3 Super Strengths of Your Crazy Blended Family Life
In all the chaotic craziness of blended family life, it's easy to overlook the positive.
But the reality is, all the complex dynamics and relationships give your blended family unique opportunities to build super strengths. Many of the challenges you face are subtly building these strengths in you, your kids & step-kids and in your family as a whole.
Looking back at the (nearly) two decades of our journey, it's sometimes easy for me to complain about the difficulties we've had to face. But when I slow down enough to really think about it, I'm not so sure I would change much.
There are these moments when our oldest comes home for a visit and I'm amazed at her character. This bratty, disrespectful, irresponsible step-daughter of mine has somehow become a young lady of compassion, kindness and drive. She is working her way through college with hope and thoughtfulness.
Other times, I hear the observations of our younger kids. They talk about the lessons they've learned and the pitfalls they want to avoid as they prepare to enter adulthood. I think to myself, "Wow! What an amazing privilege to see such character emerge out of chaos."
And then there are the conversations when Kim and I reflect on the challenges of our journey and discover the insight and wisdom that has come from our struggles. We've learned so much and our kids have picked up great life lessons. In one form or another, every member of our crazy blended family has gained strengths through the journey.
Here are just a few…
3 Super Stepfamily Strengths
We all need to remember the wisdom from those great stepfamily gurus…The Rolling Stones when they sing, "You can't always get what you want!".
No truer words are spoken about life in a blended family. There are countless things each member of your blended family wants, but you know they'll never have. At some point we all have to find acceptance with that.
Blending families have to tolerate annoying habits of the new people in their home. They've got to endure unwarranted bad attitudes about each other. They have put up with people they dislike or distrust. And they have to deal with the influence (positive or negative) of the kid's other home.
Over time, most family members begin to learn acceptance for all the things that are less than desirable. What a great life lesson for our kids! As they head to college and out into the real world, they're going to run into annoying people, other's bad attitudes and people they don't like very much.
You're blended family can eventually find acceptance with missing out on some wants, but remember the rest of the Stones song, "…but if you try sometimes, you might find — you get what you need!".
Someday you'll look back over your journey and you might find that everyone got what they needed and learned the value of acceptance - that's a Super Strength.
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Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a planner.
I like to make a plan. I like to stick to a plan. And I like to see a plan come to completion!
Nowhere in life have I learned more about dealing with plans that go awry than in our blended family journey. Now I just have to plan for plans to change. ;-)
With kids moving back and forth between two families, flexibility is crucial. The coordination of schedules and process of decision making is often doubled for stepfamilies compared to first families.
You've got four (or even more!) parents coordinating with each other trying to help the kids be successful in school, sports, music, art and whatever else they might have interests in. There's often two birthday parties, two Christmas celebrations and two family vacations to schedule.
Managing the daily life of most blended families can be summed up in one word — chaotic. Plans are made and then they change due to some dynamic that's often out of our control and even outside of our own household.
Kids get a front row seat in learning to go with the flow when they grow up in a blended family. Flexibility helps them become better thinkers, responders and problem solvers when something doesn't go as expected.
And it's not just the kids. We get to learn the value of flexibility too which will help us in our partnership, at work, in our social life and just about anywhere else we're around people.
Embrace the Super Strength of Flexibility!
I love this definition of resilience: the speedy recovery from problems.
Those of us living in blended families experience lots of problems that other families never have to face. We deal with problems building bonds in step-relationships. We encounter problems co-parenting with our Ex's. We struggle through problems when kids are acting out or isolating because of the losses they’ve experienced.
Sometimes adults in stepfamilies take the "just get over it" approach, which is a discussion for another time.
But step-couples who choose to approach problems with the attitude of "let's get through it", give their blended family the gift of resilience.
Over the years, we've discovered that every time we face a problem and put the effort in to get each member of our family through it rather than over it, we build resilience. Every success and every failure becomes a lesson that prepares us for the next challenge. The more we've faced, the speedier we get at recovery.
Once again…a great life lesson for our kids. They're going to face problems in life. Relational, emotional, social and vocational problems that they'll need to work through. The resilience you're building into them today will keep them on track.
It may be difficult to see at this point in your journey, but every time you move through a problem in your blended family, you're equipping yourself and your kids with the Super Strength of Resilience!
Strength in the Struggle
I've lived my entire life in more than one blended family. I was born into a blended family. My mom passed away when I was young and we formed another blended family when my dad remarried. Fast forward to my marriage day where Kim and I formed our own blended family.
From just about every angle, I personally know the struggles that come with blended family life.
Better yet, I know the awesome benefits of these Super Strengths that can develop out of a beautiful, wonderful, chaotic and crazy blended family life.
QUESTION: What other Super Strengths have you discovered on your blended family journey? Leave a comment below…