Why am I telling you this story? Because what I came to realize over the years was that what made the difference between mum and dad’s early years (their battles, unhappiness and divorce) and their later re-marriage and subsequent happiness (which brought happiness not just to the two of them but to the entire family) was their level of MATURITY. In their younger years they were pretty immature (like most of us are in our younger years). They were focused mainly on THEIR personal happiness – THEIR needs and desires, THEIR painful feelings and THEIR pride. After all the years of separation with its accompanying hardships, heartache and the devastation of our family, however, they felt ready to do things differently. Not that it came so much easier the second time round, but they had learnt that successful relationships require a certain amount of sacrifice which they were now willing to make. Maturity, of course, isn’t birthed into us and is rarely acquired in our younger years. It isn’t something we are given as a birthday gift nor can it be bought – BUT it is essential to happy satisfying relationships. For second-time-round relationships (as in step-relationships) it is of particular importance and will be the ultimate determinant of whether we will ‘make it’ (or not). It’s with that in mind that I’ve chosen the issue of maturity for today’s topic.
MATURITY = PATIENCE
Patience is the willingness to pass up immediate pleasure in favour of long-term gain. It is said that patience is a virtue. Well, it certainly doesn’t come easily to the majority of people. I know because I am an active member of that majority and it’s taken a long time for me to acquire it.
Patience for YOU, the step-parent, means:
* Recognition of the need to move slowly and gently into the lives of your stepchildren.
* The realization that stepchildren may need to go through a grieving period before they can accept the new family situation.
* Not to rush or manipulate your stepchildren into demonstrations of affection.
* Understanding that your step-kids won’t respond kindly to attempts at discipline until you have earned the right which cannot happen until you’ve gained their trust.
* Understanding how difficult it is for your partner to be ‘piggy in the middle’ and not to push him or her into taking sides.
* Recognition and graceful acceptance that it usually takes a long time for stepfamilies before they can live together in relative harmony.
As this is a fairly lengthy article, I'll be posting it in sections. Please stay tuned for the next installment. Till then....Happy stepmothering!