Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angry with your stepkids?

More often than not it’s the step kids that make stepfamily life such a challenge. If it isn’t their behaviour, it could be that their biological mum or dad (your darling partner) just seems to drool over them; that this very same partner who just cannot see (what surely is blatantly obvious) their multitude of faults!...or that he or she simply refuses to take your side when you are clearly right about something or the “rotten egg” isn’t at all sympathetic to your plight. If that’s how it is for you, read on…..
What can you do?


1. ASK YOURSELF:

WHO AM I REALLY ANGRY WITH?

*The step kid?
*His/her bio mum/dad (my partner)?
*His/her bio mum/dad (my partner’s ex)?
*Myself?

2. THINK ABOUT IT:

Figure out WHY it is that you are angry with one, more or all of the abovementioned people.

Be prepared:

*That your REAL anger may have little to do with your step kids. It might instead be to do with your partner’s way of dealing with them;
*with his/her ex’s poisoning tactics;
*with your inability to deal with the situation…..
*or could be there for any number of other reasons.
*Then again, it might really be the step kids you want to strangle. Whatever the case may be, the next helpful step is to…..

3. WRITE IT DOWN:

Writing can be enormously useful. It helps to clarify ones thoughts and feelings….and is good pre-verbalisation practice.

4. TALK ABOUT IT:

Now that you are clear on the issue, tell your partner.
In order to do this without putting him/her on the defensive, it helps to:

*Wait for the right time – don’t do it the moment your partner walks through the front door after a hard day at work.
*Create the right atmosphere – e.g. take your partner out for a coffee, make a special meal for the two of you, take a walk through the bush/forest or by the beach.
*Start by telling your partner how much you love/admire/appreciate him/her for…….whatever you truly love/admire and appreciate about them.
*Tell your partner that the reason you are raising the issue is because it is a real problem to you and you want him/her to help you resolve it for the sake of more harmonious family living (and your sanity!).
*Remain calm and (preferably) unemotional.
*When you tackle the issue (talk about your anger) ensure that you “own” your thoughts and feelings. This is best done by using “I” language (e.g. “I feel really angry when your son arrives and ignores me completely” or “I feel hurt and unappreciated if you don’t back me up in my expectations of your children’s behaviour in this home” or “I feel taken advantage of when your kids don’t help with the cleaning up” – get the idea?
*If your partner reacts defensively, tell him/her that this is not about accusations, winning a battle, scoring points or anything else of that nature. It’s about YOU needing HIS or HER help to resolve a problem.

5. TOGETHER FIND A SOLUTION:

Because the problem involves a number of people and relationships, a solution may not be easy to find. Sometimes the only possible solution is to compromise. If compromise is the answer, don’t let it distress you. Remember a compromise is better than no change at all! Rome wasn’t built in one day either.

MOST IMPORTANTLY you’ve just spent quality time with your partner; have practiced a new way of communicating; have ensured that he or she is aware of what’s really going on for you; have been open and vulnerable thus giving him/her permission to do the same – in other word YOU’VE JUST MADE A VALUABLE INVESTMENT TOWARD A HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL FUTURE.

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