When You’re Mom #2

As many of you know, Dave and I are a blended family. Our children were all in their teens when we married and I thought it would be smooth sailing, but we definitely had many challenges. With Christ at the center of our marriage, and agreeing that divorce would NEVER be an option, praise God we made it through and our sweet kids are all brothers and sisters in Christ and in family.

But during the difficult years, I longed for someone to mentor me from the perspective of “been there done that, made it through with Christ and you will too” and I’ll pray for you and help you. But I never found that mentor. I bought the few Christian books there were for step families and Dave and I joined a support group at church. I would have gone to a retreat in a heartbeat. I know Laura Petherbridge personally as a friend and fellow author and speaker, and if you’re a stepmom you will enjoy her book and this retreat. If you know stepmoms or have a support group at your church, please share this blog post.

Laura is giving away a copy of her book, 101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom so leave a comment to enter the drawing and check the box to receive follow up emails to this post so we can let you know if you won, or check back on Friday. We’ve given away a book a week all month. I love it.

Helping Hurting Women

By Laura Petherbridge

Sisterhood of stepmoms logo

“Please remove my name from your mailing list,” the woman’s email requested. “I am no longer a stepmom.”

My heart sank as I finished her note. Divorce. Again. She became one of the census statistics which reports that 60-73% of stepfamilies fail.

I cried out to God, “Lord, one more marriage gone. One more home fractured. One more child believing, ‘marriage doesn’t work’ because he/she has now witnessed two demolished families.”

“Lord, help me to reach stepmoms before it’s too late. Please, show me how to provide help, healing and hope. They need a spa for their weary soul, they need a—RETREAT!!”

Last year when I had the idea to conduct a stepmom retreat, I assumed it would be a one-time event. I asked a few stepmom sisters who offered a similar stepmom outreach to join me. And that one step, that one decision, has rocked my world.

We Can’t Stop Now

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Since I’ve written two books for Stepmoms I’ve gotten used to them emailing me for help, but now at the retreat they were in my arms. Their tears, pending divorces, and the voices of their hurting children, were looking me in the eyes. And their begging pleas, “I’m afraid I might not make it. I feel like a failure. Show me how to survive life in a stepfamily,” could not be silenced in my head.

“What are we going to do now?” was the question each teammate asked as we ate lunch together after the retreat.

“We can’t stop now,” one team member shared. “We must do more of these events, more stepmoms need our help.”

And so with no money, no sponsor, no guidebook to follow, and no website established, we launched a ministry, Sisterhood of Stepmoms.

Within two weeks of establishing a Facebook page we had 700 likes, and now one year later, it’s over 2400. Stepmoms from everywhere began sharing how grateful they were to receive help and a place to find healing.

The Church Typically Doesn’t Understand

The church rarely has a ministry that meets the needs of stepmoms.

“I went to a mom’s conference, and a women’s retreat geared for families, but none of the issues they addressed applied to my situation,” stepmom Lisa shared.

“I need to know how to parent alongside my stepson’s mother. She lives very differently than we do, with completely diffident view of what is right and wrong. Plus I can’t figure out how to handle my husband’s inability to discipline his kids. Even though his ex-wife is the one who left the marriage for another man, he is plagued by guilt because his kids are from a divorced home.”

This is why a ministry specifically designed for stepfamilies, which can address their unique issues is a huge need. Many statistics show that there are more stepfamilies in the USA today than there are first time families. They avoid the church because there isn’t a place for them.

God Has Other Plans

Before this stepmom mentoring occurred, I kept asking God for a “nice, clean” women’s ministry. You know something with pink ribbons and flowing butterflies. I was seeking a ministry that the annual church women’s luncheon would eagerly embrace for their keynote.

Wrong.

God had other plans, and I’m so glad. Whether it’s; the childhood shame and trauma associated with my parent’s divorce, the devastation when my husband walked out of our marriage, or the stress of being a stepmom, the wounds of my past provide me with the insight to mentor, encourage, or instruct others. When given to Jesus, my scars serve a higher calling. The destruction is transformed into a restoration for another.

I’m thrilled to be on this journey. Here’s another email that explains why. It reads differently than the previous.

“Dear Laura, Thank you for your ministry to stepmoms. I want you to know it saved my marriage. I was on the verge of divorce; I couldn’t take stepfamily living anymore. And you taught me that with God’s help I can learn how to live above the circumstances. You offered practical, no-nonsense, real life information which changed my attitude and perspective. You gave me tools and hope. My husband immediately noticed, and now I think we will make it.”

It doesn’t get any better than that.

The next retreat, geared for ANY women who is a single parent or dating, engaged or married to a man with kids (young or old), is April 17-19th, at the gorgeous Sandy Cove Retreat Center.

What Can YOU Do?

Won’t YOU be the one to reach out to a stepmom, and show her where to find help, healing and hope?

Leave a comment to enter drawing for a free book. Be sure to check the box to receive follow up comments to this post or check back on Friday to see if you won!

Copyright © 2014 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved

 

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Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, step-parenting, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom—Expert Advice from One Stepmom to Another and When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. Her book The Smart Stepmom, is co-authored with stepfamily expert Ron Deal. Her website is www.TheSmartStepmom.com

 

Comments

  1. I am still a stepmom, but at this present time our family is torn apart, with my step daughter refusing to talk to her dad and I. I sure wish I would have known there were resources like this a few years ago, maybe it would have helped things turn out differently!

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Brandy I totally understand. We went thru a season when one of my stepdaughters was doing the same thing as yours. We just kept praying and loving on her, even though she rejected us both, and eventually she came back around and now we have a close relationship. Don’t give up, your story isn’t over yet. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Brandy- I truly want to encourage you to attend a stepmom retreat. You will learn how to deal with that issue as it stands, and the things to do and NOT do, with a stepchild who turns away. It’s VERY common for a child to reject a parent, especially a dad, after a divorce. There are things you can do to help her. And right now what you need to learn is what to do to help your husband with his loss of her. BC that can wear away at the marriage without the couple knowing it.
    WE would love to help!!
    Blessings, Laura P

    • That is my biggest concern right now- helping my husband, being his support, and also learning how to handle the questions our kids have about everything. They don’t understand what is going on but talk about her and ask about her, and I never know what to say. I would love to attend a retreat! Is there a schedule or vent list somewhere that I could see?

  3. Stachia says:

    I’m currently working through “The Smart Stepmom” and went through “The Smart Stepfamily ” at church. They are very “real” and have been a source of hope. I have been unable to find any ministry geared toward Stepfamilies in our area, so I am starting a support group for Stepmoms. I just registered for the retreat in Dallas. Thank you for all you do! My husband works away from home a little more than half the time. I’m a full-time stepmom to a 13 – year-old boy and the challenges have been brutal, to say the least. We are 10 months into the marriage and it’s harder than I ever imagined.

  4. Caitlin Pierce says:

    Thank you Laura for giving us stepmoms Godly advice! just this morning I wanted to scream & pull my hair out but having resources, a network & friends who understand has rocked my world. Keep on following God Laura!

  5. Kelli Speer says:

    Thank you so much. I just realized I have your book THE SMART STEPMOM. I was reading it and duringn a difficult time put it up thinking I couldn’t do it any longer. But by the grace of God we are making it and I am going to finish the book before the Dallas Retreat!

  6. I am dating a man w o has a young boy and is already calling me Mom because he hardly remembers his biological Mom. His Mom was killed in a car accident 4 and half years ago. The boy is now 11 years. His father and I are planning to get married in the near future.
    I need to get a Divorce from my 1st husband first before this man and I get married. I have no children of my own. So I would benefit from this book greatly.

  7. Laura, I had no idea the stats were so high . Praising God for you and this ministry.

  8. I am “THE OTHER MOTHER” which sounds a little creepy, but is spoken kindly from my step daughters. I’m a full time step mother to two and bio mother to three. Blending this family has been the greatest challenge of letting go and being selfless. We are almost two years in and I’m grateful for the relative peace that is now the norm. I would love a copy of the book!

  9. Terry- I can not stress enough how much I encourage you to attend a stepmom retreat. MANY people think if the former spouse is dead, that they wont face the same issues. His age right now he is embracing you, but as he ages and the grief re-appears it will come out in many ways. Heather and Gayla on our team are full time stepmoms, and they have TREMENDOUS insight on the subject. I HIGHLY suggest you invest in your upcoming marriage and learn what it means to be a stepmom BEFORE you remarry. People spend thousands on a wedding, but don’t realize they must invest in the marriage. You will be glad you did. Blessings, Laura P

  10. Luci Flowers says:

    You are so right. Step families are not addressed near enough, if at all, in many churches. I wish they would be. Our times need it so badly right now. I think my first marriage (where I was also a step mom) would have benefited from it greatly. I have been a step mom since I was 18 y/ o. My oldest step child is now 20 and my youngest is 7. You would think with raising step kids for nearly 20 years I would be an expert, but the truth is, each step child and step family is different, each bio mom is different. I love your Facebook page as I am able to hear the voices, struggles, and advice if so many moms and it helps me all the time. I have a total of 4 step kids and they are all going through different seasons, and I have different relationships with each bio mom. Please keep up the fantastic work you do each day, it does make a difference!

  11. Suzann Clemens says:

    Thanks for providing this resource! I am a stepmom to 2, with no bio-children of my own. Both stepkids have varying levels of disabilities making our challenges even harder. Ron Deal’s ministry has been integral in our lives. I look forward to learning more of how to step-parent well.

  12. Laura, thank you for this ministry. While it is not in our budget to attend one of these fabulous retreats, your words are an encouragement. I look at your Facebook page daily.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      That’s the great thing about Facebook and being able to have a community online. When we can’t be together in person, we can still connect. Blessings on your family.

  13. Marilyn Shipe says:

    Thank you for this post! Lord willing, I’m going to be a step mom come this Saturday! I know there will be challenges ahead, but I also know God is up to the challenge.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Congratulations Marilyn on your upcoming wedding. Keep God at the center of your marriage and the three of you together (you future hubby and God) will be up to any challenge. Thanks for commenting days before your big day!

  14. Ladies-
    I’m so glad the information has blessed you. The most common things stepmoms say to me is “I had no idea it would be this difficult or lonely.” So community is crucial. If there is no stepfamily or stepmom group near you–I encourage YOU to be the one to start one. Stepfamilies often shun church, so it is a GREAT way to reach out to people who would never otherwise enter the building. it meets a need, and they are hungry for help. Blessings to those on this post!! Under His Wing, Laura P

  15. Hi Marilyn Shipe- You are the winner of my new stepmom book, 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom. Please send your address to me at Laura@LauraPetherbridge.com and I’ll get that shipped within a week to 10 days.
    Thanks!!

  16. I wish you had been around about 30 years ago. My mother asked me if I was really ready to take on someone else’s children and I assured her I was thrilled to. Being a widow who could never have children, I thought this would be the answer to my prayers. The past 29 years have not been perfect, but we have survived and are strengthened in our marriage. My challenges now seem more difficult because grandchildren are in the picture and I love them maybe too much. Their biological grandmother is very jealous and is now manipulating and making life very hard for me as I am feeling the pain of the reality that I am the outsider more now than I ever was. I never had relationship problems with my husband’s children and I am the grands’ Nonnie, but their “real” grandmother does everything she can to shut me out. most of the time I am able to ignore or get over it, but holidays are the worst. I pray constantly for the Lord’s help for me not to show my feelings. I have a couple of friends I can talk to.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Connie, I understand well your situation. I have three step children and their birth mom told them no one could love someone elses children, which gives you a window into her heart. Of course, I do love them, and have a wonderful relationship with the kids and I am Grammie to all 11 of our grandchildren (3 are from my daughter and one of those is adopted). I love all my grandchildren equally, just as I love to pieces my adopted grandson…my heart is big enough for all of them and my husband feels the same and is more of a grandpa to the three grandchildren on my side then their blood grandpa. But I’ve found as our children married sometimes it’s the new spouse’s mom who doesn’t look at me as a “real” grandparent. But like you, I ignore it. It’s the relationship with all the kids that’s important and they don’t see a difference, nor do they care. You are right holidays have always been a challenge and we have learned to just lower our expectations, pray like crazy, and enjoy whatever time we have with the kids.
      I see jealousy often with grandparents on different sides of the family, and I’ve experienced it too, and when I see it blatantly, I simply remind them that the children have enough love for all of us. You are not the “outsider” and that is not a “reality”. Don’t let Satan put that into your head and don’t react that way. You will never be a nuclear family, but you are a family God put together for the good of everyone so claim that role and don’t let Satan steal your joy of being Nonnie! Thank you for sharing your heart and I’m glad you have others to talk to, but maybe after much prayer,you can have a face to face with the other grandmother and let her know how she makes you feel and there is no reason….the kids love all grandparents! I hope you had a Merry Christmas and now on to the New Year!

  17. The east coast Stepmom retreat is in 2 weeks in Rome, GA. 7 spots left. There is NO event like this ANYWHERE!! http://www.SisterhoodofStepmoms.com for details. Next one is in Dallas, TX Sept 16-17. Under His Wing, The SmartStepmom.com

  18. Rachel says:

    Hi Laura, I have been a stepmom for about 6 years (my step kids are 12 and 13 now), and I also have 2 children from a previous marriage who are 11 and 14. Obviously being a blended family is very complicated and we have been struggling a lot lately. So I’ve been reading your book “The Smart Stepmom” which has been super helpful so far. I just began seeing a therapist and she suggested I also look for an online support group for step moms. I cannot seem to find any, so I was thinking of starting one. What do you think?

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