Live, Love, Blend:
Change INEVITABLE, Progress OPTIONAL
Know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans. I mean, it is quite funny that we even bother to make a plan for our lives, especially when you realize that the only thing you can absolutely count on is that change will happen. Usually when you least expect it.
In a blended family, there are many potential factors for change. Custody arrangements, marital status of an ex-spouse, how kids feel toward a step-parent, and the list goes on. Any of these changes can cause stress and frustration, especially when the elements are out of your control (which they usually are).
The one thing you can control is your own reaction to that change. Sounds easy, right? Well I’m in a situation right now that has been causing me to have to control my reactions on a daily basis. Some days are more successful than others. It’s not fun to share unresolved issues but my hope is that my struggle will help you prepare for future possibilities, and sometimes writing about the problem helps give me new perspective.
Last spring our 20 year old son quit college and moved home. While my husband and I were equally surprised by his sudden decision, our reactions could not have been more different. His was to welcome his baby home with open arms and the desire to protect him from the big, bad world. My response was more of a, “oh heck no, you’re not going to sit on our couch all day playing video games while life passes you by”. Perhaps you can already see the trouble that was brewing.
Related: Live Love Blend: You Blew it!
He’s been home 7 months, and so far we’ve managed to make enough compromises to create a workable situation… for now. Here are a few of the guidelines we set up:
- He pays rent (an amount which includes his phone and car insurance bill)
- He pays for his own car, gas and other expenses
- He maintains a job
- He keeps his room clean and does his own laundry
And here are the areas in which we still struggle:
- How long will this arrangement last?
- What happens if he is not working or paying his bills?
- How do we encourage him to help around the house or with siblings?
- How do my husband and I avoid fighting over what each of us sees as realistic expectations for this adult child, and his role in our home?
- Would I feel/react the same way if this were one of my “originals” (biological children)?
The 2nd of our 4 boys graduates this year and plans to leave for college in the fall. As we make decisions about our eldest, we have to remember that we’re setting a precedent for the others. But at the same time we must remember that every child and every situation is unique. So what do you do?
For me the answer is to pray a lot for guidance and a heart that is loving and kind. I believe it is not just ok, but beneficial to push this man/child to stand on his own 2 feet… as long as my motives come from a place of love. If I start to sense that I’m acting out of resentment, feeling inconvenienced or just because it wasn’t my plan, I have to get on my knees and start again. As they say here in Texas, “it ain’t easy”. Perhaps one day he’ll thank me for being pushy, or more likely the gal he marries will.
How about you? What changes have been the most challenging for your blended family?