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A fresh holiday resource for stepfamilies

Affordable, Helpful Resource to Reduce Stepfamily Holiday Stress

At Stepparenting With Grace, we share the stress that goes along with life in a stepfamily.

In recent weeks, we’ve talked about co-parenting stress and  reducing tension when kids live in two homes.

Stress is not unusual for stepfamily relationships. We must learn to navigate the occasional (or not so occasional) rough waters.

Add the upcoming holidays and we could be moving into a very stressful season.

But help is on the way.

Laura Petherbridge, The Smart Stepmom, has a new holiday resource available that is both helpful AND affordable. This downloadable pdf is full of insights, inspiration, and humor designed to help navigate the holidays. From “Juggling the two-home schedule” to “Traditions” and “The Ghost of Christmas Past” you will find helpful ideas.

Ideas designed to relieve the stress of the holidays.

Providing 30 days of inspiration, it might be just what you need to make it through the season!

And at an affordable $4.29, you can’t go wrong. This useful resource is available only on

Laura’s website.

Check it out today and start preparing for your stress-less holiday season.

 

 

 

 

Gayla Grace with Three Reasons Stepfamilies Need Traditions

Traditions – Three Reasons a Stepfamily Needs Them

 

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“Family traditions are a great way for stepfamilies to connect with one another. Family members come together and work toward a common goal in a non-threatening environment. Traditions can be as simple as making paper chains to count down the days toward Christmas (one of my kids’ favorites) or more involved such as helping serve a meal at the homeless shelter. The goal is to find activities that the family enjoys and will look forward to doing together.”

It’s been seven years since I originally penned those words. Little has changed except now the kids are older and we don’t make a paper chain. Some of the kids are now married, so we’ve adjusted our traditions to include spouses and to accommodate the schedules of these new families. Well, now that I think about it, maybe more has changed than I realized. But I still believe family traditions are one of the keys to successfully navigating the holiday season as a stepfamily.

With traditions, everyone knows what to expect and works at accommodating their schedule to allow time to participate.

There are three benefits to creating traditions.

  1. Traditions create bonds. Bonds are strengthened as the family does something together. Think of the strands of a rope. One strand by itself is weak, but when woven together with more strands, the rope becomes stronger. Creating bonds makes your stepfamily stronger.
  2. Traditions provide a means of expressing love and laughter. These emotions help protect a family from brokenness and conflict. Working for a common purpose creates a sense of loyalty to each other and the family.
  3. Traditions create special memories. Memories that will be cherished long after family members pass on. Reminiscing of times’ past with loved ones can help ease the loneliness that creeps in when celebrating the holiday without that special someone.

Traditions are important and flexibility is key to making them work in stepfamilies.

Continuing traditions already in place also helps to provide routine and predictability.  Routine during the hectic holiday time just might offer some stability to otherwise unstable emotions that seem to surface this time of year.

It’s never too late to start family traditions. They offer a sense of belonging that can help cement relationships. Bring your family together and enjoy some new traditions this year!

What are some of your family traditions?

Do You Want More Peace During Your Stepfamily Holiday?

Guest post by Barb Goldberg

Peace may not be the first thought that crosses your mind when you think about stepfamilies celebrating the holidays. It should be. Those of us that are part of a stepfamily have a huge advantage over other families. We know that we have to practice our mediation skills and we know that we have to establish our peace processes now.

Read more

Holiday Tips for a Merry Christmas with Your Stepfamily

Christmas is just a few days away. Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of that special day.

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M – Mind your expectations. Lower them when necessary.

E – Expect bumps along the way.

R –  Refuse to take everything personally – it’s probably not about you.

R – Relax when you’re about to go over the cliff.

Y – Yield toward kindness as often as possible.

 

C – Choose to stay calm in the heat of conflict.

H – Have a Plan B for your schedule.

R – Remember the Reason for the season.

I – Include grace every day.

S – Settle for good enough instead of insisting on perfection.

T – Tell your spouse you love him/her every day.

M – Make memories with your stepchildren.

A – Admit when you fail and ask for forgiveness.

S – Seek to do your part toward loving relationships in your stepfamily.

Merry Christmas!

For more holiday tips, check out our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace.  It’s a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can start with your stepfamily.   Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace

 

 

 

 

Pic by David Castillo Dominici

 

Experiencing Conflict in Your Stepfamily? Tips to Help

Holidays are stressful! Are you feeling it yet? Add the complexities of a stepfamily and it can quickly get out of control.

blogHow we manage conflict dictates how healthy our relationships are and oftentimes, whether we head to divorce court or not. However, when done correctly, conflict–with healthy, fair disagreements–can actually strengthen relationships.

In their book, The Remarriage Checkup, stepfamily authority Ron Deal and researcher David Olson discuss the differences in how couples handle conflict. “Research has suggested that happy and unhappy couples alike share the same number of conflicts. Unhappy couples just can’t get through the differences – they get stuck in them. Healthy couples, by comparison, are much more likely to find creative solutions to their differences and work them out (80 percent versus only 28 percent of unsatisfied couples).”

Conflict doesn’t have to be bad. It’s simply a sign that something needs to change in the relationship. It turns bad when we attack the person, in the midst of conflict, instead of attacking the problem.

Stepfamily conflict often centers around the kids. One of the most frustrating areas for stepmoms includes a passive husband who doesn’t properly discipline his kids and so she steps in, becoming the bad guy. This situation creates conflict in the marriage that’s ongoing if it’s not addressed and managed properly.

So how do you address conflict properly? How do you fight fair? Here are twelve tips to help:

  • For starters, both parties must agree to remain in control. When emotions are escalated and nasty words start flying, resolve never occurs. If the situation proves to be too volatile at the moment, take a time out and come back when both of you can discuss the matter calmly.
  • Commit to be fair and flexible with solutions as you work through the issue. Come to the discussion with both ears open to hear your partner’s take on the disagreement. Don’t insist your way is the only way, even if you think it’s the right way.
  • State the problem clearly—be specific. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. “I statements” take ownership of our feelings and needs and communicate them to others without placing blame. It’s easier to hear, “I feel insecure when you ignore me,” rather than “you make me angry when you don’t listen to me.”
  • Address conflict as it occurs. Don’t let issues pile up until you’re ready to explode. If your partner neglects to address your stepson’s lack of respect, don’t let it go on ten times before discussing it.
  • Keep conflict away from the ears of your stepchildren, especially if it’s about them. If you’re seeking to bond with your stepchildren and they hear you fighting about them, you take huge strides backward.
  • Be a team player. Your partner is your ally. If you insist you must win for a successful outcome, that means your partner has to lose. It’s not a competition, it’s a partnership.
  • Don’t try to resolve conflict through e-mail or texting. Give your relationship the respect it deserves and take time to confront conflict face-to-face. If you begin a disagreement while texting, stop. Resolve to finish the discussion in person.
  • Don’t bring up old issues that have nothing to do with the current conflict. Put boundaries around the subject at hand to find resolve with one thing at a time, preventing explosive arguments.
  • Pick your battles. Particularly if you’re raising teen-age stepchildren, mine blasts can occur at any moment; however, you don’t have to engage at the slightest misbehavior. If your stepdaughter had a bad day and rolls her eyes at you, remember, it’s probably not about you.
  • Steer clear of name calling or character assassination. Hurtful words create deep wounds that don’t heal easily. Stick to the issue instead of diverting to the person.
  • Listen more than you talk. I’ve heard that women speak about 20,000 words per day, close to 13,000 more than the average man.  I’m convinced God gave us one mouth and two ears so we would listen more and talk less.
  • Offer grace freely. Be quick to apologize and slow to hold grudges. When we don’t forgive, we suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically. Forgive and let it go.

It’s also important to recognize our part of conflict. Taking a personal inventory and considering how we contribute to conflict requires courage and humility. After a not-so-pretty fight early in our marriage, my husband told me I always had to be right. I insisted that I knew best how to handle every situation we argued about and had little regard for his opinions. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard those words and I knew he was right. I’ve worked hard to overcome my prideful attitude and recognize how it contributes to conflict. As a result, my husband and I more easily work through conflict with a win-win ending.

When conflict comes knocking at your door, don’t despair. If you commit to practice healthy conflict management, you’ll find your relationships deepen through resolve. You don’t have to get stuck arguing about the same ‘ole thing.

Are you up for a challenge? Pick your weakest link when it comes to conflict. Where could you improve? Then determine to do conflict differently and watch what a difference it makes in your relationships!

For more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed and Friday. Our e-book is a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can create with your stepfamily.  Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace

Pic by by imagerymajestic

*Originally published in Stepmom Magazine October 2013

 

What Are You Thankful For in Your Stepfamily?

What Are You Thankful For?

It’s easy to take our everyday blessings for granted in America. As I listen to my daughter’s daily life in Mozambique, Africa I realize how blessed I am. I’m thankful I get to do my laundry in a washing machine instead of a bucket. I’m thankful for hot showers every day. And I’m especially thankful for a warm house on cold days.

But I’ve also learned to be thankful for hard lessons learned during tough stepfamily seasons. I don’t want to live those days over again and I’m glad they’re far removed, but here are a few things I’m grateful for:

I’m thankful for grasping the value of perseverance and what it means to be in it for the long haul as I developed relationships with my stepchildren.

I’m thankful for the chance to learn what patience looks like in everyday life.

I’m thankful for the choice of loving children who aren’t my own and knowing I have positively influenced them.

I’m thankful for second chances. For relationship do-overs.

I’m thankful for the beauty of forgiveness and how it changes relationships.

I’m thankful for gaining the insider status in my stepchildren’s lives after suffering through years as an outsider.

I’m thankful for ex-spouses and what I’ve learned about myself through broken relationships.

I’m thankful for supportive friends and family who wouldn’t let me quit even though I desperately wanted to at times.

I’m thankful for a husband who didn’t give up on me when I made bad choices as a stepparent.

I’m thankful for my stepchildren and what they’ve taught me.

I’m thankful for the Lord Jesus who has walked every step of my stepparenting journey with me.

What are you thankful for? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed and Friday. Our e-book is a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can create with your stepfamily.  Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace

Pic by nongpimmy