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Navigating Your New Role as a Stepparent with Jean McBride

Being a stepparent is tricky. How do you get involved in your stepchildren’s lives without overstepping? How do you go about disciplining a stepchild? How do you approach the holidays? Stepfamilies do have their benefits but taking on the role of a stepparent is never going to be easy. On the bad days, it can feel like you ‘set your hair on fire, and you’re trying to put it out with a hammer.’

Jean McBride is a marriage and family therapist in Northern Colorado who has helped more than 20,000 families navigate divorce. She has spent the past 11 years specializing in post-divorce relationships, which encompasses parenting during and after divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies. Jean serves as a divorce coach trained in the Collaborative Divorce model as well as a speaker and consultant in the area of divorce and remarriage. She is the author of Encouraging Words for New Stepmothers and Talking to Children About Divorce.

Today, Jean joins Katherine to share her take on why the role of stepmother is the most complex. She explains the difference in societal expectations for mothers and fathers, discussing how those expectations impact stepmoms and stepdads. Jean walks us through some of the common mistakes made by new stepparents and the ongoing discussion a new couple should have with regard to parenting. Listen in to understand the concept of diplomacy within a stepfamily and learn how to approach the holidays in a way that makes everyone feel welcome and equal.


The complexity of taking on the role of stepmother

The challenge for stepmothers to be involved without overstepping

Jean’s advice for new stepparents

  • Take it slow
  • Let biological parent lead

Why it can be simpler for stepfamilies if both adults have children

How the societal expectations for fathers impact stepdads

The common mistakes made by stepfathers

The ongoing discussion a new couple should have about parenting

  • Expectations
  • Parenting style
  • Communication
  • Discipline

The concept of diplomacy within a stepfamily

How to make stepchildren feel welcome during the holidays

The value in establishing new holiday traditions

Mixing biological and stepparents at holiday celebrations

Jean’s guidance for stepfamilies

  • Manage expectations
  • Get help (i.e.: books, online resources, life coach)


Jean’s Website


Encouraging Words for New Stepmothers by Jean A. McBride

Talking to Children About Divorce: A Parent’s Guide to Healthy Communication at Each Stage of Divorce by Jean McBride


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