Recorded from Stepford, Vermont
The 2 Boomer Broads interview Stacey James Wheeler, author of Stepdad 101: What to Know Before You Marry a Single Mom.
We wanted to know how Stacey could speak to us as Boomers on the subject of being a step dad. Most of us are grandparents if we had children at all. Stacey says he’s darn near a Boomer, having been born in 1966. He was just off by a couple years.
We tested him by giving him names of people who defined the Baby Boomer generation and asked what they were known for. With the exception of one miss, he did pretty well.
His older siblings have been his Boomer influence. We decided to call him a Step Boomer.
Stacey says that the title of his book has received some push back from both males and females, however, he says it’s ultimately about the kids.
He works as a family dynamics researcher, couples coach, and family integration coach. His goal is to help step families learn to work together. Previous to becoming an author he worked in communications and with the film and TV industry.
Stacey says there’s a huge divorce rate in step families as well as other stressors. Men need to realize this and be ready. Some guys have no problem, but others, who are not prepared, find they can’t cope with the situation. A mom who wants the best for her kids will want a guy who is able to step up to the plate and work through the challenges.
Boomers are affected when a step parent is introduced to parent their grandchildren. They can help the family ease the transition to a new parent by working with the family to make sure they succeed. Grandparents generally hold a lot of sway over grandchildren.
Stacey’s book helps step parents work with the stresses that come with being a step parent such as dealing with the ex, etc. Often when a person becomes a step parent, the role isn’t specifically defined making it hard for the step parent to bond with the children. They have to sit down and be specific on what that means and how it will work with the marriage.
His advice varies depending on the age of the children. It’s usually easier to deal with very small children, but after they reach the age of 9 or 10 it usually becomes harder. The mom needs to have her new husband’s back to make this work.
Decide what you’re going to say when a kid pulls out the “You’re not my dad (mom)” thing. He suggests knowing specifically what to say and even suggests practicing it in front of a mirror.
Stacey went through many struggles as a step parent and learned from his mistakes. His wife didn’t support him because they didn’t have the conversations that they should have had at the beginning. The issues weren’t necessarily about the children. They included other factors.
Communication is huge in any relationship.
The idea for the book came after Stacey had a major fight with his wife. He refused to give up though. It lead him to starting his website www.stepdadding.com and writing.
The majority of step dads (81%) have never been fathers making it even harder to fit in. They are joining a family in progress with all their rules in place. The older the kids are the more embedded those rules are.
In Stacey’s case, he is no longer with his wife, but has created such a great relationship with his “kids” that his son is going to celebrate his 21st birthday in Las Vegas and both Stacey and the biological father will attend together.
Stacey is a big proponent of single moms because his mom raised her children as a single woman.
The kid’s interests always have to come first. Watching celebrities change relationships over and over with kids involved makes you wonder how those kids survive. Unfortunately, it seems to be the new normal.
When relationships break up, it’s often the grandparents (Baby Boomers) who have to help pick up the pieces and help with childcare.
Stacey says Boomers can make sure their “grownup” kids do their research about the challenges of step parenting so they will have the best possible outcome. It’s important to vet the prospective new parent in the family. Encourage all the parties involved to have the necessary conversations before the children are adversely affected.
If the prospective step parent runs, the bio mother (father) is doing their kids a favor.
Sometimes when parent’s split up and find a new relationship they are blinded by love, or “hypnotized.” The grandparent may see this and help the parent come to their senses.
It can be particularly hard for single moms to nix a new relationship because they carry such a huge load, even if it’s not in the best interest of their children.
Stacey’s first book was The Stepdad’s Guide to Resolving Family Conflict. It’s a guidebook for step families.
Some men have the idea that the woman’s kids will be out of the house soon and after that will no longer be a problem. The fact is, those kids will always be part of the mother’s life. If he thinks the kids will go POOF and disappear, he will be disappointed.
You can purchase both of Stacey’s books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and in bookstores.
Please also visit his website.
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