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StepMom Support Groups, Why You Should Join!

I’ve led stepmother support groups for about 15 years now. Just when I think I’ve heard it all, someone new joins up with the tale that takes the cake. Professionals will tell you that support groups are good for the soul: you realize you’re not crazy and you realize you’re not alone. While these are true and reason enough to join a group, there’s a dirty little secret about support groups which I’ll let you in on now because you are fellow stepmoms and there is a big place for you in heart: support groups are also wonderful because there’s always someone in it who has it worse than you.

Think your husband’s ex is bad? In a support group, you’ll probably wind up thinking yours is more than alright. Take “Claw,” for example, the moniker that one veteran stepmom in one of my groups used for her husband’s ex. Claw apparently had taken to having her children phone after every single mealtime at their dad’s house to find out what their stepmom was serving them. She even bought her 10-year-old daughter a cell phone so she could check up on what they ate while camping. This went on for years. After each phone call with their mom, the children would diligently and disdainfully report back to their stepmom how each meal she had made failed to pass muster.

Then there was “Facelift,” who—you guessed it—saved up a year’s worth of child support for cosmetic surgery and then refused to pay her portion of the kids’ orthodontics bills, claiming poverty.

Or “Uncle’s Girl,” who—can you guess?—left her hubby for his brother, and when she had the kids every other weekend at the uncle’s home wanted them to them call him dad.

Or “Shrew,” who sent back the kids every other week without any of the clothes they had come with. And kept them there permanently.

Some of the stepmoms developed unique responses to the trials and tribulations of stepmothering. One woman—a bright, competent career woman who married at 35 and inherited three rowdy stepkids—wound up leaving the house for 48 hours every other weekend for five years when the children came for visitation.

Another was so angry at her husband for paying so much child support when the ex refused to look for a job that she, the stepmom, had an in-ground swimming pool installed in their backyard without discussing it with him.

Still, another ate her food in her bedroom whenever the stepkids came over for dinner because her husband failed to stop them from chewing with their mouths open.

Then there are the “stepkids from hell” you get to hear about each week, the kids who make yours seem like little darlings. One 14-year-old delighted his stepmom one morning by offering her a cup of coffee. What she discovered upon taking a sip was that he had poured some noxious substance into it. It turned out to be bleach.

Another had to take to hiding her expensive make-up, shampoo and cream rinse in the glove compartment of her car to avoid searching for it daily somewhere in the teenage stepdaughter’s bedroom.

Another’s stepdaughter, husband and baby moved in with her and refused to help with housework or cooking because they were too tired to even do their own laundry. Even to clean up after meals. Her husband sided with his daughter.

Apparently, lots of husbands did. One let his teenage daughter walk around the house in her underwear because he wanted her to feel at home when she came for visitation. Another allowed his teenaged sons to have their girlfriends sleep over in their bedrooms for the same reason. Several husbands insisted the divorce was so hard on his children, they shouldn’t have to do chores when they came to visit. One gave the keys to the stepmom’s new sports car to his son when he had just gotten his permit without consulting her. His excuse? “You two haven’t been getting along, and I wanted him to feel you love him,” the father explained.

Some husbands showed great loyalty to the ex. One such man would get up in the middle of a household fix-it project to go over his exes and fix something in her house. This went on for years. Another ran over there whenever his ex was going through a breakup and let her cry on his shoulder. Once, he even missed a dinner date with his new wife because of just such a cry fest. One husband had a spiritual epiphany one day and decided he wanted to work on becoming a more generous person. So what did he do? He doubled his child support payments to his ex without informing his new wife.

I could go on and on. One eight-week group continued for another eight-week session and wound up lasting three years. Women who have met in these groups remain friends years later. Some of the families have broken up. Most have stayed together.

My advice to you? Join a stepmother support group. You’ll make friends and see how great your life is, in comparison.

For more on this subject go to www.stepmommag.com

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