An Open Letter To Jada Pinkett Smith

By

Jada Pinkett Smith
Stepmothers don't need to be told to "woman up." What they need is the support of other women.

Because you didn't share your friend's laments and your admonitions to her became generalized to all stepmothers (or else why would you post this so publicly?), I do have some questions for you: Do you really believe shouting at someone to "woman up" is helpful? Do you really think it was productive to remind them they "chose" a man with children from a previous relationship so therefore a stepmom must essentially put up or shut up?

The advice you gave your friend is a great example of the unrealistic expectations that are imposed on so many well-intentioned, good-hearted stepmothers. In reality, stepmothers have far less power than most would assume. The success of "blending" any family has much more to do with the attitudes of the husband and the ex-wife than the stepmother.

Did you know the divorce rate for remarriages with children is at a whopping 62-70 percent? Did you know that most stepfamilies take years (four to six) before family members even begin to feel comfortable with one another, let alone love one another? Did you know that research shows that only about 20 percent of adult stepchildren report positive feelings about their stepmothers, despite the years of effort and kindness so many of them have shown their stepchildren? Have you acknowledged that there may have been other factors to your success in "blending" your family that others aren't as fortunate enough to have e.g money, other willing adults, luck)? Do you really think that stepmothers need to be reminded that stepfamilies are hard?

The number one declaration that stepcouples, and especially stepmothers tell me is, "We/I had no idea it would be this hard!" While you seem to acknowledge how difficult combining families can be, your solutions seem to rest solely on the shoulders of the stepmother. This is just naïve, simplistic and contrary to research and clinical experience on stepfamily success.

I wonder if you would feel differently if you'd spent the thousands of hours I've spent in the company of earnest and loving stepmothers who have given themselves to the point of becoming sacrificial lambs in order to make their "blended" families and marriages work. While doing this, many stepmothers are continually met with resentment and outright hostility from their partner's children and ex-spouse.

Would you tell a woman she must love the mother of her stepchildren who has dragged her through court, falsely accused her of being abusive, told lies about her and disrespected her time with her partner with constant texts, emails and shocking intrusions into her home? Keep reading ...

This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission.
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