My guest blogger this month is my Twitter Friend Shawn Hartwell from Canada. Shawn has some great suggestions on how to improve bonding in your stepfamily.
Bonding with your new stepfamily is rarely easy. It doesn't need to become a struggle . doesn't it feel normal in the morning to grab that cup of Joe? What if bonding with your stepfamily could be that simple? When you are automatically executing commands like your morning coffee, you're executing a habit. Your brain has created neuropathways (information highways of your brain) connecting waking up an action in this case coffee.
Habits can be used for positively to create life changes that become automatic.
Let’s look some habits that could be used to improve your bonding efforts:
Communication: This habit is the cornerstone of all relationships. Getting your point across effectively will make a difference: How do you know that your stepkids behavior isn’t their method of communicating with you? People will converse in their own way. Take the time to understand this.
Attention to detail: Often the most important facts are right under your nose. When a step child is acting out, take the time to give attention to the details. Little things often are the largest parts of relationships. Picking up on small non-verbal cues that your partner is exhibiting before an argument, is a perfect example of smaller details.
Showing your love properly: A number of stepmoms have commented: I constantly felt like I was doing all of the work to build the relationship. Doesn’t that sound exactly how a stepkid might see things? They’re putting in all of their efforts while falling on deaf ears. We don’t understand that they are showing us love. No matter how angry you might get or hopeless things feel, never stop showing your stepkids you love them.
Teamwork: Working with other people is going to become vital at some point in life. Get used to it. When you’re part of a blended family prepare for it to be even more vital. Learn to work with your stepchildren and their needs, wants, fears and aspirations. You shouldn’t overlook the teamwork needed between yourself and your partner. When everyone is working on the same team you’re headed for success.
Problem Solving: Problems are everywhere. They’re both internal and external (caused from forces within or outside you.) When I was growing up my parents always said, “It’s not about what happens to you (or problems you face,) it’s all about how you deal with what you’re dealt,” and those are some powerful words. Never forget that solving problems shows that you’re able to deal with whatever situation life throws at you. That includes your(possibly) unruly stepchildren.
All of the above are habits you can choose to form or might already have developed. When behavior becomes automatic you don’t spend time over thinking. You spend your time with actions. Charlie Chaplin once said: “We think too much and we feel too little.”
This article was written by Shawn Hartwell, founder and CEO of Stepspeak. Quebec Canada
Contact Shawn at email@example.com
Do you remember the first love letter you received? I was in elementary school and a guy all the way across the country wrote me a love letter. It was a big deal for me just to get mail and plus it came all the way from the east coast. In those days, love letters were a substitute for talking on the phone. Stamps were a lot cheaper than long distance back then. Over the years, I received many love letters in high school, college and in my adult life. However, with free long distance, the technology to send immediate emails and texts, and the ability to send electronic cards, no one sends love letters anymore.
Over the years, I have also given and received many Hallmark and American Greeting cards from my husband, friends and loved ones. In fact, I have a treasure chest full of them . I don't want to throw them away because someone took the time and spent good money (Cards are expensive these days) to think enough of me to send the very best. I have thought about making collages or finding ways to recycle them. There are a few ideas out there on the internet, so on a snow day, I may give it a try.
Of course the ones I treasure the most are the ones my husband has given me for our anniversary, my birthday, Valentine's day, Mother's Day and "just because" cards. A couple of years ago, we thought about how much we have spent purchasing cards for one another as well as family members. Wow, no wonder Hallmark stays in business. For certain occasions, sending cards is the standard so we committed to keeping the tradition of buying and sending cards.
However for Valentine's Day, we decided that we would send one another "love letters". That's right good old fashioned, hand written love letters. I must say, this was a wonderful change because our letters came from our own voice rather than Hallmark's card designers. I planned for days what I was going to write in my love letter and enjoyed writing it in my own handwriting to express my adoration and love for my husband. I wanted to please him of course but I also secretly wanted to outdo him.
My hubby really got creative and found some beautiful paper with red roses that made his letter look even more romantic. When I received the envelope and his affectionate words written amongst the red roses, my heart melted. He had won my heart all over again. I didn't care about the competition anymore. He still uses that paper today to leave me love notes around the house or hidden in my suitcase when I am traveling.
Valentine's day is coming, so do something different this year, write a love letter to the one you love! I better get started on mine!!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach