A Challenge: Just Meet Her!

(Audrey S. [mom] and Gina W. [stepmom] on Mother's Day with their children.)

The problem of the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.

-Mother Theresa

Our old grievances can change in an instant when we simply open to the other... and listen.

WHAT IF... the divorced mom or stepmom is just as baffled by you—as you are by her?

WHAT IF... you have more in common than you realize?

WHAT IF... her actions towards you are nowhere near as deliberate as you assume them to be—or vice-versa?

WHAT IF... you could erase years of accumulated tension and resentment with her in one short moment?

WHAT IF... she’s open to forming a connection with you—and that evokes the same in you?

Curious?

Perfect!

Because we invite you to meet the stepmom or ex-wife in your life this month during our “Just Meet Her!” challenge.

The purpose?

To see each other as human. That’s it. That’s your only goal. No hashing out of issues. No point-scoring. No validating past wounds.

Just meeting her, face-to-face, for coffee or tea.

If you've already had a few pleasant, respectful communications with her (by email, phone or in person), then this challenge is for you!

If you are in an actively high-conflict situation, then meet with another person who shares her role as a mom or stepmom.

Our challenge was inspired by Elizabeth Lesser’s beautiful and thought-provoking TED video “Take the Other to Lunch,” where she meets with someone who is seemingly her political opposite, only to discover that they both feel judged and misunderstood, and yet are still capable of building trust between them.

(video timeline notes)

  • Early background about her two conflicting selves: 0:01-1:54
  • What we miss by thinking we know it all: 1:54
  • How we so easily "demonize" each other: 4:35
  • Describing the initiative:  5:46
  • Her lunch and the guidelines she used:  7:06
  • Insights about her lunch:  8:25
  • Who should YOU take to lunch? What can you expect? 10:00-11:00

One of the fastest, most powerful ways to change this relationship is also one of the scariest.

Suddenly, you are two fallible, vulnerable people.

Both winging it.

Both at times hurt and confused by how difficult these roles are...

As Lesser said, it's "--two people, dropping their weapons... dropping the pretense of being know-it-alls..."

Surely you can bring yourself to, as Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project suggests, deliberately suffer for 15 minutes for the good of humanity.

Or in this case, thirty.

What might your first steps be?

Here are the guidelines.

If you’re meeting with YOUR other, ask each other:

  • Describe a silly phobia you have.
  • Tell me about a happy childhood memory.
  • What's a favorite movie, song, book or TV show?

If you’re meeting with AN other, ask each other:

  • What have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side?
  • What are some of the biggest fears stepmoms or moms have?
  • What are some of the biggest hopes of moms or stepmoms?

General Guidelines:

  • meet for a min. of 30 minutes
  • meet in a neutral location, such as a coffee shop or park
  • don’t persuade, defend or interrupt
  • avoid volatile topics, such as family, conflict-loaded situations, etc.
  • be curious, be conversational and be real... listen
  • meet for a maximum of 45 minutes and then end it, even if it’s going well

Communicate with us and your friends here on NOTB (on the blog, in our private forum or on Facebook):

Let us know your plan to meet and when.

Let us know how your meeting went!

If you are worried or nervous before your meeting, come to us for support. And then come to us after too, to decompress and process your experience.

We know our readers are some of the bravest, ballsiest women out there.

So show us what you got!

We’ll all be cheering you on....

And we just might start a revolution that snowballs into something really big!

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there...

- Rumi

© 2011 Jennifer Newcomb Marine    All Rights Reserved