Ted Kennedy’s Sons in Dispute With Stepmother Vicki Kennedy

Front page news on July 24th for the Boston Herald.  Among several disputes Kennedy’s sons have with their stepmother is the use of the Kennedy compound home and pool.  In his will, Ted Kennedy indicated the home is to be a charitable institute and cannot be used for personal reasons.

This must be psychologically difficult since his children used it during their entire lives, but now that it is charitable, the rules are fair market value rent for use. Read the article here: http://bit.ly/LKOcb7

A stepmother’s role is extremely challenging.  Although no two situations are alike—people’s weaknesses and strengths differ, as do relationships—one thing remains constant: You will always be at a disadvantage. You may know a lot about family issues, and have a lot of family responsibilities, but you will have absolutely no influence.   If you attempt to give advice or to intervene in a particular situation, your input will not only be unwelcome; you run the risk of being rejected and characterized as an impossible woman.   The dynamic changes again if you are now a widow and the ‘family glue’ is no longer there to maintain the rapport.

Like all women, the stepmother wants everybody to play nice in the sand box.  If and when they don’t, she is inclined to help solve everybody’s problems and make the family situation better. If that sounds familiar, you will soon find out, if you haven’t already, that your desire to rescue everyone is wishful thinking.  Once your rescue fantasy evaporates, the reality of how little control your have over the relationships in your blended family is bound to frustrate you—human beings like to control things.

To alleviate continual disappointment, try to remind yourself constantly that a death creates loss for everybody, and that loss inevitably produces emotional conflicts. Create reasonable expectations of how much harmony you can or cannot create. Lastly, accept that there will be moments in which you will be included, and moments in which, no matter how badly you would like it to be otherwise, you won’t be.

This may also create a good time for you to reassess your estate documents and update beneficiaries.  Many times with all the emotions and responsibilities necessary when you lose your spouse you may forget to change those important documents.


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently released an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit, http://www.patriciaannino.com.


  1. Laura Piscopo says:

    Great advice, Patricia. These words of wisdom resonate in terms of estate planning and the psychology around being a stepmom. Thanks.

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