be most beneficial for the child or children,” she says. “That’s when we see the strife.”
Sometimes you have to put your needs last and take a step back. “There are times when the children really want you to be involved,” she says. “And there are other times looking for mother and father to be in that situation, even if it’s difficult as a stepmom that wants to be involved.”
You put the kids’ needs first, which is always the right answer.
That might mean that the mom, not you, shops for the dress to the dance, or that you sit with the mom in the bleachers at the game so that the kid doesn’t have to look for two different sets of parents. It might mean that there are times when you take a step back and let the biological parents get all the public acknowledgement.
Rose recommends entering into the relationship slowly and with knowledge. It will take some time to decide what this relationship is. “Making it into a big deal turns it into a big deal,” she says.
Instead, do more informal introductions, slowly start spending more time with them rather than launching head-first into part-time or full-time mom.
She recommends waiting until it’s very clear that this relationship is going to be permanent.
“In a new relationship, you’re still learning about one another, and then you’re learning about another family’s dynamics,” she says.
Once you do enter into the relationship, fill yourself with knowledge. That means you’ve read the divorce decree and all the custody documentation. You know what the rules are for how much time the children will be with their father, how holidays are divided and how much child support is each month.
This and a conversation with your partner will help you figure out what your role as stepmom will be. “Don’t make the assumption that you’re jumping full feet into the water, and you’re taking on the role of the mother,” she says. “They have a biological mother. Know where you fit within the family dynamics.”
You also have to figure out what your house rules are, which might be very different than Mom’s house rules. And then you have to figure out if it makes sense for you to be the main enforcer of these rules, for their father to be or for you both to be.
“There is something so important about letting go,” Rose says. “It sounds so much easier than it is. It’s about not getting caught up in what happens elsewhere.”
Often, the kids won’t be so welcoming to you. After all, this wasn’t
something they got a choice in. “Tread lightly,” Rose says. “Try to connect with them on some level. Ease into it.”
Recognize that they might blame you for the breakup of their parents’ marriage or they might feel like liking you is a betrayal to their mother. You also don’t know what they’re being told at their other house.
“You have to let it play out over time,” she says. “Don’t try to be everything to everyone.”
Stepmoms have to recognize that there’s a lot they are not in control of: the terms of the divorce, the way the other parent parents. “There are things you can’t change, but you can change how you react to things,” Rose says.
Stepmoms are often the last to know important details like what’s going on at school because the teachers often primarily communicate with mom, maybe dad. You can make sure that you’re on the emergency contact list, that you’re on the teacher’s email that goes to all the parents, that you are in contact with any coaches or after-school activity provider. Rose also suggests giving the teacher a box of self-addressed stamped envelopes for them to mail to you a copy of any papers that might be going to home to the other house.
Recognize that there are parts of the children’s life that you’ve missed and are going to miss. And yes, they will talk about that time when they were little and said the funniest thing or their favorite stuffed animal, and you won’t be able to tell them more about that. “You have to let it go,” she says. “You weren’t there, as much as it hurts.”
There are some wonderful things, too, about being a stepmom. Often they come at unexpected times when you get a nice note or a card and you know that you mattered. “The smallest thing has the biggest impact,” she says.
And when a blended family works, it’s incredibly rewarding, Rose says.
“Parents can love multiple children; children can love multiple parents,” she says. “Sometimes it’s just a little bumpy, but they can get there.”
“Stepmothers have been getting a bum rap since “Cinderella.” In this long-awaited book, four stepmoms who form the Stepmoms’ Club offer sound advice on some of the perils and pleasures of being a stepmother. Their advice, wrapped in humor and empathy, is surprisingly practical and will be a godsend for women facing these challenges.” – Read the full review on Booklist