I love military Chaplains. The number of times they have said the right thing or given my husband the perfect book that has pointed us in the right direction is too many to share. When I saw that Chaplain Jones would be speaking, I was excited to hear some profound words of wisdom, and I was not disappointed.
Throughout this summit, I feel privy to conversations that give us so much to think about or a different perspective, which is my favorite kind of perspective – a different one.
Blended military families were the topic of the day. The added hardships of a blended family are far more extensive than some people realize. There are so many blended family variables, and I won’t go into them all. However, allow me to share some incredible advice from this session for anyone with any blended family.
“You need more than love to keep a family together.” – Chaplain Jones
This is an insight from a man who has served military families for over 39 years.
The number one takeaway was, in his words, “Start with a good foundation and seek help.” He shared tools that military families have at their doorstep: MFLACs, ACS, and Chaplains who are trained to assist or provide counseling. Chaplain Jones explains that you do not put oil in your car when the car is broken. You put oil in as a precaution to keep your vehicle running well. Same with a blended family; seek help early before issues start up. Have a plan, and seek help!
Working as a team was the second biggest takeaway: both parents have to be a united front. Start with good communication, have family meetings, and give the children a voice (this is good advice for all families); allow them to express their feelings and share what is on their minds.
He won me over with his practical advice to have some fun together. In so many homes, we all get so bogged down with life, work, and errands that fun is the last thing on the list. But bonds are formed in the laughter and shared jokes. Even if this is enjoying time together in a relaxed atmosphere, create loving, calm moments too.
When speaking, watch what you say and how you say it. Assume the role of an adult, and do not vent or react negatively to any passing comments. Although this is a challenging endeavor, remind yourself that you must not react negatively but instead walk away and wait to respond until you have had a time-out and the situation has calmed down.
In the end, he shared that there are many successful blended families. Some of the wins he shared were the family showing the opportunities of being in their blended family—travel prospects, new people to meet, and possibilities that were not there before. Lastly, understand that if you are the step-parent, you don’t have to go in as a parent, but you too can shape and mold the children into extraordinary adults. See yourself as a coach, not a parent.
I encourage you all to listen to this conversation. If you navigate life as a blended family, you will walk away with much insight and see the available tools. If you are not a blended family, you will leave with more understanding and empathy than you might have had before.
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Joanne Holbrook is a mother of two and spouse to a United States Army Officer who has moved every two years for the past 18 years. She has lived and raised her family in South Africa, England, Germany, Australia, and across the United States, and is currently living in Hawaii. As a South African, combined with her world travels, including her 25 years of teaching in performing arts high schools, has allowed Joanne to observe culture and parenting from
multiple international perspectives.
She is the author of the four-time award-winning book “Your Passport To Parenting,” which has been translated into multiple languages, and a professional keynote speaker, parenting course creator, and facilitator who shares parenting stories to help build positive, values-based families worldwide.
Sign up for her online course IGNITE – fire up your parenting spirit at https://yourpassporttoparenting.teachable.com/
OTHER IWS23 RECAP ARTICLES:
Day 1 – IWS23 Recap: Rediscover New Beginnings with Amanda Dodson, Doula
Day 1 – IWS23 Recap: Cultivating Empathy in Early Childhood with Shermaine Perry-Knights
Day 2 – IWS23 Recap: Holistic Care for Teens with Dr. Amber Mattingly
Day 3 – IWS23 Recap: Adult Children and Extended Family Relationships with Corie Weathers, LPC