About the Stepfamily Letter Project

In the Fall of 2008, Erin  wrote an open-ended letter to her stepdaughter on her blog. The letter was filled with things Erin wished she could say to her12-year-old stepdaughter but didn’t. From future hopes and dreams to the intricacies of teenage angst, the letter was one stepmom’s heartfelt approach to communicate with her stepdaughter without actually “communicating.”  The letter went on to capture the attention of other stepmoms across the Internet.

One of those stepmoms, Jacque, had heard of The Mother Letter Project, a compilation of letters that a husband has been collecting his for wife as a Christmas present.

The letters, written for mothers, could be about anything so long as it was addressed to a mom. At the same time, Jacque popped open her computer to begin her annual holiday letter to her family. Each year Jacque, her husband, and her three stepkids write a letter to each other that describes the previous year’s ups and downs and hopes for the upcoming year. Then they read them out loud to each other. It’s a tradition that Jacque’s dad and stepmom started when Jacque was a teenage stepkid.

And so an idea was born. Why not create a site where blended families could write anonymous letters to a member of their family. Stepmoms, stepdads, stepkids, husbands, bio-moms, half-siblings — we wanted to create a place where blended families could write letters to the people in their families  — be it heartful and  joyful to angry or sad.

We’ll keep the authors of each letter we post a secret. Whether you want to share them with your family members is up to you. All you have to do is write a letter (or several) is check out the submission guidelines.

Disclaimer: Neither Erin nor Jacque are trained therapists. We are stepfamily members ourselves and writers, but we are not in the counseling business. The letters you see on this site are from real people in real stepfamilies. If you find the letters are bringing up particularly strong feelings for you, we highly recommend that you seek the help of a certified stepfamily professional.

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12 Responses to “About the Stepfamily Letter Project”

  1. I think that this is a lovely blog idea. Finding myself now a single mother of two girls, the whole idea of ‘blended families’ has been more a part of my mind than ever (particularly since I’m dating a man who also has children). Blended families are becoming more and more common in our society, and it’s important for those who are a part of them to be able to find their own voice and place in this world….

  2. I too, find great value and release, in letter writing… I will be visiting here every so often to check on your project’s development! Kudos!

  3. First time I ran across a site like this. I already feel a sense of relief!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. This is a wonderful project. I wrote a letter to my ex-husband after we had been divorced for 4 years,and he was still extremely angry
    ( I filed for divorce),and rude every time we communicated. I never send the letter though but felt cleansed after I wrote it.

  5. Wonderful idea- I’m so happy I stumbled upon this!

  6. What an interesting project. I am a divorced mother of two boys and a Divorce Expert and Life Reinvention Coach. I am also the founder of the D Spot, where I support women to regroup, renew and reinvent themselves before, during and after divorce. I love the idea of writing but hope that as individuals find themselves in challenging situations, they will reach out for support so that they can move forward with intention and insight.

    I, myself, live with my beloved boyfriend and my ex-husband is remarried. There are many conflicts but I work hard to deliberately create the future that I want…and I dedicate to supporting others to do the same.

    Thanks for this great project!

  7. I just stumbled upon this site and I am thrilled. Things are a bit tense in my blended family right now. I am going to suggest this to my two bio sons (13 & 19) and my husband of ten months. I am not sure how they will respond or if they will participate but all I can do is try. Even if they don’t want to write their own letters I will be writing one to the three of them!!!

  8. (I PLACED THIS POST IN A DIFFERENT SECTION BUT REALIZED THAT THE POSTS THERE WERE VERY OUTDATED. I NOTICED IN RESEARCHING THIS WEBSITE THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF ANIMOSITY IN THE LETTERS, ETC. AND I GUESS THAT IS THE POINT – TO GET THOSE FEELINGS OFF YOUR CHEST. HOWEVER, MY EXPERIENCE WAS DIFFERENT AND I WAS ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR A LETTER EXAMPLE THAT I COULD RIGHT TO MY BOYS’ SOON TO BE STEPMOM THAT WAS A NICE LETTER. I WILL KEEP LOOKING. AT ANY RATE; IF ANYBODY READS THIS POST AND FINDS IT INTERESTING THEN PLEASE SEE THE CONTACT INSTRUCTIONS AT THE END OF THE POST.) I originally looked on this site to find a NICE letter to send to my exhusbands new wife but all of the examples were horrible and mean. I know over the years people have said our relationship was different; we remained good friends. I also like my ex’s new wife & she seems to care for our children & I prefer that her relationship with them is close so I will not be running interference to make things more difficult than they are. I hate when people do that – it is the kids that need to be focused on & I look at like “hey, they have more people to love they”. HOWEVER, that being said, there are things I agree with and things I don’t in the submission above. My boys are 10 & 13 and the only thing I ask to keep for myself is the title of “mom”. I told them point blank that it ok to love her (because they were worried about me) and that I would prefer it if they had a close relationship with her too. But, as far as the “stepparent rights”. My boys’ new parent has no children of her own & I go back and forth on whether that would hinder her insight as to the proper decision to make in a crisis situation. Now, I think it is ridiculous that a stepmom can’t get a library card or something like that. OH, and by the way, she can pick up the kids at school as long as she is on the childrens’ “list” that is kept with the office (signed by both parents of course). I THINK WHERE I COME DOWN ON THE ISSUE IS THAT THERE SHOULD BE SOME SORT OF MODIFIED OR AMENDED LEGAL GUARDIANSHIP GRANTED TO STEPPARENTS. AFTER ALL THERE ARE SOME DECISIONS THAT THEY SHOULD AND COULD MAKE AND THEN OF COURSE SILLY, DAILY NONCONSEQUENTIAL ITEMS LIKE A LIBRARY CARD THAT DON’T NECESSITATE CALLING IN THE NATIONAL GUARD! OK, IN THIS CASE THE CUSTODY DOCUMENTS OR AN EXTRA TRIP. WHERE I DO DRAW THE LINE THOUGH IS I WOULD NOT WANT MY BOYS’ STEPMOM MAKING LIFE ALTERING DECISIONS; SUCH AS MEDICAL DECISIONS. NO WAY! THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY VARIABLES: 1) SHE HAS NO BACKGROUND RAISING CHILDREN; 2) SHE IS JUST COMING INTO THEIR LIVES AT AGES 10 & 13; 3) SHE DOES NOT KNOW ME AT ALL AND THEREFORE HOW COULD SHE KNOW WHAT A MOTHER/THE MOM OF THESE 2 BOYS WOULD DECIDE. ONE COULD EVEN ARGUE THAT ALTHOUGH SHE KNOWS MY EX AS A HUSBAND SHE DOES NOT REALLY KNOW HIM AS A FATHER EITHER AND THEREFORE COULD NOT MAKE AN EDUCATED DECISION FROM THAT ASPECT.
    FINALLY, TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THAT WE HAVE THE TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS HERE THAT ARE MUTUALLY AMICABLE; I HAVE NO DESIRE WHATSOEVER TO FIGHT WITH HER FOR SEVERAL REASONS; PRIMARILY – I LOVE MY CHILDREN AND I DON’T WANT THEM TO THINK THEY HAVE TO CHOSE AND DO NOT WANT THEM TO STRESS OUT; I WILL ALWAYS CARE FOR MY EX AS A FRIEND & WOULDN’T WANT TO PUT HIM IN AN AWKWARD POSITION; AND ALSO I WANT TO MAKE IT EASY FOR HER TO FOR A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE KIDS AND IT IS HARD ON HER ALREADY WITHOUT SOME CRAZY BITCHY EXWIFE!! BUT FINALLY THE FACT REMAINS WHEN IT COMES TO LIFE & DEATH MEDICAL DECISIONS, NO MATTER HOW MUCH SHE LOVES THEM, THE ONLY, THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT SHOULD HAVE THE MORAL AND LEGAL RIGHT TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS ARE THE PEOPLE WHO “BROUGHT THEM INTO THIS WORLD” (& TO ME THAT MEANS BIOLOGICAL PARENTS AND/OR ADOPTIVE PARENTS OF COURSE). I MEAN NO DISRESPECT TO THE STEPPARENT AT ALL; I AM SURE IT IS UPSETTING WHEN YOU LOVE THOSE CHILDREN AS IF THEY WERE YOUR OWN AND YOU GET TOLD SOMETHING LIKE THAT. BUT TO BE FAIR YOU REALLY NEED TO PUT YOURSELVES IN THE MOM’S SHOES (A PERFECTLY HAPPY TO SHARE MOM LIKE ME) AND UNDERSTAND THAT IT WOULDN’T BE RIGHT FOR THE LEGAL SYSTEM TO EVER ALLOW A STEPPARENT TO BE IN A POSITION TO EITHER OVERRIDE A PARENT’S DECISION. IF THE LEGAL SYSTEM CHANGED TO ALLOW WHAT YOU ARE WANTING, THEN IF A STEPMOM DISAGREED WITH WHAT A MOM WANTED IT WOULD SIMPLY COME DOWN TO WHOMEVER GOT DOWN TO THE COURT FIRST, OR THE HOSPITAL FIRST, OR SO ON. IF YOU THINK ABOUT THAT LOGICALLY YOU HAVE TO ADMIT IT IS NOT FAIR OR RIGHT TO THE BIOLOGICAL MOM. AND, WHILE I AGREE WITH YOU THAT NOT BEING ABLE TO SIGN FOR A LIBRARY CARD IS STUPID & THERE ABSOLUTLY SHOULD BE SOME WAY AROUND THAT; WE CAN NEVER INSTITUTE POLICIES AND LAWS TO WHICH YOU SPEAK AS FAR AS HAVING FULL ACCESS BECAUSE IN THAT ASPECT YOU ARE ESSENTIALLY TAKING AWAY PARENTAL RIGHTS THAT BELONG TO THE BIOLOGICAL PARENT AND SHOULD CONTINUE TO BELONG TO THEM AS LONG AS THEY ARE A FIT PARENT.

    TO BE SURE; SEEING THAT IT TOOK ME A NOVEL TO GET OUT MY THOUGHTS – LOL – I DEFINITELY DEFINITELY AGREE WITH YOU THAT IT WOULD BE NICER AND PROBABLY MORE EFFICIENT IF THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT COULD BE DONE. MOST LIKELY BECAUSE EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT (AND SOME SITUATIONS ARE EVEN DOWN RIGHT HOSTILE) THE COURT SHOULD ALLOW FOR CERTAIN DOCUMENTS TO BE FILED BASED ON EACH INDIVIDUAL BLENDED FAMILY. WELL, THIS IS ONE INSTANCE IN WHICH I DEFINITELY THINK PEOPLE SHOULD KEEP TRYING NEW IDEAS – HOWEVER, IT IS A SITUATION IN WHICH EVERYONE SHOULD DO THEIR VERY BEST TO BE CALM AND REFRAIN FROM ANY TYPE OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR. EVEN IF SOMEONE ELSE IN YOUR PARTICULAR FAMILY SITUATION IS BEING RUDE AND ACTING IN AN IMMATURE, HATEFUL AND HOSTILE MANNER; RETURNING THOSE ANGRY EMOTIONS ONLY INTENSIFY THE PROBLEM. IT IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE WHEN FEELINGS ARE INVOLVED AND I DO NOT CLAIM TO BE WISE, BUT I WAS DETERMINED TO TRY TO DO THIS IN THIS WAY FROM THE BEGINNING AND ALTHOUGH THERE HAVE BEEN A FEW HICCUPS; I CAN TELL YOU THAT I AM GLAD THAT MY EX AND I CAME THROUGH THIS IN THIS MANNER, OUR BOYS HAVE COME THROUGH A DIVORCE ABOUT AS WELL AS CAN BE EXPECTED AND I THINK THEIR NEW STEPMOM WILL FIND THAT ANY ANXIETY AND/OR UNCERTAINTY THAT SHE MAY FEEL WILL QUICKLY DISSIPATE AS SOON AS SHE REALIZES THAT I HAVE NO INTENTION OF MAKING THIS DIFFICULT FOR HER WITH MY EX OR WITH THE KIDS. AT ANY RATE, IF ANYBODY WOULD LIKE TO TALK/EMAIL ABOUT HOW TO GET OUT OF AND/OR WORK ON THIS CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIP HATRED, FIGHTING, AND CONTINUOUS PROBLEMS THAT SEEMS TO PLAGUE BLENDED FAMILIES, PLEASE POST A MESSAGE AND I WILL SEND AN EMAIL TO YOU.

  9. Love it

  10. What a great idea! Thank you so much for this post. Keep up the good work.

  11. I wish you all the best. You have something here that can help families. Thank you.

  12. Dear All

    As a biomom I have compassion with both sides but the question I like to but forward is it always the BM’s fault.My daughter is very close to me and we do a lot of things together which includes and excludes my fiance,they on the other hand have their own litttle projects to bring them together.’

    My problem is actually that I have become the scapeway for any problems that may arise at her dads place and the bond that is not there between her and her soon to be stepmom.

    I have no control over my childs feelings,I have nothing to gain if you dislike my child because if something happens to me you will have to guide her and help in my place,I want my child to feel loved at your home.

    To let my Ex and his mother phone me and start shouting at me will not endear you to me,sometimes the fault is not the BM but the blame should be placed where is belongs.

    to be bitter and discredit the BM is just sometimes to hard to swallow,I have no desire to have your”husband”back but stop blaiming me for your part in your relationship with my 8 year old.

    the question remains;What do you do from your side to endear you to your SD?

    To get a lovingly farther with whom she has a strong bond to want her out of his live if she does not except you,my she is only 8 years old get a grip and do something from your side,I am not you and you are not me,difine the roll you want to play in her life and except the fact that she has a loving mother in her live.

    My fiance has a great relationship with her it did not happened overnight we went for counsilling to be in a better situation to have a relationship that works for us-if you feel so strongly about it why not go the same route.

    I will have coffee with you listen for the hundreds time of all my faults but when are you going to face up to yours,no-one is perfect we are not God.

    I have no problem you have your rules and we have ours we have discussed it with “Marie” and she respects that.

    What can I do to let my child like/love you-nothing it has be an effert made from your side and please do not tolerate my child only for her fathers sake love her as a person not as my daughter but for the wonderful-not an angel by far-humanbeing she is.

    from the otherside of the coin

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