On Blended Families
– Excerpts from Parenting with Grace and Truth, by Dan Seaborn
“Families come in all different shapes and sizes. There are single-parent families, stepfamilies, and two-parent families. There are families where children are being raised by grandparents, as well as families where all or some of the children are adopted” (pg. 149).
Statistics show that one-third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of eighteen, and 50 percent will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime (www.smartstepfamilies.com). While God is clear about hating divorce, He does not hate the individual. The Bible does not give much specific guidance as to how we should journey through blended family issues, but we can still pull from His Word to deal with those circumstances and raise our children God’s way.
In our instant-gratification society, remarried couples can tend to expect all family members involved to instantly love each other and be connected. However, the art of blending takes time and patience from each and every member. Keep in mind that as a step-parent, you are not a replacement- you are an addition to the mix. “Think of yourself as someone who can flavor without spoiling that mix or trying to change the taste” (pg. 153). Lead with humility and empathy, and allow the children to take their time processing and follow when they are ready. Committing to this mindset will eventually lead to more blending and fewer areas of separation. Being a successful step-parent depends a lot on the planning and strategic co-parenting that needs to take place. Neither step-parents nor biological parents should ever be expected to function alone.
A couple things to keep in mind:
As inconvenient as sharing custody can be, be flexible. And know that the children should be the ones who are inconvenienced the least.
Guard your tongue from how you may want to speak about your former spouse in front of your children, and do not make your children messengers between you and your former spouse. As Christians, God is the only one who has reserved the right to judge and we should not speak offensively when we don’t see eye to eye with someone.
Consider a “non-compete clause” to be established. Don’t focus on material goods to try to win over your child, check in with your motivation. God will always know your heart and your intentions behind all of your actions.
Step-families can thrive when the profound truths of God are applied. If you find yourself in this situation, give yourself grace. So often people are bogged down with shame and guilt after going through a divorce. Accept the free gift of grace and forgiveness, and keep in mind that if you don’t, you will carry around bitterness in your heart that will eventually affect all areas of your life. Examine your heart, accept His forgiveness and grace, and create this as a foundation to help your family blend and win at home.