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Public record (July 29, 2014) -7/29/2014, 8:15 AM

Gerstner: I don't love 'Lucy,' but have seen worse -7/29/2014, 8:15 AM

Disaster training exercise scheduled for Kansas cities -7/28/2014, 12:32 PM

Kansas children asked to draw posters for contest -7/28/2014, 12:32 PM

Many options available to help victims of abuse -7/28/2014, 9:03 AM

Victims of violence need help from supporters -7/21/2014, 8:10 AM

Vision Dance Company brings home honors -7/20/2014, 6:43 PM

Get control of weeds in wheat stubble -7/20/2014, 11:19 AM

Business Briefcase (July 20, 2014) -7/20/2014, 11:19 AM

Horse owners encouraged to watch horses for VS -7/18/2014, 2:34 PM

Kansas Lottery sales set new record in FY2014 -7/18/2014, 3:58 PM

Celebration VBS begins Monday -7/18/2014, 9:56 AM

ELL strategies workshop to equip area teachers for diverse classrooms -7/17/2014, 8:47 AM

Admissions at FHSU partners with advanced English class -7/17/2014, 7:43 AM

Political science degree program at FHSU ranks No. 11 -7/17/2014, 7:43 AM

Music offers many benefits, so sing out -7/16/2014, 2:26 PM

Words of 'wit and wisdom' from days gone by -7/16/2014, 2:26 PM

Public record (July 14, 2014) -7/15/2014, 10:27 AM

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' shines -7/15/2014, 8:32 AM

Different strategies can help victims deal with violence -7/14/2014, 9:56 AM

Public record (July 9, 2014) -7/8/2014, 10:28 AM

'Tammy' is every kind of bad -7/8/2014, 7:57 AM

Smaller number of men victims of domestic violence -7/7/2014, 8:44 AM

Hays After 5 to celebrate 38 years -7/4/2014, 9:37 AM

Hope for today: Remember to mind your manners -7/4/2014, 9:28 AM

Celebrating rain, national ice cream month -7/3/2014, 9:28 AM

Honey, don't forget the (healthy) vacation snacks -7/3/2014, 9:28 AM

'Transformers: Age of Extinction' arrives with a soulless, explosion-packed dud for the viewer's eye -7/1/2014, 1:25 PM

Fourth of July fireworks safety tips -6/29/2014, 2:19 PM

FHSU alumnus and chapter of year recognized for service -6/29/2014, 2:19 PM

Animal health considerations for cows fed in confinement -6/29/2014, 4:03 PM

Business Briefcase (June 29, 2014) -6/29/2014, 4:03 PM

Summer interns participate in community service day -6/29/2014, 4:03 PM

Creep feeding or early weaning when forage is limited -6/22/2014, 1:58 PM

Galaxy, Kansas Aviation win top biz honors -6/22/2014, 1:58 PM

Business Briefcase (June 22, 2014) -6/22/2014, 1:58 PM

Where are you in your financial plan? -6/17/2014, 10:55 AM

Wheatland center receives award -6/15/2014, 2:28 PM

Business Briefcase (June 15, 2014) -6/15/2014, 2:28 PM

Dave says: Take the Roth -6/10/2014, 10:45 AM

Pregnancy testing cow herd pays off in the long run -6/8/2014, 2:21 PM

Summer events scheduled at the Hays Recreation Center -6/1/2014, 11:14 AM

Overbey heading home to eastern Kansas -5/25/2014, 10:43 AM

Don't ignore those honey-locust trees in pastures -5/25/2014, 10:43 AM

Elementary school movie reviews -5/20/2014, 8:47 AM

When to castrate calves could affect weight later on -5/18/2014, 1:43 PM

Business Briefcase (May 11, 2014) -5/18/2014, 1:43 PM

News from North Central Kansas Technical College -5/11/2014, 4:04 PM

Evaluate risk for delayed rebreeding as a stockman -5/11/2014, 4:04 PM

Heaven is for real -5/9/2014, 9:59 AM

Students help with shelter's landscape -5/8/2014, 3:58 PM

Birthday -5/8/2014, 3:58 PM

Planning funerals in advance makes decisions easier -5/8/2014, 3:58 PM

Barton College offers summer outreach programs -5/4/2014, 2:23 PM

Controlling parasites essential for healthy calves -5/4/2014, 2:22 PM

La Crosse woman completes beef training -5/4/2014, 2:41 PM

Business Briefcase (May 4, 2014) -5/4/2014, 2:40 PM

Monahan takes Franciscan vows -5/2/2014, 8:39 AM

D of I recognizes long-time members -5/2/2014, 8:39 AM

Agencies collaborate to explore Medicare basics -5/1/2014, 9:26 AM

Birthdays -5/1/2014, 9:26 AM

One good rain won't save drought-stricken farmers -4/27/2014, 3:04 PM

Business Briefcase (April 27, 2014) -4/27/2014, 3:04 PM

'Transcendence' fails to connect elements -4/22/2014, 4:39 PM

Spring gallery walk schedule -4/21/2014, 4:37 PM

Parents can teach children skills for coping with stress -4/21/2014, 4:38 PM

Law enforcement works to further decrease fatalities -4/20/2014, 5:48 PM

Public record, April 18, 2014 -4/18/2014, 4:39 PM

Roadwork to begin in Phillips/Smith counties -4/18/2014, 4:45 PM

Public record, April 17, 2014 -4/17/2014, 4:39 PM

Public record, April 16, 2014 -4/16/2014, 4:39 PM

Enjoying high school memories -4/16/2014, 10:27 AM

Public record, April 15, 2014 -4/15/2014, 4:39 PM

New ponies, warmer weather welcome in spring -4/15/2014, 8:47 AM

Coping strategies, including healthy eating, can reduce stress -4/13/2014, 9:46 AM

Winners chosen for Hays art exhibition -4/10/2014, 12:12 PM

Putting parent burn-out into perspective -4/10/2014, 11:08 AM

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Many factors can cause stress in families, including divorce, death -4/4/2014, 9:23 AM

God brings life to dry bones -4/4/2014, 8:27 AM

Aging issues addressed in April Extension programs -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Quilting, eighth-grade activities make up Eicher family time -4/1/2014, 9:15 AM

Many stressors exist in several types of families in United States -3/31/2014, 10:11 AM

Power of vegetables and fruits -3/27/2014, 8:46 AM

A few more expensive pinot noirs, but ones well worth the cash -3/25/2014, 9:27 AM

Early start to morning leads to busy day for Eicher family -3/25/2014, 9:27 AM

Families need to find proper ways to deal with stress -3/23/2014, 9:20 AM

Birthday -3/19/2014, 9:19 AM

Trichomoniasis in cattle herds increasing -3/15/2014, 12:07 PM

Wines and consumer behavior -3/11/2014, 3:03 PM

Propane refill hits budget; hog butchering on tap -3/11/2014, 3:03 PM

Workplace, workforce sees changes through decades -3/10/2014, 9:56 AM

The Church is called to reflect Jesus outside of church -3/7/2014, 3:49 PM

Extension workshop features estate planning -3/6/2014, 3:49 PM

Enhance employee wellness with Walk Kansas -3/5/2014, 3:49 PM

Change your clocks, smoke alarm batteries -3/4/2014, 3:49 PM

Winter blues continue for Eicher family -3/4/2014, 1:53 PM

KDOT announces approved February bids -3/3/2014, 4:28 PM

K-23 pavement replacement project to begin -3/3/2014, 4:19 PM

Celtic guitarist Barlow performing at library -3/2/2014, 4:10 PM

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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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