We experience all kinds of challenges on our stepparenting journey. Whether it’s a rebellious stepchild, a combative ex-spouse, or a loneliness that pervades your home, here’s a strategy that can help.
Have you heard of the 90/10 principle? It’s a Steven Covey principle that says:
“10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react.”
How do we translate that to stepfamily life?
Here are a few examples:
You can’t control influences from the other home that affect your stepchildren’s attitude toward you. But you can control your response to their behavior. You can refuse to be offended by a cold stare or apathetic demeanor and commit to maintaining a positive perspective.
You can’t control the behavior of an ex-spouse. But you can decide to stay out of the conflict and give your spouse freedom to manage it without your interference.
You can’t control whether your stepchild makes a bad choice, but you can control how you react. You can get angry and demean your stepchild, or you can calmly discuss the incident with consequences.
You can’t control the effects of loyalty conflict that bleed into your home and affect your relationships. But you can choose to be kind toward your stepchild when he talks about his mom, which in turn influences his relationship with you.
Our circumstances may not be within our control. But our reactions are!
A personal example
A few years ago, we had an ongoing refrigerator problem at our house for more than six weeks! A technician came out three separate times, replacing various parts and fixing it momentarily. But it never stayed fixed for long! Our home warranty wouldn’t allow us to replace the refrigerator without their approval.
One day I was so angry over the slow response and a non-functioning refrigerator, that I unleashed on the technician (Not a good response). It didn’t solve the problem and only made me feel bad later for my behavior.
Finally, my husband and I decided to purchase a spare refrigerator. We had been considering the need for a second appliance anyway, and it solved our problem. A few weeks later, the home warranty company decided our refrigerator was non-repairable and replaced it. We were thankful for the decision but had quit stressing over their lack of efficiency and solved the problem ourselves.
We face stressful circumstances every day in our stepfamilies. Our relationships are affected by how we act and what we say.
We have a choice: will we act proactively or will we react?