“Normal”: what is that?

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As a parent, don’t you just love that moment when you realize your kids are listening to you after all? You know what I’m talking about, that pivotal moment when you know something “stuck”?

My husband and I had that moment after our daughters’ first day of high school. As we were getting ready for bed that first night, one of the girls came in and asked her step dad and me to read a paper she had been assigned. We couldn’t believe she asked for our input! Research shows having consistent and positive interaction with children will improve their well being. Yet, if you have teenagers, that is not as easy as it sounds. Anyway, the assignment was for each student to write a paper about their life. She began by stating that her life was not like most teens, in fact she was not the “normal” teenager. What does that mean? Why does she think that? Yet, as I continued reading, I soon realized that through her paper, she re-defined “normal”. She described every member of our chosen family and how important we are to her. She even explained that adjusting to our “new” family took time… and it wasn’t overnight. That is a common myth about stepfamilies. Adjustment can take years! We know! Yet, as her life story unfolded, I knew she had survived our challenges as a stepfamily and had grown because of them. She didn’t write about her siblings as “real” or “step”, but simply as her sisters and brother. That’s a big deal if you are in a stepfamily. According to research, 1 in 3 of us are! She ended her paper by saying that her “normal” may be different from everyone else, but it works for her and she likes it!

I looked up after reading her paper with tears in my eyes. She gave me that “Oh not again” look and went off to bed. All of this time working through the challenges of a stepfamily…. it pays off. I’ve always hoped I was doing and saying the right things, but never knew I’d cry when I got proof! Re-define “normal” and make it fit your family. As long as it works for you, you will succeed!

Ami Landers, Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

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One Response to ““Normal”: what is that?”

  1. May Simons Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I too am in my second marriage, just started really, and it is rough. I have two girls, and my new husband has one son. It is a daily challenge just to get them to respect me, muchless each other. And the girls with my husband.

    I find our biggest problem lies in our dealings with my ex. My husbands ex has custody of the son, but she is wonderful to work with. I’ve heard horror stories, and am glad that my dealings with his ex is not one of those. However, my ex does not see it the same way. It is a constant thron in our family and our marriage. It also bothers the girls terribly. I have read alot on the subject, wanting the best for my girls, and everything that I read says that I need to keep the girls relationship going with their dad, but doing that seems to be tearing our new family apart. You story makes it sound so simple, but I’m sure it wasn’t.

    How did your daughters get to that point in the new family? And how does that affect the rest of their original family, dad’s side? How do you keep both families going for your daughters, or do you, the original father was not mentioned, he may have passed? Please give any help. I am trying so hard to keep the relationship going between my husband and our girls, but he is making this as difficult as he can, and some days I think thta it would be better for me and the girls if we just didn’t have to deal with him anymore.

    Any advice would be helpful, and thanks for your story of hope.

    May Simons

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