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Terri P. Smith, Author, When Your Parent Remarries Late in Life

Have you ever considered your family and stepfamily relationships as works of art in progress with you as the master artist? I hadn’t either until I confronted my widowed father’s remarriage. As an adult stepchild, I faced many challenges. Some I handled better than others. If you are part of an adult stepfamily, perhaps you feel similarly. Stepfamilies provide a testing ground of your core values. The first few years tend to be the most trying. Whenever you confront a challenging situation, remember that you cannot control the behavior of your parent/stepparent or child/stepchild, but you can control your own. Thus the power lies within you to paint the masterpiece of your dreams.

My work of art did not always reflect my desires. As the artist, I learned that I possess characteristics that yearned to be used to develop a loving relationship with my dad and stepmother. It requires effort to subject my emotions to my desires. The results include positive interactions, peace of mind, and a happier me. You, too, possess traits that can nurture harmonious relationships, though they need to be practiced.

Your masterpiece emerges through your day-to-day interactions. With love as the medium in mixing and blending kindness, understanding, and compassion, your masterpiece becomes apparent. Just as the master artist projects feelings into her work of art, you project feelings into your relationships. The observer in tune with the artist feels what the artist wants felt. Likewise, family members in tune with you experience feelings you’re projecting through your verbal and nonverbal behavior—strength, stamina, love, bitterness, anger, tenderness. Determine what you want to portray, then act accordingly. Circumstances are a product of behavior. If you are dissatisfied with your circumstances and want to paint a different relationship, then change your behavior. Harmonious relationships, like a true masterpiece, develop gradually. Expertise in this process is usually learned through trial and error and observation of master relationship artists.

To help you paint your masterpiece, When Your Parent Remarries Late in Life offers practical solutions for dealing with financial issues, family rituals and traditions, loyalty conflicts, potentially offensive behavior, among other issues. It discusses the evolution of stepfamily relationships beginning with laying a foundation of trust during dating and courtship to figuring out your role in this new family configuration to holding your head up high and being proud of your behavior with your parent/stepparent or child/stepchild when the marriage ends in death or divorce. The book includes experiences of individuals which depict some of the challenges confronting adult stepfamily members, how the challenges were handled, and consequences of different behaviors.

Begin today in painting the masterpiece of your dreams and enjoy the journey of nurturing new friendships.

*Adapted from When Your Parent Remarries Late in Life, Copyright (c) 2007 by Terri P. Smith. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications, Inc Co. All rights reserved.