I was happy to have begun writing ‘Check your foundation of your blended family’ for my new digital training for Danish fusion families, when it suddenly dawns on me, why it is sometimes impossible and confusing to get a fusion family to work.
Fortunately, I also know that we can do something about it, if we take the time to pause, reflect, and be honest about our actions or lack thereof.
I found out that we all too often bring own unresolved ‘bagage’ from our past into our new blended family.
With this blog I want to help you get the ‘cleaning-process’ started or at first maybe just create awareness of “yes, yes she is right, maybe I should look at what my actions are based on.”
If you’re ready, the sooner the better (but later is also ok) let’s take a look at the foundation of your blended life.
Become aware of what controls your actions
I would like to ask you something. Do you feel guilty as a parent? Guilty about being divorced? Guilty about having new partner? Guilty about having left your ex?
What you feel guilty about is, initially, not so crucial, you just have to become aware that the feeling of guilt is (still) your ‘companion.’ Even if you lived in your blended family for several years, do not despair when discovering that the guilt is still there. It’s actually quite common.
There is a big difference in how we react when our feeling of guilt influences our actions:
We women might typically transform into the mother hen protecting our children against all ills, all defeats and always trying to save them from evil and not really allow our partner to discipline them. (Even if we know he/she is right in doing so, we do it better!)
The men might typically keep their distance, pretend everything is ok, withdraw and do not really set the necessary limits, neither towards the kids nor their exes all while their partner tells them they are a wimp.
The above two examples are exaggerated, but maybe you feel there is some truth to it or maybe you hear your partner’s voice as you read my words…(sorry.)
Regardless of our reaction patterns, we owe our children and our partner to change these conditions. It requires great courage, I know, but I believe that we can do it. Slowly, little by little we can become better and better at changing the conditions.
Clues to discover how you might compensate and divert
Most of us are, often unconsciously, compensate and sometimes divert when it comes to our children or ex, precisely because we feel guilty. We need immediate relief, even if it is short lived.
It is not sustainable in the long run and cannot form the basis for either a strong relationship or a healthy and honest bond with the children.
It is important for me to emphasize that when we act in accordance to our hearts and innermost values, then the relationship with our beautiful children and new partner will benefit.
So I want you to reflect on the following questions:
First: Are there situations where you don’t discipline the children and just let it go? If you find it difficult to answer, so you may want to compare it with how you would react in the situation, if you were still together with your ex.
Second: When you set boundaries towards your ex, do you find your partner criticizing you for not marking them clearly?
Third: Have you experienced situations, when your partner does not understand why you become defensive when he/she points out that your actions are NOT in the best interest of your fusion family?
Fourth: When you speak with your ex about the kids, are you using the word “WE” about your partner and yourself?. “WE” want the kids to etc. etc. instead of “I” want the kids to……etc. (Consciously using the word “WE” communicates to both to your partner and the world, that you are united)
From the answers to the questions above, I am sure that now you have a pretty good indication of how (or if) your feeling of guilt controls your actions. Then it’s time to do something about it.
What do we communicate to our children and our partner?
If we let guilt about being divorced control our words and actions toward our children, we tell them indirectly that our actions and decision were wrong.
Is this what you truly want to convey? Not very likely.
We must put ourselves behind the wheel of our lives and fully accept the choices we made and the impact they have on both our children and ourselves.
We must comfort the children when they are sad, but also help them realize the benefits they have now and in the long run.
We also have to show our partner, in words and actions, that he/she and the children are the most important thing in our lives now. That we will do everything we can to strengthen our new family and to set the necessary (and reasonable) limits for our children and the ex.
Make peace with the guilty conscience and get behind the wheel of your life.
Now I ask you to stop letting the bad conscience controlling what you do and stop beating yourself up. Praise yourself that you have the courage to read this whole blog. You should be proud of that.
What is done is done and you still cannot change the past, no matter how much your worry about it. Remember the positive outcome of the changes you made and will make in the future.
Your future guidance should now include the following questions:
• What would I do and say if I was not divorced? The answers will no longer influences the way you discipline your kids.
• If I always have my fusion family’s best interests in mind when I make arrangements with my ex, what is important for me to say in order to make me and my partner appear as a team?
If you’ve read my blog this far, I know you have started pondering that maybe there is something that before was blurred and now has become clear.
If you dare and are ready (otherwise wait few months), then have an honest talk with your partner about how he/she can help to no longer letting you be controlled by the feeling of guilt.
Always show loyalty to your relationship, both in words and actions. Show that your relationship and your family are your first priority…… and …… that the ex can wait until you and your partner decide on whether he/she will be invited over for coffee.
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