Thursday, March 29, 2007

Power or Peace?

When conflict arises in families, it is very easy to get sucked into the vortex of asserting power, assigning who is right and who is wrong, and basically trying to get your way. Now, I am not saying that there is never right and wrong, but I am saying that it is not as frequent as we might like it to be.

When we get into a pattern of making everything a right or wrong issue we overly moralize situations that could be left alone, negotiated, or at least tolerated. When we moralize we often assert power toward the moral position. Why? Because it is right of course.

I want to make two comments about moralizing.

1. Do not use right and wrong unless it is absolutely necesssary. Overuse of assigning right and wrong wears thin pretty quickly and often diminishes personal connection.

2. When moralizing is called for, do it morally. There is acertain paradox when it comes to morality. Sometimes there are immoral processes toward moral outcomes. Asserting power to impose morality can quickly become an immoral process toward a moral outcome. I am not saying don't assert yourself ever, but I am saying that there are times when getting your way, even when it is right, can be wrong in ow you achieve the goal.

Spending your moral energy trying to assert peace in the family might be a better process and ultimately morally superior approach to take in negotiating conflcit in family life.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Stepping into goodness

Stepfamily life provides many opportunities that first family life typically does not.

Your boundaries, tolerances, and limits will be explored in directions never dreamed of by first families. This may not sound like a good thing because if you are like me, you have little interest in constantly being stretched in difficult directions. I like comfy; I like cozy.

So, for a little perspective, when you are being stretched to your limits on something, take a step back and think of it as an opportunity few people get to be a good person.

I know what this sounds like - some power of positive thinking pep talk. It's not. Let me state that a little more emphatically - IT'S NOT!!!!!

Sometimes perspective is all you've got. Why belittle a hidden strength?

Allow perspctive to give you a chance to step into goodness.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Signs of Spring

Spring is in the air. It is time for renewal, for hope, for love. Everything comes back to life in Spring.

Here in Minnesota, the snow is melting, the sun feels warm, and there is anticipation of the first flowers of spring coming to smile on up.

Since nature has given us reason to feel refreshed and renewed, why not get some of that refreshing into our stepfamily lives?

Sometimes we get into ruts and unhelpful patterns in or lives and relatiosnhips. Too much time stuck in a lousy pattern is the beginning of death in the relationship. New life needs to be breathed into the relatiosnhip. However, if there is no awareness of the rut or no hope of getting out of it, then there is little motivation to change.

Spring tells us that there is always hope for positive change. Ruts are more like winter than they are death. What looks like death or hoplessness is only the emotional or relational winter. This is good news. One of the greatest things about winter is that it ends with the warmth, generosity and beauty of spring.

At the end of every winter I challenge my children to look for signs of spring. Melting snow, a robin, anything green, buds on trees - anything. once they start looking ofr them, they eventually find signs of spring.

I think the same is true of life. So, go ahead, look for signs of spring. What good thing is budding in your remarriage? Relationship with your stepdaughter? etc. If you look for the signs of spring, you'll find it. There is always reason for hope because witner is not eternal.