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The Need to Feel Appreciated

Ever feel like your swimming upstream as a stepparent? The work of psychologist Emily Visher and psychiatrist John Visher offers an explanation for this phenomenon. Bringing four children each into their marriage, the Vishers discovered that the stepfamily structure itself conflicts with basic human needs. According to them we all have three hard-wired needs, the first being (1) the need to feel appreciated.

Sound familiar? Whether it's purposeful or a byproduct of stepfamily life, one of the chief complaints from my (stepfamily) clients is that they feel underappreciated in their homes. So what can you do about it?

Implement these 3 five things to start harvesting your own appreciation:

  1. Tell. In a non-accusatory way, let your partner know how you feel. Using "I" statements don't place blame, instead let them know it's nice to hear a 'thank you' now and then.
  2. Act. Implement 'little tokens of appreciation.' It's important to remember that these are not necessarily material things; rather they are gestures such as hello and goodbye that go a long way to acknowledge another's presence and sends the message that you're open to engaging with them.
  3. Reflect. Take responsibility for how you come across to your stepfamily members. Are your actions welcoming appreciation or do they discourage them? You must start with creating a demeanor that allows appreciation to occur whether derived by yourself or someone else. If you don’t show yourself appreciation how can you expect others to follow suit?  


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