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BUILDING STEPFAMILY COHESIVENESS FROM SCRATCH

February 29th, 2008

Young or new stepfamilies are not usually easy, warm or fun places to be. The kids are reeling from the losses in their lives and trying to adjust. So are the adults. Let’s face it – nobody plans on divorce and remarriage!

New stepfamilies are anything but cohesive. There’s little familiarity or trust between the insiders and outsiders – the biologically tied and the “strangers” who are joining in. Everyone feels pretty protective and defensive of what’s theirs and what’s not.

How do you bridge the gap and break down the barriers? How can adults reach out to stepchildren and still maintain the close ties with their biological children? How do you bring people together in stepfamilies?

It’s easier than you think.

Here are some ideas I’ve learned in my own family or from people I’ve seen in my office:

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NATIVE AMERICAN LEGEND: LESSON FOR STEPCOUPLES

February 20th, 2008

A grandfather and his grandson were talking one afternoon at their favorite spot by the stream. The boy was worried about something that had been bothering him. He turned to his grandfather, and asked “Grandfather, how come I’m happy and sweet sometimes and at other times I can be evil and mean? How can that be when I’m only one person?”

His wise grandfather thought about it…and replied, ”I believe we have two wolves fighting inside of us. One is sweet, compassionate, generous and loving. The other one is mean, angry, and selfish.”

The grandson asked “How do you know which one will win?”

The grandfather said, “It’s simple – the one you feed.”

Indeed stepcoupling can bring out the best and the worst in us. For some stepcouples, mistakes were made in choosing partners prematurely and for the wrong reasons. For others who struggle, it could be the result of sadness and losses carried over from our childhood experiences and disappointments from subsequent relationships. If unaddressed, these issues can have an unhealthy affect on all our important relationships. This can produce FUEL FOR FEEDING THAT MEAN ANGRY WOLF INSIDE.

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