Monday, April 29, 2013

Secrets Of Successful Stepfamilies - Part 1


Some time ago I heard about a survey that was conducted in order to identify characteristics that are most common to strong families. Although it isn’t usually useful to compare step-and blended families to nuclear families (because they operate on such different dynamics) the points that have been identified apply equally. These are:

  1. COMMITMENT
  2. APPRECIATION
  3. COMMUNICATION
  4. STRESS MANAGEMENT
  5. TIME SPENT TOGETHER
  6. SPIRITUAL UNIT
This is the way I see it applying to stepfamilies:

COMMITMENT

As all of us who are in stepfamilies know, moving into stepfamily living requires a large amount of commitment  that begins with the acceptance of a partner with appendages. This may mean that your weekends will no longer be there to do with as you wish; it may mean that you have to share your home with “little strangers” on a permanent basis; it may mean that your own children will have to make room for your partner’s brood. Commitment, of course, is just as necessary to remaining in the stepfamily, especially when the going gets tough. How do you feel when little Sally doesn’t want anything to do with you because you’ve “stolen” her daddy? What’s it like when 9 year old Sam tells you that his real dad is much cooler than you and that he’d much rather play his computer game than kick the soccer ball around with YOU? What goes on in your head when adolescent Bill lands on your doorstep bag in hand, declaring that he’s had enough of living with mum and now wants to live with you instead?

Every step-person who’s been in the step-position for longer than a day will have an inkling that step-life may not be all they had imagined it to be. Every step-person who’s been in that position for longer than a few months will know that the step-journey is strewn with loads of obstacles. Some of these obstacles may appear in the shape of an ex-partner, a non-supportive partner and/or difficult step-children. Others might be of a financial nature, your own children disliking the prince or princess of your choice …or it could be any one of a thousand different things….and this is where commitment comes in. Without commitment what would stop you from giving up, packing it in, running for the hills?

COMMITMENT IS…

* A promise and decision of significance and lasting value. 
*.Hanging in there when the going gets tough.
* Walking the journey together through thick and thin.
* Supporting the partner when he/she is having a rough time.
* “In sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer…..”

COMMITMENT IS VITAL TO STEPFAMILY SUCCESS.

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