Naja is the founder of VIPStepmom and Blended and Black. As a Certified Coach and Educator, she understands that the family is THE MOST influential entity of human development, and her work centers around helping individuals, couples, and families navigate some of life’s toughest transitions. As the host of popular podcast, I know I’m Crazy with Naja Hall and author of the Amazon best-seller Girl, Bye! Book series, Naja’s life’s work is to teach empathy, accountability, and emotional intelligence through the art of story-telling and genuine human connections. She’s a Stepmom of 3. 

391: How To Step-Parent

Naja Hall

Are you a stepparent or dealing with divorce with kids? If so, you know that it can be a relationship mine-field. That’s why I invited Naja Hall, creator of to talk about being a stepparent. What is it like to become a part of a family with kids who may be devastated by the divorce of their parents? One hint: the only thing you can control is you. 

How To Step-Parent - Naja Hall [391]

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*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Naja Hall: Be the cool auntie, your uncle figure. You don't come in trying to make rules. You don't come in calling shots. You definitely leave the discipline to the parents. You just be cool. And that's what I did for a very long time and still do.

[00:00:15] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Mama podcast, episode number 391. Today we're talking about how to stepparent with Naja Hall.

Welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Mama, we know that you cannot give what you do not have. And when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, hunter Clark Fields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 20. I'm the creator of Mindful Parenting and I'm the author of the best selling book, raising Good Humans, A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting, and Raising Kind confident Kids.

Welcome back to the Mindful Mama podcast. So glad you are here today, my friend. Listen, if you haven't done so yet, please subscribe so you don't miss out. And if you love the podcast, if you like the podcast, please do me a favor and go over to Apple Podcast or Spotify leave us or rating in review. It helps the podcast grow more, and I, it takes just like 30 seconds and I hugely appreciate it.

It's from the bottom of my heart. And in just a moment, I am going to be talking with Naja Hall, the founder of V I p Stepmom and Blended and Black, and she's the host of the popular podcast. I know I'm Crazy with Naja Hall and the author of Girl by book series and she's the stepmom of three. And we're gonna talk about step Parenting and dealing with divorce with kids.

And if you are in that, you know it can be a relationship minefield. So Naja and I talk about what it's like to become part of a family with kids who might be devastated by divorce, right? So we're gonna talk all about this. She's got some stories. I think you like this, so let's just get right to it.

Join me at the tables. I talk to Naja Hall.

Welcome to the Mindful Mama Podcast. Thank you for having me. I'm psyched to talk to you cuz we haven't talked to anybody in like at this point we've recorded over 380 something episodes about

[00:02:34] Naja Hall: Woo. You are a

[00:02:35] Hunter: hardworking woman, step Parenting. And we have not talked to anyone about step Parenting and I'm amazed at it and we're, I was thinking, I was talking about it with some friends in my neighborhood.

At a party this weekend and this idea that, someone told me this like horror story of being a stepparent and then the biological mom was having all these issues and like different value issues and all these things that can, big issues, that can really come up. So there's I know there's so much to dive into, we're not gonna cover it all.

but I think it's so important to talk about. But you obviously I just, I'm curious about your story and starting vip because you obviously became a stepmom. When did that happen? Take us back to the beginning of this

[00:03:18] Naja Hall: story. Okay. Day one, right guys. So single girl section and city live in the acute Manhattan life.

I was probably like three dress sizes smaller than I am now. , no kids, no commitments, no nothing. Traveling the world. Amazing. One of my girlfriends suggested that I get on a dating site, dating website. I tell people I ordered my husband on the internet, but I met him on an online dating site. And we went on our first date and he is oh yeah, I'm from the south.

I'm Christian, I'm the oldest child. I'm like, dude, all three, me too. So we just had so much in common. He told me he had three kids. In that moment, I was like, oh, wow. Wow. . When someone says something like that to you I learned that as human beings we're very self-absorbed, selfish creatures.

When you tell me something about you, I'm like, how does this benefit me? How is this going to hurt me? I immediately put the three kids thing in. I don't see where that could benefit me. So you're a person that I. Probably gonna date long term. Yes. Clearly, if y'all are watching this, you see this big old ring on my finger.

He turned out to be the best human being, like literally the best man back then to date, aside from my dad that I just have experienced. He's so much like my own father, like a man's man, and careful and protective, all of. Things that you would want in a guy. My fears though. As far as being with a person that had a ready made family.

And that term used to piss me off so bad because I'm like, Ew, that sounds awful. But that's what it was because this family that I was walking into was one that had been devastated by divorce, mental illness violence in some cases. Personality disorder and just overall wrongness. And for those of us that have experienced divorce, it's like the death of a family.

Yeah. Except for you gotta go see that s o b walking around all happy and they ain't dead, they're moving on. But you gotta figure out, how do I raise children with someone who. . I no longer see that was family and they're not anymore. Yeah. Or depending on how you define that. Yeah. So all of my fears, that reason that I checked him off, once he told me that, I was like, oh, what about if there's baby Mama drama and child support stuff and will I still be able to get can you pay for my Botox?

Like all of these things that are so important to me. I was like, is this dude gonna be able to do this? And some of my fears did become actual, Because I did not know. I knew that it was gonna be a high conflict situation cuz I'm gonna tell you guys this. Every person, man or woman or however they identify themselves, they're going to tell you that their spouse, their ex-spouse is bipolar.

They're crazy, they're a narcissist. That's what you're just gonna hear. And over time it's up to you. And it was up to me to decide. What about this person's situation? Can I handle and when can I not handle? And I bit off more than I can chew sometimes. And at other times I've made cupcakes out of it.

I hope that answered your question. That was such a long one.

[00:06:18] Hunter: Yeah, think so. How old were the kids when you guys, when you met them? When,

[00:06:23] Naja Hall: Oh my god, little. The oldest now is about to be 18 and she was eight years old. And when I came into the picture and the twins were. Oh wow. Yeah, so they're 11 now.

Oh, wow. So three. Oh wait, no. When we got married they were three. Sorry. I've been around for 10 years. I gotta make sure my math is math. So now they're 11 and 17, about to be 18. And I

[00:06:46] Hunter: imagine, the three-year-olds, they're a little, they're so young, right?

Like they're just rolling with the change and as it's just what the, what they know, I imagine in a lot of ways. But I imagine for the eight year old, there was a lot of transition there. And when, was this child receptive to you when you guys

[00:07:04] Naja Hall: met the first time we. When she laid eyes on me, she ran behind her dad screamed and hid behind him.

Oh no. This is not a good start, . And I'll tell you why though. And I did mention, there's a such thing in some blended families. Are like the Brady Bunch, they do Christmas cards together and that's, that wasn't my case at all. And the reason that I started the communities, the blended family communities that I do have was because of my own experience.

And I realized that mine was not the exception. It was the norm. Not saying these peaceful Brady Bunch like families don't exist, but. There's a lot of us that are still tied up in conflict, or maybe there's one person that is really committed to chaos or they really want their step-family to be run like a traditional family and they're not on board.

That kind of causes everybody to feel that ripple effect of harm. And so this young kid, this beautiful little kid was expos. and it's so unfair. It caused me a lot of trauma. That's what I told anybody. If you're becoming a stepmom, be prepared for some of your own unhealed trauma to start to be unearthed.

Because I was starting to see what this kid was being told, and she was being harmed and she was being riddled with unnecessary anxiety, and it was up to her to actually go through a divorce. With a parent. And so the first time she saw me, she had already been told all these awful things about me. Oh my God, you're a monster.

And she's gonna hurt you. Like it was to the point to where it's almost criminal. How, this child's mind was alienated. But our first meeting that happened, she saw me ran away cuz I'm Be Naja, big bag monster. Within an hour we were, we went to some go-kart place. Within an hour we were playing bumper cards and laughing and screaming and having such a great time.

And that showed me that this kid I knew immediately especially from what my husband, my then boyfriend told me about her. This kid was treated like the golden child with both her parents. What you'll find is in. A parent that's unhealthy will lean on one particular child and make that child the one that becomes their repository, and even in super unhealthy situations.

Emotional incest happens. The child is parentified and they're put in this extreme loyalty bind, and it's very difficult for this child to be close to the other parent or the parent that they're in that side of the family that they're being alienated from. So that happened a lot at the beginning.

It took a lot of me proving myself and proving that the things that you're hearing aren't true. And I'm sorry this is your situation. I didn't create it, but let me show you who Miss Naja is. Let's. , I wanna be friends. If anything, I tell any stepparent, stepmom step or anyone be the cool auntie or uncle figure.

You don't come in trying to make rules. You don't come in calling shots. You definitely leave the discipline to the parents. You'd just be cool. And that's what I did for a very long time and still do. Just

[00:10:08] Hunter: cool, huh? Okay, cool. I like that. Be the cool auntie. Leave the discipline to the parents. That makes sense.

It's like you have to create that connection, right? You have to get on, say, I'm on your team. I'm here to be on your team. I'm here to be a supporter. Of you. I'm not here to be your enemy. All of those things, right? All of the things. Sounds like you had, there's like an unhealthy ex in your situation.

I, and I wanna go back to that, but I'm also this idea of meeting the child, like for parents or people who are maybe going into dating or. They're maybe dating someone and they may have, are thinking about when do I introduce a child to someone I'm dating? Things like that. Are there any guidelines or, suggestions and tips around having, someone, meet someone you're dating and how to do that in a better, more conscious

[00:11:02] Naja Hall: way?

I do. After all of these years of personal and professional experience. You know how Hunter you'll come across those people that dated for three months and they've been married for 96. and then that's the, that's an anomaly, guys, because if we look at the stats, first marriage is gonna, half of those are gonna end second marriage.

I think the stats go up to maybe 65, 70% of those will end in divorce. So even if you think you know your person, they're your best friend, you complete each other's sentences, and you've never met anyone like this, don't drag your kids into your. Give it some time. There's no, I don't think it would be fair or right for me to give a t a set time.

However, once you realize that this person is someone that's going to be in your life, and this is potentially a long-term relationship, you've done the couples counseling or coaching together, you've seen each other in good and bad seasons, and you found healthy ways to rectify or remedy the issues that you.

You've introduced them to your own family then you start bringing those people around your kids when you've done your research. I think it's irresponsible of a parent to bring a new person around so quickly because children do tend to get attached and And it becomes very confusing when you're constantly bringing every Tom, Dick and Harry around your kids.

So I can't really give a time limit. If I, you, if you force me and twist my arm, I'd say give it a year. I'd say give it a full year. And I know that's inconvenient for parents. Because you wanna blend your family, you're excited, you're in love. But if my arm were to be twisted, and for me a year represents seeing this person in all season.

Yeah. Like the

[00:12:44] Hunter: good, the bad, the ugly. You're getting the whole picture in a year. If you've been with this person for a year you're lively. Not gonna miss the, everybody's got a shadow side. Everybody's got difficulties. You're gonna start to see what those are.

[00:12:58] Naja Hall: Exactly. Exactly. But if you can't give it a. Hitting those key points and taking your time and making sure you know how well do we really know anyone, but making sure that you can trust these people around your babies. Yeah, your most important jewels.

[00:13:19] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

This has gotta be so hard. I have a friend who's going through has recently divorced and her ex-husband is dating a person. And the kids, her kids and the ex-husband's, girlfriend's, kids are hanging out. And really love each other and have a good relationship and she ended up even doing some trick-or-treating with her ex and the girlfriend and the new girlfriend and all the kids together.

I guess that

[00:13:59] Naja Hall: can work out. It can absolutely work out when you have healthy adults that are kid centered. I forget who says this, but I can't, gosh, I wish I knew who said this, but one of my favorite quotes is, you've never really seen a child-centered marriage work, but we do see child-centered divorce, child-centered divorces work.

and it sounds like your friend and their co-parent and even their new partner are some real child-centered people saying, we gotta show these kids some good examples of how adults can get along. Cuz there's nothing worse than a child, right? Having to grapple with who mommy or daddy doesn't like and mitigating their emotions or feelings.

And because of that, I love that for your friend. Oh,

[00:14:42] Hunter: I'm psyched for her too. But it sounds like that's not the norm, that there's a lot of conflict and that's why people get, that makes sense. There's people get divorced because there's conflict. In your instance, you were dealing with this maybe unhealthy excuse, I

[00:14:55] Naja Hall: prefer to just call.

Instead of speaking on someone's health I do prefer in the stepmom or the blended family community. Y'all, we have acronyms, we have everything. It's not just, I didn't make these up. These was, these were there when I started doing this job. We call it the high conflict biological parent. So high conflict bio mom or high conflict by your dad.

We even have high conflict step moms and stepdads don't get it twisted. We do tend to call those personalities high conflict. and it's up to the doctor to diagnose him, not me.

[00:15:27] Hunter: I'm so glad you corrected me cuz that makes, that's a lot more respectful and that makes more sense cuz you're only speaking to your own experience.

Yes. Not to a judgment on what's happening with this person. That makes a lot more sense.

[00:15:40] Naja Hall: Yeah. Unless you've sat on my couch, I can't diagnose you and so I

[00:15:44] Hunter: Okay. But you had to deal with the high conflict biological month. That must have been incredibly hard. Yes. And you had to meet, I assume at some point.

What are some of the like positive things you did in deal in meeting and interacting with the high conflict biological mom and what are some of the mistakes you

[00:16:01] Naja Hall: made? What are the most positive things I've done was block her ass . That's the absolute most positive thing. Hunter . And that saved myself, my husband, the kids and her.

It saved everyone. From feeling so many unnecessary feelings of chaos and because when you're dealing with a high conflict personality, from what I've learned, all the therapists that work for the NARA Hall Coaching Agency my own therapist, probably yours too. If a person is constantly showing you that they have a high conflict personality, they are probably disordered somewhere in there.

Now, we can't give their disorder names. The common ones we throw around are borderline personality and they have hints of narcissism or whatever else. But once I started realizing that the chaos was not situational, meaning this person isn't having a bad day, this person isn't hurt because of their life circumstance.

This is who they are committed to being, and. Maybe they can't even control it. The one thing I realized I could control was myself and who can call my phone or email me or contact me or see my social media. And so I had to take extreme measures in the very beginning. Once I finally, and it took me some time of trying to negotiate one of my favorites used to be we never negotiate with terrorists.

And there's a lot of us out there that have tried. And what happens when you probably have tried to, when you're in some of your own life, What happens when you try to negotiate with a person who is dead set on wreaking havoc and who does not have the tools or the capacity by which to find balance?

It's gonna be hell, it's gonna be war for everyone. Yeah. I have

[00:17:43] Hunter: a person like that in my life and it's like I have to walk away. I have to say, okay, I have to walk away until walk away.

[00:17:50] Naja Hall: You walk away, what? What's the point of you talking? Because everything that you say, hunter, you and I both know is going to victimize them.

It's going to make them attack you. And you walk away feeling, especially once you've engaged, you walk away feeling nasty. I've engaged before and I just walked away. Naja, you are too good for that, right? You should not have gone there. How did you manage to lose control? And so the thing that I learned was to be very consistent in my.

[00:18:20] Hunter: What kind of self-care practice did you have to go through all of this? ,

[00:18:28] Naja Hall: Zoloft. Okay. Wait, let me be for real. . The self-care has re it's been 10 years now. We're in double digit years of. Constant chaos. And I talked about this on my own podcast on TikTok, just with anybody. Just a year, last Thanksgiving, my family suffered, my blended family suffered an unimaginable crime and it was committed against my husband at a drop off, like a kid exchange.

And that kind of before that I was good with the self-care, the meditating or I'm big on praying like my prayer game since becoming a step. I could probably go be a preacher now, honey. Like my prayer came is on point. But at different times throughout this journey, it's been prayer, it's been meditation.

It's been seeing a therapist when that incident happened. And I've talked about it on my own podcast. I'll go ahead and tell you. The drop off happened and dropouts typically used to happen. Always happened at the fire. This one particular day, something happened and it was requested that my husband bring the kids to their home instead of going to the fire station.

He got there and he was met outside and this, he was asked to engage in a conversation. He knows not to do that, when he told me the story, he was like, they were so cool. They had a sense of peace, like it. Like a new thing was starting to happen and the person was like, listen, it's just been so many speaking very rationally, like our prayers had been answered.

It's been so many years of conflict, and I realized and the person took responsibility and accountability. All of the things that we look forward to know that healing is happening. Hey, listen, I know that I've caused problems. If you lived closer, it would help a. , and I know I've made it really difficult and I just really wanna now focus on co-parenting.

And one of the things that have has been key, and at this point, I'll tell you guys this, I've never face-to-face ever seen my husband's parallel parent, not one time in real life we never met. And why?

[00:20:38] Hunter: By parallel parent, you mean his ex? Spouse. Okay. Just wanna make that clear for the listener.

[00:20:44] Naja Hall: I prefer to say the children's mom cuz I don't like to associate, okay.

So the children's mom, great. Yeah, so the kids' mom never met this person ever. Not one time, physically on the phone. We've had some run-ins. But even I learned Naja, you're not gonna win with that. These people have kids together, stay out of it. I started getting death threats like my situation.

Nuts and I'd never, I'm in my, at that point, I was in my thirties. I'm in my, I'm well in forties now, and I was like, I haven't had a bully. I, Naja doesn't get bullied. I was always the cool kid in school that. I'm cool with everybody. What have I done besides exist? I didn't interrupt the marriage.

I didn't know you when you were married. I didn't know. I didn't have anything to do with any of that. Why? The angst toward me, I started getting death threats. So I made it my business to never be around. So this particular one day the person told my husband like, listen, I just wanna work on things.

And he was like it's all good. He said, but there's one important factor that you're mirroring missing. He was like, you've introduced me to four or five of your boyfriends over these. He was like, but you haven't. I have a wife. Like I literally, this is my family. The kids love her. I have a wife. And he was like, and she was like, oh, I'll never be around her.

He was like okay, so you're telling me you wanna co-parent with me, but there's a big part of my life. And he was like, she hasn't done anything to you. You understand that right now. Truth. Now, the fact of the matter is she would call my husband sometimes and get all crazy and I would yank the. and avenge my man because, at a certain point, when are you gonna stop getting sick of disrespect?

I'm not a, I'm not a Mother Teresa here. And she's she disrespected me. Okay. We're talking eight years ago at this point, since a conversation was had. And so she went over to her car and she was like, oh, wait a minute. You never, you're never gonna bring her around. She can't come to birthdays, graduations soccer games, like whatever.

He was like, that doesn't make. He was like that. You wanna co-parent, but you're thinking you're gonna isolate. He was like, I don't say anything when your boyfriends or your people are around. She went to her car. And this is in Texas. Y'all know about Texas. And she got a pistol. Oh my God. And she presented the pistol to him and said, if you bring her around, I'm going to shoot her and kill her, and then I'm gonna kill you.

Oh God. Oh god. And so the reasons that we were doing the he was doing the fire station drop off is because there had been death threats and he was disarmed at that. Hey dad, can you just take us back to our house? We don't wanna go to the fire station. Nobody. She said that she can't, our mom said she can't come and get us today.

He's a good dad. Like of course he is a sucker for his kids. And he walked into that and he stood there. As the incident was happening, he said he was frozen. He was like, I knew not to move. I didn't know if there were ring cameras, but I didn't make any abrupt movements. He knew the exact type of gun it was.

He saw it had her hand on the. And he's so you're gonna shoot me? And he said she had some sort of look that washed over her face after she said that. After he said that it was pure humiliation and she almost looked childlike and she scurried back off to the car and came and stood there in front of him.

And within maybe five, 10 seconds, one of the kids came out. I was like, dad, you're still here. Whatcha doing here? And he said, I saw that as my out to leave. And he was like, I hugged my. And I left and I went to the police station. That's

[00:24:11] Hunter: crazy. How hard is it for him to leave the kids in that situation?

That's so frightening. Leave

[00:24:18] Naja Hall: the kids cuz he's That, and there were so many things, and in that moment, that's when I knew, I was like, okay, this is becoming too much. Before, like I told you, my, my ways were blocking and I have some I'm a support person for people in this community.

I have people that support me. The support people. We need people to take care of us too. But in that moment, that's when all of the anxieties that I had became actualized. And it sucks when your anxieties are actualized cuz now that leads to more anxiety. Cuz now you're telling your brain, see, you were right brain, you were right for making her nervous and anxious and making her fearful of certain situations cuz it happened.

. And so I had to take a serious break from everything. A step back. The first time I'd ever seen this person in real life was when they were on the stand testifying that they never pulled a weapon and it never happened. And making accusations. And then they brought one of my stepkids in to corroborate their story.

Oh, and the story obviously wasn't true. The child said I was out there the entire time. It hadn't happened. And so it rocked us. Nice. This situation rocked our family. It rocked me. It caused me a lot of resent and anger. and the rational part of me says, Naja, if a kid is prompted by an abusive person to say something, any kid speaking generally here by an abusive person to say something to defend them.

And this child was in survival mode, what do you think they're gonna do? But the other side of me, the human side of me says, wow, that sucks. Yeah, it sucked. But that had to happen and I'm angry and I'm hurt. Yeah. It took a lot of work to get past that. It took me stepping all the way. As a stepparent, some of us, I personally have the luxury to step away, right?

I've also had to really step up. And you ask what I do what needs to be done. I'll step away, I'll take breaks. You hold, I've had to, I had a psychiatrist just to examine me because. when that happened, I started having these thoughts of seeing my husband lying dead with this person standing over them.

, like these things started happening and so I had to stop. I was like, okay, girl. This isn't okay. You need to get some help. And I did. And I'm cool now, obviously, but bad. It changed the dynamic for me. It changed my approach in coaching and that situation. If I wasn't taking, when people, especially my clients tell, about their fears and theys of their anxieties and threats.

That changed the whole game for me. And so we went from being high conflict, possibly not really co-parenting to let's parallel Parenting. What parallel Parenting Hunter means is you do your thing. I do mine. , we ain't intersecting at all.

[00:27:11] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

It is interesting because, I teach Mindful, Parenting and a lot of times one parent is really into it and is shifting and changing the way they're Parenting and they always wonder what if my partner. Is not into this and is wants a parent in a totally different way and what I end up coming to often is like you can control you and you can model.

Skillful means. Just because one person is doing something in a way that's not so skillful doesn't mean you're gonna do it that way too. Just cuz so you can be on the same page, right? Like that. That doesn't make a lot of sense. Better to do something in a skillful. Have the partner, see how that works, and then maybe say, okay, so what are you doing there?

But you're talking about in a step Parenting situation. Parallel Parenting is they, the kids have one whole Parenting situation at one parent's house and then a completely different Parenting situation. So it's they just, the kids learn to adjust to two completely situ different situations, Parenting values and things like that.

Is that how that. Yeah,

[00:28:22] Naja Hall: yeah. The kids we say, oh, kids are very malleable, but I, if that's the case, why do we have all these screwed up adults out here? But unfortunately, when people cannot find a way to get along or there is such conflict that it's, sometimes it's just healthier for children to know, this is my, this is one home over here.

and this is the other home and there's no intersectionality. Yeah. You just happen to share human beings. , but there's a lot of us that make it work. Yeah. There's a lot of us that don't, that wish that it didn't have to be this way, but we don't have a choice. Okay.

[00:28:58] Hunter: So how do those, some of those conversations go with the kids?

At mom's house we get to do X, Y, Z and blah, blah, blah. Oh, they know, and that must be incredibly frustrating cuz you may have certain rules about screen time at your house and it's just a, how do those conversations with kids work and how do you approach that communication with them?

[00:29:18] Naja Hall: The kids on, not on our end, but from the other. The kids. What you'll see in a lot of alienated children is they have the responsibility of caring for their harmful parents' emotions. They have to carry the burden of their harmful parents of their dilemmas, their dramas, their problems if they don't like someone, and the kid has to carry that.

So the kids know, they know, and they've been really taught on that other end. I don't, I hate those people. They don't really like you guys that much. That's not true. It's just like they know to not bring up certain things. And so we do have our own skill screen time rules. And like I said, my husband's like super dad.

He's a really good dad. And so he has gained respect with these kids. They're very Mindful. They're really respectful of me and we have a good freaking time. even considering like this cloud of, we all know what happens when they go back to their other home. When I say there's no intersectionality, there's not, if and that's hard for children because now we're doing college applications, like we're talking about going out of town, and hunter, we're go I don't know, maybe you bring me back in six months and we'll just see what happened with

[00:30:38] Hunter: that .

It's interesting cuz what I'm hearing here is there's like a middle path in a lot of ways that, for someone who may be going into divorce or dealing with a blended family, there's like a middle path between honesty and restraint that you have to walk as the stepparent or as a parent of course you.

honest with your kids, you wanna tell them be truthful about things, right? Absolutely. But then on the other hand, you, there's a level of restraint. Yeah. Where you take into account their emotional development, their relationship to you, et cetera. Like you, they can't be right. The dumping ground for everything.

Like it's okay, a lot of times. Parents are afraid to let their kids know that they feel frustrated or sad and things like that. And I said, that's, it's okay for your kids to know that you are human and you have human feelings. Yes.

[00:31:26] Naja Hall: Yes. How do they learn how to process those emotions if you don't model it for them?

[00:31:30] Hunter: Yeah. You have to model that for them. At the same time, you don't have to dump the whole story upon them about why you're frustrated or sad necessarily and go on and on about it. And so there is this kind of middle line the path between some, just being honest and being yourself and having some restraint as the adult in this situation.

[00:31:48] Naja Hall: Yeah, I think healthy Parenting if you are a healthy. A healthy, responsible adult, you know where to draw the line. Because if you're telling an eight year old, oh, daddy hasn't paid child support and I don't know how are they gonna keep the lights on? What do you think that's doing to this kid's mind?

And what's the point of you telling them that? Are you trying to make the other parent look like a bad person? Are you trying to gain sympathy for this parent? Cuz I always tell people this in the step Parenting and blended family community is, children seem to empathize and. With the parent that they perceive as being weaker and more helpless.

So what I see is a lot of parents that practice alienation, they'll paint themselves as these big victims when in fact they're the monsters to their children, and the children will almost feel as if they have to be their caretakers. When I mentioned emotional incest earlier, they're getting them in this very unhealthy.

Relationship where a child is responsible for an adult's feelings. And so when a parent does that, when you over-indulge or overshare, that's what you're doing to your child. But your child, just like you don't have the ability or the capacity to process this. And so now you've dumped your grownup stuff on this kid, and that's not.

Not cool at

[00:33:02] Hunter: all. Yeah. Not cool. Not fair. Okay. So let's go back to the idea that like, you wanna be like the cool auntie or uncle, right? You wanna leave the discipline to the parents. Yeah. But I imagine then, Naja have been with these kids for, have been with them for a long time, right?

You're, yeah. You become like mom number two, in a lot of ways. So there are plenty of times I'm. You're alone with the kids, right? You may, they may have be having conflict conflicts arise. Lenny, how do you start to navigate into that role of maybe holding boundaries, right? Whereas you're, yeah. How do you start to wade into those

[00:33:40] Naja Hall: waters if your partner sets you up as a person, that is an authority figure.

In these kids' lives, and if your partner demonstrates to the kids that you two are a unit, if daddy or mommy says it, then like I remember one time my, my husband, he was like, Hey, so you guys need to look at Ms. Naja as if she's me. She's daddy's second person. She's daddy's assistant. So she's telling you to do something.

Understand that she is coming from me and we didn't have any issues. We haven't had any issues. But the kids know. He's done such a good job of setting me up as a person that's an authority figure in their lives that they haven't tried to cross me. Now, I will say this, you're biological, you're step, you're foster, your nieces and nephews.

Kids are going to test you and try you because they're testing their own boundaries. They're trying to figure the world out right now. So I don't take it personally if. I tell a kid to do something and then I have to ask again, and I have to explain why. I love explaining to children why my why's behind 'em telling them to do things that teaches them to know that they're gonna have to explain to me why getting off topic.

But I have a rule if they ask me for a video game or t-shirt or something. I'm almost gonna say, why do you want that? Because what? Oh, cuz I want it. No. Why? I want, I need you to tell me why. And either they'll get frustrated and say, forget it. Or they'll go back in their memory bank and say I was on YouTube and I saw it, and now I want it.

So now I have a chance to explain to them the influence of media and being pre careful about protecting their minds. , but there's that. So I always try to lead for lead from example with kids and scenarios like that. And when you're, in my case, like when you're an alienated stepparent, the impact and the influence that you have is manipulated and.

You're not going to have as much as you want, and you just need to be okay with that. You gotta be, you have to say, okay I'm doing what I can, but it's limited. There's not really a lot that I can do.

[00:35:38] Hunter: Yeah. It's gonna be limited. Yeah. How do you, what, do you have any recommendations for stepparents to create connection?

Because that's the glue, right? We know that with parents. Their connection to their kids is the reason why kids wanna cooperate. They, that is why they intrinsic, or if they have any intrinsic motivation to cooperate, it's cuz of that connection and that care. So as a stepparent, I imagine you're really, you're trying to create that connection.

Once you've, you're in enmeshed in that family, what are some, do you have any tips for people to be able to strengthen and cultivate that? ,

[00:36:14] Naja Hall: the key thing that you said is it's about developing a connection and even though Step Parenting is as old as the Bible and probably all the books that are older than that, just taking on someone else's child and loving them as your own in modern society, we've seen that step.

Motherhood is, motherhood rather is one of those things that we put on a ped. If we look at, if you see, I know some crackhead meth addict moms who've abandoned their children, and these grown adult children will make excuses for this person. But fatherhood doesn't really have that same grace.

Dads don't really, dad, dads aren't given that type of grace. So if you're given, just because you birth a human being, you're automatically placed on this mantle, like the patron saint of motherhood. And what happens when another woman impedes on that space that society has given you? Just because you biologically did what your body was, what you, what it was supposed to do.

Somebody else is impeding on that space. This person's automatically gonna be given a bad rap. While Disney certainly didn't help a step. And in many cases, and I know a lot of the your gentlemen listeners out there, the male identifying people probably, when I say this, they're gonna roll their eyes, but stepdads are looked at as the heroes cuz they're coming in rescuing this suffering single mother, this hardworking mom and her children that some guy just ran off and left when maybe that's not the.

And I said the the gentleman and listeners might have an issue with that. I mean it's cause it's true. It's true. A step ga dad gets a lot of grace, but we are impeding on this very important thing I said all that to say is we have to go through the back door with forming our connections if the mother is not allowing.

Unnatural connection to have. If the mother is saying, the biological mother is telling these kids stuff, or kids are caught in loyalty, binds on their own sometimes having two very healthy parents, one of the things you can do to connect with your stepchildren is, number one, understand that it's never, it's not gonna feel traditional.

These are your nieces. They're not your nephews. They see that you are in a position that one of their parents used to be in. Okay, my mom and dad were together, but now you're here. Are you gonna try to be my mom and dad? You wanna reaffirm to the kid first and foremost, honey, I'm not trying to do that.

I don't want that role. I'm good on that. Like you got two parents. I ain't trying to be that. You wanna real and you don't have to necessarily. But it's all in how you treat the child. You give them options, you speak to them on another level. You have the privilege of not having to parent this child. You do have some responsibilities obviously, but you know how they turn out.

That's on their parents, it ain't on you. Secondly, find things that they really love to do. If you know your stepchild loves, is it Roblox or Sims or whatever? If you know they love that, it might benefit. To show them that you downloaded on your phone. My stepdaughter used to be into Sims and one time, we were together and I showed her my computer.

I was like, Hey, look at this world I built. She literally, her jaw dropped and she was like, oh my God. And we talked for hours. She even mentioned that this, when we were to just recently together remember you were playing sims. I was like, yeah, girl, I just did that for you. But it meant something to her because she saw this was something that's exclusive, just.

My stepdaughters know that I'm a makeup skincare, like hair fanatic, like I'm a freak about it. And so now they're coming of age where they're into makeup and stuff. And I go by the makeup, like we go and do that together and that's one of our things. And so taking a special interest in things that you see that these kids are interested.

Is your segue to allowing them to know you, which is very important to humanizing you, and to also just building a rapport with them.

[00:40:12] Hunter: I love that because yeah, when you have biological kids or adopted kids that you have as babies, they just immediately there's that, attachment, relationship, there's a lot of lot of things working in your favor and kids just love you a lot.

And but what I'm hearing from you is that the little bit of the role of the stepparent. Like when we have to connect with our kids as they get older, as they get to be teens, where we have to meet them where they're at. We have to like, it's not about them coming to us and just automatically having that touch when we have to.

It's almost like you're dating, right? Like you have to make a connection. You have to make time, you have to call to, be, I love that. Be interested in their interests. That's really

[00:40:54] Naja Hall: beautiful. When I see a new stepparent saying, oh my God, I love these kids, as if they were my own. I just rolled my eyes and said, girl, dude, you're lying.

First of all, stop lying. You don't have to lie to be cool . We didn't immediately fall in love with our partners when we first met them. That was developed over time, and so I don't expect. Anyone to look me in my eye that have known some kids for six months and say, I love them unconditionally.

Your step kids don't love you unconditionally, right? And so if you expect them to, you are gonna cause them harm and your self-harm, and it's gonna create this unnecessary tension in the relationship. So

[00:41:30] Hunter: set. Set those expectations.

[00:41:32] Naja Hall: Yeah, it's okay to fall in love very slowly. And sometimes people just develop a respectful to.

In their step-family relationships, it doesn't always matriculate into love, and that's okay too.

[00:41:46] Hunter: All right. I love this. I'm so glad you're giving giving the listener permission to feel what they feel, right? To not make it into this pie in the sky thing. Like it should be this way. Yeah. Because it's gonna look so many different ways.

I think that's, yeah, that's really. I love this Naja. This has been so great. What, is there anything we missed? And also where can people who are interested in diving into more about step families find out from what you're

[00:42:16] Naja Hall: doing? One thing that I, we, you mentioned expectations, and this is something that I tell my clients every single day, is if you don't mitigate, if you don't align your expectations with your reality, you are in for a world of hurt quickly and adjust your expect.

As needed if the forecast is telling you that it's gonna rain and snow today, You expect it to be a sunny 80 degrees, but the forecast and everything around you is showing you that a storm is brewing, but you take your behind outside with your tank top on, and your cutoff jeans and your sunglasses, and you get rained on.

This means that. Your expectations were not aligned with your reality. Your reality is a storms are brewing and you better prepare. And so if that's your case for your stepfamily situation, meaning if you have a high conflict parent or if you have a parent that is very connected and wants to be your friend and you don't want that, there's so many examples that I could list off, but please align your expect.

With your reality and quickly be checking yourself all the time you stand to be a less anxiety regret, field, frustrated person if you do that. All right.

[00:43:32] Hunter: I love that. I love that. Thank you.

[00:43:34] Naja Hall: Oh, and you asked me where could they find me? Yes. That too. . Oh yeah. Sorry guys. So my name is Naja Hall.

If you, I'm not trying to be a jerk with this, but if you go on me, you'll see everything that I do. You'll see I have a Naja Hall coaching agency. I have v i p stepmom for people that identify themselves as stepmothers. You don't have to be. To be in v i p stepmom just as long as you understand and you want to learn more about the stepmom experience and get help with your own experience, and that's where you go.

I'm on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and all of the things. And one of the things that's super fun for me right now is I do have that I just recently launched is Naja Hall Beauty. I launched a beauty in skincare line for those of us that you know are still sexy and hot over 40. Over, over 40.

So yeah, let's say, my, yeah, it's for everybody,

[00:44:32] Hunter: which is great because your listener, if you're only listening to the audio, I'm looking at Naja and . She is got, she's got some beautiful, very beautiful. Skincare makeup, like she's got skincare, makeup game. I can tell it's like .

[00:44:50] Naja Hall: Yes. Yes. And I have my right after this, so I'm about to go put my wig on.

You see my makeup is already done. And , take the pictures. I got you, hunter. I got you. .

[00:45:05] Hunter: I, I have things to learn from you there. . This has been so much fun. Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to come on the Mindful Mama podcast and talk about this with us. I really

[00:45:17] Naja Hall: appreciate it.

Thank you for having me and many blessings and love and success over everything that you touch. May it turn to gold. Ooh,

[00:45:26] Hunter: love it.

I hope you loved this episode. I hope that it was helpful. I hope you liked it as much as Chi Mom of three liked the past episodes, she re left a five star Apple Podcast review, which makes such a big difference. She said. Best Parenting guests. This is a great resource to hear from so many of the leading experts on Parenting and the life of a parent.

Helpful and actionable items come from each interview and I, so I hope you got some of those helpful and actionable items. I would love for you to take. One action to either to share the podcast or leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify just makes such a big difference and helps the podcast grow, helps spread the good word of more awareness.

Less reactivity. Hallelujah. That's what we need. So thank you. If you have, and I can't wait to give you a shout out on your review here on the podcast, and I hope you have a lovely week, my friend, and I can't wait. To be back in your ears, in your buds while you are driving or golden or, I dunno, what do you do?

I listen to podcast while like when I get outta the shower. It's really gray here in Delaware. And I hope for you, you get patches of sunshine and I hope for me too. And I'm wishing you a great week. Talk to you again soon. Thank you so much for listening. Namaste.

[00:47:09] Naja Hall: I'd say definitely do it. It's really

[00:47:10] Hunter: helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It

[00:47:14] Naja Hall: will help you communicate better and just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse, it's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you're connecting. With them and not feeling like you yelling all the time, or you're like, why isn't things working? I would say definitely into it. It's so worth it.

It'll change you no matter what age someone's child is. It's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this. You can continue in your old habits that aren't working, or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift.

Everything in your Parenting,

[00:48:12] Hunter: are you frustrated by parent? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting membership. You'll be joining hundreds of members who have discovered the path of Mindful Parenting and now have confidence in clarity in their Parenting. This isn't just another Parenting class.

This is an opportunity to really discover your unique lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go. Mindful Parenting to add your name to the wait list, so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment.

I look forward to seeing you on the inside, Mindful Parenting

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