Families are complicated organizations. They are full of complicated relationships and power dynamics between all kinds of people. And lots of decisions need to be made all the time.
These decisions range from what to eat for dinner, how to spend money and on what, what are the rules for the kids, where people go to school and what time to go to bed. That’s just a tiny list. It never stops – it’s constant.
Making decisions is complicated in a family and often more so in blended families because there are more people, more houses, more distance between the people.
When I’m new to something I want people who know more to tell me how to do things
Learning how to function in my family is not an exception. When I was a new wife and a new stepmom and later a new mom I was uncertain in how to do things in those roles. Including making decisions.
I was full of indecision.
I looked for people to tell me how to do things.
There is a downside to this sometimes.
Sometimes you want to know what to do. Sometimes what is more helpful is having somebody tell you how to do it yourself.
When I was a new wife and stepmom sometimes I would ask the mentors in my life for help in being a good wife and stepmom and they would tell me what to do.
That might sound like this:
You should tell your husband that you want him to speak up for you to his kids.
Or a friend or relatives might say something like, “I’d never let my stepkids say that to me.”
Sometimes practical actionable steps are very helpful.
For example, right now I just bought a new stand up paddleboard. I am very excited about that. It’s in the garage and it’s on my to do list today to try and pump it up for the first time. I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to work. I have some questions about how to pump it up and how to get started. Specifically what do I do with the fins? It will be very helpful to get a few tips for that.
The downside of practical and actionable tips is that if they don’t get the result that you want then you are back to ground zero asking yourself … what do I do, now?
This is when having somebody help you to learn how to do it yourself is a better long term solution.
Is this sounding familiar?
You may have heard the famous parable, give a man a fish and he eats for a day – teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.
This is a similar idea.
I can tell you direct things like when I felt like I was unappreciated by my stepkids I would go find something to do by myself that made me happy. You can follow my advice. Or I can teach you the reasons why it worked for me to go find something to do myself and then you will have a strategy to make it work for you.
Do you see the difference?
Not making decisions can contribute to giving us a feeling of feeling stuck
Sometimes new coaching clients wonder why I want to talk about how we make decisions in a family.
When you feel strong, confident and empowered you don’t really even notice that you are making decisions.
If you are like many people you make lots of decisions without even thinking about it.
When you aren’t making decisions this can lead to feeling unsure of yourself. You might feel unappreciated, undervalued, and disempowered.
That sounds super not fun … right? The good news is that there are lots of tools and tips and strategies that you can use to strengthen your decision making muscle.
I would like to share with you the way I try to make decisions in my family today and a bit about how I learned to do it this way.
There are parenting and relationship experts who would advise that you make a plan before you make the decision to join or create a blended family.
It’s good advice. Very good advice even. I wish that I had known and had a plan.
I truly appreciate having a plan before I do things.
Before I go to the grocery store I spend 45 minutes planning the week. I look at what I have on hand. I make a list of meals I want to make. I check coupons sometimes…okay that’s a lie … I never check coupons. I have a printed list of things we regularly buy I print it out and circle the things I want. When I do this my grocery shopping experience is much better.
I admit openly that as a practical matter I personally had no plan when I joined my blended family. Later when I had my own kids I did think I had a plan but I later learned that I had no idea what I was thinking when I came up with that plan.
And it all still worked out for me.
I share this with you to reassure you that it’s probably going to be okay.
Still One of the reasons I want to share with you my experience is to help you have the benefit of things that I can see I could have done differently.
You can learn my strategy for making decisions
Simply put. I have a guiding principle that I use to help me make most of my family decisions. What I do when I am struggling to make a decision is that I do an internal check and try to see which of the available options aligns with my principle.
Simple right. Yes and like many things sometimes it’s more nuanced.
This is a component of my coaching program. When you coach with me we work directly on this together.
I also have a workbook and a video training that will introduce you to my process by completing the form at the bottom of this article.