Sunday, July 01, 2007

Stepfamilies: A Road Trip

Forming a stepfamily is like going on a trip from Dallas, Texas to Duluth, Minnesota in April. It seems like it should be easy. Interstate 35 connects the two cities. I mean really, it's just one road, how hard could it be?

Well, there are places where there is road construction and detours. Traffic slows and sometimes stops for what might appear to be no reason at all. Orange and white barrels and orange and black signs might lead you off the interstate for a while.

In Dallas and Forth Worth and then again in near Minneapolis and St. Paul there is a I-35W and I 35E, both of which are part of the interstate, but veer off in different directions. How can you stay on the interstate when the same raod splits into two directions? It can get very confusing while trying to get from point A to point B.

When leaving from Dallas in April, the weather is probably going to be pretty good. When you near Duluth, you might be in a blizzard. Winter is stubborn in Northern Minnesota and might just decide to hang around until April. You might not have your snow boots, hats, gloves, and jackets with you. You came unprepared, but not knowing about the stubbornnes of Duluth's winters, there was no way to prepare in the first place.

In stepfamiliy life, there is going to construction delays as you try to figure out everyone's roles and how those roles are not merely static, but ever changing. There are going to be times when there is confusing adn you will not know which way to turn as a stepfamily. There are things that will happen for which there is absolutely no way you can prepare and you are left flying by the seat of your pants.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to ease up on the expectation for an arrival time and take each "interruption" as an opportunity to learn, grow, and experience another piece of the stepfamily landscape.


Erin said...

Love the blog. I'm a stepmom living in the Chicago area. Stepparrent/stepfamily blogs are so hard to come by. It's refreshing to see someone else writing one.

Keep up the good work.


nutt said...

I totally agree with erin! I live in Burnsville MN. About a mile from where the I-35 splits into E & W. I need some advice. We have been divorced for 11 years. Both myself and my Ex have been remarried for several years. My daughter just turned 13 and has chosen to not come here for time with us. I feel like her Mother puts some unrealistic expectations on my daughter. She has had 3-4 days this summer so far that she has not had something scheduled. This has made it difficult for her to spend her regular time here let alone anything else. This was a difficut conversation to have with my daughter last week. Difficult to have her say "I don't when I'll come there again". Her Mother does not force her to come and I feel powerless to make her come. Any ideas? Anything??

Melody Love said...

I say be straight with her--tell her that you love her and want so much to share with her. You feel sort of left out and want to know more about her. Not to interferbut to help,to be there for her.Talk to her with your heart wide open and she will listen.

kdwhorses said...

Thanks for the blog. It has great posts on it. I am a proud step parenting mom to my 15 year old son. I think we need to change step parent, step son, it just sounds so bad. I have been blessed with a great relationship with him.

Anonymous said...

We have a blended family now of 11 yr boy, 12 yr girl, 14 yr girl, and 17 yr girl... no more family road trips for us. The last one was a simple jaunt from AZ to CA... sleeping most of the way but still it was too much for any of us to handle being that close for such a small period of time. Now we do mini trips and split into a smaller group of 4 for longer distances... the thought of it didn't appeal to anyone but now we are all much happier.

Nutt - we've had issues with the other parent encouraging the child not to take visitation... it was very hard but in the end we decided to keep encouraging them and that we had to go on and live our lives as well. If they make it great but if not... well we won't be mailing the christmas or birthday gifts... like a drawing you have to be on site to win... it's been very effective.

My husband's biological ex wouldn't let the children speak to him on the phone or relay messages... so we get them cell phones so we can call anytime... the youngest now calls his father several times a day... yes it was an added expense but it's been well worth it!