• Stepmother’s Lament: OMG! I’m a Nag!

  • stepmother, stepfamily, stepchildren, divorce, parenting, remarriage

    Stepmothers: Do You See Through a Positive or Negative Space?

    Do you recognize yourself? When was the last time you pointed out a negative characteristic of your partner?  Their ex wife?  Their children?  If you do not have to think very hard, this blog may be for you.

    Nagging.  By definition, nagging is the pointing out of negative qualities to someone.  It is the ultimate downer.  How would you like to have someone constantly pointing out your faults?  I bet that you can think of someone in your life that did this to you.  Mom?  Dad?  A Friend?  Is that a person that you long to be with?  Or, do you secretly or overtly avoid them?  Doesn’t it feel as if you can never make that person happy or be good enough?

    Then, why do we complain and nag? Nagging can be a natural result of the intense feeling of powerlessness.  We are so frustrated by the wrong that we see around us. We cannot stop talking.  We cannot stop talking when we are desperate for attention.  Any type of attention.  So, even though we know that our incessant complaining will result in an argument, the argument is better than totally being taken for granted.  Abraham Maslow, the well-known psychologist who specialized in studying humans’ innate needs said, “The person … will hunger for affectionate relationships with people in general for a place in the group.” You may be that stepmother longing for affection.

    I have big news for all stepmothers.  Nagging will not get us a place in the group.  In fact, it will take us longer to become a beloved member of the family.  The good news is there is a secret to the road to ‘beloved-ness’.

    Do the opposite of nagging. Have you ever heard artists teach drawing by looking at the negative space?  When we try to draw something, our natural instinct is to look at the white space.  Try drawing the dark space.  Drawing the negative space can be quite effective. It  is the same thing with our minds.  Our minds will instinctively pick out the negative characteristics of our family members.  Now, do not talk when you think you see something negative.  Only talk when you notice a positive behavior.  It can be the smallest of smallest of things.  Your teenager doesn’t do the laundry, but brings their clothes to the laundry room.  “Thank you for taking the clothes to the laundry room.  You saved me time.”  “Thank you for doing the dishes. I’ve had a long day.  It is so appreciated.”

    When you talk to your partner, point out their positive behaviors.  “Thank you for calling the kids’ mom today and getting a definitive schedule.  It really helps me and keeps me calm.”  “I’m so impressed that you gave the kids some boundaries.”

    In other words, reprogram your brain.  Only have your brain and ears and eyes notice the positive directions.  Try it.  Reinforce yourself.  For every time you notice and say something positive, give yourself points that you can invest in yourself.  I bet you see a positive change.  Let me know!