They Really Do Appreciate You [But You Have To Help Them Show It]

by Tracy Poizner  |  05.05.18 | 21:12

This post is part of my ongoing rant about how to get what you need out of Mothers’ Day and Stepmothers’ Day (which I will now refer to as Stepmom Day…sounds more like a celebration than an opportunity to put a thumbtack on someone’s chair – ha!).

Why should they need help to show they love you? How do they deal with Mothers’ Day? I’ll tell you how – every elementary school teacher in the world uses Mothers’ Day as an excuse to kill a little time with a cheesy craft, or planting seeds in a plastic container for mom to put on the windowsill so that even if Dad completely forgets to take care of it, there will be a gift for mom! Dad generally runs to the store at the last minute and grabs whatever passes for a bouquet of flowers and then they all take themselves out to wait in long line-ups to get into a place serving an overpriced brunch.

Kids do not remember Mothers’ Day on their own. I know I never did. One year my dad made on his famous greeting cards for my mom. He put it in a box frame, behind glass, with a sign that read:

“In Case Of Mothers’ Day Emergency, Break Glass.”

The idea was that if my brother or I forgot about her, she could access the emergency card.

Despite the fact that my dad was great at remembering occasions because he loved to make funny cards, most men can be quite oblivious about what their wives or girlfriends need and want. There’s a great book called “I Don’t Have To Make Everything All Better” by Gary and Joy Lundberg. They repeat that it’s really OK to ask for what you want. It’s an essential part of good communication between partners. We often fault our partner for not noticing what seems obvious to us. It would be better if we put our energy into training them to listen to what we actually tell them.

The other important part about letting our desires be known is that it forces us to step into a certain appreciation of our own selves. You can’t expect someone else to appreciate you if you are secretly laying a booby trap for yourself where you get to feel neglected and forgotten, thereby validating what you expect from life. Say to yourself “I am a good wife/girlfriend/partner and a good stepmom. I deserve to receive appreciation for that from time to time.” Here are 3 tips for getting what you need while staying in a “high-vibe” place – a state that makes you feel good and keeps you ready to receive the good vibes coming your way.

  1. Give them an occasion. Then let them know what your wish would be to celebrate. Sally Bjornsen, author of “The Single Girl’s Guide To Marrying A Man, His Kids And His Ex-Wife” (great book, BTW) says this:“Speak up! Grab your people by the horns and let them know what you need, loud and clear. If you don’t, you are guaranteed to be lost and quickly demoted from sassy stepmother to forgotten martyr”.Now that you know you are not just allowed, but expected (by the amazing women who love you) to say what you want, you have to give them some kind of container for it, an opportunity or occasion that makes sense to break out some moves and make a little fuss over you. I love the idea of Stepmom Day for this reason. It’s a perfect occasion to prompt them to think of doing something nice for you.

    Think of it this way: it’s not about you, it’s a roundabout way of helping to make your new family. You are giving the kids a reason to do something special and a little bit secret together with their dad. They get some of that energy that they crave anyway, which is to be on a team with dad doing something you don’t get to be a part of. Never mind it’s doing something nice for you, it does something nice for them. It makes one of the new rituals that solidifies your new family, the one that you are at the center of rather than their old family that you are on the outside of. Score one for stepmom!


  2. Give them some ideas. I wrote a blog this week about my childhood “Gimme!” list. When I turned 13, I was encouraged to make a list of everything I could possibly want, large or small so my relatives could choose a present for my special birthday celebration. It’s sort of like a bridal registry, and it keeps your friends from leaving you with 3 fondue sets.I suggest you provide ideas that are easy and cheap, if not free. This is another way you can distinguish this holiday from Mothers’ Day. Keep it simple and meaningful. You can include:
    • Going on a picnic
    • A special homemade breakfast
    • Going out for coffee
    • Taking a drive somewhere altogether
    • A vase of garden flowers (not from next door!) or dandelions
    • Handmade card
    • Putting on a show, a dance, a performance (hint – boys like to do the lighting and sets)
  3. There is no more high-vibe frame of mind than gratitude. Feeling gratitude puts you into “receiving mode” as Esther Hicks describes it. You might have seen a picture I posted in our Facebook Group (The Spectacular Stepmom, if you are not already a member) that says

    “You have to believe it to see it”
    Being in the vibration of appreciation (gratitude) is what attracts more appreciation. If you want them to be able to show you that they love you, you have to cultivate a feeling that you appreciate having them in your life. It’s pretty hard to just call a one-day truce in a long war and expect them to put down their slingshots and appreciate you.Start by keeping a journal, yes – here I go again – a gratitude journal. This is one of the most important tools I use when I work with stepmoms to change the dynamics in their household. It’s a powerful thing. I made a little template that you can download for free to get you started, and I’ll include a link for that at the end in the comments. Think of reasons to be glad your stepkids are in your life. Think of things they are good at, or of good qualities they have. You can think of good qualities they might have deep inside, and how you might help bring out those gifts. Think of their mom, and appreciate her for one thing she did perfectly – she produced them. If not for her, you wouldn’t have them. In fact, if not for her shortcomings as a wife or mother, your partner would still be with her instead of with you.

To recap, start by appreciating yourself and setting the stage for receiving some thanks. Give them an occasion. Stepmom Day is a good one and it makes a gift in return by setting up dad and kids to do something alone together until they present it to you. Don’t forget to give them some ideas, and make them easy and cheap so there’s no excuse! Finally, get in the vibe of gratitude and make sure you appreciate your partner and his kids before you expect them to show you the love.

Stepmom Day is Sunday, May 20!

ps. here’s a link to my template for starting a gratitude journal:


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