Mama J on January 7th, 2010

Happy 2010 to all! I don’t always do New Year’s resolutions but a firm one I have this year is to publish Stepparenting the Grieving Child in book form. Check out the preview audio to this book here at my website. This material is still the only dedicated resource for stepparents living with children whose parent has died or disappeared.

If any of you would like to share your perspectives  (anonymously) in this book, I will be adding even more stepparent stories and quotes to the book in the next several months. Watch this blog for the topics about which I’m collecting your comments.


Right now I’d love to know more about what makes your stepfamily communication more successful.

  • What makes communication more easy or more challenging in your family?
  • How much do you, the stepparent, get involved in communication with your stepkids?
  • Do you hold family meetings? If so, what do you think makes those successful?
  • What are some ways you vary your communication style based on the personality you are working with?

If you are interested in helping other stepparents by documenting your wisdom,  contact me at

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado. Her audio and book, Stepparenting the Grieving Child, offer insights to help stepparents make sense of living with a child whose parent has died or disappeared. Read about the book contents and sample the audio at

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Mama J on December 9th, 2009

audio-buttonI am so thrilled today to share with you that my audio preview is live and ready for your prime time listenership!  This is the first dedicated resource I know of for stepparents coming into a family where a parent has died. In today’s post I also inform you about a few other stepparenting and family resources.    

For the last year, many of you have expressed interest in the questions raised while stepparenting a child who has lost a parent. I have appreciated and really benefited from your support and your comments.

Now, in addition to browsing this blog, you can download a free audio preview to my Stepparenting the Grieving Child book. Enjoy a sample of the conversation I had with talk-show host Barbara Bue at KRFC radio in Colorado by clicking here. The full audio interview touches on many insights about stepparenting when a parent has died. You’ll take in some characteristics of a stepparent’s transition from fantasy to reality, as well as perspectives on the role of the surviving parent and the rhythms of stepfamily living. None of the books I’ve found on the market today focus in on the needs of stepparents in this particular situation, so I would love feedback on what you find valuable about this material.

A technical sidenote: Internet Explorer is the most reliable browser by which to download the audio samples. I will write up another post this week with commentary on navigating Mozilla Firefox, which poses a few additional challenges in downloading.

And now, for something totally different….


I received a comment on my blog from Joel Schwartzberg, who has written The 40-Year-Old Version: A Humoirs of a Divorced Dad. Joel says, “To my delight, the book has been extremely well received by stepmother writers and bloggers including Izzy Rose, Wednesday Martin, Jennifer Newcomb Marine, and Jacqueline Fletcher. Many consider it an entertaining and uniquely meaningful holiday gift for a remarried dad.”  We all know someone who can benefit from the lighter side of family dynamics…check out Joel’s website to learn more about the author and his book.


Pastor and Successful Stepfamily founder Ron Deal has published a new book with co-author Laura Petherbridge, The Smart Stepmom.  This book is a follow-on to Ron’s earlier book, The Smart Stepfamily.


The author of A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom, Jacqueline Fletcher, is offering personalized coaching for stepmoms. Jacque says, “I have developed my own brand of coaching that is based on support, education, and inspiration. I loosely follow the Co-Active Coaching model created by the Coaches Training Institute with a dash of the Positive Psychology methods developed by Dr. Barbara Frederickson. Then I throw in research-based information mixed with the kitchen-table wisdom I’ve gathered from my interviews over the last six years.”

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent based in Northern Colorado. Sample her work at

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Mama J on December 2nd, 2009

I was struck, during and after my recent interview with Barbara Bue of KRFC radio, by how little she and I knew about each other and yet how much we had in common as stepmoms. As we are diving headlong into the holiday season, I’m advocating a little reminder to all stepparents to seek out constructive support. This can be with other stepparents, with whom we seem to have instant camaraderie. The only caution I hold dear is not to be pulled down into a whine fest (a wine fest might be OK in moderation, however). I hold out the hope that when stepparents support and mentor other stepparents, we attempt to keep our kvetching to a minimum and instead really problem solve and get productive suggestions flowing.

Another great source of support during the holiday season is the general universe of other parents. Why? I call it a reality check. I can’t tell you the number of times I have…well, whined 🙂  a little about a situation or relationship with my stepchildren, only to have someone who has never had stepchildren turn around and say, “My son or daughter does that too!” Two distinct examples I recall are when my tween stepdaughter asked me to stop walking to school with her, and when my elementary-school stepson wouldn’t finish his homework for me. Some issues are just not stepfamily issues, and I think it’s healthy to recognize we don’t have to make every challenge in the stepfamily a stepmountain!

Keep that close to your heart as you snowball toward your holiday celebrations, especially during the inevitable stressful times that peak and valley throughout the season.

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado. The preview audio to her book, Stepparenting the Grieving Child, goes live in seven days at

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Mama J on November 4th, 2009

I am just so excited to report that I’ve just recorded the Stepparenting the Grieving Child audio with interviewer Barbara Bue of KRFC Radio.  Barb herself is a stepparent and was intensely interested in my information, which makes both sides of the interview commentary very engaging.

You can expect to hear about three distinct phases of stepfamily formation, intertwined with questions and answers about how the experiences of bereaved children are different than those in a divorce situation. We also cover one of my favorite topics, the role of the surviving parent, as well tips for how to relationship-build with a grieving child.

I will have a free clip of this audio up on my website before the Christmas holiday, so no pun intended but stay tuned for more information about how to access the clip and purchase the segments. 

In other stepparenting news this week, what do you do with a young adult that seems stuck?  My 21-year-old stepson seems unable to make much positive change in his life right now, and I blew off some frustration about this to my husband this morning. If he weren’t living in our basement I probably wouldn’t be so close to the scenario. We are attempting to sort out how much of his inertia is because of his grieving issues, and then weighing impossible questions like, “which is more valuable right now…relationship building or a kick in the pants?”  Tough questions all around, and at the moment I am devoid of answers.

Any one care to offer a perspective?

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado. Check out her website,, to keep posted on her book and preview audio for Stepparenting the Grieving Child.

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Mama J on October 28th, 2009

I don’t get a lot of messages from readers who are thinking about becoming a stepparent.  Most of us already are.

One message I received this past summer was indeed from a divorced woman with a nine-year-old son who has been dating a widow of four years with three children (two of whom are teenagers).  I wanted to share some of her quotes because I was struck by how much thought she had given the topic of blending families.  I, on the other hand, was in the school of “jump in and keep your head above water.”

“The one thing I have come to realize recently is that I will never be their mother or even a stand in,” she says. “When we first started dating, the woman in me thought I would be able to rescue them from a life without a mother and I would be able to fix this situation, of course, naive on my part.  So I’m in a stage right now of processing what my life will be like when we are blended and I want to take the right steps and be prepared mentally as much as I can, though in saying that I know nothing will prepare me for the change in my life.”

Does anyone have feedback for this stepparent-to-be as she does her research and education?  I told her I thought she was right on track, and that her good intuition would serve her well into the blending process. 

Here’s to continued learning about stepfamilies and to the love we share within them!

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado, USA. Check out her website at News on the preview audio for Stepparenting the Grieving Child coming within two weeks!

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Mama J on October 28th, 2009

Reality has set in — I have not been able to increase my billable hours and keep up the same blog schedule I started one year ago. Since I am a writer, I am almost constantly on the computer and even one extra hour of putting my eyes to the screen is just overstrain. Most Wednesdays I will still blog about stepparenting issues or capture stepparenting discussions! In between Wednesdays I will just have to say, “who knows?” for now. Before we all know it, I hope to again be passing along great information about raising girls of all ages. — Mama J

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Mama J on October 14th, 2009

In doing research for one of my writing projects, I became inspired by this quote:

“The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” — Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychotherapist, author, and Holocaust survivor

These powerful words remind us that every day we are in charge of our attitudes and behaviors.  I think what the recent discussions about selfish stepparenting have yielded for me is a message:  Choose love.  Choosing love will always work for the greater good of your stepfamily.

What choices don’t work in stepfamilies?

  • Choosing power.
  • Choosing control.
  • Choosing the family role “the kids need.”
  • Choosing to find fault.
  • Choosing isolation from the family.
  • Choosing to dwell on immediate gratification.

Make it a great week — it’s up to you!

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado.  Read about her book project, Stepparenting the Grieving Child, at



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Mama J on September 30th, 2009

Now that I have your attention, here’s what I really think about the continued comments I’m receiving on my Selfish Stepparenting? post:  They are poignant, revealing, and I think important to the types of dialogues we have and continue to have in and about stepfamilies.  These comments raise some provocative questions, such as:  What does a child most need from his/her stepparent?  Can or should the love between stepparent and stepchild be compared with the love between bio parent and child?  Is zigzag evolution a real, felt dynamic in stepfamilies?

I hope you post your comments, or if you don’t want to go public, send me e-mail at

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado.  Check out her book project, Stepparenting the Grieving Child, at  Coming Soon:  News on the preview audio!


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Mama J on September 23rd, 2009
Here's what our family did on Saturday the 19th :-)

Here's what our family did on Saturday the 19th 🙂

We had a great time taking family pictures at the Colorado State University Gardens, except when young Amy got stung by a bee!  After a short break she was a trooper and continued snapping multiple poses. 

No one but me was keeping track of the connection with National Stepfamily Day…but the word is growing! 

Have a great week and I’ll be back next week with a new series of stepfamily ponderings. 

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado.  Check out her book project, Stepparenting the Grieving Child, at


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Mama J on September 16th, 2009

Wow, it’s here!  September 16 is National Stepfamily Day (NSD), and now there is quite the buzz about trying to make this day International Stepfamily Day.  I have always noticed through my stepfamily research that the countries of Canada, the UK, Australia, and Japan have active stepfamily associations.  Canada and the UK already recognize Stepfamily Day.  Does anyone know of any other countries that stand out for providing stepfamily resources?

Last week, I provided a list of ideas for stepfamilies to celebrate NSD.  I am happy to report that our family is pulling together a family picture and ice cream this Saturday. 

This week I thought I’d share with you the NSD proclamation, also available on the NSD website.  Read these words today and be proud that you are part of or affiliated with a stepfamily/stepfamilies!


Whereas, National Stepfamily Day is enhanced by our strong commitment to support the stepfamilies of our nation in their mission to raise their children, create strong family structures to support the individual members of the family, instill in them a sense of responsibility to all extended family members.

Whereas, approximately half of all Americans are currently involved in some form of stepfamily relationship and it is the vision of Michigan’s Christy Borgeld that all stepfamilies in the United States be accepted, supported, and successful.

Whereas, our nation has been blessed by thousands upon thousands of loving stepparents and stepchildren who are daily reminders of the joy, trials, and triumphs of the stepfamily experience and of the boundless love contained in the bond between all types of parents and children.

Whereas, National Stepfamily Day is a day to celebrate the many individual contributions stepfamilies have made to enriching the lives and life experience of the children and parents of America and to strengthening the fabric of American families and society.

Mama J is a writer, parent, and stepparent in Northern Colorado.  Stay tuned for information on the preview audio to her book, Stepparenting the Grieving Child.  Learn more about this book project by clicking 


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