Accepting Our Differences

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I Only Wanted One

During the late 1980’s, I was stationed in Germany. On my second weekend in Deutschland, my squadron mates invited me to join them in what was to become one of my favorite events – attending wine fests. During wine fests, you wear a lanyard around your neck that holds a glass slightly larger than a shot glass.

When the floats from the vintners passed by, you would hold out your glass and get poured a sample of their wine. If you weren’t careful, you could get quite tipsy by the end of the festival. Eventually, I got hungry, and I saw fest goers eating what looked like steak sandwiches.

Faithful to my Nebraskan heritage, back then I never passed up the chance for a good steak sandwich. Although, my only German at the time was, “Sprechen sie English?” I found the stand where they were selling the sandwiches. The line was long, but not more than about a 15 minute wait.

A good sign I thought the sandwiches must be really good. Having my fingers to point to what I wanted and a pocketful of marks I felt more than prepared to get my steak. I entered the queue. When it was my turn to order, I pointed to the sandwich and held up my index finger.

The vendor nodded and to my surprise he returned with two sandwiches not one as I was expecting. Oh he must be mistaken, and I held up my index finger again this time with more emphasis so he’d know I only want one. Instead, the clerk pointed to the two sandwiches and was signalling me to pay.

I’m not paying for two sandwiches I thought. In vain, the vendor and I went back and forth with my index finger and his holding out the two sandwiches. As the queue began to grow behind me I realized this wasn’t worth being the ugly American over, so I reluctantly paid for two sandwiches.

I paid for what I learned with my first disappointing bite was not beef but schwenkbraten (pork steak) not one of my favorite meats. I shared the incident with my squadron mates but all I got was sympathy without a reasonable explanation.

It was not till several years later I learned what happen. The index finger in German means two, giving the thumbs up always means one. The holding up of additional fingers are added to the thumb even though the thumb is not raised. Incident resolved I received exactly what I asked for.

Accepting Our Differences Within The Blended Family

As stepparents, when we join our blended families we quickly learn they have different ways of doing things from what we’re used to. The differences could be ethnic, cultural or even religious based.

If you’re new to your blended family, don’t come in trying to change things even though your way may be more correct, efficient, etc. Unless it’s illegal or life threatening don’t mess with it for the time being.

In the Air Force, we used to say, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Your family’s way of doing things is just that their way. Seek understanding and acceptance of new ways of doing things instead of looking to change things. Wait six months to a year before you try to implement changes and whatever you do ensure you have your partner’s support.

We all have our differences, whether it’s something small like the numbers of fingers we use to indicate two or something big like which church your family attends. Acceptance of the differences in your blended family is a great step toward gaining acceptance as a stepparent.

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Source by Gerardo Campbell