Cajoling and remaining neutral

by Rod Smith

Most people know every action will get an equal and opposite reaction 

This knowledge does not seem to stop the parent of an adult son or daughter from trying to “push” and “pull” an adult son or daughter out of a relationship the parent may think is unfit or unhealthy. Pushing, pulling, coercing, will result in resistance. Accepting, embracing the relationship paves the way for open conversations. Coercing closes dialogue. 

Loyalties are invisible, often confusing

The loyalties which connect people will often make “no sense” to outsiders or even insiders. Thus, if anyone “messes” with a pre-existing relationship, even if invited, he or she will pay the price. This is one reason healthy stepparenting is so extraordinarily difficult. The stepparent will always in some ways be an “outsider.” Attempts at “getting between” parent and child, or child and parent, will carry a price tag, even if intervention is invited. As tough as remaining neutral – staying out of the middle –  maybe it is your best call if you are a stepparent, even if you are recruited, begged, to intervene. 

There are always anecdotes to prove me wrong. I get them a lot. 

These are general family systems observations. 

Stepdad’s interventions may work when Johnny is 3, but it is when Johnny is 13, 23, and 33, that “staying out of it” right from the start will pay rich dividends.  

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