It was January 2007 when I boarded a plane to Johannesburg, South Africa. It had been a quick decision based on a combination of circumstances and events at the time.
I was giving away most of what I owned and shipping the rest to South Africa.
I really hadn’t given things that much thought, because I knew if I thought about it too much I would probably change my mind. I also had a return ticket, based on the visa restrictions.
I literally had around three weeks from deciding, to pack up everything and go.
Becoming a ‘Step Parent’ – How NLP helps
It was then that the universe stepped in to help me with something I just hadn’t even contemplated. I bought a fiction book to read while on the flight – I can’t even recall the title, yet the subject was a huge light bulb moment and learning. It was about a woman and how she handled being a step parent.
Here was I on a flight to Johannesburg to join my partner who had two boys of his own. It had never occurred to me to wonder how to be in their lives as their father’s new partner.
The first thing I did was to look at their model of the world and have a think about how I’d feel if I were them. I also took the neutral observer perspective (position 3) to take a detached perspective on how to show up in their lives.
I had observed that often those who become step parents want to make their presence felt and set their ground rules as quickly as possible.
I did the opposite. I took the attitude that these were not my kids.
My partner had his rules and boundaries with them and to begin with I recognised that I was merely an interloper.
I insisted they spent their days visiting with their father doing what they would do if I wasn’t there. I insisted they had a lot of one to one time with him.
Over time I was included and it got to the point where they were upset when I didn’t go with them and their dad when they went out.
Yes there were challenges. Yes there were arguments.
I fell in love with those kids from growing to know them and growing into a relationship with them. And I miss them. I wish them the best in everything.
Creating a relationship with Step Children – using NLP
For me creating a relationship with step kids is like creating a relationship with anyone. It’s about getting to know each other. Working out what works and what doesn’t. Making mistakes and adjusting. Giving and taking and growing to love.
So how does NLP help with this relationship building?
Taking on the attitudes of the presuppositions of NLP was amazingly helpful. Respecting their model of the world, being flexible and adaptable, accepting that people are doing their best with the resources they have… just a few things to start with.
And then the ability to step back and observe and calibrate, to sense when it’s time to be a part of the activities and when it’s time to step away. Constantly looking from their perspective at what would work for them, constantly putting myself in their shoes while respecting my boundaries and perspective.
Also, looking to avoid negative anchors, things they could link to me as a negative experience. Simple things like maintaining normality – not enforcing special rules because I arrive.
And then there are really obvious but crucial points like building rapport and trust.
I am sure things could have been different with different personalities and different circumstances. As I said these are amazing kids.
Here, I am purely relating my experience and what I learned.
More information on Step Parenting Coaching
If you are interested in help with step-parenting there is a lovely lady who is available to assist you. Her name is Alison O’Mahony and her blog full of useful info is http://www.stepparentuk.blogspot.com
More information on NLP
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