The back and forth routine that accompanies life in a stepfamily often brings exhaustion. During the school year, it can create confusion, anxiety, and turmoil for our kids.
Our children need a stable home environment, free of tension and chaos to succeed in school. If you spend any time at your stepchild’s school, particularly middle and high school, you’ll notice the pressure and demands they face every day. They don’t need additional mine blasts to contend with at home.
What can we do, as parents and stepparents, to ensure a successful back to school entry? One of the biggest ways you can promote success is to do your part in maintaining an amicable relationship with the other home.
I know – you’d rather eat a cockroach than talk about how to live in harmony with your ex or your spouse’s ex, right? But it’s vital to the well-being of your children and stepchildren. That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with your stepson’s mom, but you do have to commit to working at a cordial relationship.
I will be the first to admit this didn’t come naturally for me. When my stepchildren lived with us, the relationship between me and their mom carried a competitive and confrontational tone. Instead of extending grace for her shortcomings, I harbored resentment and criticism.
I refused to consider what it must feel like to have another woman take part in raising my children. I put my husband in the middle of our tension by insisting my way. And I alienated my stepchildren when my non-verbal language spoke judgment, rather than love and tolerance for their mom and her ways of raising them.
Some days I would love to go back and offer a softer side toward my stepchildren when they’ve had a bad day at school. I’d be more understanding on transition days when they’ve just come back from their mom’s house and need some time alone. I’d extend grace more freely when they didn’t do their chores to my satisfaction.
But my stepchildren have finished school and the back to school challenges, other than with our 12-old-son, are non-existent. I no longer have to contend with a difficult relationship with my stepchildren’s mother because sadly, she passed away nine years ago after a cruel battle with colon cancer.
So, if you’re in the midst of back to school hassles, step back, take a deep breath, and consider what you can do to sow peace with those around you. Your stepchildren deserve a fresh beginning at school, with minimal conflict at home.
Will you commit to take the high road as often as possible?
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
How do you handle back to school challenges? Please leave a comment with other suggestions.
Picture by digitalart