Christy Tusing-Borgeld is the founder of National Stepfamily Day.
She is on the board of The National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) in charge of Stepfamily Activites as well as part of the Stepfamily Expert Council.
Christy was Director of Public Affairs for Stepfamily Foundation (1997-1998)
Christy’s primary interest is helping to provide good resources and information to stepfamilies throughout the United States. She has been promoting Stepfamily Day and Stepfamily Day picnic which includes stepfamily members all over the country.
Christy also develops and maintains relationships with government on the federal, state and local levels as well as other professional groups for joint endeavors related to stepfamilies.
Claudette: Hi and welcome to our first day of our 3-day event.
Our first speaker is Christy Tusing-Borgeld. Christy is the creator of National Stepfamily Day, which by the way is Today. It’s the 23rd anniversary of the National Stepfamily Day – TODAY!
It’s not by coincidence that we’re kicking off our summit on this very special day.
I wanted us to honor and celebrate Christy for all the hard work and achievements in regards to National Stepfamily Day.
Unfortunately, in late July, Christy injured herself and suffered a brain trauma. That’s why she’s not able to be here with us. She was very disappointed that she couldn’t do a video conference with me for this special occasion. And I know that she’s watching us, waving and saying hi.
So we did the next best thing. I was able to have a phone conversation with Christy. And with her permission, recorded this interview to share with you.
Christy: Hi. I’m Christy Tusing-Borgeld and I would like to wish all of you a Happy Stepfamily Day.
Claudette: So lets get to know Christy’s journey a bit more.
Christy, a single mom of four, married James, dad of two in 1992. Not long after, they had an “ours” baby boy – Tyler.
She had a hard finding any kind of help or support, especially in the early 90s and decided she needed to do something. She got inspired after reading an article where President Clinton made a proclamation for National Parents Day. Christy was determined to create something for the stepfamily – not just the parents but for everyone.
Here’s Christy sharing how Stepfamily Day got started:
Christy: Stepfamily Day was born out of heartache and pain. I wanted to find a way to take that pain and turn it into something that we could work with.
My dream was to have National Stepfamily Day be a day to bring awareness and to support all stepfamilies no matter if they merged while or if they have struggles. That was my biggest dream when it started. And also for the kids. I think my heart really went out for the kids that didn’t have to live with the stigma of being in a stepfamily.
Claudette: Christy has worked very hard to get stepfamilies recognized.
Creating a proclamation is not an easy feat, for those who don’t know or understand the process. For Christy, all this was new to her. With the help of a staffer, and taking on what Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day did, she got her proclamation done.
Christy: When I started in 1997, there were 800 emails only of government officials, because not everyone had emails. I emailed all 800 and then I’d faxed the rest. And back then, it wasn’t free to fax. We had long distances charges and I want to also mention that I’ve never received a dime on anything to do with National Stepfamily Day. Never have. I never wanted to profit of something that was meant to help.
There were times that I would start working on National Stepfamily Day, like in January and I wouldn’t be done till the end of September. So it was a lot of work – emails, phone calls, conversations, meetings with a lot of government officials.
Claudette: In 1999 Christy received a Congressional Parenting Emmy in Washington DC which was held at the Russell senate building. Then later, in 2001, National Stepfamily Day is put into the United States Congressional Record. So let’s take a moment to hear what Christy had to say about what were some of her proudest achievements.
Christy: I think, the first one would be getting State Proclamations and the second one would be having Stepfamily Day placed in the Congressional Records.
The government officials wanted me to have an activity to go along with the proclamation, that was taken on the whole National Activity and that’s where the National Stepfamily Day Picnics came.
The main goal of National Stepfamily Day was to have families come together whether it be to have a picnic, family photo. I received emails with people planting a tree. I think it would be any activity that would bring the family together. And it doesn’t always have to be on National Stepfamily Day. It could be that following weekend or after.
One thing that always encouraged me is if any government officials shared their stories about what a beautiful stepmother or stepfather that they had. The more I saw a greater need to go further and further with Stepfamily Day.
Claudette: In case you weren’t aware of this, National Stepfamily Day is celebrated around the world. Some of the countries Christy mentioned during our conversation were:
- South Africa
Next we talked about media coverage and how people found out about National Stepfamily Day. I personally interviewed Christy a few times, and most recently for the September issue of Stepmom Magazine. So lets listened to what she had to say.
Christy: One of the biggest honors was when Oprah called to have me be on Sirius XM Radio with Dr. Bergman and doing an interview on Stepfamily Day. I’ve had had the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, a lot of locals – Chicago Tribune, The Grand Rapids, Detroit Free Press. I even worked with a Japanese network on a documentary for the American Stepfamilies.
Claudette: Christy worked and volunteered for various organizations to help understand, educate and provide help on and for the benefits for stepfamilies as well as share what best practices and resources to use. Christy shares some of her functions over the years:
Christy: The Stepfamily Foundation I was director of Public Affairs, the Stepfamily Association of America, I was director of membership guest services. And then when the Stepfamily Association closed, they brought it over to the Stepfamily Resource Center of Auburn University. All the board members went with them. I had the honor of working with the nations’ top psychiatrists, psychologists, divorced stepfamily remarriage. It was an amazing education.
Stepfamilies In The Census
Here’s how the US Census defines a stepfamily: “The US Census Bureau generally does not use this term in tabulations. Stepparents and stepchildren must reside in the same household in order to be tabulated. Step relationships are self-reported, so may include stepparents who were never married to the biological parent of their stepchild.”
We’re being seen and we’re being counted! In the 2020 US Census, there’s a specific question asking whether the child in your household is a stepson or a stepdaughter. A big win for the stepfamily community. The Census provides needed data and information to help law makers, researcher, and professionals, know the number of stepfamilies are in the US, how long they stay together and other valuable information. Being counted helps provide the kind of information needed to provide programs and resources to support stepfamilies.
Here’s Christy in her own words about the Census
Christy: Speaking of the Census, The Stepfamily Association of America worked with them on making sure that when the census comes out, and I was part of that committee, that the United States Census puts stepfathers, stepmothers, stepsiblings because in order to get funding and to get more resources and help out there, we needed the United States Census Bureau to make sure that stepfamilies numbers were mentioned on there. And that was back in 1998 – 1999. We were really in close contact with making sure that got done because statistics weren’t always out there, because stepfamily members weren’t counted.
And I also want to mention, and I’ve never really said anything like this in an interview ever, but I am right now, I receive hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails, throughout the year. I always try to point them in the right direction and give them links to professional help. I mean some people might not realize that OK, Stepfamily Day comes and goes but throughout the whole year, and because of National Stepfamily day, it’s one reason why, from 1997 to before July 27th, hundreds and thousands of emails, I have helped people through email and in-boxing me on Facebook. I always tried to help everybody.
Claudette: Christy started out with an idea, to help easy her pain and struggles of merging the two families together. National Stepfamily Day started out with an idea, a vision and a goal. She asked for help to get her dream fulfilled.
Here is Christie’s biggest wish. Let’s help her get it.
Christy: My biggest wish is that everyone continues to spread the word.
How can we help Christy spread the word about National Stepfamily Day?
Tell your friends, your family, your neighbor. Tell your elected officials.
Let everyone know about National Stepfamily day by checking out and sharing The National Stepfamily Day Facebook Page