Friday, January 29, 2016

Bumps in the Road

bumps in the road, blended family, conflicts, step family, stepmoms, stepmom advice
The first five years of a blended family can be very hard.  There are going to be a few bumps in the road.  The bumps in the road are what make you stronger.  It’s even harder for a blended family if you a difficult ex especially one who shows signs of PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome).  I am writing this blog post to tell you that having struggles in the first five years of a blended family are normal.  Sometimes you even still struggle after you hit the five-year mark.  It is how you bounce back and recover is what is going to make your family stronger.   When you have these bumps in the road with your spouse make sure when you go to talk that you do it in private, to ensure the children will not hear the conversation, especially if the conflict is about them. 
How do we handle the bumps?
  • Conflict Resolution – Talk it out with the family members that are involved in the conflict. Do not let it go or ignore it. Always talk with your spouse 1:1 privately before talking with the children.
  • Stay on Topic – Make sure to stay with the current issue, try to avoid bringing up any unresolved or past issues up.
  • Hear Each Person Out – Let them tell their side of the story, make sure they are able to do it without anyone interrupting them.
  • Resolve the Problem – You could either ask them how they would like it to be resolved and do it if it’s reasonable.
  • Hug it Out & Apologize – This step is very important that the guilty party needs to apologize to the person they offended.

The younger the children are the easier it is for them to move on. Children 12 years and up might have a harder time moving on and letting go. It is normal, don’t push it. Let them move at their own pace.
Things you should try to avoid during or after the conflict:
  • Contacting the Ex and telling them about the conflict.  What happens at your house stays at your house. Problems and issues need to be resolved with you and your spouse, not with the ex-wife or ex-husband involved unless it’s about them.
  • Do Not Ignore the Issue – this is a dangerous thing to do because it just builds up within the child(ren). The child or children will have power over the house if the conflict gets ignored.
  • Do Not Argue w/Spouse – During the meeting in front of child(ren).  If you both start to argue stop and regroup the meeting at a later time.  Both parents need to talk away from the children.
  • Do Not Let the Child or Children Go Home – to the other parent’s house without a conflict getting resolved. If that means they go home late, they go home late.


If you allow the biological parent (meaning the ex) get involved, they always side with their children no matter what which makes the child(ren) have an unhealthy amount of control and power in your home.  Whatever behavior you allow will continue in your house and it will continue to get worse. As Ron Deal states “If you cannot govern the family as a team the household is headed for anger, jealousy, and unacceptance”.

We have had many bumps in the road in our blended family. One summer a few years ago we were camping and we were in the middle of playing a card game and I am not sure how it all got started, but my son and my stepdaughter started arguing.  My son said it was their mom’s fault that custody was taken away from us for a year and a half.  My stepdaughter said no it’s your Mom’s and my Dad’s fault that it happened.  At first I was quiet and then I told my son to stop it. But then they continued to argue but then I started getting upset. I finally blurted out to my stepdaughter, you are wrong your mom changed the custody on us, we didn’t do it or want it to happen, then she started arguing with me, then my husband got involved and before long it was a huge mess.  Then he and I started arguing in front of the kids and in front of many other campers around us.  We finally calmed down somehow, but during the arguing, all of the kids were crying and upset because they thought it was over between us.  We all sat inside of the tent and had a family meeting, and my stepson started crying and said he didn’t want us to get a divorce. We all took turns talking about the argument and sharing our feelings with one another about what happened. My husband and I apologized to the kids and my son apologized to my stepdaughter for the things he said.  We ended up hugging it out and then enjoyed the rest of our camping trip.  It wasn’t easy to get through that, but we managed to solve the problem and get over everything that was said in anger and hurt.  I shared my story with you to say that we all experience bumps in the road but it’s how we handle the bumps is how we get past it and learn from them which makes our family stronger. Don’t give up; it’s just a bump in the road.
The challenges of a blended family are real and can be complicated. Gather all your resources that help you get through the tough times. Even if you haven’t been through a tough time yet or a bump in the road it is coming, be ready and prepared for it.  Buy books on blended family topics, invest in blended family conferences, talk with other blended families and even seek a blended family therapist and always keep God at the center of your marriage and family. The success of your blended family depends on both parents to be a strong united front.  Don’t let the bumps in the road turn into potholes. The faster you overcome and resolve the bumps the stronger your blended family can become. 
Please know that bumps in the road are not signs to say it’s not going to work out. Even normal biological families have struggles and bumps in the road.  Don’t put out the white flag up yet, there is always hope for your family. 
Combining two sets of families together that have different rules and different backgrounds are always going to have some bumps in the road until everything can blend together and become one happy blended family.  Ron Deal has given this example of a blended family as a cooking a meal in a crockpot.  It takes a lot of time to cook roast beef in a crock pot, you have to throw in the carrots and potatoes and seasoning after it’s well blended and cooked for 8 hours you have a wonderful meal. Well, blended families are the same way, you have to throw in the rules, backgrounds, discipline, beliefs and love to get the blended family to work right and all of that takes time, forgiveness, patience, compromise, tears, and understanding and most importantly, love.  It takes a lot of time to get a blended family to become one big happy family. So, Don’t Give Up.  If the bumps turn into potholes and you feel like there is no way to fix the road, going to therapy/counseling can really help. So expect the bumps in the road to come. Remember it’s all about how you handle the bumps in the road is what will make you stronger.


References:
Ron Deal (2002). The Smart Step Family. Seven Steps to a Healthy Family.  Bethany House – A division of Baker Publishing Group. 


13 comments:

  1. but as long as there's communication within a family - then some of these bumps could be avoided...

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  2. I know first-hand how hard it is to be a stepmom. My hat is off to those who an do it successfully!
    Carol
    www.carolcassara.com

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  3. I have no clue how it is to be a stepmom but I do know about being an adopted mom. Stepmom, birth mom or adopted mom no matter your journey it is how you handle the bumps in the road.

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  4. How you handle the bumps is so important. You're always going to hit bumps. It's what you do after that matters!

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  5. These are great tips to handle the bumps. Hearing each person out is very important.

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  6. I loved how each person discussed their feelings without interruption on the camping trip. That was such a great idea along with the hugging it out. You're such a good mom!

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  7. I think these are all wonderful tips for helping blended families deal with and resolve conflict.

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  8. You have such great insight for step moms! Thanks for helping others out!

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  9. This is a great post. You'll always have conflict in your life. You can't get around it. It's how you handle it that counts.

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  10. Great tips. I can imagine conflicts are super hard in a blended family. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Saying sorry or just simple hug work wonders. No matter what the debate is about, saying sorry can make a huge difference.

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  12. You are doing the right thing by following these tips. It can still be hard to remember these tips during a conflict. I paid attention to your points with a hope that it will stick in my mind.

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  13. Handling a blended family is always going to be a big challenge, but a proper communication could change the whole scenario & you should be well set to handle the bumps for sure.

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