We had some beautiful weather here this past weekend, so we spent a good amount of time outside. DJ worked hard to finish up the chicken coop extension, and T helped me work in the garden, pulling weeds and tilling up the raised beds. We will spend the next few weeks planning out our garden, testing the soil to see if any nutrients are lacking, planting seeds, and watching them grow. With any luck, we will enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of our labor throughout the spring and summer. We spent a good amount of time last year getting our raised beds built and filled with dirt, and the garden produced lots of delicious veggies. Here’s what it looked like towards the end of the weeding (of the beds – I hadn’t gotten to the walkways yet). I’m really ready to have this garden fenced in so we can let the chickens in to clean it out in between planting seasons…this weeding thing is for the birds, literally.
Just a little TLC…
Much like a garden (especially this one – look at all those weeds!!), your blended family will need a little extra TLC. If your blended family is young, you might still be working through questions like “what is my role as a step-parent?” Being a step-parent has lots of challenges: relationships with the step-children, interactions with the other parent, and how it all affects your relationship with your spouse. Your relationship with each child and with each parent has to be handled on an individual basis. What works for one child (or ex-spouse) might not work for another. It’s important to let the kids lead – they’ll let you know whether they’re comfortable with you or not.
Building a solid relationship with your step-children is not going to happen overnight. It starts when you’re just dating their parent. At this point, you’re not anything more to them than their parent’s friend. They may even see you as the enemy, someone who is taking time and energy from their parent. But this is the time to allow them to get to know you at their pace and for you to get to know them. How you interact with them during this initial period sets the foundation for your relationship. Even once you’re married, it’s important for the children to know that you aren’t taking their parent away from them, but that you are adding to their family. You bring gifts to the family too, so just let those gifts shine through! Maybe you can take the girls for mani/pedi dates, or take the boys to a sporting event. And yes, I know those are stereotypical ideas, but the important thing is to do things that THEY would enjoy doing. Encourage your spouse (their parent) to spend individual attention with each of their children, and do the same with your own. When they know that you are not a threat to their relationship with their parent, I believe they’ll open their hearts up to you a bit more.
Or Maybe a LOT of TLC…
As far as a relationship with the former spouse…well…that’s something I’m still working through. I have a great friendship with my kids’ older sister’s mother. That has taken years to develop, and honestly, it didn’t become a friendship until after I was separated and divorced from my ex-husband. However, even when I was married to him, she did a fantastic job of ensuring that we were all included in birthday parties for my step-daughter. There weren’t separate parties at each house, but one party where we could all celebrate together. It was weird and awkward at first, but it allowed my step-daughter to see us all interact, and allowed her to know it was ok to like me. I am thankful for this friendship, and now more than ever, I appreciate the sacrifices she made in those early days to include us in activities for her daughter. It makes me hopeful that perhaps, over time, I might be able to have a friendship with DJ’s ex-wife. It is something that I hope and pray for, but it’s not there yet.
What are you using for fertilizer? And what are you producing?
In the mean time, think about what you are using as “fertilizer” in your blended family. Are you feeding it with love and patience, or is there a lot of frustration and anger? What kind of fruit are you producing? Honestly, we have moments of sharp tongues and impatient tones in our house. Is it the norm? No, but it does happen, because we aren’t perfect. We also offer a lot of grace in this family. We, as the parents, set the example by acknowledging when we’ve messed up, apologizing to the offended party/parties, and asking for forgiveness. Then, we do our best to do better. Take an honest look at how you are fertilizing your family, and adjust when necessary. Until next time, my prayer for your family is that it will flourish and bloom, producing much good fruit.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5: 22-23