• A Stepmother’s Legacy Found in a Starbucks Coffee

  • stepmother, stepmom, stepfamily, divorce, remarriage, stepchildren

    Starbucks is More Than a Cup of Coffee.
    What Do You Stand For?

    Have you ever thought about what is truly galvanizing you towards your life’s legacy?  I was moved to think about this question as I watched Oprah interview Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks.  Starbucks provides an aggressive benefits package for its employees that work 20 hours or more per week.  How great is that?  (As a side note, isn’t it interesting that the people that greet you at Starbucks are always pleasant? Hmmm….)  Here is their policy:

    Benefits-eligible partners (those working 20 or more hours a week) can get a wide range of perks, benefits and assistance. Your Special Blend might include bonuses, 401(k) matching and discounted stock purchase options. We offer adoption assistance and health coverage for you and your dependents, including domestic partners. ~ Starbucks

    When I read this policy, I thought, “Why would a big company be so kind? Aren’t they being pressured about their bottom line?”  Then, Mr. Schultz told Oprah about his childhood.  He said that he lived in the projects and had watched his father struggle to find work at  low-paying jobs and.  His dad was working for a diaper delivery company when he slipped on some ice and was injured.  The company fired his dad.   He spent his childhood watching his family struggle without health care while his father worked in jobs that were hard and demeaning.  He vowed that he would never allow workers to face the kind of disrespect and shame that his dad had experienced.  Mr. Schultz felt the calling to form a company that his father never had a chance to work for:  a company that honored and respected its employees.

    I wondered.  What had happened in my life that would affect the way that I stepparent?  My first thought were my memories of racism that I had seen growing up.  As a young girl in the ’60s, I clearly remember how the African American people were treated with such disrespect.  I witnessed how they were treated as ‘less than’.  Even as I write these sentences, I can feel the same helpless feelings and shame.  I never wanted to see anyone treated with disrespect again.

    Who do we always see being abused in fairy tales and movies?  The stepchildren.  I vowed that I never wanted my stepchildren to feel “less than” in my home.  It is probably why I hate the question, “Do you love them the same as your bio child?”  I must say that I also do not want to see other family members treated with disrespect, including myself.  So, like Starbucks, the key is creating a culture based on your core beliefs.  At Starbucks, it is creating that space between home and work where people can connect and everyone is shown kindness and respect.  Starbucks represents an homage to Mr. Schultz’s father.

    What is your family’s core values?  If you asked your children that question, what would they say? Can you think of a childhood experience that has shaped your role as a stepmother?  I would love to hear your stories.

    All the best to you and your family,