I hate statistics. I hated taking the class in university and I don’t really like being one either. Did you know that 50% of statistics are made up?
Even though stepfamilies are more common than “traditional” or nuclear families, it’s still not an easy road to navigate. There are a lot of analogies use to describe stepfamilies. We talk about throwing a bunch of ingredients into a food processor and blending them all together until they become one. We also hear about stepfamilies being like “slow-cookers”. It takes time for all the flavors to blend together and create something palatable.
I like those analogies mainly because they involve food, but they don’t really work for my family. I don’t like the blender analogy because it suggests that we lose our individuality in order to become a unit. I prefer the idea of a mosaic. No one loses themselves in the new family. Rather, each person’s uniqueness is left intact to create a beautiful one-of-a-kind picture. Let’s be real, combining two sets of traditions, rules and values can be very difficult and unrealistic at times. Someone will always feel as though they are losing out. Plus, the whole blender analogy is kind of gross when it involves humans.
I believe the answer lies in the name itself. We are called stepfamilies after all. In most cases, blended families begin the relationship out-of-step with each other. We inadvertently step on each other’s toes. Those times when It feels like when we’ve finally made progress and have taken one step forward, something blows up and we realize we’ve actually taken two steps back.
It all comes down to walking or stepping together through life. We need to take one step at a time and enjoy the journey together. Being a step-parent is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Not because I don’t love my step-daughter, but because these situations aren’t exactly ideal. They usually arise from a sense of loss (divorce, death, abandonment). I find myself second-guessing decisions a lot, over-analysing things and trying to control every detail instead of letting things evolve organically.
“…and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us” Ephesians 5:2
“Walk (or keep in step) in the spirit and you will not carry out your selfish desires.” Galatians 5:16
Those stats at the beginning of the post actually represent my family situation. If we don’t want to become a statistic, we have to take steps to make things work.The environment of my home will be set based on the actions I choose to make on a daily basis. When I get out of bed each day, I’m faced with choices. I can choose to yell and criticize or I can choose to listen and embrace my family members with love and humor.
One last idiom. If we can step into each other’s shoes, we might just have a different perspective on our situation. To me, this is “Stepping in Love”.