"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Game

Game: a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.

As I sit in the Starbucks in Gahanna, Ohio, at 8:12am nonetheless, with my laptop whipped out; punching the keys like I'm some sort of coffee shop poet, I sheepishly let my eyes wander at the patrons.

What a loser. 

That's what they are thinking and that's what I would be thinking if I saw some dude hovering over his computer at 8:12am at a local Starbucks.

Complete loser.

I know this is a strong opinion, but anytime I see a person sitting in Starbucks, Panera Bread or any other neighborhood "living-room" reading, "casually" typing away on their iMac (dear God I want one so bad... all I have to do is skip one month of child support and that "baby"... wrong choice of words... that sucker would be mine) ,or even worse, checking out their facebook I think, "you're joking right". I always ask myself, "Self, don't they have a home." I assume they are starving for attention or they watch too many Hollywood romantic movies thinking Mr. or Mrs. Perfect is going to stroll in at any minute.

Honestly, I can't even look at the people in the store right now. I'm just going to put my headphones on and put my head down and watch my fingers type away.

I'm embarrassed for myself.

I'm sure all of you are wondering why I'm sitting in a Starbucks at 8:12am, well the reason is my son, Bryce, had basketball practice this morning at 8am and I needed to drop him off at the school at about 7:40am. So actually I was one of 3 people here at 7:50 this morning and since then one Ohio State fan after another has trotted, bounced, skipped, hurried and strolled through the door.

"Yes I'm going to watch the game you moron, I'm just waiting for my son's practice to end before I can pick him, and his little brother, up so we can go to Kroger's to get food and then go home." Is there anything else you would like to ask me with your stare?

I feel like shouting to all of them, "I love sports you know, I played basketball in college." 

Again, I'm such a loser.

Anyway, as I was driving to my son's practice I reflected upon all the practices my Dad took me to, all the games that my parents went to during my playing days and all of the joy, and pain, that was associated with those times earlier in my life. I can honestly say that my parents were, and still are, the best teammates (and the biggest fans) I've ever had. While I was driving I was reminded how the torch has been past to me and that the same behavior is expected of me as a father. This statement is redundant for anyone that has children that play sports, but there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, like watching your children play sports.


As I ponder that statement for a moment I begin to think of all the parents that will be  watching their kids play at the "Horseshoe" today. Thinking about all of the parents that will be full of joy today watching their son's participate in America's favorite sport I wondered if the parents that watched their boys play in the first college game were just as excited. 

Upon further review I'm sure they were.

The first college football game played was between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6, 1869 at College Field at Rutgers University. Rutgers won that day 6 to 4, please don't ask me how they got the four points... I'm tired and if I start down that historical road opining about that day of many firsts I will be here the better part of the day. Also, for any of you reading this that thinks the NCAA is screwed up and that they should be able to remedy this situation we call a National Championship in football don't be dismayed. 

The governing body has been screwing it up since day one when in 1869 the National Championship was awarded to both Rutgers and Princeton. 

An artist's rendering of the first college football game
between Rutgers and Princeton, played on November 6, 1869
(Courtesy of


They were the only two teams that played that year.

Princeton was named the champion by the Billingsley Report and the National Championship Foundation, while college football research historian Parke H. Davis named the two teams co-champions.

Unbelievable, I will never say another thing about how we crown a National Champion in football again. We have been getting it wrong for 141 years.

Again, unbelievable. 

Though the Rutgers vs. Princeton was our country's first college game it is the Harvard vs. Yale game that is referred to as "The Game". The game was played in November of 1875 in New Haven, Connecticut. Harvard won 4 to 0. Again, don't ask me how they scored 4 points; they didn't even have "safeties" then. Nonetheless, it was and will always be considered "The Game."

Saturday Evening Post depiction of the Harvard vs. Yale football game.
(November 19, 1960)

Harvard vs. Yale. The game was played at Hamilton Park on a Saturday. 
(November 13, 1875.)

I know what many of you, or at least the three that are reading this, are thinking. There is only one "The Game" and it starts with the Scarlet and Gray versus the Maize and Blue. Now before we go there I believe there to be some great rivalry games that are as good, if not better, than the OSU-Michigan game. The Nebraska-Oklahoma, Michigan-Notre Dame, USC-Notre Dame and the Texas-Oklahoma are all great rivalries. Being a SEC fan as well as a Florida Gator fan there is nothing better than Florida-Tennessee and Florida-Florida State games, but in my humble estimation there is nothing better than the Alabama-Auburn and the OSU-Michigan games.

Bo & Woody... 

The tradition, the passion and the emotion is unbelievable and unparalleled. Well, the Duke-North Carolina basketball battle is pretty awesome too. Those games are "must see TV" every year.

Finally, "The Games" are part and parcel to what makes life great. During those times it is not the breaths we take, but the breath that is taken away while those games are being played that can bring us to tears and cause us to shout at the top of our lungs. Whether it is your daughter competing in volleyball, basketball or softball or you son excelling on the field or in arena, the joy, and the pride, which is felt during that experience is unprecedented. 

So today I salute, and envy, all the parents that get to watch their son's play in the greatest rivalry in college football. OK, they tie with Alabama-Auburn on this one. 

Anyway, I will share in your highs and lows, your utter joy and unbelievable pride. I will watch with a special eye towards Stoneburner and Mewhort because I went to college with both sets of their parents, Don Mewhort and I were captains of the Wittenberg basketball team, along with Steve Iannarino, in 1987, and Jake Stoneburner's Dad was almost my "Big Brother" when I thought about pledging ATO my freshman year. By the way, that was the best decision I ever made, sorry Mark, but fraternity life wasn't for me.

Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes 
(February 14, 1913 – March 12, 1987)
To all the parents at Ohio State and Michigan at Hilliard and Hartley enjoy these times. Silence yourself for a moment and thank God for how fortunate your family is to be able to build memories that most would sacrifice most anything to experience just once. I will be cheering along with all the parents, admiring your children's unbelievable skill and athletic ability. 

Good luck today and tonight and more importantly enjoy yourself as you watch your children excel in what they love to do always remembering that your family is very blessed to be a part of such a wonderful experience.

Woody doting the " i "...

OSU 32 - Michigan 24... I need Michigan to cover the 21 points.
Hilliard 17 - Huber Heights 14

sbb  27.11.10
Glory Days  .  Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Appreciation: gratitude; thankful recognition.

As I was running this morning, pondering another Thanksgiving Day, I wondered what it was like during the first Thanksgiving celebration. I wondered when first "Turkey Day" took place and how different it was from how we celebrate Thanksgiving today. Obviously there are major differences between the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and the one we will experience today. I'm sure in the beginning there were no discussions concerning "Black Friday" shopping plans, little to no interest in the latest apps and no football or Macy's parade on the television. It's safe to say that times were different and with all of points that could be made concerning the many differences it were 102 pilgrims that displayed tremendous resolve, strength and character in the midst of the most trying of times that gives me reason to pause.  

Depiction of the 1st Pilgrims.

The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival during a time of terrible hardship.

Many times we as Americans tend to romanticize the pilgrims and think of them as well dressed men, women and children with buckled shoes and frock coats. Those visions couldn't be farther from the truth. In the winter of 1620 a group of 102 pilgrim pioneers had began an adventure that had no turning back. Jean Craighead George in her book "The First Thanksgiving" shared with her reader that by the following spring many pilgrims didn't survive the winter, being reduced by illness and hardship to 56. Surrounded by the land's native people, whose intent they could not know, they buried their dead by night so the tribes wouldn't realize how quickly their numbers were dwindling and prayed by day that they would live to see another.

Portrait of the 1st Thanksgiving.

So when the fruitful harvest and late fall arrived in 1621, it was natural that the weary settlers and their native benefactors should gather in a great feast of lobster and goose, turkey and venison, duck and pumpkin, fruit and corn. These Pilgrims, sorely tested, gave thanks for a hard-won survival and the help of friends. I truly believe that it would be impossible for all involved not to count their blessings without thinking of the trials just endured, the terrors of their strange new land and the loss of their dearest comrades. The original 102 pilgrims, lived and died, bravely in the face of danger and most likely prayed daily for strength and safety.

And with all of this they found reason to be grateful producing their greatest legacy; a legacy of gratitude and appreciation

Enjoying the harvest... 

So that's where I find myself this morning, feeling tremendous gratitude for my faith, family and friends. Many things come and go but these three things have been with me for a lifetime.  

My faith has been the biggest blessing to me over the course of my life. I'm very thankful that my mother, the spiritual patriarch of our family, took my sister and me to church every Sunday morning, and Sunday and Wednesday night, without fail. I'm grateful that she instilled in me the importance of consistently attending church, and more importantly, that our faith in Jesus Christ is the most important quality we can develop while on earth. It is true what is said in Proverbs 22:6; "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it'. In the end my parents "God" could no longer be mine. I had to decide to find Jesus for myself and invite Him in my life so He could become real to me. 

I'm grateful that my relationship with God has become more personal over the past five years, very personal. It has made all the difference for me and my family. 

When speaking of my family I feel very blessed and thankful for the "little" things. I'm thankful that we all made it home safely every night over the past year and were able to share the day's events with each other around the dinner table. I'm thankful and appreciative that so many people have made it possible for my oldest two boys to be currently attending college. I'm full of appreciation and gratitude that my mother and father-in-law acknowledged, accepted and, without judgment, invited a man that had been divorced twice and had multiple children by multiple women (5 children by 4 women to be exact... one child with their daughter at the two) into their home and in doing so making that man, me, a part of their family. I'm thankful for my parents pretty much providing Christmas for all of my children over the past 16 years and especially thankful that my wife has accepted her role as wife, mother, stepmother, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law with such grace and class.  

She is wonderful. 

I'm also very thankful that my three oldest boys have accepted Jesus Christ into their lives. 

Finally, I'm thankful for the friends that I have had for the better part of my life. Craig Birkhead, Joe Ceravolo, Todd Onusic, Mike Elfers, Steve Iannarino and Jeff Wright all have been close friends for over 25 years. Craig has been a best friend for over 33 years. In each case they have given me their money, their time and their ear. They have blessed me with their constructive criticism and unforgettable understanding. 

  Charlie & his friends.  

They have often shared with me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear. 

They have been a truthful and true friend to me and for that I'm very grateful. In the end, I'm thankful for the 46 pilgrims that set out on a difficult journey that died along the way and for the 56 pilgrims, on that same journey, that were able to find something inside of themselves that enabled them to survive the journey.

In both cases many sacrifices were made. I believe greatness comes in many forms but it has been my observation that sacrifice is often the loneliest form of greatness.

 Giving thanks & sharing...

Today I recognize and honor their many sacrifices and their true greatness. With that being said, let all of us take pleasure in the simplest and most meaningful of things during our holiday celebration.  

Today let's remember that, as the Roman philosopher Seneca once wrote, "Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart." And with that let's remember and reflect upon the things that are in our life that we are grateful for and give thanks for them.

 It has and always will be about grace, the grace that has been bestowed upon us and the grace we have the opportunity to share with others every day. I wish I could say it better but Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best when he said: 


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Learning Our ABC's

Alphabet: any system of characters or signs with which a language is written: the Greek alphabet.

In reviewing my blog and observing others I realized the manner that my "ABC's" were being displayed were less than adequate. They lacked a presence and power, and the words that were written were too close together to provide an enjoyable read. My site lacked that ever needed savior-faire. It's no wonder, or surprise for that matter, that for the better part of my life I pursued style over substance that I would find myself reverting to my old habits now that I'm finally doing something substantive and meaningful- I realize that both substantive and meaningful are relative terms. I really was starting to believe that I was turning the corner on this whole maturity thing.

I guess it's true what they say, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks".

Anyway, it was my intent to update my site, font wise, and specifically and significantly improve the reading experience for the reader. My wife suggested I become a better writer if I wanted to make significant change... I suggested she become a better cook- Oh wait a minute I forgot, you have to cook first before you can become a better cook. It's important to note that the aesthetic change was an "It's not what you say but how you say it" moment at mybabyr0c. The font that I was searching for was a font that is specifically used for intensive editorial use, mainly the kind seen in newspapers and magazines.

What I found was font that embodied personality and flexibility making it a real multiple-purpose typeface.  Her name is Trebuchet. Is it just me or do I sound like someone who just met their soul mate online? Well, the great thing about this person font is that it is unobtrusive in appearance and has excellent texture and slightly darker color allowing it to behave flawlessly in a continuous text setting. After that explanation maybe the font should be named "Halle Berry"

As I was saying, this font works in the most demanding of editorial applications.

Trebuchet MS is a humanist sans-serif typeface designed by Vincent Connare for Microsoft in 1996 for easy screen readability. It is named after the trebuchet, a medieval catapult, that takes its inspiration from the sans serifs of the 1930s which had large and round features, and letters, intended to promote readability on signs. The name was inspired by a puzzle question that Connare heard at Microsoft headquarters: "Can you make a trebuchet that could launch a person from the main campus to the new consumer campus about a mile away? Mathematically, is it possible and how?" Connare "thought that would be a great name for a font that launches words across the Internet". 

And so with that Trebuchet was born.

The Trebuchet fonts are intended to be the vehicle that fires your messages across the Internet. One of Connare’s intentions when designing Trebuchet was to instill personality into the letter forms, even at small sizes, while retaining clarity and readability. He wanted to create a typeface which was significantly distinguishable from Verdana and MS Sans.

As I'm sure, and positively aware of, this was a little more than many of you bargained for in the area of Trebuchet font history and its genesis. In all honesty it wasn't all together what I planned to discuss. Yes, fonts are letters. Profound, I know. Actually, that is an incorrect statement, they are letters, numbers & symbols. Not so profound after all. What I really wanted to discuss was our ABC's, specifically my son's alphabetic prowess, and how increasing ones vocabulary, spelling and writing are predicated upon mastering this knowledge. It is also vital to any person wanting to become a proficient writer and a worthy read... both areas in which I'm struggling mightily at this very moment.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is letters are important. Profound again, I know- what did you expect from such a high brow and a site dedicated to academia such as this. 

Profound statements aside, it was yesterday while I was sitting in my son, Ryan's, first parent-teacher conference I was reminded the importance of being able to identify, write and pronounce our letters. The importance of everyone, child, mother and father, being on the same page when it comes to this issue is an understatement. With that being said, "Junior" is doing OK but he could be doing better.

Just a sidebar, Dad will be implementing the "20 minute rule" every night to instruct, observe and review my young boy's progress in all areas pertaining to letters, and there pronunciation, and the alphabet. 

Enough said.

With letters, and numbers... 1 through 20 to be exact, swirling around in my small brain as I was leaving my first of many conferences for little Ryan I was reminded that we as adults must always be learning our ABC's also.

We teach our children that there is a right way and wrong way to behave in every situation but I'm sad to report we often don't take our own advice. Doing things the right way is vital. So with this in mind let's press forward and review, revisit or in some instances introduce some traits we can all benefit from if we chose to implement them into our lives. 

For learning purposes we can refer to these behavior traits as the "ABC's of Conduct" if you will. I realize, like most of you, that each Holiday Season delivers its own challenges, trials and troubles. For most families you can't utter the word Christmas without saying "drama". And I'm not talking about the Nutcracker... now that I think about it maybe I am. Where was I, ah yes, I must say I have been pretty fortunate in this area because of the maturity of "most" members of my extended family... I said most. 

There is always one in every crowd as my Dad likes to say.

So in keeping with the theme of learning our ABC's I thought I would share with all "seven" of my readers (don't laugh you all know who you are) what I believe to be the ABC's for behavior during the Holiday Season.

A is for Attitude.
  • Our attitude is the only thing we can control and it's the one thing we can't control in another. Be concerned only with the things you can control and leave the rest to figure itself out... it always has and it always will. Relax. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond (not react) to it. How we view things will more often than not determine how we will behave in most situations. Epictetus mentioned many centuries ago that "men are disturbed, not by things, but by the view they take of them."  In every situation in life our attitude will always determine our outcome. The most powerful tool that we have control of in our life is our attitude; use this tool to your benefit not to your detriment. Proverbs 23:7 puts it this way, "as he thinketh in his heart, so he is."  Focus your thinking and improve your attitude. Enough said.
B is for Behavior.
  • We all have one and everyone notices it and it goes by the name of behavior. Some are good and some are not so good. What does your behavior say about you? The key to our behavior, and having the correct one, is to guard what we think about. What a man thinks in his mind and harbors in his heart will eventually be displayed in his or her actions. A guiding principle to remember is that thoughts become words and words become actions. Actions, if repeated, become habits and habits become your character... your character, or there for lack of, becomes your destiny. Words and intentions are important but they will never replace the importance of proper and adequate behavior. Words compliment actions, they don't replace them. Our behavior says everything about us.
C is for Commitment, Communication & Conviction.
  •  Being committed to others needs more than our own is the key. If we can be lead by a conviction that favors selflessness over selfishness and we communicate that through deed and word we truly, and instantly, become of value to each person we come in contact with. It's that simple and by the same token it's that difficult but it's truly the best choice we can make
In closing, most of the pieces I write are not intended to admonish the reader or pontificate on how I think things should be. My writings are often assignments with the lesson being to remind myself that there is a right way and wrong way to do things.

I was raised the right way and the very least I should, and could, do is reward my parents with a type of behavior that is appropriate and that would give them a reason to be full of pride and joy. I wish I could say I was always successful in this area during my lifetime. At this point I would take a success rate of 50%.

Michael Jackson sang these words when he was with the Jackson 5, he said and I quote: 

"ABC, it's easy
Easy as123
It's like counting up to 3
Or simple as Do re mi
Sing a simple melody 
That's how easy love can be!"

 The Jackson 5

I hope this Holiday Season we find it as easy to love all of those around us as the Jackson 5's lyrics lament. I also hope we all take a moment to reflect what this time of year is all about and that during this time we become a catalyst, an example and a reminder that behaving rightly and correctly during the Holiday Season is one the greatest gift we can give everybody inside, and outside, our extended family.

Our friends deserve it, our parents deserve it and most importantly our children deserve it.

Happy Holidays and I hope you enjoy the new font... the Trebuchet MS font.

sbb  20.11.10

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Season to Serve

Serve: to render assistance; be of use; help.

When looking up the Webster definition of the word "servanthood" my finding was less than expected. "No dictionary results" was the key phrase on - "Oh really" I thought to myself, but not to be rude or dismissive was polite enough to ask the question: "Did you mean sainthood? "No" I thought, but then again why not. Sainthood by definition I found out is "the character or status of a saint." OK, so what is a Saint? Well, I'm glad you ask. A saint is "a person of great holiness, virtue, or benevolence." So there you have it- if anyone asks you over the next few days if servanthood is a word and what saint and sainthood mean you will have a "working" knowledge on the subject matter. 

And though I couldn't get Webster to work with me in the beginning I was glad that he left the definition of servanthood up to me on this one.

In my humble estimation "servanthood" looks like this:
  • It is not selfish.
    • Never be selfish or do anything out of selfish motives.
  • It thinks of others first.
    • Think of others more important than yourself. Be humble.
  • It realizes that the world is bigger than itself.
    • Do not limit your sights upon your own personal needs & interests. Don't be narcissistic.
Acts 20:35 states; " is more blessed to give than to receive." This Holiday Season be a person in the service of another.  

Serve others.

The holidays can be some of the most difficult times for family and friends. Anxiety, anger and animosity are often served more than turkey and ham during the holidays. Be mindful of this and be mindful of what a life that is dedicated to servanthood looks like and bless everyone around you with a heart that is willing and wanting to serve.

Be unselfish. Be humble. Be ready to serve.

It is the greatest gift(s) you can give this year.

sbb   19.11.10

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Blend: to mix (various sorts or grades) in order to obtain a particular kind or quality: Blend a little red paint with the blue paint.

A couple months ago a friend asked me to write a piece on family and ever since that moment the concept of family has been running around in my head. First I must say I was honored this person wanted to read something written by me on this topic and that trying to write a short and concise piece on such an enormous topic isn't the easiest of tasks. There are many different directions and definitions one can entertain, opinions and views one can observe when discussing the topic of family. And though it is my plan to write about the "traditional" family during this Holiday Season I wanted to touch upon the "stepfamily" first for the simple fact there are more stepfamilies than traditional families in America today.

A stepfamily by definition is: 

A relationship that is formed by marriage or long-term cohabitation of two individuals, when one or both have at least one child from a previous relationship living part-time or full-time in the household. The individual who is not the biological parent of the child or children is referred to as the stepparent. Stepfamilies are also called blended families.

It is interesting note that American law has no comprehensive definition of a stepfamily.

When delving deeper into the term "stepfamily" one realizes that the prefix "step" comes from the old English steop-, which meant "related by marriage rather than blood" and is an old Teutonic word denoting bereavement or orphaned.  In Colonial times a 'steopbarin' was a child who had lost a parent and gained a stepparent, and the very gaining of a stepparent was often associated with loss and hardship. The terms connotation is understandable when you realize that from 1658 to 1705 in southern Maryland, 67 percent of the married or widowed men who died left behind a family of all minor children. If the children were fortunate, they'd find themselves in a stepfamily – the product of their mother's quick remarriage. If not, the children could become wards of the state, apprenticed to a tradesman, or even sold as slaves.

Overall, the term "step" denoted a derogatory meaning for many centuries.

As we can see the term "step" struggled in the past to project a positive image and the unions that produce stepfamilies today have done more than struggle; boasting high divorce rates and in many instances providing miserable living conditions.

Statistically speaking, stepfamilies have not fared very well. The statistics concerning stepfamilies in the U.S. are in a word - staggering. Below are some figures supplied by the US Bureau of Census:
  • 1300 new stepfamilies are forming every day.
  • Over 50% of US families are remarried or re-coupled.
  • The average marriage in America lasts only seven years.
  • One out of two marriages ends in divorce.
  • 75% remarry
  • 66% of those living together or remarried break up, when children are involved.
  • 80% of remarried, or re-coupled, partners with children both have careers.
  • 50% of the 60 million children under the age of 13 are currently living with one biological parent and that parent's current partner.
  • Over 80% of women who enter into stepfamilies are career women. These women do not have to endure the unexpected rigors of remarriage.
  • A Boston University psychologist researcher reported that of the career women who had married men with children over 75% said that, "if they had do it again they would NOT marry a man with children."
  • 50% of all women, not just mothers, are likely to live in a stepfamily relationship, when we include living-together families in our definition of the stepfamily." states Professor of Sociology Larry L. Bumpass of the University of Wisconsin.
The reason I share these facts is because stepfamilies are a part of almost everyone's lives in some way, shape or form. In the US today 46% of all weddings are remarriages for at least one partner AND most of these marriages include children from previous relationships. Also, approximately 30% of all weddings in the US give birth to a stepfamily (i.e., are stepcouple weddings), and 60-70% of these "stepcouple" marriages will end in legal divorce.

We as a society are also seeing a higher rate of children born out of wedlock and finding a home with stepparents. Today 1/3 of all children entering stepfamilies were born to an unmarried mother rather than having divorced parents (National Survey of Families and Households) and 40% of unmarried mothers are living with their child’s biological father at the time of birth, but because of the fragility of cohabitating relationships, one in three of these families break up.

It's also important to mention that the divorce rate is 50% higher for couples remarrying that have kids versus those couples that tie the knot the second time without kids... if both come to marriage with kids the divorce rates is over 70%. The divorce rate for first time couples is 50%

As important as the stats themselves are, investigating the reasons why the numbers are so high is paramount. 

There are many reasons why families don't work out but the main reasons that were often cited were:
  1. Undefined role for stepparent, mainly in the area of discipline, as it pertains to the children.
  2. The issue of jealousy on the part of the child, stepparent or ex spouse, or all three.
  3. Financial struggle for the biological father because of alimony or child support, or both.
Also, one can't dismiss or ignore the fact that too many people get married too soon after the last marriage denying themselves the time to heal, learn and grow from that experience and ultimately from that loss.

Now that you are thoroughly depressed and discouraged concerning the prospects of a blended family being successful let me provide some thought, hope and encouragement.

I know...cheesy, but I had to...

Stepfamilies can and do work.

The stepfamilies that succeed are the ones that have the strongest leadership and have members of the family that know when to step in, step back and step up. In these families stepparents realize that they said "I do" to the children, as well as, their new spouse. The biological parent recognizes, realizes and communicates his or her approval that the non-biological parent has a different, but nonetheless important, love and attachment for their stepchildren. 

A stepparent's love is different, and in my opinion, will never match the love of a biological parent and there is nothing wrong with that... it's just a fact.

I know some will have a problem with that comment but it wasn't meant as a criticism, it's just very difficult to love your spouse's child, or children, with the same depth, intensity and resolve that the biological parent does.

In the end, stepfamilies that succeed decide to travel down the road of peace, understanding and love. They don't bash the "other" family verbally for how they do things in their home but address any situations that need to be addressed in their own home. People are different and they realize and accept that. This view point takes maturity and strength of character. The married couple also understands that it won't be "just them" in the beginning and that the "honeymoon" phase will be short lived. For better or worse they accept that they are inheriting an "ex-wife or ex-husband in-law" and that more often than not they will be heard from and that the ex will have a say in certain issues when it is their child that is involved.

To have any other expectation would be foolish.

So with everything you just read take a deep breath and during this Holiday Season take a step back and quiet yourself. Realize that during this time of the year things can go sideways rapidly and when the dust settles what we see in our rear view mirrors is anger, disappointment and hurt feelings. Trying to organize, communicate and pursue a bag full of schedules can be tough on everyone during this time of year. To be a legitimate leader you have to humble yourself; you have to take the high road.

Be understanding. Be thoughtful.

Stepmothers do this when they understand that they are often grief counselors during the holiday seasons, especially if their stepfamily is new and if there are younger children involved. It is very tough on children to "share" their parents and spend time going from house to house; home to home. Stepfathers also play a major role when they realize that it's OK to allow for feelings to be communicated and when they listen more than they speak. Kids just want to know that they are being heard and the quickest way for a stepchild to warm up to a stepparent is when they realize that you hear them. 

Remember, you can't hear with your mouth open.

The greatest gift we can give our blended families this year is a gift of peace. Make this Holiday Season better for everyone involved and for all of those you come in contact with. Make everyone else a priority. Make each member of your "family" a priority and serve them with a smile on your face and love in your heart. If you do this everyone wins.

Everyone has a role to play, make sure you play yours and give the gift of love and selflessness to your family this Holiday Season.

sbb 18.11.10