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When Disharmony is the Norm by Gayla Grace

When Disharmony is the Norm

 

When Disharmony is the Norm by Gayla Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted a peaceful home. Harmony and order. Randy and I were newly married, and I’d hoped our kids would get along and be kind to each other.

I soon realized that was more like a dream. And achieving it, a tall order.

A VERY tall order.

We were parenting four kids from two different homes. Two different backgrounds. Two sets of rules. Two sets of expectations.

And we were all learning to live together. Conflict, accompanied by heightened emotions, erupted all too often. Most of the time, there was little warning.

Peace and harmony were not the norm. Getting along and treating each other with kindness…uh, not so much.

Then I attended a stepfamily conference. I heard stepfamily expert Ron Deal speak.

“In a stepfamily, you must learn to endure disharmony.” he said.

His words gave me hope. They relieved my guilt about the lack of peace in my home.When Disharmony is the Norm by Gayla Grace

When we join two families and begin to untangle the emotions, the circumstances, and the history that brought everyone together, it’s not unusual to have minor (or major) emotional eruptions.

In the beginning, I thought we were failing in our relationships when we couldn’t get along. Ron’s words made me realize that instead of failing we were normal!

That didn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue peaceful relationships. But it helped to remember we were only responsible for our efforts, not the outcome.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18

It’s not usually just ONE thing that contributes to the emotional disruptions. It’s MANY things.  The behavior in our stepchildren’s other home, teenage emotions, stepsibling rivalry, a difficult ex-spouse, loss from death or divorce—they all have a tremendous impact on the climate in our home but are out of our control.

Even if we do everything right as stepparents, there will likely be tension and days of little peace in the early years of a stepfamily.

Is your stepfamily in the midst of disharmony? Hang in there! This season will pass.

“…but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26b

Look for ways to get the support you need to walk this rocky road. Find other stepmoms or friends who can encourage you while your stepfamily works out its kinks. Look for ways to take care of yourself that allow you to recharge and renew your spirit.

Attend our upcoming Sisterhood of Stepmoms retreat and find hope and encouragement!

But don’t give up! Stepfamily life gets easier with time.

Is your stepfamily in the midst of disharmony? Will you share how you cope with it?

When Beauty Follows Pain on the Stepparenting Journey on Stepparenting with Grace

When Beauty Follows Pain on the Stepparenting Journey

The handwritten note that fell out of the envelope surprised me. My stepson didn’t mention he sent a note with my Mother’s day gift. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read words that took me back in time. I began to reminisce about a very rocky season that I wasn’t sure I would get through.

 

When Beauty Follows Pain on the Stepparenting Journey on Stepparenting with Grace

It was 2004. My stepson was 14 years old and had just lost his mom from a difficult battle with cancer. He had been living with her and his stepdad over 300 miles away. My husband naturally assumed he would bring his son home to live with us following the funeral. But my stepson and his stepdad had different ideas.

The custody papers presented to my husband by the sheriff’s department came as a complete surprise. His son’s stepdad had applied for custody. It made no sense. We were prepared and willing to take him into our home.

The battle

The battle began with a preliminary custody hearing that included my stepson on the witness stand. We were in another room, but our attorney outlined the setting to us. I had been presented as the evil stepmother. Despite my efforts to be a caring stepmom who tried to fulfill a maternal role when my stepson was in our home, I was painted as someone quite different. The hurt I experienced that day took a long time to work through.

When Beauty Follows Pain on the Stepparenting Journey on Stepparenting with Grace

The Beauty

That’s in the past now. My stepson did eventually come live with us and in time, with God’s help, we mended our ways. We worked to rebuild a relationship that included a steady flow of grace and forgiveness. Slowly, he began to let me into his life. I never wanted to replace his Mom. I simply tried to play a maternal role to a boy who didn’t have a mom.

That was 13 years ago. At 27 years old, my stepson now lives out of state.

I’ve often wondered if my tireless efforts as his stepmom even mattered.

The letter I received this year on Mother’s Day told me they did.

Although my stepson never called me Mom, the letter started with:

“MOM!! Happy Mother’s Day!! I wanted to take time and express my
appreciation to you as my mother!! You have been there through
everything. My first love, my first heartbreak, high school and college.
You’ve literally been there for it all. Thank you. For giving me advice
and good examples over the years. Even though I know I pushed back
for many years, I now realize I had a great MOM all along. Thank you
for always being there for me. Love you, Gayla. Your son.”

If you need some hope and encouragement on your stepmom journey, please consider joining us at our upcoming Sisterhood of Stepmoms retreat. You’ll find all the details here: http://sisterhoodofstepmoms.com/dallas-texas-2017/

Will you share some highs or lows of your stepparenting journey?
How are you celebrating them?

 

How to Cope with Difficult People in Your Stepfamily

We all have them – maybe it’s your stepdaughter. Or your husband’s ex. Or perhaps it’s your mother-in-law. If you’re honest, there’s probably at least one person in your stepfamily who’s difficult to be around and creates tension when you’re together.

How do you cope with them? Here are a few tips:

1.  Don’t give that person power over your emotions.

We don’t have to allow hurtful words to affect us. When someone says mean things to or about us we have a choice: will we let those words penetrate our heart or will we let them roll off, recognizing mean words often come from an unhealed hurt.

I learned of a physical altercation that happened recently between a biological mom and a new stepmom. The bio mom couldn’t accept the stepmom in her young daughter’s life and during the week-end exchange, erupted toward the stepmom. The stepmom did nothing to bring about the response; the bio mom has unhealed hurt related to her ex-husband’s re-marriage and the stepmom’s role in her daughter’s life. If the stepmom recognizes where the hurtful words come from, she can let the event roll off without allowing the bio mom’s response to have power over her emotions.

2)  Seek out healthy people to hang with.

If we’re surrounded by healthy people, we are less likely to let an unreasonable person affect us. And if our ego gets bruised from hurtful words, we can turn to others to help re-build our esteem instead of lashing back. It also helps to minimize the amount of time we spend with those who tend to be unreasonable. If you have an unreasonable stepchild coming for the week, plan time away with friends or your spouse to maintain a healthy image of yourself and your surroundings.

3) Accept the relationship in its current state.

If we spend our time trying to change another person or fretting over a tense relationship, we create frustration for ourselves. A peaceful heart comes with accepting a difficult relationship as it is and seeking to do our part to improve it, while recognizing that unreasonable people sometimes thrive on drama. I like to consider the words of the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

4) Be a positive role model

Commit to take the high road as often as possible. Someone needs to be the mature person in an unreasonable person’s life – how about you? We can influence others through positive attitudes and behavior. If our ex-spouse learns we’re not going to fight back when he/she becomes unreasonable, the game ends. If our stepchild doesn’t get a rise from unreasonable behavior, it’s more likely to end. Positive attitudes and behavior with unreasonable people, however, take intentional effort. Are you up for it? Remember: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:19)

5) Maintain healthy boundaries.

Respect yourself enough to create boundaries that work for you. If you’ve had a difficult day and are not in a good place emotionally, don’t walk into a tense conversation with your stepchild over chores that didn’t get done. Ask  your spouse to do it. If you know the unreasonable person in your stepfamily who chooses to pick battles with you is going to attend your stepson’s band concert, make sure you don’t sit by him/her. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself – no one else can do it for you. And you’ll maintain a healthier demeanor for whatever situation occurs when you know you have the right to maintain boundaries that work for you. Check out this post if you need help with boundaries.

Unreasonable people tend to show up more frequently in stepfamily relationships. Stepfamilies often have unhealed hurts that foster tense relationships. But we don’t have to get sucked into the dysfunction and allow others to have power over our emotions or influence our reactions. If we accept that some interactions will be difficult and some persons in our stepfamily will be unreasonable, we have a healthier attitude to cope with the behavior when it occurs. We will also appreciate the relationships with reasonable people in our lives even more!

Can you offer other tips for dealing with unreasonable people in your stepfamily?

Pic by artur84

Could you use some stepmom encouragement? Join us at our next stepmom retreat where you’ll find hope, healing, help, and camaraderie with other stepmoms! Details here: www.SisterhoodofStepmoms.com.