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About Brenda

Brenda and Steve were married on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May 1998.  On Sunday, after spending the night in a hotel, Brenda and her dog Lucy went from living alone, to living with Steve, his four children: Jason, 14, Laura, 12, Shannon, almost 10, Amanda, 8–and their dog Phoenix.  They added Alexandra, a fifth child for Steve, and a first for Brenda, in 2000.  Having read every book on stepfamilies she could find, Brenda–a therapist,  educated woman, and  all-around nice person–figured she could handle whatever this life brought.  Brenda remains happily married, has mourned the losses of both Lucy and Phoenix, (who have been replaced by a goofy English Setter named Jax), and is currently amused when she remembers her former naivete.  Her stepfamily has grown to include three stepkids-in-law ,three stepgrandsons  and three non-residential stepdogs.



This website, and Brenda’s decision to go into private practice in 2011, are results of her desire to provide guidance and support for the unique perspective of stepmothers.

Brenda Snyder, LCSW sees individuals, couples and families in her practice, located in Peoria, IL.    To schedule a local appointment with Brenda, call  (309) 693-2749.  Brenda offers stepfamily coaching by phone and on the web.  For more information about or to schedule a coaching session by phone or internet, email Brenda at stepmomcoach@outlook.com.  

Permanent link to this article: http://www.stepmothersupport.com/home/sample-page/


5 pings

  1. Crystal

    Can someone share their thoughts? I been with my partner now for 4 years now. My daughter and I moved in with him and his two children after 8 months dating. His divorce wasn’t done at the time. He was in 2 years of divorce. His son was 20 and daughter was 16 at the time we lived together. My partner had bad car accident a month after I moved in. Immediately 1 week after that car accident, he lost his job! A month later, he received a court letter for custody on 16 years old daughter. Not to mention his mother just recovered from a coma-rehab. And his first wife removed him and two kids out of her health insurance. I had an opportunity to leave him but I didn’t. Because my daughter who was 13 at the time, agreed it wasn’t a good ideas to walk away like this. We hung on to support him. Thanks God that my company has a “domestic partner “ that I can add him and his children on my insurance. I learned his business while still maintaining my job and suggested him to open the company. I established the company together with his 23 years experiences. In the mean time, his children didn’t help or support. Instead, the took advantage of the divorce and played their parents against each other. The daughter was even worst. She played her mom against her father and I. She played her dad against me. She even tried to play her brother against me. She disrespected to me and her grandma in front of my partner and he gdid nothing. Her shopping was at least $1000 and so his son. They didn’t care if he lost his job. He must kept the same life-style for them or they threat to come seeing their mother. He didn’t like that they wanted to see their mom. He turned them against their mother by using “materials “ to satisfy them. It was nightmares. Here I worked to take care everyone. The daughter skipped her classes every day to just staying home laying bed watching TV. The Son lied to the Father with his College that he never attended. I started interfering and nightmares happened. Slammed the door in my face by his daughter when I didn’t allow her to use my credit card for shopping. Her disrespectful to me and their grandmother increases. The Son continued to lie and getting worse. My partner was worthless and kept begging them instead of correcting them. Our relationship was in dangerous. The sad part that my partner didn’t believe what his children did were wrong. He said that is normal. I just have to live them and give them what they want and everything will be OK. The son used his school money for car. The daughter snapped shot my credit card and max out my card limit w get online shopping. She saw her mom and came home with a bad attitude toward me. Her mother told her that since I wasn’t her birth mother, she doesn’t have to listen to anything I said. The son transferred to different College and continue the lie. I put my feet down that he moved out at age 23 and not welcome back until he fixed his own problems- lie! She got into college and started party. The Father thought that was ok because that what College kids doing. She got written up by University- drinking under age. Record still there in public court. She was party and slept with the boy and forget to take her midterm. She studied wrong chapters for her test. Eventually she failed. She lied to us about her grade. Many more.
    All of that, my partner still didn’t think they doing anything wrong. It was and is normal in his opinion. He compared his children with other and my daughter. It was like he compared Orange vs Apple.
    He defended for both of their actions and behave especially his daughter. He accused me as a bad person that always found the wrong doing of his children. The are kids and innocent he claimed.
    I am hurt and upset. They went to therapist and didn’t tell the therapist the truths. They turned the therapist against me. One therapist said that I m old enough to suck it up. Other therapist said you created it so figured out yourself. My daughter is now 17 was upset and said this is not family. Everyone is so date. They are wearing the mask.
    Please share with me your thoughts. I can’t leace now since my daughter has 1 more year in High school. House is under my name even though we paid mortgage together.

  2. Beth

    Hello. I’m in a situation that seems to be something many people go through and struggle with. I had moved in with my boyfriend of 2 years and his two sons who are 13 and 17, about 10 months ago. They are supposed to share equal time with mom and with dad. We get along well enough (the kids and I)…share jokes, play wii, hike, travel and such together. We don’t talk about feelings much though I offer my availability and share feelings I’m having like if I had a difficult day at work, or if I am feeling stressed about graduate school assignments, and if things are going well for me. My hopes are that if I remain open they will eventually see me as a trusted resource for them to discuss their needs as well. Thing is, their dad doesn’t talk much about emotions with them and never really has. And mom can’t control her emotions so tends to yell a lot at them when they get angry or upset over anything. Mom also believes that I am the source of the problems the kids are experiencing. She has called me nasty nasty names to my boyfriend and has avoided meeting with me so we can discuss how we can improve our perceptions of each other and be more available for the kids. One of her favorite forms of punishment to use with the kids is to refuse to let them visit her during their normal time to be with her. She says to my boyfriend that we have to deal with it and she doesn’t want to see them. This breaks my heart every single time it happens and it happens every month at least once. They miss their mom and there’s no doubt in my mind that they feel rejected and abandoned by her each time it happens. My boyfriend and I have been going to couples counseling so we can remain a strong team through this living adjustment but I find there is little follow through on his end with the things we discuss in counseling to help improve the interactions with the kids and for him to hold healthy boundaries with their mom. The only thing I can think to do is try to take good care of myself (emotionally and physically) so I can continue to remain positive, supportive, present, and welcoming for the kids and my boyfriend. However this often leaves me feeling lonely when they pull away (for whatever reasons, most don’t have anything to do with me) and feeling helpless. I also get angry with how their Mom speaks about me but have no way to address it though I’ve tried. I wonder what she says to them and if that’s one of the sources of confusion they may be having with my role in their life and how open they feel they can be with me. I’m hoping this forum can help me feel less alone and more supported along with provide insight to how I can be a positive force in my new family.

  3. Silvia

    Hello, I’ve been with my partner for 3 years now. When we started dating he told he might or might not have a kid with another woman. He wasn’t sure of his parenthood because she was travelling with another man for a while. So he was waiting for her to accept taking the DNA tests. Every time we paid for it she never appeared. So last year he left a DNA a sample and about 2 weeks ago results came in, turns out the baby is his. Which I am fine with and its a topic we have discussed in several ocassions. Last year we decided to have a lawyer representing us, since she has blackmailed, threatened him and also has confessed she got pregnant on purpose to have him marry her. She even contacted his mother and told her she wants to have a familiy with him. So last Monday we ran into her in the street and she and her friend physically abused my partner and now she is harrassing me through social media and in anyway possible. We already went to the police and are waiting for trail on December (which is a long, long time). I know she has a history of violance and drug abuse, and from my point she is emotionally unstable. I am concerned of our physicall well-being. We know we want the baby to live with us, because that is no place for a kid to grow, but I don’t know if I can deal with that kind of person for the rest of my life. Has anyone been in this situation before?

  4. Rosa

    Hey I just came across this website while looking for some support. I’m a unique step mom. Our story is very complicated my husband and I love his 7 year with all our heart but his mom has ended up with custody. Not by force but out of manipulation. His mom means well but our situation tears me up inside. I have been there for her since she was a baby, the birth mom just basically walked out on my husband. So my step daughter who I always call my daughter has only ever known me and my mother in law. I’m not called mom though, which I respect but it still hurts deep down. She still calls him dad but doesn’t live with us. I just feel very alone in all this, like my feelings don’t matter to anyone. I got pregnant for the first time and had a miscarriage and it has made all this feel so much worse. I feel like motherhood has been torn away from me twice. All I have ever wanted was to be a good wife and mother to have children of my own and help them grow and learn. All I seem to be able to do though is help other people’s children grow and learn (I’m a teacher). I just need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel or maybe someone else out there like me……

    1. Beth

      I feel very alone too in my situation. It’s not easy trying to achieve our desires when there are other people involved who have completely different desires. A lot of compromises happen, a lot of our desires get let go or ignored so that the kids receive what they need in life…even if we don’t agree with it. You’re feelings do matter. Very much. You are doing the best you can, are a great person, and are worth being heard.

  5. mel

    I was the fortunate one to end up marrying my high school sweetheart. I was 24 life was great he had a previous relationship in which he had 3 children but their mom wouldn’t Let him had contact with them life continue. One day we find out they where taken to a shelter she was in drugs. We Did what we had to and after years and battles with the courts got custody. She disappear from their lives 17 years later she reappears I raised 2 girls 1 boy. As the time she appear the oldest at the time 21 had a baby girl and was having issues in her personal life and didn’t want my help little did I know the woman that dissapear 17 years ago had been talking to her and the youngest which is 18 for almost a year. They where both being cold different with me . the oldest has moved with her to a different state doesn’t talk to me living me broken hearted it was 17 years I can’t pick UP the pieces I try but I am broken . never did I tell anyone they where not mine never now I am empty handed the boy hasn’t spoken to her but is a matter of time. I need help….

  6. Sara


    I was wondering if anyone could give me some advise of just reassure me that they too may have felt like this at some point. My partner is very involved in his two kids lives (3 and 7), which i like, however he is also very involved with his ex. He sees her as part of our family even though she will not have anything to do with me. He will do anything she needs done around the house/ garden and at times it can feel like he takes her feelings into account before mine. Any decisions we make he takes into account what she wants or how she feels, it can feel like our lives are dictated by her. I have now started to queston whether I want to extend our family by having children of my own as I can often feel inadequate at times and it is often mentioned in conversation that I wouldn’t know how it feels or what to do as I am not a parent yet. Sometimes it can feel like they have a separate family together and I am just there to make the dinners and spend time with them when they are at my house. They also do birthdays together without me which I feel makes the divide even more clear.

    Any advice would be great.

    1. Kelsea

      Sara, I have been with a divorced man for three years now. He has two boys with his ex. I am 8 months pregnant with our second daughter. I can’t give you too much advice but I can tell you how it has been for me. Each time I have gotten pregnant, especially when it gets close to the time the baby is going to be born, me and my girls get treated like second hand shit. His ex has sole custody so she could get all the child support she wanted. But the boys are over EVERY weekend. He picks them up from school/camp 3-4 times a week and works 50-70 hours a week. I watch other people’s kids 9-12 hours a day during the week. Nether my girl nor me get any time with just him. And I have not had any time to myself other than to work (before I started watching kids) or go to a class in a year and a half. I beg him to give me one weekend to myself and he threatens to leave me with no job (stopped watching kids a couple weeks ago due to painful pregnancy, stress, and signs of early labor.) 8 months pregnant and with a clingy 2 year old. My piece of advice is to please consider what you want from life. There are men out there that either have never been married or had kids or that know what divorce means. It does not mean answering her beck and call like mine and yours seems to do. It means moving on and loving and respecting you, not her. Do NOT bring a child into the world with this man just to try to add up to her or to know what its like, because when he is going out the door to help his ex again and you hear “Where did daddy go?” and see tears fill up in your child’s eyes, the anger, pain, and regret you will feel will be worse than anything that is happening now.

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