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Stepmother’s Bill of Rights Redux

December 3, 2010

Back in February of 2007, I posted a Stepmother’s Bill of Rights. It still gets the most consistent hits of any post I’ve ever done. I’m guessing those hits are coming from Stepmoms who are feeling devalued and are looking for empowerment.

When I first read that version, almost four years ago, I felt a lot the same. In the years since then, I have learned a lot about stepfamilies, about how they function, about my role as a Stepmom, wife, and mother on this crazy ride we call Blended Family.

The original Stepmother’s Bill of Rights addressed many of the issues that we Stepmoms face, but for me it seemed to leave out a huge part of the picture. If you are a Stepmom, that means that you married a man with children who are not biologically yours. You are living in a marriage relationship (or committed relationship), in a family setting–just with different dynamics than an “intact” (I abhor that comparison, by the way — anyone have a better one?) family.

Helen Keller
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

In a family setting, can you really have a creed that is just about you?

I don’t really think so.

So I revamped.

The desire for love, respect, and belonging were clearly the foundation of the original, and those items are still of utmost importance. It just seems to me that it should be a Stepfamily Bill of Rights, or a Blended Family Bill of Rights–one that applies to all of the members of your family, with you and your spouse at the top of the heap.

Respect is not given, it’s earned. And love is built on a foundation of respect and trust. So everyone needs to be on the same page in order for any of it to work. I like the idea of having this be a Family Motto kind of thing, posted on the fridge, clear to everyone.

This is my stab at it:

Blended Family Bill of Rights

  • Making our marriage solid is healthy for everyone in our family. That means that our marriage relationship comes first.
  • We share equally in making ALL decisions, including decisions regarding visitation, extracurricular activites, and anything else that might impact our schedules and/or obligations.
  • Because we are blended, sometimes there are demands on our family made by people who are not part of our family. We agree to weigh these demands together and respond to them together. We agree that neither of us is obligated to meet any outside demand without expressed consent.
  • Establishing relationship with children in a blended family setting can sometimes be challenging. Working towards a loving relationship with all of our children is always the goal, and to attain that goal reasonable boundaries need to be set and enforced. We will work together to set reasonable and consistent boundaries for ALL of our children, communicate those boundaries clearly, and support each other fully in the enforcement of those boundaries.
  • In order to make sure that each family member feels accepted and respected, we will make sure that housework is divided evenly, chores are distributed fairly, and each person’s private space and possessions are respected–especially during times that any family member is not at home. We all agree not to take and/or use anyone’s private possessions without expressed consent.
  • None of us is less than or more than another. Our family is the sum of all of its parts and we agree to treat each other with respect, both in word and deed.

Michael Leunig
Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

What are your thoughts? What would you add or take away? What has worked in your family?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 12:34 pm

    I always advocate for what Gloria Linteman refers to as a family mission statement. It’s very similiar to your Stepfamily Bill of Rights. In order to begin to gel as a family, i think every stepfamily should have one! A very wise stepchild told me recently that in order to work toward operating as a somewhat cohesive unit, it takes the participation of the parents AND the children. The Stepfamily Bill of Rights and/or a Family Mission Statement allows everyone’s voice to be heard. It allows everyone to feel included and most importantly, it requires everyone’s participation to make it happen.

    Thanks for this post!

    ~Kela

  2. December 6, 2010 5:16 pm

    I really like this….I think my stepkids would love it as well.

  3. bethany permalink
    May 7, 2012 2:14 pm

    I’m impressed, very well written. Feeling like all ours (family unit of dad with son marries mother with daughter) would read this week is “BOTH OF THE ADULTS ARE IN CHARGE.” And “NO KICKING OR HITTING!” I tell you what, it’d be easier on all of us if we could both enforce some discipline on stepkids without hearing, “you’re not my dad/mom!” Ugh.

Trackbacks

  1. Blended Family Bill of Rights (via In this house, I’m the Mama…) | Stepmum Of The Year

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