Stepmom have chosen a challenging situation as they pursue love. They are often walking into trauma and despair, from death or divorce, not of their making. And let’s face it, stepmoms chose this not really knowing all that much about what it’s going to be like.
It’s not an auspicious start. As a stepmom coach, I can help you.
And please take a moment to acknowledge that stepmoms aren't just wicked. Know that you are among a collective of women who are talented doctors, professors, authors, actors, politicians and business leaders. We love, we hope, we aspire, we feel disappointment. We try, we win and lose, we dust off and rise again.
We are human beings trying their best in a challenging situation.
My guess is, when we were children, none of us hoped that one day, they would get to be a stepmother.
Yet here they are. Stepmomming so hard.
And here you are, wondering if you might benefit from stepmom support. I’m a stepmom coach and I'm glad you’re here.
What Are The Benefits Of Working With A Stepmom Coach?
The benefits of working with a stepmom coach are similar to the benefits of working with any other coach. I help you move away from the emotion of the situation and develop practical, tangible goals that will help you move into a more desirable future.
We collaborate, week to week, as you pursue these goals. In addition to our regular coaching strategy sessions, I am on call via email to celebrate your wins and move through your challenges.
We work together, as a team, as you identify and ultimately achieve your goal. I provide stepmom support, you work between sessions to grow.
Coaching Intro Session
How Do You Coach Stepmoms?
I use coaching techniques to help you stepmom the way you want to. I help you identify your goals as a stepmom, create week-by-week action items to move you towards that goal, identify any blocks in your way, reassess, and continue to move forward.
Here are some sample stepmom goals that I’ve helped my clients achieve:
- Effectively support my husband while kids move across the country
- Build bridges and boundaries with my teenage stepdaughter
- Help welcome my new baby within the context of a family that includes stepchildren
- Help our combined family of seven establish a new collective
- Make space for myself as a person in my new life with my husband and his children
I work with clients in 2-, 3- and 6-month programs to pursue these goals.
Are You A Stepmother?
Yep. I became a stepmom, I compared taking on this role to putting on a really ugly, ill-fitting coat. A coat I did not want or need, a coat that obscured me.
Underneath that coat I was me, wearing a great dress, feeling confident and like me. I was 40 and knew myself. And yet, when I became a stepmom, it was as if Cindererella’s little birds dropped this heavy iron coat on me. Obscuring my me-ness, putting this very heavy, leaden identity over who I actually was.
I was now a stepmom. Blech.
I was new in town, and in the suburbs, one often makes friends through children. At school pick-ups and bake sales, I was a stepmom. Can you hear the iron chains rattling about with that word? I sure did. It was an effective friend repellent.
It’s worth noting that after living here for ten years, not a small number of people have apologized for how they (mis)treated me in those early years.
And yet – I was still me. I was a human being with lots of thoughts, ideas, accomplishments and energy. But when labeled stepmom, that big heavy iron coat obscured who I was. People saw the label. I felt hidden behind this identity that I embraced, sure, but I didn’t define it the way the world was defining it for me.
I was proud to have stepped up to stepmotherhood. And sometimes, It sucked.
As a stepmom, I get some of the assumptions that are made about you, and biases you face. I also get that you can develop a powerful (positive) relationship with your stepchildren, and possibly your partner’s ex. AND those relationships may also be difficult.
I get that you want to collaborate and support your partner in his or her parenting, and you want to co-parent effectively. It’s complicated.
As a stepmom, I’ve experienced the trials (and joys) first hand, the complexities of co-parenting when you don’t always have alignment with biological parent(s), and supporting a spouse who is making parenting decisions through a thick veil of guilt. I’ve studied the subject and lived it. Here’s some of the books I’ve collected over the years.
And to be clear, my personal experience doesn’t make me a coach. It gives me perspective on the subject. When we work together in a coaching relationship, my questions, and our conversation is based on established coaching techniques. You can read more about my coaching background here. I am certified at the PCC level with the ICF, the most prestigious and impactful global coaching organization.
Coaching Intro Session
Are You Really Dakota Johnson‘s Stepmom Coach?
Oy with this story! Short answer: no. But boy has this story helped me develop empathy for the pain that those in the public eye must feel when falsified stories take flight. This is a false story.
I am a stepmom coach; I’ve never worked with Dakota Johnson.
In May 2019, I received a call from a reporter who wrote for Grazie. Dakota Johnson had been seen with Apple Martin (Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter), and people were all atwitter. Conscious uncoupling, as a concept, had been a buzz – and this next development must be equally well thought out, no?
I am guessing that the reporter did a quick search for Stepmom Coach and found me, thanks to Google. She asked me about my practice, asked me if I was coaching Ms. Johnson (I assured her I was not), and this story was written.
It said that I would not confirm that I was working with Ms. Johnson when in fact I denied it. This led to stories in Portuguese, Italian and Spainish papers that enthusiastically claimed I was working with Ms. Johnson.
Luckily, this piqued the interest of the London Times, who wrote a wonderful piece about stepparenting, and included me in it.
This led to a Monday morning appearance on Good Morning Britain, and a couple weeks later this appearance on Australian television, with the requisite wicked stepmother reference.
Man, I chuckled watching that Cinderella bit. In my home it’s more like, “Have you studied for the ACTs, are you ready for crew practice, what does your college list look like?” Drapes my arse.
So that’s the story. When the Times piece came out, I shared it with my stepdaughter (she gave me prior approval to use her name). When I left in the wee hours to do the British morning news show, she left this letter for me on the kitchen counter:
I’m bragging and it’s true. She’s seen my struggle, and it means the world that she roots me on as I do my best. Sure, I make my share of mistakes, but wholeheartedly try to be the best stepparent I can be.
Is Steplove Possible?
Recently, we’ve been exploring questions of gender identity, gender fluidity and gender non-binaryness in our home. Welcome to the new generation. I’m an eager student of the topic, and my stepchild is my teacher. There is a lot to learn.
We’ve been discussing the notion of rejecting gender-specific words, and I suggested we find a new word for stepmom. I do identify as a woman, but the notion of a stepmom sort of puts us into conflict with biological moms, AKA real moms. Amiright? I’m okay with the step (as in, stepping up), so I call into question the mom (vs mom) dynamic.
My stepdaughter suggested the following: Steplove. I gave her the biggest hug when she shared this idea. How great is that? Instead of stepmom, stepdad, stepkid – it’s not about our gender, it’s about this unique relationship. Filled with love and possibility. Instead of making it about our parental gender (and all the awkward assumptions of motherhood and stepmotherhood), we remove the gender and find a new word to describe the unique relationship we choose to have.
Rethinking and reframing assumptions is central to coaching. So many assumptions and biases are implied with the word and role of stepmom; coaching is a place for us to reorient, and rewrite the rules with respect to our own values.
A Word On Your Relationship With Your Partner
When I was a child, and the divorce rate was over 50%, the prevailing divorce wisdom was “children come first”. It’s often the prevailing wisdom in raising children.
And then the airlines helped us shift out philosophy, as in “Put the oxygen mask on yourself, first.” In stepparenting, as it is on Delta: Take care of yourself, and then you can take care of those who depend on you.
That goes for you, and your relationship. You didn’t enter this relationship thinking that it would implode. And yet, 70% of second marriages with children from a prior marriage end in divorce in the first five years. If you can get past that five year mark, your stats flip; you’re more likely to stay married than even those blissed out couples without exes and steps.
So in those first few years, taking care of yourself and your relationship is paramount. I often recommend that my clients start couples therapy with their partner; sequentially or in parallel with our coaching.
Second marriages with kids from a prior marriage is to first marriages without kids what double black diamond skiing is to the bunny slope. If you start with that much complexity, it’s best to do it with a guide.
It’s hard. And you can do it. Get the support you need to do it right.
Ready To Get Started?
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Times available (ET): Daytime: Monday-Friday: 7AM, 8:15AM, 9:30AM, 10:45AM, noon and 1:15PM. Evening: Monday-Wednesday: 6:30PM and 7:40PM.