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Monday, March 7, 2011

Steps for Successful Stepparenting

If you're joining me today from my guest post on The Stepmom's Toolbox website, Welcome!

 My husband,  Randy, and I participated in the Little Rock Marathon events this week-end. Randy ran the full marathon, posting a faster time than his previous four marathon events. (I ran the half marathon). Pictured on the left is my husband with his HUGE medal and a friend he ran with part of the way.

On our way home from LR, we began to talk about how he improved his time this year. Many of his training methods relate to similar strategies we can use as stepparents.

1. If it isn't working, try something different. Randy had struggled with leg cramps toward the end of each previous marathon race. This time, he sought help from a specialty running store and used some magnesium tablets that seem to have prevented the cramps, allowing him to decrease his walk breaks at the end of the race.

If you're struggling in a particular area of our stepparenting role and don't know a solution, it may be time to seek help. Find a pastor, trusted friend or counselor who is familiar with stepfamily dynamics to confide in and seek advice.

2.  Be willing to invest a lot of time. Preparing to run 26.2 miles in a marathon is a big deal. The training schedule involves 18-22 weeks of strenuous running, along with other cross training workouts. Attempting to run a marathon without the training leads to failure.

Successful stepparenting also involves a lot of time. Stepping into your stepchild's life and expecting an instant relationship only leads to disappointment. Be willing to spend time getting to know your stepchild, understanding his likes/dislikes, and finding common ground on which to build a relationship.

3. Expect setbacks along the way. Long distance training often leads to injury. The workouts are hard and your body begins to break down. An unexpected weakness shows up through a muscle strain, bone fracture, or ligament tear. With adequate rest and therapy, injuries heal and the training can begin again.

Stepparents can also expect setbacks. A difficult ex-spouse, rebellious teen-ager, or unexpected conflict can lead to setback. It may take months or years to work through a difficult phase, but progress can always begin again if you don't give up.

4. The biggest prize comes at the end but there are rewards along the journey. The medal earned for completing a marathon is placed around the runner's neck as he crosses the finish line. However, a sense of pride and satisfaction is enjoyed throughout the training period as a runner sets and reaches goals he never dreamed possible.

The greatest reward for successful stepparenting is experienced as stepchildren leave home, appreciative of strong relationships they share with one another. However, stepparenting also has rewards throughout the journey as bonding occurs and love for one another develops.

Successful stepparenting, like marathon training, has rewards worth seeking. But the journey to the finish line can also be cherished.

What steps have led to success on your stepparenting journey? 

Related Posts:

Expect the Unexpected on Your Stepparenting Journey

Stepfamily Trap: It's My Way or the Highway

Creating a Stable Stepfamily: Commit to the Long Run

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