Luck of the Irish, it is said, will be yours if you find a four-leaf clover.
When it comes to finding four-leaf clovers for luck in building a stepfamily, we quit looking early on. Finding the clover may be a botanical possibility, but the discovery of a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow is a myth. Being intentional in your relationships with your stepfamily will bring you more pots of gold than any myth!
It takes time to create a stepfamily that is genuinely working together and has high prospects of success. The average stepfamily takes almost seven years to come together/bond/mature. Now, this is in general terms. Some families come together at a quicker pace, while others may never completely blend. The most important thing to remember is that you’ve got to allow time for relationship building!
To help in the search of the “clover;” i.e., a functioning stepfamily, let us help you with four things to do on your journey to the pot of gold.
First: Be committed to cultivating an attitude of an “I’m not going anywhere” mentality. When stepfamily life causes you to feel like throwing in the towel, you choose to be stable, steadfast and reliable to all members. Yes, all members of the stepfamily, even the ones with whom you have the most difficulty. Love says, “I’m not going anywhere; I won’t bail out on you!” You’re in this for the long haul…no back doors of escape. The “D” word (divorce) is not even in your vocabulary.
Second: Blessed are the flexible for they will not snap! Flexible, supple, bendable, adjustable, adaptable to the circumstances because you are committed—need we say more? There are so many moving parts in a stepfamily: in-laws, ex-laws, schedules, personalities, finances and, of course, the family pet. Sometimes we need to be intentional in our flexibility, especially if it doesn’t come easily for us. Because we want what’s best for our family and those that are in it, flexibility will build trust. The thought process here is, “I can trust you because you are trying to make things work for me. I know you are looking after my best interest.” Anytime you can build a bridge of relationship in a stepfamily, do it! Be sensitive and flexible to look for those opportunities. Which leads to the third item…
Third: Trust environments, once achieved, create safety for those inside its influence. It can be hard work to nurture such an atmosphere for a stepfamily. You may think, with all the coming and going, change, distance, grief (from the loss you may have experienced), uncertainty and often plain confusion, being able to trust one another may seem unattainable. What an incredible opportunity we have to experience trust again, especially if it was obliterated in your last family. Will this happen overnight? Probably not. But it is worth the effort and patience for the pot of trust (or gold) for your stepfamily to own. Family members will thrive in a trust-filled environment and may impact the legacy of future generations of your family. If nothing else, trusting our Lord with our own lives/families may be the first step you can take. Trust will be tested; but because you are flexible, you will not snap, crack up or lose your sense of well being…because of our final point…
Fourth: Laughter and the fun factor! Flexible at the corners of your mouth – if you are going to crack up, then crack a smile – lighten up and enjoy the chaos of family life. We know we can take life far too seriously. When we have done so in the past, we say to one another, “we’re not laughing enough.” Adding some fun, humor and a hearty belly laugh is not only good for your health but your perspective. When you can get to the funny side of life, the defenses come down and relating to one another is far more authentic. Sometimes we ask ourselves, “Is this the hill we want to die on?” That keeps things in perspective and helps keep what’s important right in front of us.
Growing a stepfamily four-leaf clover is not impossible if fertilized with trust, trimmed with flexibility and committed to sticking through good and bad weather. Be sure you water with plenty of laughter… yeah, yeah – we’re stretching the analogy a bit. But our point of creating a stepfamily to fit a St. Patrick’s Day theme is that we found our pot of gold in a satisfying stepfamily experience. YOU can too! Get your green on and start growing your own functioning and thriving stepfamily.