Being a stepparent is an adjustment, and people in the role need a place to talk about it openly, get advice and feel supported.
That's the idea behind the Step Parent Support Group in Oakland County. Jessica Duffey of Farmington, whose boyfriend has a 5-year-old son, started the group because, when you become a stepparent, "Love and responsibility and time are divvied up differently than you're accustomed to," she explains.
And information isn't as handily available as you might think. As Duffey puts it, "'Parenting books' are a dime a dozen, but 'stepparenting'?" Her searches came up dry. "I can't name one cartoon stepparent," she adds.
So, by forming a support network, stepmoms and stepdads – step-boyfriends or girlfriends, too, like Duffey – both new and experienced can communicate and share experiences and advice with others who know those difficulties. She considers it a "circle of people who understand how you feel."
"We all bring our own stuff to the table; our own fears and insecurities," Duffey says. She wants to foster a forum where people can discuss how to handle their actions, words and even internal processing – all in a way that hits home and resonates with stepparents who are in the mix.
In-person meetings, which occur once a month, include Meet-n-Greet openers, "Word Vomit!" (a chance for everyone to "get something off their chest"), a breathing exercise and a discussion, where members place questions in a jar, and they're answered by the group.
The SPPG Facebook wall (its security is set to "secret") furthers that mission. It posts "jar questions" that weren't addressed in the previous meeting, book reviews and shares member's "Tender Moments" on the home front.
Duffy adds the group provides "a great opportunity to relieve stresses and regain control of our emotions." As her mission statement puts it, "With an open mind and an open heart, I believe that we could all contribute to, and take a lot from, this support group."
The group meets 7-8 p.m. the first Monday of every month at the Farmington Hills Community Library, located at 32737 W. 12 Mile Road. For more information, visit the Step Parent Support Group Facebook page or email them at email@example.com.