6 Tips to Handle Transition Time with Stepkids – Visitation Dread | Read Ahead

Find out how we deal with the dread of arrival time at the Harris House. Transition time can be a challenge in a blended family. Read on for 6 Tips on Transitions Time with your stepkids.

Do you dread your stepkids coming to visit?

I did.

Don’t judge me. If you have read any previous post, you already know I love my stepchildren and have a heart full of love. Really I do.

That does not mean I ENJOY every aspect of when my stepkids come. The reality is, there are moments I do not embrace when ANY of our kids walk in the door.

You might wonder why a mom of many would DREAD her three innocent kids coming for a visit. Why the thought of her own sweet blessings returning home after a week at their dads brought about the need to pray for patience and grace in welcoming them back. In their time away all I had done was miss them after all.

One  Simple reason for this Dread-

TRANSISITION TIMES ARE CHALLENGING IN A BLENDED FAMILY  HOME!

When my step kids would come, everything was different. For them and us. Sometimes even awkward. We were trying to please and entertain, and they felt like they were walking into a place they did not belong. When my kids came home from their dads, it was a bit easier as they come a week on week off, but still, there was that time of adjustment.

Transition times in a blended family are hard. Hard for the kids and the adults.

Each time our kiddos arrive, whether gone for months or even a just a week they can bring with them some undesirable behaviors and routines.

Over time and some painful mistakes, we have learned a few tricks that help ease the AWKWARD for the kids and SANITY for the adults during transition times in our house.

1. Be warm and welcoming but Don’t overdo it-

When our kids arrive, I wait for them to get past the door. THEN,  I warmly hug them and greet them with a smile.  I move on to doing something normal. I am available and approachable but not hyper-focused on them as they get in the door and get settled. In the past, my greetings may have been a bit overwhelming.  I would squeal with delight at seeing them, and blurt out a million questions. “What do you want for dinner? How is School? What do you want to do this weekend”? All of this without taking a breath. I was OVERWHELMING THEM with my enthusiasm.

2. Time to adjust is a must-

The first years we were together my Mr, and I would find ourselves waiting in anticipation for his kid’s arrival. In our excitement we would have the night planned out, dinner at their favorite restaurant, a fun activity if not too late. One day my then 11-year-old stepson said: “can we just stay in?” It seems that all along that is what they wanted. They yearned to just relax. Wanting to arrive and play with their toys and just settle in. The same holds true when my kids show up for my scheduled week. They prefer to unpack the few things that travel back and forth with and set things up for the week ahead. They do not want entertainment, they want normalcy.

3. Quizzes and questions-

Avoid quizzing the kids on where they have been and whom they have spent time. Asking too many questions leaves our kids feeling guarded. We have one question we ask “how have you been”? We leave it at that. In time our littles open up. That is when we extend the conversation with another simple question, “tell me more about it”? In a blended family, kids are often protective of the house or parent they have just come. On occasion, a parent may even have warned them to keep things to themselves. We have found it best to be at ease with not hounding them with questions. When the conversation does open up in their time frame, we find it to be way more productive and enjoyable than if we would have questioned away from the beginning.

4. Stepparent stepdown –

When my kids arrive home after a week at their dad’s they are LOUD, my word they are so Loud! It is a family trait from their father’s side. I won’t mention the traits from my side just yet… Music is louder, voices higher and it feels obnoxious in comparison to the quiet week my husband and I have had. The Mr. and I look forward to the kids coming home, but their arrival brings kid chaos and LOUDNESS. Sometimes there are habits from their dad’s they bring. Eating in the living room for one and sometimes cutting each other down. When the Mr.’s kids arrive they too pack a few things we are not accustomed to. A different set of manners and habits, TV shows, phrases and sometimes even attitudes.

We find there is less conflict if the step parent “steps down” in our house during times of transition. When the loudness is too much on that first day, my Mr. gives them grace and walks away. I too have to step down when my step kids arrive and let them work on our ways. I hold my tongue on eating habits and don’t correct what they say. When overwhelmed with the changes my hubby and I give each other time to take a break from the chaos. Grace and patience have led to smoother transitions. Depending on the length of stay we may have to remind the kids of our house rules, for the most part, we try to avoid that on the first day.

5. Anticipate feeling left out-

You may find when the kids come to visit they need the special time with their birth parent.  I encourage my Mr. to watch a movie alone with his children, he, in turn, gives me space to sit with my girls and hash teenage things out. There have been plenty of times I  wanted time alone with my husband but waited patiently until the kids were in bed. I know this is the case for my MR as well. Weeknights filled with plenty to do when my people are here. My Mr. silently waits until things quiet down for the night to share time with me.

It may seem like we are left out, but the truth is we are focusing on our kid’s needs at the moment so we can have quality time when the kid stuff settles down. Patience and anticipation eliminate the tug of war that sometimes accompanies blended families. We know from the start that there will be times we are left out. Knowing this makes the transition easier for all when there is no envy involved.  When the kids are all here for extended stays, we make sure we plan date nights to spend time as husband and wife. In the chaos of every day, we encourage and lift one another up each other in front of our kids.

6. Stick with a routine-

Children need to know what to expect, even our teens. We try to keep things the same. We are a busy family, so there is normal family life going on. However, the Mr and I work diligently at giving the kids all a time to process our plans or changes. I have heard over and over again how my kids hate to find things out at the last minute. For us, that is sending a text or a call to our teens to let them know well ahead of House changes or weeke6.nd plans. For the younger ones, we may share things via a call or Skype. We make sure that we do not spring crazy things on them before they arrive. Working hard a normalcy is key to transactions at our house.

 

I could not end this post without mentioning the most important Tip of all.

 To pray.

 

I pray for grace when I am feeling like a not so perfect stepmom; I pray our kids will find peace and joy in our home.

I ask for forgiveness for my mistakes. I GIVE THANKS FOR ALL I HAVE.

It is not easy blending a family. It is hard to watch your kids struggle when they come and go. Even with all of the challenges, I am so very grateful the gift of our family and happy to say in the moment,  no dread involved.

 

 

Do you ever have a feeling of DREAD when thinking of transition times? Comment below -What works in your house when it comes to Transition times?

 

Be blessed in your weekend –

Steph

Love is not Self Seeking

Love is not selfseeking- Stepfamily | Blended

Love is not self-seeking says the Apostle Paul as he writes his letter to the problematic church of Corinth. Love, it seems has a list of things it is not, Love includes things we should not do.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way.

We should not be self-seeking in the way we love. The love Paul is speaking of does not demand it’s own way.

I am reminded of a time not so long ago,  the darkest times in my blended family life. My oldest son had not handled my divorce well. His siblings hurt and grieved, and then one day they moved on. They did not like the situation any more than their big brother but learned to handle things much easier than he. My beautiful blue eyed first born was damaged by the loss of his life as he knew it. His perfect world came tumbling down and with it came change, chaos, and darkness. The mistakes I made, I know I am forgiven. Still, they sit in my heart and mind never to be forgotten.

You see, I made Love about me. My love was not that of the Bible.

After my first marriage had ended, I fell in love with my husband. Much too soon I made us the priority. Once I fell in love with Mike, we quickly moved on to a new life. Tricking myself into thinking I was doing well for all. I moved my kids into a new house with my new found love. Focusing only on creating a life as a family.

I missed the family time of the past. I wanted to create the perfect home. My Mr. and I were very much in love. I never question the gift we have or the way in which God granted us to be together forever.  However, my approach and time frame were the problem. I focused on what it was I really wanted.

My baby blue eyed boy was silently dying inside. Crushed by my reckless choices.

Over time he grew to hate. Hating me for my mistakes.

God never created love to be selfish, and when humans ignore his gifts, there are consequences.

Mine was the loss of my son. Not in life but in the soul. He let go of his faith in Christ. My example was enough for him to think twice. He rebelled into a child I did not know. Eye contact gone, conversation forgotten. The little boy who used to hold my hand hated me with passion. I lost my son to self-seeking love in my life. I lost my son to demanding my way. One of just a few ways the Apostle Paul tell us not to go.

One day my ex-husband recommended I meet with his girlfriend’s counselor whom my son had begun to see. It was in this therapist my boy found someone he could trust.  Something broke in me, my heart I think, it felt like death, my relationship with my beautiful son.

Watching him struggle was too much.

I met with his therapist. Trying to express my concerns about my son the best I could, the hurt of losing him for all I had done. I wept then sobbed, asking between sniffles how to fix him. She said “Stephanie, you are a Christian. We do not love for ourselves. We love for others”. She went on to remind me that Love is meant to be given, it does not demand its own ways, Love is not self-seeking.

That is when the reality hit. God created me to have HIS children. He gifted me motherhood in this earthly life, and I chose to LOVE myself.

Philippians 2:4

 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

How was it that I had lost this? How could I have been so self-seeking? I share this story, not because I think all blended family situations are the same. I realize many of you made wiser choices than me. Many though, left behind the pain of divorce. We moved on, when we fell in love again, we forgot how God called us to Love for Him and not for ourselves.

My prayer for all in blended family life is for us to remember how God calls us to Love. The lessons the Paul wrote to the troubled church of Corinth are the same for us.

Love is NOT self-seeking. It does not demand its own way.

My Mr. would have waited for me. I see that now. There was no need to rush what we have.  My son, in time, comes around. Now almost a man on his own. I know God has forgiven me.

My son too accepts where we are now after much time. We have worked hard at mending our mistakes. I do not see hatred in his baby blues any longer. He becomes stronger each year, yet still struggles with my husband, and any authority. Much time it will take before we see that go away.

 I know there will never be the perfect end to the story for him in this changed life. My husband steps back and takes things slowly. I pray to always make wiser choices.

This year my boy will go off to college. Time is short in the life here on earth. Each day must be lived to the fullest. Love must be given not for ourselves but those around us. This way of Loving has changed everything for me. Giving up myself for others is easy when it is God’s Love I am seeking.

Love is not Boastful

Love is not Boastful is what the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast, it is not proud.

In a blended family, it is easy to take what we have always done, our habits, culture, traditions and direct them to ourselves. It is easy in a blended family to want things done our way, on our terms and to assume that is the best way for everyone.

When you are combining two households into one, you are blending two ways of doing things. Especially when dealing with holidays, traditions, finances and parenting. It is often easy to want things our way, the way we have always done them. There have been so many times in the last few years that I have been guilty of this. Christmas for one.

You may wonder how this correlates to “Love is not Boastful.” How does any of this have to do with the way God wants us to love?

The Greek translation for boastful is “to point to oneself.”

Arrogance is what I call it. Honestly, Until I started to dig deep into this scripture, Praying  God would open my eyes to the kind of Love he wanted me to have in my second marriage I had no idea how guilty of arrogance I was.

Then it was Christmas, Christmas traditions I love so well. The morning breakfast, the stockings filled, how many gifts to give, whom to invite and when and even what to wear. I love “my” Christmas celebrations of past. The laughter, the joy, the beautiful decorations.

I found myself telling my stepkids of our traditions. The fun things “I” have come up with.  I took pictures of my holiday table. Adorned with garland, glass vases with bulbs, and pine cones. Facebook saw “my” yearly post on the beauty of “my” delightfully decorated Christmas tree. The way we read scripture the night before Christmas and talked about the real Christmas story was on my terms as well.

 I love pointing out “myself” it seems.

So where does this go with a blended family? The very first year we were all together my husband pulled out his Christmas box. His three littles hovered around to watch him pull out his Hallmark ornaments and a few simple decorations. Down below deep inside was a Country Craft Christmas Tree skirt, a red motorcycle, and small train.

“My” bookshelves already held “my” nativity scene. It housed my garland and Christmas Candles. The coffee table was full too with “my” advent wreath. The kids looked around the room and tried to find an opening to house their holiday things.

Everything pointed to me. Nowhere was there space to let my stepkids traditions and decorations in. Not a place for a train or toy motorcycle could be found.

I had arrogantly pointed my favorite holiday right to me. It went on you should know. My arrogance and boastful greed.

I did display their box of Christmas goods but not with a giving heart as I should. No, I did not really like their stuff. It did not match my own. I found no fond memories in their hallmark ornaments. I felt removed from the stories they told. A toy motorcycle?” What does that have to do with Christmas anyway?”I remarked under my breath and tucked it to the side of the shelf.

“Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him, deeds are weighed.

1 Samuel 2:3

 

I spouted out all of “my” perfect ways, celebrating the Birth of Christ without the kind of Love his whole life was about.

I planned and Pinterested, Snapped pictures and boasted of all of my traditions but nowhere did I Love like Christ. Nowhere did I Love my new family the way God calls me to.

There are so many ways in a blended family we boast or toot our own horn. It may not be in your Holiday, but in the way, you speak of your stepchild’s mom. Maybe it is in the way we believe with all of our hearts that the way that we parent is superior to that of the other parent involved. Have you ever said, “I cannot believe he would do that!” Possibly it once was a passing thought? Have you ever, like me, said out loud to a friend something derogatory about your stepchild or their mother, as if your ways were better than theirs? How about that frustrating ex-husband who crushed your heart with condescending words. Do you ever brag to your friends how good you have it now?

I want to be like the Apostle Paul. He started off with sin in his life but once he knew Christ, serving and glorifying became who he was.

He understood the way to LOVE and spent the rest of his life teaching others to LIVE is Christ and to die is GAIN. There was nothing about the Apostle Paul that put any light on himself. He knew the death of the old ways would only bring him more.

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 2:5

Paul knew humility. He could comprehend that our amazing creator LOVED us enough to make his son a man, to let him die on the cross to give us life and here I sat thinking of myself. Living life pointing to “my” ways and not HIS.

Christmas now a bit simplified. Each year we say goodbye to traditions of yesteryear replaced with ones of our own. Enough years have gone by; we now have our memories stored. Blended family traditions are how Christmas is done now. A bit unique and always changing. Each year we give of something and find in turn we gain more.

God calls us to LOVE; we took on this sacred covenant in remarried life. I find myself wanting more than ever to let go of myself and Live for HIM.

In blended family life, more than our life before, more than anything in this earthly life I want to simply let go of anything of me and let life be about serving my King.

The Christmas box came out last year. I could not wait to hear the stories of the hallmark ornaments. It seems after five years they do live in my heart after all. The red motorcycle and Christmas train have gained a place on the shelf. I no longer boast of my ways at Christmas time.

  Temptation is the boastful thought of how great my life is these days. A gift unexpected, too precious to keep inside. Still, I refrain with all of my self-control to brag about “my” life.

I have pulled away from friends who love to complain of the exes, no more mean talk of my step kids mom.

I yearn to LOVE like Christ and learn from the Apostle Paul.

Love does not Boast. This life is not about me; it is about serving others and loving the way I should.


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Love Always Trusts

 

 

Love Always Trusts

Psalm 37:51 Corinthians 13Jeremiah 17:5

“Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Jeremiah 17:5 ESV

Love Always Trusts. I have not always felt that it does, however. There once was a time where that phrase did not seem so. I come from a family of divorce, by the time I was seven trust was all but gone in my little girl soul. The innocent way that I thought was simply taken the day that I saw my dad’s future second wife sleeping on our couch. It took a bit of time for the fighting to begin. The slamming of doors and belittling with words. The lessons I learned on trust from the start were not what God was speaking of in his word. I picked up that day, long ago that when things go wrong, it is ok to walk away for something new. It is ok to do what you want to do.

I did not realize at the time, how messy that lesson would become. Years later,  in that old life of mine, I took that lesson of my youth and put it into action.

I put my faith in the counselor who told me my husband would never change, in my friends who led me away, in myself when all seemed lost. Not understanding that Love of the Bible trusts no matter what.

I did the same to my children as my parents to me.  Not the same scenario as my dad, but equally as damaging to my kids. I taught them by example to trust in themselves, in the world and not in our Lord. God Loved me and took a chunk of my life to teach me his lessons in return for his grace I pass on my understanding. He, with many lessons and consequences, took me on a journey to understand the real meaning of trust.

The kind of trust I am talking about is one of the ways the Apostle Paul teaches us about Love. When Paul writes in 1 Corinthians  13, he is speaking to the church. The people of Corinth, some who had gone astray.

The Love that Paul teaches us about has so many traits. It is this quality of trust, one of four traits, that LOVE must ALWAYS contain.

We know from Paul’s letter to the church that Love “trusts,” in Greek that word translates into “believe” in some places and “faith” in others.

Divorce brings the loss of faith. It takes us to a point where we do not believe things can go on any longer. I think it may be true with some of us, that even if we know God hates divorce. We know he wants us to trust him, and still, we take matters into our hands. We stray from truth.

Psalms 37, Love Trusts in a Blended Family

In re-marriage, we begin believing again.

To LOVE the way God intended us to he wants us to have Faith in our husbands, that even when they are at their worst, we believe in God’s plan for them. We have to trust in God’s choice for our life. Loving the way God intended us to include trusting God’s work in us may not be complete. That his plans for our husbands are still in progress. Love always Trusts means, giving God time to complete his plan without us interceding and controlling what is his all along.

Can you ALWAYS TRUST God’s love for you? If you believe Jesus died for you, then you know the kind of Love he has for each one of us, including our husbands and their kids. We can Love the way the Bible teaches us to by trusting God in ALL we do. ALWAYS.

Psalm 37:5

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

P.S

Click the scripture link above to Psalm 37; I can never get enough of it! So much advice to discern the path of everyday life!

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for hanging out here at the Harris House! Don’t leave without grabbing my little gift for you!