Positively Paula

Happy Valentine's Day to My Blended Family and Yours

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Opinions about Valentine's Day vary.  (In fact, these days opinions about everything vary, including ones about remarriage on Facebook, but I'll save my story on that for a future blog.) Today I want to send everyone, especially my husband, family, friends, and readers a positive Happy Valentine's Day message. I often refer to my family as a blended family or stepfamily in my posts, but they really are my "family." If you blog, you know how it is to try to please the search engine gods out there. So, back to Valentine's Day...

Some people swoon at the idea of an entire day dedicated to love and the act of showing love; many others think it is a "made up" holiday forced upon us by the greeting card industry. Before writing this post today, I read the Wikipedia article on Valentine's Day to try to come up with some deep, meaningful post about Valentine's Day; and frankly, I was just disappointed. Reading the article started to become a downer. How can a day celebrating love turn into a day that has been banned? (I guess I'll explore that theme, too when I decide to write about my recent Facebook experience. And, that isn't going to happen today!)

Today I'm sending a loving Happy Valentine's Day to my husband, my family, friends, and to all families - blended and step! I truly appreciate all of you and wish you love, peace, and happiness. Whether you are the remarried couple that goes out on the town tonight and exchanges extravagant gifts, the couple that gives an extra hug whispering, "Happy Valentine's Day" while settling into bed, or the stepparent that sends a simple text message to your stepchild simply saying "Happy Valentine's Day," show some love today to those around you that you care about. Any way you want to do it is fine.

Tonight's Show: A Stepmom's Prerogative, Changing Her Mindset

Monday, January 02, 2012
Are you a stepmom struggling with stress or depression? Have you lost all hope of being happy or at peace as a stepparent? Did you know there's a possibility that you can start turning these feelings around today? You're not alone! Tune in to my RemarriageWorks.com radio show coming up tonight, January 2, 8-9 p.m. EST.  We'll be discussing some ways to start the new year off with new perspectives in your stepfamily life.  

My guest will be Renee Canali, The Mindset Coach and author of Life As An Onion: The Journey Back to Your Core. We'll explore how our stepchildren reflect back to us what we need to change or adopt in our relationship with them. Renee will share some family exercises to help you step into 2012 on the right foot. 

Tune in to the Stepmom's Toolbox mini-network on January 2 at 8 p.m. EST! You can change how you look at things today and feel a lot better! 

What is There to be Thankful for in Your Stepfamily?

Friday, March 11, 2011
A dear friend and mindset coach I know, Renee Canali, gave me a very meaningful gift, namely a small book entitled 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik this past Christmas. In a nutshell, it is a story about a guy who handwrote 365 thank you notes in one year and the remarkable things that happened in his life as a result of displaying such gratitude. I've started writing more thank you notes as a result, and it feels good. It got me thinking; how many of us are grateful for our stepfamily members?

And, how many of us get caught up in the whining and complaining about exes, our kids' other stepparent, and all of the challenges that stepfamily life can bring? I'm guilty! Especially in the early years of my remarriage, I complained, got angry, and I'm sure I drove my friends and family nuts on many days. And, even now having been remarried for nearly eight years, I still have my moments.

In hindsight, I feel like I have wasted valuable time and energy simmering in a stew of negative feelings. I wish I had read books, including 365 Thank Yous and Jack Canfield's The Success Principles, years ago. In his book, Canfield writes, "When you are in a state of appreciation and gratitude, you are in a state of abundance. You are appreciating what you do have instead of focusing on and complaining about what you don't have."

So, turning back to remarriage and stepfamily life, for what is there to be grateful?  As a start, how about:
  • the opportunity to learn about your own strengths and weaknesses?
  • the chance to learn more about love and its many forms?
  • a second chance for true happiness after experiencing divorce or widowhood?
  • learning how to appreciate others?
  • developing healthy coping mechanisms?
  • the ability to be a positive influence in a young person's life?
All of these experiences do not just happen overnight, rather there is a process for each. So, while we continue to progress and work on these things, we can express appreciation in our stepfamilies each day - for even the smallest things.

In The Success Principles, Canfield explains that there are three different kinds of appreciation. He describes three different ways (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) "the brain takes in information, and everybody has a dominant type they prefer." 

So, every day we can strive to appreciate the people in our family in the way that makes them feel good. We can hug one of our stepchildren who responds to touch. We can call one of our kids who is away at college to find out how they are doing, and we can write a note telling our spouse how much we appreciate what they do.

The things that we grumble about may still be there. But, if we follow John Kralik's example, we'll actually feel happier.  Thank goodness for that!

Is Your Stepfamily All-Inclusive or Exclusive?

Thursday, October 28, 2010
The other evening I listened to a live webinar hosted by the non-profit organization, Stronger Families, called "You're Not My Dad." It featured Gil and Brenda Stuart, authors of "Restored and Remarried." Gil and Brenda provided a lot of helpful advice for stepfamilies based on their experience of raising a stepfamily with seven children. And, yes, they are still smiling! It's a joy to listen to them.

Not too many things surprise me anymore about stepfamilies. But, I was really intrigued by something they said.

Gil and Brenda said that a couple of months after they got remarried, one of Gil's children got married, and the adult child did not want Brenda at the wedding. Brenda said she didn't go to his wedding. 

Then another person participating in the webinar noted that they follow a rule in their stepfamily household. If an event is centered around a particular child, the parent and stepparent leave it up to that child to determine whether the stepparent can attend. And, if it is an event that is more of a family event, both parent and stepparent attend.

I guess this really surprised me for a couple of reasons. First, I haven't personally run into any stepparents who have a similar rule. And, secondly, right or wrong, my husband and I have always participated in events in our family together. Obviously, every stepfamily is different and there are a lot of extenuating circumstances.

I decided to contact Brenda personally to discuss this topic. I was curious and wanted to know more about how this works in her family. (By the way, Brenda did grant her permission to share her personal thoughts.) She pointed out that while being excluded can hurt, it doesn't have to offend. I can see her point. Many stepparents take things too personally; I, myself have been guilty of that.

Brenda also pointed out that timing is important. Just two months into her own remarriage and with her family's personal circumstances, it just made the most sense for them. She pointed out that many times stepparents have to ask themselves, "Who is the adult here?" Another valid point!

Some could look at it another way and say, "We are the adults here and we will decide as parent and stepparent what we are going to attend." I'm even more curious now and would love to hear more input! How do you handle who will attend what events in your stepfamily? And, why? Comments are most welcome.

Note: The video broadcast, "You're Not My Dad," hosted by Stronger Families featuring Gil and Brenda Stuart will show again on November 1, 2010, 7-8 pm PST. 

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