Your Blended Family by Using Agreements
By Susie and Otto Collins
We all have different ways
of looking at life and those differences can
certainly cause communication breakdowns and
disconnection in our relationships, especially
in blended families.
The story we're about to tell
you will illustrate how to communicate within a
blended family and create an agreement that not only
works but also helps facilitate closer and more
When we first got together,
Susie was used to a neat, clean home because she
had lived by herself for awhile before getting
together with Otto.
Otto has a now 16 year old son
from a previous marriage who visits twice a week and
is with us every other weekend.
When a rowdy, young boy entered
the picture, Susie spent a lot of time, effort
and energy trying to get him to pick up after
Back then, the problem was that
Otto's son never seemed to get the idea and it
seemed that he always had to be reminded of what was
expected of him.
As a result, Susie would become
frustrated, Otto would become angry and his son
would retreat into a video game or a television show
to avoid the situation.
We (Susie and Otto) decided to
practice what we preach and create some agreements
between the two of us about what our expectations
would be concerning Otto's son and how we would deal
with various situations when he was with us.
One of our agreements was that
Otto would be the one to remind his son to pick up
his clothes and dirty dishes if there was a need
to. And Otto would do this with humor and love
before his son's bedtime each evening. Susie agreed
to not worry about whether all this would happen or
not and to trust
that Otto would take care
Fast forward several
years--Because of our agreement, Otto's son now
takes more responsibility for picking up after
himself. There also seems to be more ease and flow
with all of us during the times he's with us.
The point is that we came to an
agreement about how we were going to handle that
situation and then each of us followed through.
Since it was his son, Otto felt
that he (and not Susie) needed to be the one to
"parent" and Susie agreed to lighten up about her
expectations around this issue.
We figured out that what Otto's
son really wanted from him was love and attention.
With this agreement, his son gets both in a much
healthier way and we also get what we want.
We are telling you this story
as a reminder that you can create your relationships
and life the way you want them to be. You can also
unravel those sticky communication issues.
Opening up and telling each
other how you feel is a beginning step to making
agreements. You do this by not blaming but by simply
saying what it is that you want and looking at
We could not have made the
agreement that we made if we had hung onto blaming
each other and the idea that we were each "right" in
In any of your relationships,
you have to be willing to make the commitment to
communicate with each other no matter how painful it
becomes. You have to speak your truth and you have
to listen without judgment to what the other person
has to say.
If you aren't in the habit of
creating agreements with the people you live with or
work with, start now. When you do, your
relationships will go from where they are to where
you have always hoped they would be!