Where to Place the Other Parent on the Relationship Pyramid?
Don’t Continue The War That Ended – Part 2
When Pamela and I were defining the seven levels of relationships, we failed to mention one relationship type. This wasn’t intentional. In fact, it was an accident as we’d not considered how a blended family impacts the relationship levels and what that means for a person.
What we concluded is that we omitted the role of “ally” when it pertains to the relationship levels. This role is indeed a level of relationships and must have it’s appropriate place. Allow me to review for a moment. Most relationship problems occur for a couple of reasons: 1) we’ve not identified or assigned the relationship level appropriately and 2) we’ve placed individuals in a relationship level that’s not the one they should be in. I’ll give a little more detail in a moment.
We treat our ally as we would a neighbor.
Our ally is our neighbor, a person in which we relate to as a relationship level one person. By the way, a level one relationship is at the bottom of the pyramid and therefore carries less weight than those in higher positions in one’s life than those at a higher relationship level. However, your ally or allies aren’t strangers either; therefore they do hold a place in your life and your world. Since they hold a relationship position, it’s important to define which one and at the same time define which relationship levels they are not.
“I am like a foreigner [Relationship Level 1] to them….”
I’d like to show you how an ally fits within the relationship pyramid or the seven levels of relationships. What does this new relationship look like and how does it affect the others?
I’ve been thinking about this and to do it justice I believe visiting the relationship levels in reverse will be more beneficial. In other words, I’ll start at the top and work my way down. So, let’s get started with revealing the impacts a blended family has on adding this new relationship type called an “ally.”
- Relationship Level 7 – The One on Your Throne.
We have guidance on how to treat our ally.
Starting with relationship level seven, which represents the one who calls the ultimate shots in one’s life. An ally is not the one you want calling the shots or having the last say in your life or any part of your life. Being a person of faith, for us this position belongs to God. In a blended family scenario, we must ask the question how does God want us to relate to our ally.
Let’s define this for a second, your ally in this case could be an ex-spouse, a child’s other parent, or an adopted child’s parent, etc. The point is your relationship level seven, should provide you with guidance on how to treat your ally. For us, we can’t forget that God not only loves us, He also loves our ally and we must treat them well by having this knowledge.
While we’re here, keep in mind that your relationship level seven should be the one who helps you put the pieces together and even back together for a person that has changed relationship levels like an ally may have.
- Relationship Level 6 – Equal Partner.
We have a partner in whom we can lean on for support with our ally.
Relationship level six, this is your equal partner. To be more specific, your spouse. Your ally(ies) is not or no longer is your spouse, your equal partner.
Making a blended family work (or any family for that reason) isn’t always easy. In fact, many times an ally used to be a level six relationship in your life. Therefore one must consider a few things:
1) That spouse that was once your spouse is no longer your spouse.
2) He/she no longer gets to interact with you as if she/he is still at relationship level six.
3) Your child(ren) is now introduced to a world of share-time parents who have other people in their lives at level six.
We must make certain that we appropriate this level correctly. Otherwise, you’ll not only have problems with your ally, but with your relationship level six and your child(ren) that could impact all the other relationship levels in one’s life.
- Relationship Level 5 – Closest Friend.
We have our closest friend who can keep us in check regarding an ally.
Everyone who has a relationship level five, their closest friend, enjoys having this person in their life. Your ally is not your closest friend. Many times it’s this person who not only helped you establish your relationship level six, but is also there through the collapse of level six and possibly the reestablishing of one. It’s your closest friend, who will be there to protect you, support you, and encourage you as you work through your blended family issues.
The point is this, your ally can’t be your closest friend. Your closest friend isn’t a person who shares the same agenda as you, but one who is called to make sure you stay, you.
- Relationship Level 4 – Inner Circle.
We have an inner circle of friends who help with goals shared by you and your ally.
When I say inner circle or your inner circle, only a few names come to mind. I’m certain your ally isn’t one of these people. While you and your ally might be fighting for the same cause, your ally can’t be confused with being one inside your inner circle. An ally has one purpose in that they share a common goal with you, while your inner circle does life with you without having to have a shared goal.
- Relationship Level 3 – Friends.
We have selected friends, but not a selected ally.
As we get closer to the bottom of the relationship pyramid, the harder it becomes to see why an ally can’t fit into one of the other lower levels. In this case, let me say this as sharply as I can. Your ally is not a friend. You selected your friends, but never selected an ally. An ally comes into one’s life out of a situation that created the need for this ally relationship. In the relationship of an ally, one typically has little choice in the matter like family members.
- Relationship Level 2 – Disciples.
We have people who want to hear what we have to say, that’s not our ally.
The people you mentor, your disciples aren’t your allies either, they voluntarily form a relationship with you and at any time can end it. An ally may not be able to end the relationship at just any time. An ally may not ever have any intentions on learning anything from you. For that matter, they rarely want to hear anything you wish to say. In fact, an ally has only one interest that involves you and the shared goal. In this case, that’s a shared-child.
- Relationship Level 1 – Neighbors.
We place our allies in relationship level one, with our neighbors.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
We are almost at the bottom of the relationship pyramid. Since, we’ve revealed that an ally doesn’t fit in levels seven through two, it makes sense that level one would be the place and you’re right. However don’t forget there is a level zero which is your family. While an ally is not family, they fit in the category of your neighbors. Neighbors are people you do life with that you don’t really have any other choice in doing so unless a change in environment, or status occurs. Since your ally isn’t family and doesn’t fit in the levels that lie above, level one is the perfect place. At this level, you choose what to share, not to share. How much or how little involvement or interaction you need to have. You know not to place much stock in the relationship, but at the same time know it’s worth and value to you. Your ally, like your neighbor, is a person(s) you put up with, but can choose not too if needed. Also, we’re to love our neighbors as we love ourselves which means we’re to love our ally as we love ourselves. Ouch.
- Relationship Level 0 – Family.
We have no choice with family, but it’s our choice to have an ally.
Our ally is not our family. Our family are the people we didn’t ask to be a part of our life yet we have no choice in the matter. Our ally isn’t family, because we have a choice in the matter or had a choice in the matter. In fact, it’s because of choices that we have an ally in the first place.
I started this lesson by saying how when we have a person assigned to an inappropriate relationship level it creates relationship problems. When you place an ally, in any other position other than level one, a neighbor, then you’re setting yourself up to have a blended family that is not working. Don’t look at this as putting someone in place or in a place, but rather a position that yields the appropriate treatment towards them and towards you.
Question: in what relationship position have you placed your ally?
Reference #1: Job 19:13-15 NLT, Bible.com, accessed April 29, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/job.19.8,13-15,17.nlt
Reference #2: Mark 12:31 NLT, Bible.com, accessed April 29, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/mrk.12.31.nlt
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.