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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coping with Stepfamily Storms

Last night we braved severe storms with damaging tornadoes in Central Arkansas. My kids and I retreated to our "fraidy hole" to seek protection from our frightful surroundings. The paper this morning reports a nearby town "wiped out."

As I listened to the blare of tornado sirens and attempted to comfort my tearful 10-year-old son, I reflected on what options we have during storms. I compared weather storms to emotional storms that oftentimes occur in stepfamilies. I thought about ways we can cope during stepfamily storms that allow a healthy outcome without a lot of damage. Here are a few steps to consider:

1. Stay calm - don't overreact. During times of conflict, it's easy to raise your voice and exaggerate the severity of the situation. When emotions are heightened, solutions don't emerge naturally. It may be necessary to take a time out and leave the scene of the conflict. However, be sure you agree to come back later to discuss it.

2. Pray for wisdom and guidance for the situation. Find a time and place to be still and listen for God's direction. James 1:5 tells us: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

3. Brainstorm and talk through your options with another person. Seek out an objective party who can help you sort through your emotions and solutions for the conflict. Find a pastor, counselor, or friend who has your best interest at heart and can offer a healthy opinion.

4. Wait it out. Many times, storms dissipate with time. Don't jump to conclusions or insist on taking steps that might make matters worse. When my stepson chose to continue living with his stepdad after his mom died, we were devastated. My husband could have demanded that he come live with us right after the funeral, but he believed it would alienate his adolescent son and cause further pain. We waited out his decision, tormented with some of his choices over the next year. Finally my stepson called and asked to come live with us, recognizing the dysfunction of the home he was in.

5. Take one step at a time when the conditions are right. As solutions emerge, move slowly toward resolution. Take the next healthy step toward reconciling with those involved. Don't expect harmony overnight but do your part to mend relationships.

6. Maintain a positive attitude and trust God for the results. We may not see an end to our storm, but we can trust God is in control. We may not understand what's happening around us but we can choose to "Let Go and Let God."

Storms are frightening and devastating at times. We won't always react as we should or take the right steps, but if we refuse to give up on our stepfamily relationships, we will find solutions in our storms.

What steps do you take during stepfamily storms?

Related Posts:

Confront Conflict Head-On

How to Handle Difficult People

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