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Former Obama press secretary launches Sebelius Lecture Series -10/1/2014, 2:18 PM

Photographs of rural life in China on exhibit in FHSU's Memorial Union -10/1/2014, 10:32 AM

Encore Series to show Julie Fowlis -10/1/2014, 10:32 AM

The power of hedge apples stands strong through years -10/1/2014, 9:36 AM

Library to premiere short film about Hays Arts Council -9/30/2014, 12:11 PM

'The Equalizer' ends up in the green -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Fondue the perfect treat for party -9/30/2014, 9:08 AM

Clubs and meetings (Sept. 28, 2014) -9/28/2014, 3:37 PM

As winter wheat insurance deadline approaches, consider SCO -9/28/2014, 3:37 PM

Business Briefcase (Sept. 28, 2014) -9/28/2014, 3:37 PM

Huelskamp to host additional October town halls -9/26/2014, 4:32 PM

FHSU Theatre season premiers in October with 'Hello, Dolly!' -9/26/2014, 4:23 PM

American Democracy Project presents Ukraine series -9/26/2014, 3:46 PM

Black Madonna replica coming to Hays in October -9/26/2014, 10:10 AM

For 3rd year, FHSU makes national grouping of Lead Initiative civic engagement institutions -9/25/2014, 4:45 PM

Robots developed in France will enter curriculum for teaching, research -9/25/2014, 4:44 PM

FHSU Hispanic American Leadership Organization presents Antonio Neves -9/25/2014, 4:44 PM

Be aware to build an emergency fund -9/25/2014, 8:32 AM

Downs grad named RA at Cloud County -9/24/2014, 2:07 PM

Road project meeting planned in Norton -9/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Girl Scouts hosting free community event -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

Hays Symphony Orchestra to open 2014-15 music season -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

Students assemble for the 6th annual Poetry Slam -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

FHSU to host annual majors and graduate programs fair -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

Nation's largest taxpayer group honors Huelskamp -9/24/2014, 10:51 AM

Teach Ag Day celebrates opportunities -9/24/2014, 10:24 AM

HaysMed co-hosts summit on human trafficking -9/24/2014, 2:15 PM

American Farm Bureau Federation names Kansas lawmakers 'Friends of Farm Bureau' -9/24/2014, 10:24 AM

Looking to the past in dealing with the present, future -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Fun at the fair -- once again -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Nex-Tech Wireless to offer iPhone 6, iPhone6 Plus -9/23/2014, 11:11 AM

'This is Where I Leave You' leaves room for improvement -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Birthdays and gluten-free goodies -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Kansas Originals market plans Spirit of Kansas Festival -9/22/2014, 8:01 PM

Electric cars to test their endurance at the High Plains ElectroRally -9/22/2014, 12:06 PM

FHSU students can now earn a sustainability certificate -9/22/2014, 11:20 AM

Local students among 39 awarded for Hunter Scholarships at FHSU -9/22/2014, 11:19 AM

Peer pressure can play role in raising adolescents -9/22/2014, 8:45 AM

Business Briefcase (Sept. 21, 2014) -9/21/2014, 2:33 PM

FHSU one of 25 schools across the nation selected for 'hackathon' -9/19/2014, 3:55 PM

Cities to receive funding for road improvement projects -9/19/2014, 2:24 PM

Kansas Farm Bureau celebrates Farm Safety Week -9/19/2014, 2:15 PM

McDonald’s of WaKeeney invests in library -9/18/2014, 5:45 PM

State receives $3.5 million grant to reduce infant mortality -9/18/2014, 3:00 PM

Kansas highway system ranked 5th in national report -9/18/2014, 11:51 AM

Dixon joins FHSU with social media marketing as her mission -9/18/2014, 11:15 AM

In case of emergency, prepare a grab-and-go kit -9/18/2014, 9:08 AM

Birthday -9/18/2014, 9:07 AM

Association donates 105 car seats to KHP -9/18/2014, 4:50 PM

Kansas receives CDC funding to gather data -9/17/2014, 4:14 PM

Brownback orders flags lowered -9/17/2014, 11:08 AM

Life during retirement is still plenty busy -9/17/2014, 8:51 AM

Generations briefs (Sept. 17, 2014) -9/17/2014, 8:50 AM

Military marquee -9/17/2014, 12:00 PM

'No Good Deed?' More like, 'No good, dude' -9/16/2014, 9:38 PM

Delta Zeta Turtle Tug: Tug your heart out -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art hosts exhibitions throughout the year -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Moran names service academy selection board -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Department of Informatics offers a new concentration in health informatics -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Magician on this season's 'America's Got Talent' will perform on the FHSU campus -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Parenting adolescents takes many twists, turns -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

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Capital investments for cow-calf enterprises in profitable times -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

Business briefcase (Sept. 14, 2014) -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

Stork club -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

Hays Recreation Commission calendar -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

The Paradox of the cross -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

Halls of ivy -9/11/2014, 2:16 PM

Local celebs to get behind wheels of race cars -9/11/2014, 8:50 AM

Make and take a pizza for family meal -9/11/2014, 8:50 AM

Children's center hosting events in October -9/9/2014, 5:03 PM

NKAVI meeting Saturday -9/8/2014, 2:34 PM

During September, pay it forward by giving blood -9/8/2014, 4:54 PM

Ribbon cut on K-23 project north of Hoxie -9/8/2014, 11:46 AM

AG Schmidt to visit western Kansas -9/8/2014, 11:37 AM

Kansans invited to come to statewide transportation meetings -9/8/2014, 11:37 AM

Pilot projects to launch Kanstarter -9/8/2014, 11:28 AM

Parenting adolescents starts when they are younger -9/8/2014, 9:11 AM

Clubs and meetings -9/7/2014, 3:59 PM

NSP elects officers -9/7/2014, 3:23 PM

Busting myths about ticks in the U.S. -- Part II -9/7/2014, 3:23 PM

Business Briefcase (Sept. 7, 2014) -9/7/2014, 3:23 PM

Kansas Lottery launches new 'Frogger' game -9/5/2014, 10:26 AM

Dealing with mental illness -9/5/2014, 8:52 AM

Schodorf points to discrepancy in U.S. Senate ruling -9/4/2014, 4:58 PM

Kansas Emergency Preparedness Day is Monday -9/4/2014, 2:59 PM

Guidebook, videos offer convenient information for travel planning -9/4/2014, 12:24 PM

State treasurer announces $1K giveaway at state fair -9/4/2014, 12:23 PM

Extension series brings knowledge -9/4/2014, 12:24 PM

FHSU's Career Services hosts its 27th annual Career-Internship Day -9/3/2014, 4:28 PM

Discuss watering tips for the drought during Science Cafe -9/3/2014, 4:28 PM

Tigers in Service, Hays Rotary Club host 4th annual Paint-A-Thon -9/3/2014, 4:28 PM

FHSU's online degree program earns national recognition -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Massage therapy training now offered through Department of Health and Human Performance -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

5th-graders will take a field trip to Forsyth Library -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Local grocery store partners with FHSU to donate food items -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

FHSU alumnus accepted into the 2015 NCECA exhibition -9/3/2014, 2:56 PM

Dedication ceremony for K-161 in Bird City planned -9/3/2014, 2:56 PM

Local students awarded degrees from FHSU -9/3/2014, 1:44 PM

Estes brings unclaimed property to state fair -9/3/2014, 11:01 AM

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SPOTLIGHT
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Overcoming the 'wicked stepmother' myth

Published on -10/31/2013, 9:44 AM

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Wicked stepmothers -- they're the villains of stories from around the world and through the centuries. They are particularly common in fairy tales, which suggest stepmothers are evil creatures who treat children badly.

Today, one of every three American children is a stepchild. Experts say just more than 50 percent of U.S. families are remarried or in recoupled unmarried relationships.

Despite the passage of time since most fairy tales were written, research shows stepmothers have the most negative image of any member of a modern stepfamily.

Stepmothers still are perceived as being less affectionate, fair, kind, loving and likeable -- and more hateful, unfair and unloving.

What can be done to change these images?

Here are some pointers to help stepmothers and stepfamilies deal with some of the problems presented by the "wicked stepmother" myth.

* Remember a stepfamily is born of loss. A divorce, death or separation comes before a new stepfamily. Children grieve the loss of their first family, no matter how imperfect it might have been.

It can help if stepparents accept the tension and understand time and patience will be required to overcome the challenge.

* Individuals in stepfamilies have different personal histories. They have memories, traditions, values and sometimes private jokes that do not include the new stepfamily members. Differences in traditions and values are not right or wrong, just different. It could take extra effort to prevent family members from feeling like outsiders at times.

* There are no ideal role models for this job. Every stepfamily situation is unique, and there is no "normal" way of doing things. The stepmother role should be based on what's comfortable for her, her husband, the children and the family as a whole.

* There's no such thing as instant love. Stepmothers shouldn't feel guilty if they don't immediately feel love and affection for their stepchildren or receive it from their stepchildren. It takes time to build relationships. It can take four years or more for a stepfamily to seem like a family.

It can even take 18 to 24 months for children just to be friendly to a new stepparent.

Family members should be expected to treat each other with respect and fairness, remembering it is possible to be caring and nurturing, even if there are not yet deep feelings of mutual love.

* A stepmother will share her husband with his children for the rest of their married life. A strong bond might exist between a husband and his children from a prior marriage.

Jealousy can be avoided if stepmothers realize and accept this early in the relationship.

* A strong couple relationship is an important part of forming a strong stepfamily. If the couple doesn't work on their marriage, nothing either stepparent does alone will work. A united front -- husband and wife together -- must come first before relationships can be built with the rest of the family.

When couples have the support and love of one another, they can function at the most favorable levels to deal with stepfamily challenges.

* If possible, develop a working relationship with the stepchildren's mother. If the children's mother is available, stepmoms can benefit from talking to and sharing with her.

The two mothers don't have to like each other, but it is valuable if they can work together for the welfare of the children.

The stepmother/stepchild relationship is one of the most difficult family relationships to develop and maintain. Families need to communicate and work together to dispel the myth of the wicked stepmother so their family relationships can grow.

For more information on strengthening stepfamilies, see the "Stepping Stones for Stepfamilies" fact sheet from Kansas State Research and Extension at www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF3097.pdf. Call the Ellis County Extension at (785) 628-9430 or stop by at 601 Main to request this helpful information.

Linda Beech is a Kansas State University Research & Extension agent in Ellis County specializing in family and consumer sciences. lbeech@ksu.edu

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