What does it take to be a good team player — whether at your job or in your family life? Well, to be a good team player, it takes the ability to have openness, generosity, flexibility, and patience. And nowhere are these skills more needed than in stepfamily life.
Here are some ways to be sure you’re being the best team player in your stepfamily that you can be:
If you decided to be in a stepfamily with someone, then being open to the relationships, challenges, and day-to-day realities of what that means is important. But with the stresses, strains, and demands that stepfamily life brings, this can often be difficult.
Whether you are the stepparent or the parent of the children, a good place to start is to be open to learning about what makes your family system unique and what challenges you will face as a couple in a stepfamily. This openness and willingness to really learn and understand the issues can help both you and your partner work together in a more unifying way.
Generosity means considering others, and being gracious and generous to others is the hallmark of a good team player. It takes all members of a stepfamily to work on generosity. For example, the stepparent often comes into the family being gracious and generous and, in short order, can begin to feel resentful and more withholding. The parent can be generous by helping the stepparent not feel so alone in his or her new role.
If you think of the stepfamily as developing a new “team,” then it becomes clear that generosity is a very important value to teach the children. Consider it a wonderful opportunity to teach your children how to be respectful, kind, and considerate of everyone’s feelings.
When we are in groups with others, being open and flexible to new thoughts and ideas is very important. If we are rigid, then we become demanding that things go our way and that our way is the only right way.
It’s important to realize that most stepparents feel that the stepchildren are taking advantage of their parents. And it is important for the parents to realize that they have a tolerance for their children that absolutely no one else would. So, within those two extremes, flexibility has to come from both of you.
Parents, take an objective look at your children’s behaviors and don’t simply make excuses for them and expect your new partner to tolerate everything. Stepparents, understand that it will take a lot of time for you to build a caring relationship with your stepchildren because you don’t have that attachment bond a parent has with them, so be more open to looking at what is good about them.
Patience should be a given. It takes enormous patience to raise our own children. It takes extraordinary patience to be a part of raising someone else’s. But patience is something we can work on for ourselves. We can all learn to take a step back from a situation and breathe.
Everyone in a group has their own opinions and feelings. Children struggle with all of the dynamics in stepfamily life as much as the adults do, they just don’t have ways of expressing it. Communication leads to working through false assumptions. So use patience as a way to reconsider your position and be willing to talk it through or be willing to listen to what the other people in your stepfamily are saying.
We need good team-playing skills to be able to work through stepfamily life. Use the four skills above to get started on building the strongest possible stepfamily – and team – you can have.
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