Life often takes us on unexpected journeys. For many, finding themselves in the roles of step-parent and step-grandparent can be one of the most surprising twists. The journey of connecting with your stepchildren and step-grandchildren, as well as accepting them as your own, can be filled with challenges and self-discovery. In this blog, I’ll be talking about this role as it relates to me and my experience. I was one who never anticipated this for myself, but have learned to appreciate family dynamics.
AN UNPLANNED PATH
Having a step-family was never part of my plan, and for many it can feel really confusing…. like for me. Maybe confusing isn’t the right word, but I just felt like my husband’s family really wasn’t my family. The uncertainty of it is more common than you’d think. It has been hard for me to admit this, because of course I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Each of my step-children have been so incredibly warm to me and accepted me into their fold with open arms. I think my own self-confidence hasn’t let me feel like I was worthy to have such an exceptional step-family. I’ve learned that as my life has evolved, so too has my definition of FAMILY. Embracing the change can lead to profound personal growth.
CONNECTING AS MY OWN
Building a connection with stepchildren and step-grandchildren that rivals the bond with biological family members can be challenging. It requires time, patience, and a willingness to understand their unique personalities. LOVE is not defined by blood, and by opening your heart, you may find a sense of belonging that transcends traditional family boundaries.
LETTING GO OF LABELS
A hurdle for me in accepting my step-family as my own, is letting go of labels. It’s not about HIS family versus MY family, but rather about creating a new family unit that incorporates everyone. This has been difficult, because our two families don’t spend time together. We haven’t had the opportunity of uniting on that level, partly because my family lives away from where I live now. Most of my step-children too, live away. I feel like that has been part of the disconnect for me, because it’s a lot of either his family or my family.
Living away from my biological family has caused feelings of guilt, especially when it seems that I’m unable to be there for them as I was before. I now live about four hours away by car, from them. It’s hard missing their soccer games, piano recitals, musical performances, etc. I have had to stay more connected via texting and regular FaceTime calls. My planned out visits now, bridge the physical gap and maintain my ties with each of them.
WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS
Being welcomed into my bonus family with open arms is a gift! This has made my journey being a step-parent so much easier. Every single one of my step-children have been so kind, respectful, supportive, and LOVELY to me. The way they gather and do things is so different than what I’ve ever been used to. But through ALL of our gathering, I’ve been able to create memories with them through these shared experiences. I’ve learned about the MODERN DAY FAMILY for sure. My husband’s ex-wife and her husband are very much a part of our lives. Honestly, it felt very weird at first, but now it’s just how it is and doesn’t feel awkward anymore. Normal….. hardly! I have so many people say that this is not normal for them, but it’s VERY NORMAL for us!
Finally, my journey being a step-parent and grand-parent has been filled with unexpected emotions and rewards. As I have embraced this role, and letting go of preconceived notions, it has been a beautiful experience. Nothing like I ever would have imagined! I’m beyond blessed. Remember that family is not defined solely by blood but by the bonds we create and nurture over time. In the end, the love you invest in ANY relationship can lead to a rich and fulfilling family life!!!!