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Celebrating Your Victories

It's vital to mark milestones, victories, and accomplishments, both large and small.

My friend Ailsa is a professional at this, but I'm not. I tend to take any achievements in stride, barely noticing them, as though just checking them off a mental list. It's hard for me to really acknowledge when things go right. Yet when I tell Ailsa something I've done, she says “Let's celebrate!” A toast at dinner, a bouquet of flowers, a special outing—these small rituals make life joyful, make achievement meaningful, and help us keep troubles in perspective.

In a stepfamily, it's too easy to focus on the things that still aren't perfect and to forget the things that work, that have changed, and that represent real movement.

If you think you may need some help acknowledging how far you've come, take a few moments for the following exercise. In the examples below, I've given you a sample of my own responses. Keep in mind that I've been at this stepparenting stuff for a dozen years now; you may not be as far along. (On the other hand, you may be a much quicker learner than I am!)

How Far You've Come!

  1. Make a list of things you appreciate and respect about your stepkids.
    Ericka's answer: I appreciate how Aaron and Rachel accept Annie with unconditional love. I appreciate how they call me on Mother's Day. I appreciate how they respect the members of my family. I appreciate their fierce loyalty to their mother. I appreciate how they accept me as their dad's chosen partner-in-life. I appreciate and respect their intelligence, and how diligently each of them work in their chosen fields.
    Your answer:__________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________
  2. Write down what you've have learned about yourself since you've been a stepparent.
    Ericka's answer: I never thought that I could accept another person's children, let alone grow to care about each of them so deeply. I've learned that I'm not perfect, that I'm very often wrong, and that it's okay. I've learned that I'm at my best as a stepparent when I have a balance of private time and social, family time. I've learned, too, that things change over time.
    Your answer:__________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________
  3. Write down three things that have changed for the better in your stepfamily since it formed.
    Ericka's answer: We've all learned how to be more inclusive and how to accommodate different styles of living. We've grown to appreciate and respect each other more for the individuals that we are. We've learned that we are not in competition for Bill's love, that love is not a limited commodity, and that there is always enough to go around.
    Your answer:__________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________

Enjoy your victories. You've earned them.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stepparenting © 1998 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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