I watched a movie last night about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon (for families of alcoholics.) It spoke to my heart because of the 11 year journey I walked in my first marriage with an alcoholic. Al-Anon saved my sanity at one point as the disease progressed and I became as crazy as the alcoholic.
The movie drove home the point that love is not enough to change an alcoholic or save an alcoholic marriage. The addict and the family must get help to overcome the ugly disease.
In a similar way, I believe love is not enough to save a struggling stepfamily. The challenges of stepfamily life are different from alcoholism but many times the effects are the same. Isolation, rejection, hurt, anger, bitterness and resentment can have lasting consequences in an unhappy stepfamily. These feelings must be addressed and worked through for solutions to emerge and healing to occur.
I was reminded of the Serenity Prayer and the power of applying it to stepparenting:
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.
There are some things on our stepparenting journey we cannot change. But there are many things we can. Relationships in stepfamilies have unique dynamics that require different relational skills than those in nuclear families. But stepfamilies can provide nurturing homes that offer healing for loss of death or divorce with healthy stepparenting.
Life’s too short to live in conflict. If you need help with stepparenting or stepfamily relationships, check out my coaching opportunities. I’m passionate about helping other stepparents due to the challenges we have walked through. If your stepfamily is struggling, I encourage you to seek help.