5 Steps to More Peace in Your Stepfamily
"The problem for children is not divorce. It is conflict." - Patricia Papernow
What level of conflict are your kids and step-kids experiencing?
Decades of research show the negative impact of conflict on children's future. Regular and unresolved conflict between parents, step-parents and ex's is linked to lower self-esteem, poorer academic achievement and more difficult future social and/or romantic relationships. This is true regardless of family structure. (Never divorced, single-parent and stepfamilies)
The good news is, you can do something about it!
Parents and step-parents who intentionally work toward peace for their children make a significant investment into their success through childhood and well into their adult years!
Here's 5 ways to build more peace in your child's life starting today:
Choose to BE Peaceful
It starts with you! There are all kinds of interactions and dynamics within stepfamily life that can push you into poor behavior. However, you might ask yourself this question: Will I allow that other person or situation to cause a negative outcome for my child by robbing us of peace? We can all choose to be more peaceful regardless of how others respond.
Improve Your Negotiation and Communication Skills
We could all get better in these areas. Step-couples are often negotiating with each other and with the other household. This requires attention and skill. Here's two resources to take a first step:
Plan Your Response
After a while, dealing with ex's can become predictable. Many parents dread interactions because we "know" the response we're going to get. The truth is, we're making assumptions more than predictions; however, we can use this to our advantage.
When you "predict" a challenging interaction around the corner with your ex, think through as many possible reactions they might throw at you and plan your response to each one. Consider how you can respond peacefully in a way that will benefit your kids. If you need to, write your responses down…this can help you respond well in the moment.
Practice Your Response
Once you have your responses planned, practice your delivery. Maybe you have a trusted friend, a coach or counselor or maybe your current spouse can help. Take some time to role play and prepare yourself to BE Peaceful!
Remember, this extra effort is about creating a more peaceful environment for your children to thrive. It is well worth the effort!
Like I said before, when we're "predicting" our ex's response we're actually making assumptions. That means we might get it wrong. Be prepared, but be flexible. Your ex might surprise you by not responding negatively. Or they may blow up over something you never imagined. Regardless of their response, you can choose peace…don't let them rob it from you or from your kids!
Stay focused on what YOU can do to increase peace in your stepfamily…you'll be happy you did!
QUESTION: Which step do you need to take today? Leave a comment below...