Today I’m going to share with you why I decided to coach adults in blended families.
Here’s my story in brief. Okay — truthfully it’s not so brief.
A girl meets a guy
When I was 24 I went on a date with a guy in the office.
He was a little older than me. We started dating and I very quickly learned that he had been married and divorced and had two kids.
None of this seemed like a big deal to me at the time because I was 24 and we were just dating.
Things got more serious and over the next couple of years we moved in together, decided this would be a permanent relationship and got married and then had two more kids. Long story short — we’re still married more than 20 years later.
A girl marries a guy who has kids.
I was a step-parent before I was a parent.
In my experiences as a wife, a step-mom and a mom I have experienced a lot of things that were a lot harder than I expected.
As a new stepmom, I remember that I felt very uncomfortable in my own house (where I lived and paid part of the mortgage) when one of my stepkids was around.
I felt like she didn’t want me around.
A stepmom discovers that it’s not so easy
Factually and objectively this kid was truthfully sometimes mean and hurtful to me. From my point of view I was pretty sure that she wanted to only be with her dad and it seemed to me that she really hoped that I would go away and her parents would move back in together.
My initial idea of a solution to this to figure out a way to get my husband and this kid to behave differently. In my mind she needed to not be mean and hurtful and I truly thought it would be pretty ideal if my husband would take my side in this and tell his kid to behave differently.
I thought that if I could make that happen I would be happier and feel better. In order to make this happen I worked really hard at being what I thought was the best wife / step-mom I could be. Cooking, cleaning and doing what I thought that the most kick-ass wife and step-mom would do. I truly thought that when these two people in my life changed their behavior which they should do because I was working so hard on it that I would feel happy, safe and secure.
It turns out that was mistaken about some of this. First of all, what I tried did not work. I got burnt out, angry and resentful of basically everybody and everything.
Over the years I have worked with academics, therapists and life coaches. I’ve watched documentaries, ready books and attended many conferences to study a lot of personal development.
No matter what different things I tried the common thing that always turned out to be true is that my life improved when I worked on ME.
This is one reason that coaching (and therapy) for one person can sometimes improve an entire family situation.
I think that many people who have been in this spot are thinking … well okay but I do really need my step-kids and my kids to not be so mean to me. Also, how do I get my husband to do some help around the house. I get it…I do.
Let me add that my thoughts about my stepdaughter were in a lot of ways correct. She was a small child and from her point of view I was an extra adult in her life. Her home had been upset and turned upside down and made much more complicated when her parents divorced. She did want time alone with her dad. She did have her own dreams about her parents getting back together and she was only interested in me if I was doing something fun or something she needed. She was a kid. There’s honestly nothing wrong with any of her thoughts and this is how kids think.
The solution to how I felt in my family and my house was not dependent on the behaviors of anybody else in the house. I learned that how I secure and loved and valued I felt was always because of my thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs and my reactions.
Don’t misunderstand — it’s not okay for children to be mean or nasty to the adults they live with. It’s just that a kids behavior is just that — their behavior and it doesn’t always need to be directly tied to your happiness. It’s also not okay for husbands or partners to mistreat their partners or spouses. And still happiness almost always comes from within.
It all came down to me.
This is what I learned.
I had to do the work on me.
Why was I upset? Why was I feeling insecure? Why did behaviors create strong reactions from me? What did I want in my house and in my life?
This was all about me, not what show an 8 year old wanted to watch over and over.
Does that sound like a bummer?
At first it did to me too. It sounded like a lot of work.
It was much easier to want to blame my husband, the kids, all the external stresses in my life.
Now I see it as the most amazing thing ever.
Wanna know why?
Who’s in control here?
The reason is that I can’t actually make anybody else do or say or think or feel anything. I do have a lot of control over my thoughts, beliefs and reactions.
It didn’t feel like I did have this control when I started. I felt like my life was happening to me.
When I look back I can see that the story I share here is just one of the times that I’ve struggled over the past two decades. One of the things I’ve learned is that there really isn’t a time of life where we don’t have struggles or issues. We actually go from one struggle to the next. Learning how to manage our minds, communicate lovingly without conflict and care for ourselves — these are skills that help in many ways.
I have learned tools and techniques and methods along the way. These are things that sometimes I find myself thinking … why did nobody tell me this before?
This is why I coach adults in blended families.
What I do is create resources and coaching for adults in blended families.
I have lived this experience.
I have had hard times and worked through them and come out stronger on the other side.
I can teach you tools and share ways to feel more comfortable, more secure, more happy, more empowered within your blended family. Find out more about me here. Find out more about coaching with me here.