connecting with your stepfamily
Marriage, Parenting

Connecting With Your Stepfamily

 

Do you ever wonder whether you have any connection to your stepfamily other than your marriage certificate? When you are feeling like an outsider, there are likely times when you are wondering whether you have anything in common with these people that you call your family. Have you ever really stopped to consider what connection, if any, that you might have with them?  Does connecting with your stepfamily sometimes make you angry or resentful?  Not only has this topic come up when visiting with other stepparents, but this is also something that I’ve pondered recently in my own family. 

What Kinds of Things Make it Difficult To Connect? 

If you have read any of my other posts, you know that my husband is pretty much Prince Charming in all of the wonderful ways (see “Marriage in Blended Families”).  There is just this one thing that bothers me periodically, but it’s the same thing that takes over the lives of most of my stepfamily, including the mother of my stepkids (see “The Other Mom: Co-parenting with Step-Parents” for more on this relationship). This same topic is one of the things that makes me feel like a total outcast. It isn’t something I’m interested in and although I can see positive aspects to it, I mostly see negative effects on my children.

gaming in stepfamilies

Have you guessed what it is yet?

Gaming

Yes, online gaming that sucks you into a virtual world so you can lose hours and hours of your real life that is happening all around you while you are somewhere else. Where my husband is concerned, he works full time, is getting his Master’s Degree, runs a nonprofit organization, and is a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Obviously, with every good thing going on in his life, the gaming doesn’t take over too much.  However, during holiday breaks, time at the cabin, and other vacations, he can tend to get sucked into gaming for extended periods of time, and honestly, even though logically I can see that it is his break that he needs from his stressful life, it is also a turnoff for me. 

It may be due to the kids’ approach to gaming. Of my five step-kids, two have full time jobs, one is serving a mission, one is a stay-at-home mother of an infant, and one is still in high school and plays sports, so they all have full lives and I don’t mean to make it sound as though they do nothing but game. However, to be fair, when their lives permit it, they spend every other waking moment gaming. When we get together for family dinner, they talk about gaming. My biological son, a husband and father of two young kids, has also been sucked into the gaming world and participates in the gaming discussions.  

If you have read my post on “Religion, Respect, and Acceptance,” you know that other than gaming, recently what I hear from the kids are anti-religion and other anti-whatevers, female oppression, politics and how angry some of kids are as they complain about the world and everything in it. I get that, but I generally try to focus on my blessings, trying to have a positive outlook in these trying times. Unfortunately, I feel like this area is becoming just another way that I can’t connect with our kids. 

So How Am I Connected To My Family? 

I really had to think about this. When I think about the discussions that I have with our kids, it appears my role in our family is more as a resource than anything. Although my husband does quite well financially, the income from my business tends to finance the extras in our lives, such as the cabin, weddings, showers, family trips, assisting the kids when they need assistance, etc. That’s not to say that my connection is solely based on the things I’m willing to pay for. When family events come up, it seems like I’m not immediately brought in to help plan them, but in the end, when there is a wedding, a baby shower, a major financial decision, tax returns to be filed, or help with a business, I am generally seen as a resource. When planning cannot get past the planning phase, I get it done. I order, schedule, organize, submit documents, etc. The bottom line is, I will come through. I will get it done. 

A Tarot Connection with my Stepdaughter

Recently, my stepdaughter has been interested in her new tarot cards. She wanted to do a reading for me, so I went along with it. One of the cards was about money, but was in the relationship spot (or something – I don’t pretend to really understand it). Anyway, she stopped and asked me if that made me think of anything in my life. I said that it did. She asked, “Well, what”?  In some of my other posts, I’ve shared that, as with many stepparents, I don’t trust my feeling with any of my stepfamily (other than my husband, of course). I let her know that I felt that I had to be careful in sharing my feelings on the subject and I very cautiously described my role to her as I have in this post. She was surprised and concerned that she had ever made me feel as though I’m only good for my money or the things I do for her. In her case, I had paid for, and organized at the last minute (with the help of my awesome friends!), details of her wedding and her baby shower, so I knew where her concern was coming from. As I explained to her, I don’t see it as a negative thing. I certainly could go down that rabbit hole if I wanted to, but I choose not to. If not for the kids seeing me as an important resource in their lives, how would I possibly connect with my gamer, anti-religious kids? I would always feel like an outcast that has no place with these people. I am grateful that my kids know that I love them and I’m here for them in their times of need! 

It’s All A Matter Of Choice 

Really, it comes down to a matter of choice. We can choose to be angry and feel like an outcast or we can see the positive things that help us connect to our families. We can try to find common interests. With one of my stepdaughters, I have found that we both love musicals and we both love Christ and living the gospel. That’s it, really. Only those two things. And I cherish those things! Always cherish those small things that help us connect to the ones we love! 

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear from you about your experiences and the things that you have found that help you get through your challenges as a stepparent. 

connecting with stepfamilies

FAQ

What is blended family?

According to Your Dictionary, “A blended family is defined as a family made of two parents and their children from previous marriages. An example of a blended family is a woman with two children from a previous marriage who marries a man with three children from a previous marriage.”

What are common problems and challenges for blended families?

Common problems for blended families include children not feeling loved or feeling left out, sibling rivalry, children manipulating parents, ex-spouses, dreading holidays, vacations, marital problems, finances and discipline (or lack thereof).

Can blended families be successful?

Although many stepfamilies seem doomed for failure, it is absolutely possible for a blended family to be successful.  While some situations are unhealthy for everyone involved, many families can be saved if there is a desire to work through the problems.

How common are blended families?

Blended families are becoming more common. According to Pew Research 62% of children in the U.S. live in two-parent households and 15% of those are living with parents in a remarriage.

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