There is no typical day in my Coaching practice. Some days I may be sitting with a 10-year-old that is unable to accept her parents’ divorce. Other days, I am sitting with a grandmother who is unwilling to acknowledge her sons new wife’s children (her step-grandchildren).
One of the core principles of Blended and Black is acknowledgement. To acknowledge means to accept the truth or existence of something. Our egos can be very fragile so for some, acknowledgement means constant praise. For others it means an occasional compliment. And for many of us acknowledgement means we just want to be included and considered. A grievance that I hear from many stepparents is the lack acknowledgement. It is often said that step-parenting is a thankless and isolating position, not for the faint of heart. I agree, it is not.
We look to our partners to be emotionally responsible for the pains that accompany. We may express our anger or resent in ways that make it difficult for our partner to help us navigate our grievances in a healthy manner. When we feel like we are not being heard, then we may lash out in counterproductive ways. Remember, most people don’t start this journey with a plan of action in mind, they’re just kind of winging it. Managing guilt and confusion can render most people unable to act as your shoulder to cry on. They may be unpacking their own stuff too!
If you are feeling the isolation, here are seven questions that you can ask to initiate healthy dialogue. While these questions may help you reach a deeper understanding of your partners perspective they may also give your partner a chance to air their own grievances and insecurities with blending. You and your partner may be able to talk this out among yourselves if you need more direction I’m always HERE to guide you through the process.
Feeling overwhelmed, ask these questions:
1. Have you considered what adding me to your (already-existing) family means? What place do you think you have made for me?
2. Do you care to know how I feel? If so, how exactly do you show it?
3. What value do I bring to your life as your partner?
4. Are you willing to help me through this issue by going to see a therapist? When will you ever be ready to help me? I feel isolated, exiled and forgotten directly because of this situation and I’m crying out for help. You’re the only person that can make it better, please help me.
5. Do you think I am playing victim? Can you tell me what you think my main complaints are? I want to make sure you are hearing me correctly
6. Acknowledgement is acceptance of the truth or existence of something. I do not feel like you acknowledge me enough. Can you give me 3 examples where YOU feel you acknowledged me?
7. Do you see yourself as a victim? What have I done to you to make you lash out at me? I feel like you get mad at me for being hurt/angry/upset. Tell me the best way to approach you when I have a problem with you or your child?
Remember to ask questions in a welcoming tone. Do not respond and do not interrupt your partner. You may be tempted to correct them while they are speaking. Doing this directly conflicts with the purpose of this exercise. Grab a pen and pad and write down the answers if you must. This would be a great way to ensure that you are attentive. Once you are done with the questions, dissect the responses.
I’m always HERE to guide you through the process if you need more help.