By Gerardo O. Campbell
Why are men notoriously known for not seeking help? We have a reputation for not reading instructions, not going to the doctor’s for health issues, not asking for directions, not accepting help when it’s offered or just admitting when we’re struggling with a problem. What comes to mind is the once comical scenario where a couple is driving to a new destination, and they’re totally lost. The man proceeds to “figure it out” on his own, ignoring his wife’s constructive suggestions at his peril and driving an excessive amount of extra miles before even considering stopping to ask for help. In fact, a formal study was recently conducted confirming men drive an extra 276 miles a year for their refusal to get help when they’re lost. Thank goodness for the GPS!
This almost stubborn reluctance to ask for help doesn’t change when we become a stepfather. As a stepfather, you will be challenged by a situation or won’t know how to handle a particular circumstance. Rather than seek outside help to resolve it, you’ll choose to either grin and bear it, attempt to solve on your own or worse yet, just go ahead and file for divorce. Divorce would seem to be the preferred solution for many stepfathers considering the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families. Since blended families are unique and not like the traditional nuclear family, why doesn’t stepfather’s like asking for help?
PrideSome of us live deluded we have everything in our life under control because of who we are our power, authority, and competence. You don’t need anyone or anything to help you solve anything. No therapist, minister, counsellor or friend is going to tell you how to live your life. You rationalize why you no longer need help, support or understanding from others in your life. In denial about having problems; in having too much pride you are skilled in turning helpful suggestions around, attacking the person who made the suggestion. Above being helped, you systematically cut off offers of help from family, friends or professionals.
FearFear stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. This type of fear is an unhealthy, debilitating fear that holds you back from doing the things you actually should be doing if you’re thinking rationally. For example, you may be hesitant to seek outside help because of how you think you’ll be perceived. After all, men are supposed to have all the answers, and if you seek outside help your woman and her children will think you’re weak and less than a man. You don’t want any of them to dislike or hate you and this often prompts you to make every effort to please, rather than doing what you know in your gut is the right thing to do.
Know-it-All SyndromeClosely linked to pride the name says it all. You could be the type of stepfather that thinks you always know what is best for yourself and everyone around you. However, there comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to admit you don’t know what’s best, and you need some help to steer you in the right direction. The relationship with your stepchildren is particularly delicate and should be handled with care. The slightest misstep could set you back a lot with them. Keep in mind; it only takes one small misstep to break someone’s trust, but will take significant time to gain it back.
IgnoranceOne of the most popular reasons you don’t ask for help may be the fact you have no idea it’s available to you. This happens frequently, because most stepfathers tend to be in the generation that didn’t rely much on the Internet and therefore, have no idea what it has to offer. You may also have joined your blended family with unrealistic expectations thinking it will be like a nuclear family and clueless when things aren’t working the way you expected. It’s understandable that this, combined with any of the above issues, are preventing you from looking into getting the advice and help you need.
ConclusionStepfather’s need help? Absolutely. Your step family is not like the traditional nuclear family. To enter your blended family with expectations based on your nuclear family experiences is setting yourself up and your family for pain and disappointment. Unrealistic expectations combined with the weakness above are a recipe for disaster. Is it any surprise why the divorce rate for blended families is so high? Dirty Harry said it best, “A man has got to know his limitations.” Do you know yours? Most importantly, are you making an effort to address them? Take advantage of the many resources available to you from counsellors, therapists, online resources, family members and friends.
For men who didn’t have to be – being a stepfather is one of the most challenging jobs around and it’s a role society hasn’t clearly defined yet. There is no standard operating procedures for stepfathers and having the best intentions and crossed fingers isn’t enough to be a successful. Studies show nearly 65% of all second marriages involve children but tragically nearly 70% of these marriages will end in divorce often as a result of the added pressures stepfamilies face. Support for Stepfathers, http://www.supportforstepdads.com , is like “marriage insurance” – where you’ll receive informative content, tools, unique insights and support that will help you be aware of and overcome the challenges unique to the blended family. Through this website I want to share with you my experience, my lessons learned and the lessons learned from others. It is possible to be a successful stepfather and have a thriving blended family. Don’t allow your family to become another statistic.