Brain, Child magazine (www.brainchildmag.com) is looking to interview someone on the topic of stepfamilies--particularly, what happens when a parent and stepparent divorce.  Stepparents' rights movement as well as experiences of adults who were separated from stepparents and stepsiblings as children will be included, as well as former stepparents who have been denied relationships with the children they once shared a family--and often a home--with.
Please contact Meagan: meaganfrancis@yahoo.com if you'd like to share you story

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WIFE SWAP

"Wife Swap" is a family show on ABC  primetime. 

ABC Television is looking to feature families that are blended this season.  We're
talking about moms and dads who have brought the children from previous
relationships together as a family in their new relationship. We want to
show America that family is family, biological or not.

  The premise is simple:  two moms from two different families get
the opportunity to swap lives (but not bedrooms!) for a week to experience
what it's like to live a different lifestyle.  The goal is for the families
to be able to teach each other about their lifestyles.


When a family participates, their values are a big part of the program. The
family relationship and the families ethics are what we want to showcase.

All featured families will receive a $20,000 financial honorarium!  And,
$1000 goes to anyone who refers a family that makes it on the show!  We are
looking for two parent families with children (ages 5 and older who still
live in the home) who are ready for adventure. 
Please contact  Cat Martinez
Cat.Martinez@rdfusa.com
 

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The CoMamas are pleased and honored to have been asked again to be judges the 2006 Books for a Better Life Award

The New York City Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s “Books for a Better Life” recognizes the authors and publishers of the best self-improvement books of the year.

Since the Books for A Better Life Awards program was created and chaired by publishing industry executive and longtime Chapter volunteer Scott Manning in 1996, more than 180 authors have been honored.  This highly regarded event has raised more than $750,000 for the fight against multiple sclerosis, while raising awareness for both MS and for the importance of self-improvement books in everyday life. 

The 2004 Books for a Better Life awards will take place on February 23, 2004 in New York City.  For more information and to purchase tickets, contact Carol Carbonetti at ccarbonetti@msnyc.org or (212) 463-7787.

             


  Other-Woman Stepmoms
After her divorce Debi Levenson, at right, had to learn to get along with Monika Levenson, second from left, who married her ex-husband. She says she did it for the sake of the children, Jessica, far left, and Brittany. (ABCNEWS.com)
Getting Along:
Mom and Stepmom Find a Way to Cope 

ABCNEWS.com

Sept. 16 — When Debi and Jeff Levenson first got married, she thought she had met the man of her dreams. They had a fairy-tale wedding and two beautiful children.

But after 12 years of marriage, things went drastically wrong, and the suburban San Diego couple was left on the brink of divorce. 

Eleven months after his divorce was finalized, Jeff married Monika, fueling a fire that had been raging for years.

Most Second Marriages Involve Children

More than 50 percent of marriages in this country end in divorce, and 65 percent of remarriages involve children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the anger and sadness that accompany a breakup are compounded when the "other woman" becomes the "other mom..

Jeff Levenson said he finally decided to leave Debi because of the children.

"It got to the point where finally I felt that I would be better if I moved out because there was a lot of arguing, and we were fighting and I felt that that was being destructive to our family," Jeff said.

Their daughters, Jessica and Brittany, who were 7 and nearly 6 at the time, noticed it too. Six years after the divorce, the painful memories linger.

"They'd always yell at each other," said Jessica, now 14. "I'd be, 'Why are you guys yelling? You're supposed to be happy. You're supposed to be OK.' I just remember her [Debi] being really upset and her crying a lot."

"I remember when we were little, every time we'd go to Dad's, Jess would always cry," said Brittany, now 13. "Because she didn't like the separation."

Jessica said she blamed herself for her parents' problems.

"In the beginning, I thought it was all my fault," she said. "I really thought, I was like, 'OK, I did something. It was all me. It was my grades, it was something.' I thought I did it. Like I put all of the blame on myself."

Stepping Into Chaos

Monika Levenson says she knew from the beginning that she was stepping into a difficult situation, and she was worried about what Jeff's children would think of her.

"It's very challenging to come in as that third person and [wonder], 'Are the kids going to like me, how is the ex-wife going to treat me or accept me?' " she said. "That part's challenging."

Jeff Levenson acknowledges the children sometimes got caught in the middle.

"As much as we wanted to say at the time that we were not putting the kids in the middle, they were smack dab in the middle every single day, defending the territory on either side of the fence," he said. "Looking back on it, it was horrible."

Finding Common Ground

Seven years after the divorce, and after many years of animosity, Debi and Monika Levenson, have forged a relationship that is both cooperative and respectful.

The Levensons credit an organization called CoMamas. Thanks to the organization's online advice, seminars and the book Stepwives, the family was able to turn the page and write a new chapter in their lives.

"Last year we had a bat mitzvah for my daughters," Debi Levenson said. "And Monika and I were able to communicate and work together into making this big event for the girls."

The bat mitzvah, a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony for girls, marked a major milestone for Jessica and Brittany and for their parents, who now realize the keys to successful co-parenting. Most important, put the kids first.

The two mothers — mom and stepmom — and Jeff Levenson now attend birthday parties, school concerts and sporting events together, thanks to the critical changes they've made in their relationships.

The rules include: no bad-mouthing; respect rules and routines; and empathize, don't judge. But with all their advances, there's still some emotional territory left to navigate when it comes to one special day: Mother's Day.

"It is a very sensitive topic," Debi said. "And I don't know that I ever will want to share Mother's Day with her."

Jessica says that there should be a day to honor stepparents.

" Because they do a lot, whether people want to admit it or not," she said.

Jeff Levenson says he hopes the family can agree on a way to honor his current wife as a mother, too.

"It is important that Monika has her day and I have a feeling Debi thinks it's important for Monika to have her day — it just can't be on Mother's Day at this time," he said. "Who knows what the future holds, but it could you know, the way things are going, it could change."

Learning to Get Along

You may think the relationship between those involved in two sides of a divorce is so toxic that they can never speak to each other, but never say never, says Ann Pleshette Murphy, Good Morning America's parenting contributor.

The Levensons managed to do it, and other families can, too.

Here are Murphy's tips:

Put the Children First: Children cannot be made to feel that they are go-betweens, or allies of the mother or the father. Their role is to be the children, not the adults.

No Bad-Mouthing: Everytime you say something negative or hurtful about your former spouse, you are essentially criticizing half of your child. If you criticize the stepparent, it makes the child feel guilty for liking him or her.

Rules and Routines: In any divorce situation, it's the little things that count. Do sweat the small stuff. Make sure the children always know where they are spending the holidays and who will be at their softball games. Each household can set its own rules, but one household should not cast the rules of the other household in a bad light or try to create conflict. There has to be respect on each side for how the other household is run.

Empathize, Don't Judge: Listening is the most important part of communication. Acknowledge what your ex-spouse or the stepparent is saying, and truly listen to where they are coming from.

Make Time for Yourself: Just because the children come first, that doesn't mean you come last. Take time to pamper yourself.

You can find more advice and resources at comamas.com.

Teresa Novellino, ABCNEWS.com

 

We are proud to announce that STEPWIVES was a finalist in the 2002 Books for a Better Life Award:

Since the Books for a Better Life awards program began in 1996, more than 167 authors in the self-improvement genre have been honored and helped raise more than $400,000 for the fight against multiple sclerosis. This event recognizes the authors and publishers of the best self-help books of the preceding year. The concept for Books for a Better Life was born six years ago with the intention of giving credit to a group of authors, often overlooked, who have impacted the last half of the 20th century more than any other group of writers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Mother magazine is the only magazine written exclusively for women who combine career and family 

Pick up the February issue of Working Mother Magazine and read what The CoMamas have to say about the issues plaguing working mothers and stepmothers (stepwives). 

 



The CoMamas are not licensed psychologists. Dr. Krausz is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist in California and a licensed psychologist in Texas. CoMamas workshops, emails, consultations and/or coaching is not intended to replace traditional therapy, but is based on the program developed by the CoMamas and Dr. Krausz and the book, STEPWIVES.
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