David and I got a phone call from his daughter the other day. She was upset because her college daughter got arrested during a recent political protest. My son has been complaining to me about the problems his teenage son, our grandson, has had in high school. Another grandson is having difficulty choosing his path in college. We seem to be getting these calls from our children more frequently.
After more than 40 years of remarriage as a stepcouple, David and I thought we had graduated from our child rearing roles. These were our kids that fought us tooth and nail at every turn. They gave us a run for our money! At times they wanted nothing to do with us and visa versa.
Years later, we find ourselves listening to their problems with their own kids, asking us probing questions and exploring options. We rarely give advice unless asked. We practice listening first.
What we find most gratifying is how concerned and caring they are about us, their aging parents. They want to know how we are and what we’re doing. They worry about us. Surprisingly our five kids are now good friends and like to hang out with each other. After all the bickering we lived through, we never predicted that.
We’ve come full circle. It seems that the intensity of yesterdays’ conflicts has resulted in strong and caring relationships now. Our diligence and patience paid off! As they say, “what goes around, comes around.”
From a house full of strangers competing for love and attention, this stepfamily has evolved. We are a diverse mixture of individuals but it is our family, and we cherish it!
As your own stepfamily evolves, here are few things to remember:
- Have patience with step relationships. They take time to percolate and mature.
- Respect and appreciate individual differences.
- Listen and explore options when asked for advice. The key word here is “listen,” which does take practice.