I recently received a comment on a podcast I did entitled Ever Feel Like Giving Up? In it I was speaking to the adults of stepfamilies and encouraging them not to give up though I understand it can be very hard at times.
The comment I received was from a stepchild we’ll call JJ. This is part of what she wrote:
“Step parents complaining about their step children is SO OFFENSIVE. So highly offensive. They FREELY CHOSE to have step children. The step children did not freely choose to have step parents. Not only that, but many step parents were raised in intact families, so they have literally NO CLUE what it’s like to be the step child and the alienation a step child feels on a day to day basis. The level and type of inequality is staggering and nobody talks about it”.
I told her I agree with her that step children certainly did not ask for their parents to divorce (or die, whatever the case may be) and the loss they feel is tremendous. She brought up a good point about step kids perhaps feeling alienated in their new family. And this can be especially true if the adults are not aware that their kids may be feeling this way or that it could be a potential. Alienation is a strong-emotive word. Webster defines it as “the state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved.” So feeling left out of something you really should belong to. I have seen alienation take place in both step kids and stepparents.
I have not met a stepfamily yet that found their family was easier than they thought it would be. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Blending a family takes time and it takes work. And it takes all of the members wanting to blend. Sometimes the kids are the ones who don’t want the new family and so they sabotage it. They refuse to accept the new relationships. And sometimes it’s the stepparent. Every family is different with so many different facets to look at.
One thing we do need to remember is that the biological parent brought the new spouse into the family. And the biological parent needs to help make their new partner successful in step parenting. JJ said she felt it offensive that stepparents “complain about their step children.” I’ve seen it go both ways. Blending means for the members of a family to feel they are actually a part of each other, they belong to each other and they mix together to produce a desired result.
Psalm 68:5,6 says, “God is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows and He sets the lonely in families.”
Our families are not perfect. No one’s is. Not even first time families are perfect because they have people in them. And sometimes they don’t particularly like each other. But they belong to each other. And that can become the story of stepfamilies as they blend and feel more and more that they belong to each other.
So what can we do to make our families work better? An attitude of thankfulness goes a long way. Get tools, coaching, have family meetings and communicate. And that’s an admonition to the adults. Take time to talk with your kids and find out how they are doing. If you see signs such as depression, lower grades, withdrawal or any at-risk behavior in your kids, please don’t wait to get help. They are worth too much.
Children of divorce have lost a lot. They didn’t ask for their family to fall apart. They have suffered due to the decisions made by others. So let’s do all we can to help them thrive and move forward. I know most stepparents come into their new roles with many hopes and expectations of having a great relationship with their new “child”. That’s a good parent. But sometimes those hopes and dreams get thwarted for various reasons. If you find you are there, you can start afresh. If some relationships in the family need improvement, get the tools and help from someone who has been through it and understands it so that you can move forward. Your family is worth the investment. And if you think you don’t have time, then that’s another thing to look at.
I hope to hear from you at nouveaulifecoaching.com. Until next time, may God bless you as you blend your stepfamily.